www.costaricatesol.com - ITA Costa Rica
Posted 11/20/2016 in Alumni Q&A

Teaching Q&A With Erica

Teaching Q&A With Erica


What is your citizenship?U.S.A.

What city and state are you from? I grew up in Colorado, but I have lived in the Washington DC area for the past ten years.

How old are you? 32

What is your education level and background? I completed my bachelor’s degree in Accounting with a Spanish minor from Washington University in St. Louis.  I am a CPA and a CFP candidate (and TEFL certified!).

Have you traveled abroad in the past? Yes.  I lived in Madrid, Spain for 5 months when I was in undergrad for study abroad.

If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been? I have been to France, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad? After living abroad in Spain, I always knew I wanted to live abroad in a Spanish speaking country again.  Teaching English was the easiest way to achieve this goal.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad? I was mostly concerned about the safety of being abroad, especially since I was moving to Colombia.  Unfortunately, it has a bad reputation that it does not deserve.  I was also worried about how it would affect my current career (in accounting) to take this type of extended leave.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad? I received so much support from friends and family which made it easy to move away.  Of course, everyone expressed concerns for my safety, but very few people disagreed with my decision.


Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy in Costa Rica? I decided to get TEFL certified because I was accepted into a co-teaching program in Colombia and had no previous teaching experience.  Also, I was fully aware that I did not have a clue about how to teach English.  Just because you speak it, doesn’t mean you can teach it!  I chose TEFL Academy in Costa Rica because I liked the location, the program dates worked with my schedule and the class sizes were small.  The program also took care of everything in terms of housing which made the process really easy.  I’m so glad I did too!  Melanie and Luke were great, and now I have a skill that will serve me for a lifetime.

Which TEFL certification course did you take? I completed the May 2016 course in Heredia, Costa Rica.

How did you like the course? I loved the course.  It was more intense than I originally thought it would be, but it wasn’t hard.  The daily classes, constant review, practice teaching sessions, and real-time feedback were all instrumental in my learning.  I received so many great resources and tips to help me and my future students be successful.

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position? I can draw on the grammar rules that were drilled into our heads to help my students understand.  I liked how the lessons were organized which has helped me to be more organized in my classroom.  Also, the real time teaching sessions, helped me to be more confident in my abilities as a first time teacher. 



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? Before I went to Costa Rica, I knew I was going to be teaching in Colombia.  I did not know the city at the time, but I am currently in Armenia, Colombia.  Once, I had considered living in Costa Rica, but eventually chose Colombia based on the teaching program that was available, the cheaper cost of living, and the richness of the culture.  I loved being in Costa Rica for the month, but I definitely think I made the right choice.

How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay? I just finished my first semester of teaching (5 months).  I have renewed my contract for another semester and will likely stay for all of 2017.

Tell us about your English teaching job. I am part of the Colombian Ministry of Education’s Colombia Bilingue program.  I am one of 700 native English speaking fellows in the country working at public high schools.  I co-teach 9th, 10th, and 11th graders with a native Colombian teacher.  I help with lesson planning, teaching, and tutoring.  I absolutely love my school, my co-teachers, and my students.  I feel so fortunate to have this experience and to be here making a difference in my students lives.  I know that my TEFL training has helped me to be a better teacher for them which is the most important thing.


What advice would you give someone considering teaching abroad? Do it!  If you have a desire to live abroad or teach abroad, make it happen.  Usually the hardest part about the process, is wrapping up everything at home before your departure.  Once you get to your respective country, you will begin to live in a way that you never have before.  You may or may not like it, but you will never have to wonder “what if”.  I have wanted to live in a Spanish speaking country since I studied abroad nearly ten years ago.  It took me a while to get here, but I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time (and I make a lot less money)!  The joy that I get from my students is indescribable, and I find myself looking for ways to spend more time with them.  I never thought I would be a teacher, but never say never!

Would you recommend taking the course in Costa Rica before teaching elsewhere?  What are the benefits? I would definitely recommend taking the course in Costa Rica.  Melanie, Luke, and the entire ITA Costa Rica team are wonderful.  As I mentioned, it is an intense course, but not hard at all.  I met some really amazing people in the course who are now all over the world teaching.  Although the on-line course is an option, I don’t think I would have felt as prepared and would have missed out on new friendships.  The live course is the way to go!  We also had one long weekend which I used to explore the beautiful beach in Manuel Antonio.  At the end of the course, they give you access to tons of resources that you can use in your future teaching engagements.  When I left Costa Rica, I knew I was more than ready to step into the classroom and I would not have wanted it any other way!

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