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

Teaching Q&A With Rob

Teaching Q&A With Rob

What is your citizenship? 

United States

What city and state are you from?

Nashville, Tennessee / Minneapolis, Minnesota

How old are you?


What is your education level and background?

Bachelor of Arts – Spanish, TESOL – Costa Rica, TKT- Young Learners

Have you traveled abroad in the past?


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

Spain, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica,  Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, China

If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?

Segovia, Spain

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?

While traveling I met many ESL teachers who really enjoyed their jobs, so  I started researching different places and programs to teach. Once I saw the  diversity of places that I could teach, I took the next step.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?

I was afraid of getting to a new place and the school not being  legitimate or not paying me.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and  teaching abroad?

They weren't surprised because I had traveled to many countries before  deciding to teach abroad. The first time I traveled alone was when they were  the most surprised and thought I was crazy.


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

I had traveled through parts of South America and was planning to travel  through Central America. I saw that TEFL Academy offered a program in Costa  Rica and thought it fit in very well with my travel plans, so I decided to sign  up.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?

I took the 4 week intensive 190 in-class hours course from the middle of  November 2014 to December 2014.

How did you like the course?

I really enjoyed it! The location was great – near the capital, San Jose,  but also close to many beautiful areas to visit. The teachers, Melanie and  Luke, were great, and the atmosphere was pretty relaxed. It was also great to  take a TEFL course in a non-English speaking country; it helped me get a more  realistic idea of what teaching would be like.

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

My TEFL training has constantly been a foundation in my current teaching  position. The activities they showed me continue to guide me when teaching my  students, as well as the grammar lessons they gave.




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 chose to teach in China, and I am now teaching in Tianjin, near  Beijing. I had spent the last year traveling Latin America, and although I  loved the culture, I wanted to try a new area of the world for awhile. I was  really interested in Asia, so I looked at places like South Korea, China,  Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. When the school I currently work at  accepted me, I was really excited to move to China, a huge country that has  such a vast history and a culture that I really had no idea about.

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

I have been here for about 7 months, and I will stay for another two  before moving on to another teaching position and location.

Tell us about your English teaching job.

I work for a private school that teaches kids from age 3 all the way to  age 17, so my lessons can vary drastically from class-to-class. However, a  majority of my classes are with students who are less than 11 years old – many  around 4 – 6 years old. Most of my classes have between 10 – 15 students and  are 1 – 2 hours long. The best part of my job is when I am in the classroom  with my students. The students generally have very tough schedules in their  Chinese schools, so when they come to my classes, it's a break from the  lecture-style classes they are used to. Because of this I try to make my  classes as fun as possible, while still encouraging a positive, English-only  environment. 


As a result, my classes can at times be very hectic, with kids jumping  and dancing all over the room, but my students really seem to enjoy my classes,  and they come out learning the language, as well. The school also has many  resources available to help the classes run as smoothly as possible. All of the  classes have an interactive whiteboard connected to a computer and projector.  This allows classes to go back and forth from a more technologically-advanced  lesson playing games on the whiteboard to playing flashcard games with a few  balloons or balls. Outside the classroom, my job has given me a lot training  that as a result has made me a better teacher in a short period of time.  Although I am grateful for all the extra training, it can at times be very  overwhelming with long, long working hours and a lot of unpaid overtime.  However, students are students, and I think no matter who the students are, the  teachers at our school really have a positive influence on the next generation.



What advice would you give someone considering teaching abroad? 

I would say finish your degree and get TEFL-certified first because you  are going to need both to find any reliable job teaching abroad. I have met  many teachers teaching without a degree or without a TEFL, and the schools are  generally quite sketchy. On top of this, it is illegal in many countries, like  in China, to teach without these requirements, so the schools could easily pay  you late or not at all for your work, and you wouldn't be able to legally prove  this. Once you have these requirements, make sure you research what areas and  kind of schools you want to work in. Most contracts are for at least a year, so  make sure you are certain you are happy with your choice. Remember that you  don't have to accept the first job offer you receive. This is the school and  city you will be in for a year, so check reviews online and ask for current and  past teachers emails, so that you can really get an idea of what you'll be in  for. Lastly, be open-minded and try to keep a positive attitude. You are in a  foreign country doing something most of your family and friends are too afraid  to do. It will be a great learning experience that you will look back on for  the rest of your life.

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

I would definitely recommend the course. Although it is much more  convenient to stay in Costa Rica and teach there, the instructors, Melanie and  Luke, were very happy to help others and myself look at and apply to different  areas of the world. During the application process, they provided letters of  recommendation and genuinely cared about what happened to us next. There are  many other benefits of taking the course, as well. First of all, the number of  in-class hours are way above what many schools require from a TEFL course, as  well as the 6 lessons that we taught were a great way for us to get an idea of  how to plan and scaffold a lesson around a particular topic or learners. On top  of that, the location is great, and I definitely recommend choosing the  homestay option, as you will have a very authentic Tica (Costa Rican)  experience. Last of all, it is a much more motivating way to take a TEFL course  than back at home. When you are in the atmosphere, like I was, you will feel  more motivated to stay abroad and continue your travels! If I had been back  home and took the course, I would have been surrounded by distractions that in  turn would have caused me to keep putting off traveling.

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