8.30-9.30am US EST / 8.30-9.30pm China
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Two of the absolute best parts of becoming a TEFL teacher after graduating are the freedom it gives you to travel the world and the flexibility that it gives your career, as well as the space it gives you to work out what you want to do longer term. TEFL stands out as the best way to get abroad after graduation, even amid the pandemic.
Flying around the world to start a TEFL adventure can be a daunting (and exciting!) prospect, with lots of uncertainty about what the job/country will be like when you get there and what kind of opportunities it can lead to, but for many people it’s the best decision they ever made. In six years living in China, we (Danny, Richard, and Lisha, the Gotoco Co-founders) have met hundreds of people who flew out to Beijing on a whim to teach, and went on to revel in it: travelling the world, starting their own businesses, teaching in international schools, becoming travel writers, and much more.
This week, we welcome three speakers who have used TEFL to teach in various countries around East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe, and have gone on to carve out the lifestyle and vocation that they want through teaching. The talk will cover:
After graduating from SOAS with a BA in Politics, Claudia worked her way up in the Lib Dems from an internship in Cornwall helping to run a council election campaign to working in Rt Hon Vince Cable MP’s constituency office and running the SW London Mayoral campaign for the party in 2012.
Disillusioned with coalition politics and hungry to see the world beyond the London bubble, she retrained as an EFL teacher and completed a CELTA. This opened the door to a diverse set of teaching roles at summer schools for VIP kids in Russia, a government-sponsored training institute for petroleum engineers in Libya just a few years after the Arab Spring, and a women-only university in Saudi Arabia. She then took the leap to 1-to-1 online teaching and has since helped countless students from all around the world prepare for English exams and job interviews whilst travelling remotely in South East Asia and Latin America.
Never one to stagnate, she is now focusing on building up a proofreading business focused on helping non-native speakers of English to express themselves more naturally in their CVs, cover letters, blogs and so on.
Claudia has visited over 75 countries and speaks 6 foreign languages to varying degrees of fluency. Her most recent gig has been verifying the English translations of contemporary short stories and fairy tales written by authors from Russia’s Far East.
Back in 2013, I graduated from Leeds University with a degree in Philosophy. I struggled to know exactly what I wanted to do after university so I decided to do a month’s TEFL course at St George’s International School of English in Autumn of that year.
Knowing that I wanted to use this to travel, I went into a marketing job in advertising to save up enough money to fly out to South America, where a friend was living. I spent a year in Argentina teaching English as a foreign language to adults and teenagers, and spent some time in a primary school as an English support teacher.
I absolutely fell in love with teaching younger children and, before I returned to the UK, I applied for a PGCE at the University of Roehampton in London. I got onto the course and spent a year training to become a primary school teacher. Now after 5 years of teaching, I am Head of Maths at my school and an NQT mentor for newly qualified teachers.
Without doing the TEFL course, I’m not sure I would ever have discovered my love for teaching, and would have ended up staying in the marketing job I had upon leaving university. I am so pleased I did TEFL and I genuinely think it shaped the career I have today — which I love!
I’ve been an ESL teacher for 6 years since starting off in Beijing in the spring of 2015, after graduating from the University of Brighton. Having visited China in 2009 as part of an initiative linking schools in Chongqing Municipality with those of my Welsh hometown, I’d always wanted to return to the country and experience it in full.
Initially a way to get my visa, teaching English as a second language turned out to be something I enjoyed and found myself to be good at. Together with the fantastic adventure opportunities that being a TEFL teacher provided, I soon learnt that if you make the right connections and figure out what you really want, the TEFL industry has some great opportunities beyond the classroom.
After 4 years in Beijing, I’m now teaching in Tokyo part-time while freelancing as a content writer for schools in Japan and back in China. While the transition was tough in some ways, I wish I’d been brave enough to make it sooner. Heading towards the end of my twenties I began asking myself what my next steps need to be in order to ensure a continuation of the international lifestyle I’d fallen in love with while also protecting myself from major changes to industry like those we all faced during Covid-19, and I believe I’ve found the answer in TEFL opportunities beyond the classroom.