The story of how I got to teach in five countries in one season.
The last time I roamed in the blogosphere was way back in April, after that delightful experience teaching at a questionable Easter camp… Safe to say I came home disillusioned with not only the TEFL world but also what the heck I was doing with my career in general. Since coming back from South America, I had been working in local high schools and was, quite frankly, loathing every minute of it. The concoction of the unreliable income of a zero-hour contract + being disrespected on a daily basis had got me in a funk and I needed to do something about it, pronto. So, I twiddled my thumbs for a while as I pondered over the few options I had here on the Isle of Wight (where the job market off-season is notoriously bleak), and started to seriously consider relocating to South Korea… Then, just as I was losing all hope that I’d find anything before the holidays, I received an email from Steve – the poor man who had had his glasses stolen at the Easter camp – telling me there were jobs going at a decent company he’d worked for many moons ago.
I had a gander at the advert on Tefl.com: week long intensive courses in multiple locations across the world (mostly Europe), with flights, accommodation, and in-country travel paid for… It sounded far too good to be true.
After Xplore, my trust in TEFL companies had reached an all time low and I was geared up and ready for a catch. Fortunately, though, I was in such desperate need of a change of scenery, I figured even a fortnight teaching in Europe voluntarily would be better than having another year 9 stick their middle finger up at me outside the window as they bunked off their Spanish lesson… I wasted no time and applied right away.
Two weeks later I was in London, and I knew from the moment I entered the hotel where the interview was being held that this company meant serious business. The room was brimming with highly qualified and experienced EFL teachers who had taught all over the globe, their branded text books and posters were neatly on display for us to peruse, AND there was free tea, coffee, and biscuits (the fancy ones too). The interviewers gave us a short presentation about the history of the company, their ethos, and what they expected from us – if we were successful. We then endured a surprise grammar test and a group lesson-planning exercise. Despite forgetting the word for adverb, I left quietly confident. It felt more like an induction than an interview, and just a week later I got the good news whilst on holiday visiting friends in Madrid. I signed a three-week contract immediately, and on the 11th of June, I was on my way to Austria.
My first week was spent in the tiny hamlet of Asparn an der Zaya, just north of Vienna near Mistelbach. As we were a small team without any wifi in our accommodation, we spent our free afternoons week relaxing on the terrace and taking short walks around the village. After Asparn, I enjoyed a long weekend in Bratislava before heading to Bad Tatzmannsdorf for my second week, where I seemed to most of my time walking back and forth to the Spar, spotting red squirrels, and avoiding the sauna that south west Austria had become that week. Lastly, I went south to Slovenia for my last placement in Ljubljana – a city I’d wanted to cross off my list for 3 years. My colleague and I stuffed ourselves at a vegan buffet each night and ended the week going for a drink with other EiA teachers in the gorgeous city centre. Oh, and the teaching was pretty fun too…
I have decided to write individual posts for each contract as there is just too much to talk about in just one, but as you can probably tell I came home feeling elated. I’d forgotten just how much I loved teaching English and I couldn’t believe my luck that I was actually being paid to travel to places I’d long wanted to see, and rediscover countries I’d fallen for way back when my journey as a traveller began. To top it all off, the company is brilliant. Sure (as is usual in TEFL) the pay is nothing to write home about, but given the very well designed courses, professional and experienced staff, and the unique opportunity to work in multiple schools across Europe, I definitely felt it was well worth the experience.
After coming home, I taught for EF throughout July then went on to do my usual NCS stint at the beginning of August. As I write this I am on a week break between four further contracts with English in Action: I’ve spent the last two weeks in Austria and Italy and this weekend I fly to Germany where I’ll be teaching until the end of September. It has been a whirlwind of a summer that I wasn’t expecting but one I have enjoyed immensely. Although I will be taking a break from TEFL as I start my MA next month, I am so grateful for all the opportunities that this career has awarded me and I’m very excited for what the future has in store.
Stay tuned for follow-up posts about where I have been placed and where I’m heading next!
If you’re a qualified and experienced EFL teacher based in the UK and you’re interested in working for English in Action, then do check out their jobs page for upcoming openings: www.englishinaction.com/jobs. Be aware that you must have the right to work in the UK, and hold a recognised qualification such as CELTA or TEFL + multiple years teaching experience.