We’ve heard of educators deciding to teach abroad. We’ve heard of teachers getting TEFL certified then teaching abroad. AND we’ve heard of travel-lovers getting their CELTA then becoming an ESL teacher abroad. But we have YET to hear of a young-ESL master check all three qualifications off the list. Until now.
If you’ve always wanted to hear about teaching English abroad from a pro, here’s your chance. Meet Kate Popova, superstar ESL teacher in Malta. Born with a knack to wander (her Irish mother met her Macedonian father while on vacation in Greece), it was only time before she made a living out of working abroad. Read her story and learn more!
Growing up in an international environment, was it always casually discussed that living abroad was a suitable life path?
For sure! Growing up, all I ever heard about (from my mother) was her passion for travelling and her endless love for India. Actually, she took me and my sisters out of school every year for a few weeks to travel to countries (much better than school education, in her books).
These trips weren’t your normal “kids holiday”. Our trips consisted of roadtripping through the alps, exploring the coasts of Montenegro and Croatia and camping trips in Northern France – fun fun times!
Do you have an “AHA!” moment from your younger years that put you on the road to teaching abroad?
Not really. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to travel. Funnily enough, from a young age, when I used to play “weddings” with my sisters, I always had it in my head that I would marry someone foreign too (looks like my dream is on the way to coming true)
What is your favorite part of being an international teacher?
That is easy! Without a doubt the favourite part of my job is discovering people’s stories from all around the world. Having classes with such mixed nationalities, I have heard the craziest, strangest, funniest stories about people’s lives and cultures – some that you really wouldn’t believe!
You’ve taught abroad in Malta. Where else do you dream of leading a class discussion on prepositions and adverbs — and why?
Ooooh! There are too many places on my list! But If I had to narrow it down, I’d love to spend a year or two teaching in Madagascar. I know it is pretty random! But for some reason, I constantly see little signs popping up everywhere – the universe is calling!
I would also like to teach somewhere a little less fortunate – where people wouldn’t get a chance to pay for English lessons.
Tell us, in your terms, how your three different certifications (Educator, TEFL, CELTA) benefitted you differently?
That is difficult! Even though quite similar, they all benefit you in complete different ways.
Because the CELTA is a short, intensive course, it really teaches you the stress that’s involved with teaching. The deadlines! The lesson planning! The pressure!
Can you share a favorite story with us from your classroom abroad?
Haha! I don’t know if I am allowed say this – But I met my current partner while teaching in Malta. He is German. I was teaching an intermediate class and I taught him for about 3 months and we became friends. We started going to the gym together and eventually ended up dating.
Two and a half years later, we are living together in Ireland with our pride and joy, our little doggie, Louis. I am not promoting this guys, by the way! 🙂
What is one unusual insight you’d like to share with our readers that are considering finding teaching jobs abroad?
Persistence is key! Most of my jobs I’ve had, I got by going in personally to the local schools to meet the director. If they are not there – don’t just just hand in your CV/resume! Ask someone what time the director will be there and what time is the best to come in.
You run your own online tuition classes for English teachers, Everywhere English, and give English lessons at all times of the day and night to students all around the world. That’s awesome!
Can you speak to how teaching abroad sparked your entrepreneurial side and what advice do you offer other ESL teachers considering starting their own business?
When you teach in any different countries, you meet so many people from different corners around the world. You build a relationship with your students. Most of my students often asked me could we somehow continue our lessons after they go back home.
I started off organising Skype lessons with students via facebook or email. After a couple of months I thought – why don’t I do something a bit more about this? And boom! Everywhere English was created. I didn’t have a lot of money as I was travelling.
I began with a FB page (free of charge) and with referral of current students. A few months later, I had a bit of money saved up and decided to create a website! From then on, it started growing! I am now the proud owner of Everywhere English!
My advice to others is to go for it! It might seem like a lot to take on – but take day by day and don’t stress too much about what you have to do next week or next year. As far as starting up businesses, online businesses can be inexpensive. Your website and marketing are your main costs.
Thanks Kate for your wisdom! Best of luck in your new role and future ed-deavours