My Journey to Becoming a Premier TEFL Teacher:
A common abbreviation I came across in search of employment abroad was “TEFL”. What does TEFL stand for? It stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language,” where native or near-native speakers can teach English in almost any corner of the world. To help those interested in this life path and who would like to see how it could play out, I will share my journey to becoming a Premier TEFL Teacher.
How I became TEFL Certified with Premier TEFL:
As my time before graduating college continued to shrink, the uncertainty of what I would do with my future grew. I found it hard to think about a lifestyle that could fulfill my goals and interests. What did I do then? The first thing anyone in this day and age would do: I went to the internet.
There I found endless resources that showed me a variety of possibilities for starting a new life abroad. Premier TEFL, of course, stood out to me. They had great programs and an array of options that let me choose which journey would be best for me. Yet, choosing a program was no small feat.
There were things I knew I wanted from my TEFL program before I made my choice. I knew I wanted a certification that would be accepted worldwide while also helping me to gain in-class teaching experience. I chose a Premier TEFL internship in Vietnam because it provided an online course I could finish at my own pace and an in-country placement in Vietnam.
During the beginning process, I was connected with partners of Premier TEFL, who helped me with the legal paperwork I needed to attain my visa and other necessary steps to prepare me for the big move. Combined with my online class, it made the process stress-free while giving me the tools and credentials to continue my teaching career abroad. Regardless of how I started my journey or my desired outcomes, each person will want different things out of their TEFL certification. This makes it important to consider all options and which are best suited for each person.
Choosing to Teach Online or Abroad with Premier TEFL:
The choice between doing an in-person TEFL certification and an online teaching TEFL certification was an important one. Some differences influenced my decision to do a Premier TEFL in-person internship. Of course, each option will suit others differently, depending on what kind of person they are and their purpose for wanting to teach in a different country. In my opinion, location options, flexibility, and lifestyle are important to consider before deciding on an online teaching certification or one of the in-person options.
With the in-person internship, the choices are limited to the available programs. This was appealing because I had a pre-planned program to help me get in-class hours and adjust to a new country while receiving my TEFL certification. On the other hand, online teaching allows people to teach anywhere in the world from a laptop. However, for my first time moving abroad, I found the prospect of adjusting to a new country with no on-the-ground support intimidating. I also liked the opportunity of meeting other people who were moving abroad to teach for the first time in Vietnam. Yet, with the security of Premier TEFL’s in-person internships, there was less flexibility once a program is chosen. The same can not be said for the online-teaching courses.
Online teaching is a more flexible option. It allows for a self-created schedule and the opportunity to live in any desired country. Yet the in-person internships come with stability in their lack of flexibility. For example, I knew how much income I would receive, where I would teach, and for how long. Some of these factors can be uncertain when teaching online, and if deciding to move to a new country, I would have no on-the-ground support. What one option has the other tends to lack, but making the decision was not about positives and negatives; it was about what kind of lifestyle I wanted.
Determining how I wanted my everyday life to be was tricky. Did I want flexible hours working from home, or did I want to interact with my students on someone else’s schedule? Did I want stability or flexibility? Another matter I had to consider was my social life as well. I do not have a traveling partner, so I wanted a program to help me meet people. If I had chosen to travel alone and teach online, it would have been challenging to meet all the people that I did. On the other hand, some people travel with their friends or significant others, making that adjustment to a new country less lonely.
In the end, I took both courses. These certifications were precisely what I was looking for at different points in my life. In the face of COVID and the desire to acquire as many teaching skills as possible, the online teaching course gave me another direction I could follow if I wished. Even now, teaching in-person abroad again, I have found this TEFL course from Premier TEFL to be a helpful certification. I can use it anytime, as my primary career or as a side hustle. The in-person internship took me to places I could never dream of and gave me experiences that I know will continue to help me on my teaching journey around the world.
Adjusting to New Schools:
After deciding on the in-person Vietnam internship and completing my 150-hour online TEFL certification, I packed my bags and flew halfway across the world. I was not only miles from home but surrounded by a culture I had never experienced. I have gone through this adjustment period three times. Once in Vietnam, once in Thailand, and once in Spain. Understanding the cultural differences on school grounds was necessary no matter where I taught, but I didn’t have to do it alone. With help from other teachers, the advice I gained helped relieve the stress of adjusting to my new life as a TEFL teacher.
The first difference I noticed was my expectations in the classroom. In Vietnam, I had another English teacher in the room, unlike being alone in my classrooms in Thailand. Class sizes, teaching expectations, schedules, and more were all vastly different from the education system I grew up in and from one country to another. While new things were thrown at me left and right, the other teachers made adjusting to my new life effortless.
Whether a teacher from the country I am teaching in or another expat, they all helped me settle in. Local teachers welcomed me, showing me around the schools. Other expats also advised me on adjusting to the new culture based on their experiences. Tips and classroom activities were among the few things they shared with me, but their advice could only help me with so much. Flexibility and patience were part of the transition I had to learn on my own.
While their guidance was helpful inside and outside school, I could only be prepared for so much. Classes were randomly canceled for the day, new students were added to my classes, and sometimes I was the last to know. It was easy to get frustrated when I showed up to school only to find there were no classes or to have lesson topics changed. Yet sometimes, the day’s schedule has been changed due to school holiday celebrations.
This meant the entire school was doing activities related to the event, and I could experience another side of the country’s culture. Sometimes it meant I got to experience a new cultural tradition, and sometimes I could go back home and sleep for a few more hours. Learning to think on my feet was the most important lesson I gained from this daily aspect that might seem annoying looking from the outsider’s perspective. Yet it helped me to always be prepared for anything.
My TEFL Journey:
Since my journey of teaching abroad began, I have learned to love spontaneity. Through unexpected circumstances, I have expanded the creativity of my lesson plans, experienced different cultures to a different level, and have been more than satisfied with where my adventures have taken me. My TEFL and online certifications from Premier TEFL have opened doors to different jobs worldwide. My certifications have given me the life I have today, but it wouldn’t have been possible if I had not understood the differences between the certifications, leading me to choose the best path for me.
Read more from Kyla:
- Teaching English in Spain: Culture Shocks
- A Day in The Life of a TEFL Teacher
- Looking Back: My Experience Teaching in Thailand