Chris is from Pensacola, Florida and is teaching abroad as a missionary in Costa Rica. Read more about her journey to teaching English abroad!
Tell us about Chris! What was your path to teaching abroad? Where in the world can we find you now?
I came to Costa Rica with my husband, we are missionaries here. A Costa Rican friend asked me if I would be interested in teaching English to a friend in her church who was wanting to become a commercial pilot. I said yes, and my career teaching English as a foreign language began. I found through teaching my first adult student intensively that I really enjoyed teaching ESL and I wanted to pursue it in a broader field. I wanted to apply to schools and language institutes. I knew I needed more certification, so I looked into getting my TEFL certificate online. I was already living in Costa Rica and teaching every day so I needed a flexible program that would fit my study needs.
We’re curious to learn more about your TEFL course experience. What led you to decide to become TEFL certified, and what made you ultimately select Premier TEFL?
?In searching for a highly recommended and economical online TEFL program I read reviews and looked for the most value for my money. I found Premier TEFL just when they were offering a black Friday sale for a package that would give me a good overall education on teaching ESL. The package included an advanced TEFL of 180 hours and 4 other 30 hour programs in the area of business, young learners and test prep. I really liked the idea of the extended TEFL hours above the lowest requirement of 120, as I believe more education is the key to success. This looked like it would help me get started in this industry so I signed up right away.
What led you to sign up for all of the specialized courses available? Have they strengthened your TEFL resume in the ways you hoped?
I feel going the extra mile to have the specialized training and more extensive TEFL certificate is what gave me the edge over other applicants especially because I do not have a bachelor’s or a teaching degree. I never suspected that I would enjoy teaching, so I never had taken any classes in that area before. As a result of having more specialized training, it has not only helped me expand my teaching content and techniques, but also my CV. As a result of, and to my surprise, I was given a slightly higher grade pay than I agreed to at the language institute when I accepted the position.
What advice do you have for future English teachers considering Costa Rica for teaching abroad?
Costa Rica is an amazingly rich place to visit and to live. I LOVE teaching ESL here because I know I am really helping people. Learning English here is a requirement to secure a higher-paying job and boosts the local economy and quality of life for the people living here. However, teachers need to know that the average pay in Costa Rica is very low and the cost of living is very high. It is very culturally rich as there are many international people living and visiting here. I highly recommend Costa Rica as a living/teaching esl destination, but I recommend having healthy savings built up before coming.
What has surprised you most about your life abroad?
I was surprised to find out how many people love practicing English here, everywhere we go people attempt to speak to us in English, even when we speak Spanish to them. So much that it has hindered our attempt to learn and practice Spanish! It makes us very popular and we have made many friends here in our new country. The people here are beautiful and kind!
Will you share a favorite story from your TEFL classroom?
I have been teaching teens between the ages of 11 and 15 in my language school on Saturdays. I LOVE this age! They are so honest and interested in learning new things. They have a desire to communicate and I have been challenged to find current authentic information that will engage them. Because I make this effort in my classroom and I show a genuine interest in my students they respond well to me and my teaching efforts. I think the topic that interests my students the most is about cultural differences and information about the U.S. Costa Ricans are well-traveled and many families have visited the U.S. or are planning a trip there in the near future. My favorite thing about teaching teens is that I have the opportunity to be a positive influence on them and to impact them as they are growing up to become the women and men who will become influencers in the future.
One example of this is last year on the last day of class as I was having the final meeting with each student and a parent and passing out ‘passing’ or ‘failing’ grades, I was offering some much-needed encouragement to a very quiet-spoken young lady who is advanced in her command of English but lacked confidence. After I encouraged her I gave her a quick hug goodbye and realized how much what I had just said to her meant to her when she clung to me and didn’t let go for a few minutes. I felt so honored and humbled that I could have the opportunity to speak into such an amazing young lady’s life in such a positive way. This was my favorite moment from the whole year of teaching ESL last year!
What was the most helpful thing that you learned during your TEFL course?
Something valuable that I have learned from the Premier TEFL 168 hour course is the extensive information about creating an appropriate ESL lesson plan for different language levels and student ages. I was made aware of the different styles of learning and teaching techniques and how to incorporate appropriate learning activities into my lessons.
This has helped broaden my focus to incorporate new ideas into my lessons and is helping me reach each student better. Not all students learn the same way, and not all students respond to the same kinds of lessons in the same way. I have been pushed to explore many different teaching styles to reach my students, and I am still learning! Premier TEFL gave me an excellent introduction to the world of teaching ESL. I am glad I took the plunge and signed up for their online program.
Thank you for taking the time to share your magnificent story with the Premier TEFL community.