Birds might frighten Anton, but living in a foreign country—and mastering upwards of eight languages—does not. Learn about this language superstar and his journey from Sweden to Cambodia as a TEFL teacher abroad.
Tell us about your background? What makes Anton, Anton?
I am 26 years old and currently live in the Swedish Alps. I recently graduated from University, my major is International Tourism studies. Straight after graduation, I went to teach in Cambodia, and at this moment, I am furthering my studies by pursuing a teaching degree here in Sweden. When I was younger, I travelled a lot; I lived and studied in many different countries such as Malta, U.K., France, Australia and South Korea.
As a person, I am very creative and I enjoy everything associated with art and artistry, I particularly love literature!
When did you first learn about teaching abroad? What excited you most about it?
I remember hearing about teaching in Asia from friends of mine; ever since, I have considered doing it, especially since I have always thought about pursuing a degree in education. I found teaching abroad very exciting because I have a lot of energy for learning foreign languages and I don’t mind being in the centre of attention.
Were there any barriers between you learning about the path towards teaching abroad and your willingness or self-confidence that you could pursue that path? How did you push through them?
Definitely. I had very limited teaching experience, which made things appear a bit frightening. After all, my university degree didn’t have anything to do with education, so it was never self-evident to go in this direction.
Moreover, moving to a different country, where you have never set foot before always comes with challenges. However, from the very first time I was in touch with my school in Cambodia, I got such a good impression that I never really doubted my choice of going to Cambodia.
What were your three favourite takeaways from your TEFL lessons—especially those that you find most helpful in your current classroom?
Speak and share ideas with colleagues or other people around you. Speaking and soaking up ideas from colleagues that had more experience than myself helped me a lot.
Further, I think the process of lesson planning should not be underestimated. There are often circumstances that result in the lesson going in a different scenario than was planned for—hence, being prepared means everything. I felt that young learners, in particular, require well-planned lessons that are well structured.
You’re currently teaching abroad in Cambodia. BADASS! Why Asia?
I had always heard that South East Asia was “the place to be” for teaching English. I had also heard Cambodia was very welcoming to non-native language teachers like myself, and besides that, everything I heard about Cambodia was nothing but positive.
If you were to go through the process of getting your TEFL certificate again, what would you do differently? Any advice for those considering following your footsteps?
I would definitely plan my time better, allowing myself to go through each and every module at a slower pace. I would say going through the TEFL course is, after all, not that challenging; however, it’s important not to rush through it, since the TEFL course is the very fundamental basis you will have starting as a new teacher.
What I learnt from my TEFL course benefited me each and every day in the classroom. I would recommend to even go back to the TEFL course while teaching because the additional help and tools are necessary at times.
Will you share a funny/cute/hilarious story from your TEFL classroom?
The greatest moments were definitely interacting with all the students. In Cambodia, students show a lot of appreciation to the teacher. For instance, during my birthday, my students brought me a birthday cake with my name on it. It was a really beautiful moment. In the country where I come from students, teachers tend to have a more formal relationship to each other, which made me appreciate teaching in Cambodia even more.
Your love of languages is impressive! Can you tell us more about your journey to being a polyglot?
From the very beginning, language learning was something that I did not enjoy at all. Back in high school, I had to take English and French. I wasn’t successful at it all and found it very boring since there was a major focus on writing and grammar rather than on communication.
I have, however, always had a great interest in foreign cultures and connecting with new cultures, so I started to learn Dutch on my own during my last year in high school. After that, my love for languages simply took off. I learned English, French, and Spanish by travelling and living abroad rather than formally “studying” these languages.
My interest in Asian cultures motivated me to start studying Chinese and Korean. I think motivation and interest is the key to learning foreign languages, since learning a language requires a great effort. I am currently taking a beginner course in Russian and Portuguese at University, so I still enjoy learning new languages!
Thank you for taking the time to share your magnificent story with the Premier TEFL community. Happy travels!