www.costaricatesol.com - ITA Costa Rica
Posted 03/22/2016 in Alumni Q&A

Teaching Q&A With Cheryl

Teaching Q&A With Cheryl

What is your  citizenship?            


What city and state  are you from?         

Windsor, Ontario

How old are you?               


What is your education  level and background?        

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in History, a Master’s Degree in Political Science and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education

Have you traveled  abroad in the past?            

Yes, I have traveled to a variety of countries for work, volunteer, and vacation.

If you have traveled  abroad in the past, where have you been?                                       

Haiti, Mexico, Ghana, India, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Cambodia, Kosovo, Costa Rica and northern Iraq

If you have studied  abroad in the past, where did you study? Except for my TEFL certification in Costa Rica, I have not studied abroad.

What sparked your  interest in going to teach English abroad? 

I enjoy teaching and traveling; and getting a teaching job in my home province is quite challenging. I am also particularly interested in improving education opportunities for girls in developing countries.

What were some of your  concerns before teaching abroad? 

I am currently teaching in northern Iraq, so my main concerns have been related to safety.

What did your friends  and family think about you moving and teaching abroad? At this point in my life, my family understands my desire to travel and explore the world, so even though some people think my choices are odd, most people have been supportive.


Why did you decide to  get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy in Costa Rica?

Many of the schools I was interested in stated that TEFL certification was a requirement for the position. Even though I had a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, as well as a year teaching grade 5 in my own classroom, I knew I did not know anything about the particulars of teaching English. I wanted as many skills as possible before I started my first ESL position.

International TEFL Academy in Costa Rica had a good reputation and the course met all the requirements I was looking for - beautiful location, highly qualified and experienced instructors, in-class for more than 120 hours, and observed teaching practicum with meaningful feedback

Which TEFL  certification course did you take?

I completed the 180-hour in-class course in August 2015.

How did you like the  course?

I loved the course. It exceeded my expectations. There was an incredible amount of practical information, help with lesson planning, ideas for engaging activities, and meaningful feedback from instructors. Plus, the opportunity to teach a variety of different levels of students (i.e. beginner to advanced) was extremely helpful to my growth as an ESL teacher.

How has your TEFL training  helped you in your current teaching position?

My TEFL training helped me better understand how people learn English. Specifically, the information provided on working with young learners was particularly helpful in my current position as grade one English Language Support.


After taking the  course in Costa Rica, you chose to teach elsewhere.  Which city and  country did you decide to teach English in and why?

I would have loved to stay in Costa Rica to teach English. However, at the moment, I have student loans I need to pay off. One of my priorities was to find a school that provided a generous salary, as well as professional development opportunities. I chose to accept a position in Erbil, Kurdistan (northern Iraq) as grade one English Language Support.

How long have you been  in this country and how long do you plan to stay?

Tell us about your  English teaching job.

I have been in Iraq for one month and I plan to stay at least one year, possibly longer depending on the security situation. As a grade one English Language Support Teacher, I work with grade one students from three different homeroom classes to improve their skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening. My students are all learning three languages in school (English, Kurdish and Turkish) and the language of instruction is English. I am in the process of developing individual program plans for 18 students who are struggling with English language development. I work with my students individually, in small groups, and sometimes in a larger whole-class setting.


What advice would you  give someone considering teaching abroad? 

If you are considering teaching abroad, I would suggest two things:

1) Do your research into TEFL programs and potential opportunities teaching abroad after you have received your certification. Look at reviews written by past students. Ask lots of questions when you email and/or call the TEFL program you are thinking about taking. Make sure the TEFL program includes both an in-class teaching component and observed teaching practicum with instructor feedback. Plus, the course should be at least 120 hours long. The same advice applies to potential teaching opportunities you might be applying for. Do your research, read school reviews from past teachers, and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.

2) Do some soul searching. Ask yourself the hard questions: “Do I really love teaching, or do I just want to make some money for traveling?” “What do I really want my life to look like?” “What do I want to spend every day doing?” If you don’t really love teaching for its own sake, it will be a challenge for you to stay sane between vacations. If you really love teaching and you are open to adventure and embracing the unknown, then I would say “go for it.”

Would you recommend  taking the course in Costa Rica before teaching elsewhere?  What are the  benefits?

I would definitely recommend taking the TEFL course in Costa Rica before teaching elsewhere. It will provide you with the skills, information, and self-confidence you need to enter your own classroom. Even if you’ve got some previous teaching experience, this TEFL course will provide you with the tools you need to really succeed in your own ESL classroom.

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