Martha hails from the United Kingdom, and she’s had a lot of wild jobs in her life—including one as a giant bear Mascot for a family theme park. Her wildest job to date, though? Teaching English in Asia! Read on to learn about the places Martha has called home as a TEFL teacher abroad.
What was your path to teaching abroad? Where in the world can we find you now?
I think travel is in my blood! My (German) father met my (British) mother when they lived in Greece and we lived in France as a family many years ago. A personal matter in 2016 encouraged me to try something new – I decided to give teaching abroad a try. I went to Thailand for two months and I loved it.
A few years later I met my current partner and we decided to teach and travel together. We taught in Vietnam (4.5 month internship and 3 months after with the company) and the experience was indescribable (without sounding too cheesy)! We are back in the UK for a year or two to experience some structure and ‘normalcy’ before we plan to teach and travel again in the near future 🙂
We’re curious to learn more about your TEFL course experience. What lead you to decide to become TEFL certified, and what made you ultimately select Premier TEFL?
I had already completed a 120-hour TEFL course with a different TEFL provider when I taught in Thailand. When researching again with my partner, we looked specifically at the internships and Premier TEFL had the best internship available for Vietnam, it also included the 240-hour course which was very extensive – it was as simple as that!
The course itself was interesting and covered all aspects of theoretical teaching. It’s a great foundation to work from when you’re standing in a classroom for the first time (although nothing will prepare you for it, you just have to go for it!)
Was participating in a TEFL internship prior to working abroad on your own a strategy you’d recommend to others who are new to teaching abroad?
Absolutely! You get complete support and it takes the pressure off you when you’re embarking on a pretty intense journey. You can meet like-minded people who are just as nervous as you, learn together, and focus on settling in and teaching rather than organizing accommodation and logistics.
What advice do you have for future English teachers considering Vietnam for teaching abroad?
Vietnam is my favourite place I’ve ever been; the countryside is stunning, the people are so friendly, the cost of living is so low, and the food is great! We loved living there so much that we stayed another 3 months and are considering returning to teach there again.
What has surprised you most about your life abroad?
I was surprised by how much I loved my new life abroad and how I adjusted to the huge change, despite the severe homesickness I experienced. As it was the first time I had ever been away from home for more than 3 or 4 months, I found it difficult at times. However, I cherished my time as a teacher and learned from all the difficult classes or poor lessons I gave (there are always a few). You learn all the “dos and don’ts” pretty quickly and I felt very comfortable during my time.
Will you share a favorite story from Vietnam/your TEFL classroom?
There are so many happy memories from Vietnam (teaching and travelling around the country at weekends and holidays) so it is difficult to choose – I would probably have to mention the fun I had every day with game playing in lessons; with babies (musical bumps), primary schools (bullseye), and high school (snakes and ladders), plus many more.
There was usually a great sense of healthy competition, particular with the primary and high schools, and I enjoyed making lessons fun and stimulating, with a focus on speaking (usually followed by throwing a ball!) A particular story would probably be when I was first introduced to KPOP (Korean Pop music) and Vinahouse by my high school classes. They were fascinated by my reaction and had lots of fun showing me their music tastes and other cultural preferences. I was able to build great relationships with most of them and it made teaching memorable and positive.
What was the most helpful thing that you learned during your TEFL course?
I did the online course some time ago now so my memory isn’t too clear but I found lots of helpful tips about classroom management and all the theory behind teaching. The practical course (internship) was the most important part of the process and was truly necessary for learning how to stand confidently in front of a class of students!
In all, I learned to be energetic, fun and efficient in lessons but most importantly – be yourself and don’t feel too disheartened by poor or difficult lessons; they make you stronger!