Meet Bo Bo Aung (aka Cliff Rake) a very experienced non-native English teacher. Cliff has been teaching English as a foreign language for more than 20 years. He started learning English from a very young age, which led him to thrive in the English language. He helped his father with English classes at the age of 13! Cliff then went on to pursue his career in English and found himself majoring in the English language at Mandalay University.

He set up his English school in 2000, teaching different age groups. Ranging from 5 years of age to IELTS candidates and adult learners in Myanmar. Cliff is now teaching more online students due to the closure of his school because of COVID-19.

Hi Cliff, can you tell us about yourself?

My name is ‘Bo Bo Aung’ but I go by ‘Cliff Rake’ in my teaching profession. In our country, Myanmar, it is common for people to have their original name and English name separate. Paragon International Education Centre was founded by me. On Nov 25, 2000, I established my center and started my Paragon Online English Class (POEC) on Dec 1, 2015.

I was born to Mr. Ramesh and Ms. Meena Shrestha who were my first English teachers as they both had teaching professions. When I was six, I was already studying “Brighter Grammar Book 2!” I started helping with my Father’s classes when I was 13, and I went to Mandalay University, majoring in English.

Passed my third year with an honors degree but because I was already married at that time, I asked my professors to let me drop the additional 2 years that ‘honors’ students had to attend. I chose to attend the final year and still passed with ‘Qualified’ for the next level. Graduating in 1996 was a huge achievement. I became a ‘Bachelor of Arts in English.’

Since then I have dived into the English teaching profession and established my center in 2000. I have been teaching English as a foreign language for more than 20 years now.

Teaching English online
BoBo teaching English online

What’s it’s like to live in Myanmar, can you tell us your favorite things to do there?

Myanmar has good weather, good food, and life is not very difficult. The best thing I like doing in Myanmar is traveling. You only need a good car and a strong purse (aka some money to spend).

You can visit any state, any region, any time you want, except for some places when there is unrest due to armed conflicts. There are so many places to go to. So many tracking routes to enjoy, so many mountains to climb, and so many beaches to swim.

Mountain climbing
BoBo hiking in Myanmar

What led you to start teaching English? Can you tell us about your journey?

I naturally got used to speaking in English because my parents are English teachers. My father brought me to his English classes and I helped students when I was only 13 years of age. Even when I was in my university, I tutored many people. After graduating, I dived into the teaching profession.

You have your own company teaching English, Wow! Could you tell us the story of it?

I had lots of teaching experience even before I graduated and when I established my center in 2000, I already had seven to eight years of teaching experience. My center is Paragon International Education Centre. Our students are quite diverse ranging from 5 years of age to IELTS candidates and adult learners. I started my online class, Paragon Online English Class (POEC) on Dec 1, 2015.

Teaching young learners
Students at Bo Bo’s Education Centre

You teach a wide variety of ages, how is teaching adults different from teaching children?

Children in our country are naive, loyal, and respectful to teachers. It’s so much fun opening up their tender minds to the world of English. Adults are mostly nervous. They look like they feel that it’s too late for them to study, which is not true. Teens are ok. They are all open-minded and they love to speak in English. But adults in my Zoom classes are all so open, happy, and energetic. They are so different from walk-in classes. This is one interesting thing I have found during this Covid period. During walk-in classes with adults, they tend to be shy and uncooperative but during the Zoom classes, they became happy, light-hearted, and energetic.

Has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your business teaching English?

This pandemic has forced us to shut down our center and it has been 8 months now. Our center had been our main breadbasket. Many students have joined my Zoom classes but unfortunately, some students haven’t due to technology illiteracy. Or because of a lack of parents’ support. Our income has gone 70 percent lower and currently, online classes are all we have. The gap between students can be huge.

Ultimate Guide for Online Platforms

In what ways do you feel more prepared to teach online independently or for a platform after studying the teach online TEFL-Pro course?

A TEFL-Pro course is an excellent course that every teacher teaching or trying to teach online should attend. It prepares you to understand the different platforms you can use. The methods and strategies given there are practical and effective. The ideas given to teach young learners are very helpful. Also, Premier TEFL keeps giving you amazing freebies. They introduce useful websites, share pdf books, and so on. By joining TEFL-Pro, I feel like I have a whole new community and I also see the possibilities of teaching abroad in the future.

Teaching English Online

It is a TEFL Pro, a very flexible, and extremely affordable course. It takes the average person 1-2 weeks to complete, which is very short! If you find you are too busy and need more time to complete the course, feel free to contact our wonderful sales team. Why not schedule a call with one of our sales teams now?

Test your English skills
Is your English good enough? Take the test

By keeping a close eye on our website, you could get the course you always wanted at a lower price. For this course, the requirement for your English language level must be fluent and at least a B1 in the international standard of intermediate or advanced fluency.

The course is divided into six modules. Each lesson is subdivided into bite-size learning blocks which include reflective tasks and an end of every lesson assessment. After you complete this certification you can enter your first virtual English lesson well prepared and confident. Trust the experts! 30 hours of TEFL-Pro teaching advice will teach you the skills to understand your advanced students’ needs, plan suitable lessons, get hired quickly, and enjoy your new freelance job. Welcome to the world of the ‘Entrpreneacher’!

While studying this course you will learn:

  • Teach the four key areas of language acquisition: reading, speaking, writing, pronunciation
  • Understand teaching English to non-native speakers
  • Manage virtual classroom and student behavior effectively
  • Grow in confidence as a new teacher to be able to enter your first online English class
  • Plan and deliver effective online lessons that meet student and class learning objectives
  • Grasp English grammar terminology and know how to teach it to students of all levels
  • Find and create effective learning materials, text-based and digital to target language use
  • Search and find the best jobs, online and abroad, or choose a freelance path

Do you have any advice for other TEFL teachers looking to set up their own business teaching English?

Any TEFL teacher who wishes to teach English in Myanmar should first understand the student’s culture and that you cannot thrive alone. You need a good network. In Myanmar, students are your customers and parents are your investors. Despite being a good teacher, you need a good network here which will work as ‘social proof’ for both the students and parents.

Teaching young learners
Bo Bo teaching English to young learners

 

Thank you, Cliff, for taking the time to share your incredible story as a non-native English teacher with the Premier TEFL community. We wish you the best of luck in your upcoming endeavors.

💡Did you find this article about Cliff, a non-native English teacher setting up his own English school useful? If you have any questions please comment in the box below 👇 If you want to read more about TEFL teachers traveling, check out our interview with Angelique on her Internship in Thailand Mid Global Pandemic!

Angelique’s Internship in Thailand Mid Global Pandemic!

Angelique Ellis is 27 years young, from England and she is born to travel. She went through 2 years voyaging and working in Australia and afterward started on an excursion to Asia. This is the point at which she fell totally enamored with Thailand and realized she needed to remain and live there for as far as might be feasible. Having genuinely caught the travel bug, Angelique chose to do a TEFL Internship through Premier TEFL. She knew that gaining a TEFL certificate, and experience of teaching in Chiang Mai, would give her the adaptability to travel and earn.

TEFL teacher Angelique diving into the sea
Angelique deep sea diving

Three things Angelique experienced while in Thailand that she did not anticipate?

The first thing Angelique experienced is a world pandemic. This was not what she was expecting while on her adventure to Thailand. When the lockdown was announced the government decided to shut the schools to minimize the spread of the virus. While the schools were closed Angelique headed off to beautiful South Thailand to try and enjoy her lockdown while sunbathing on beaches in Koh Lanta. (Sounds amazing!).

Angelique was terrified being so far away from her family in the UK and as she didn’t know what was going to happen during the lockdown. Angelique was thrilled and overwhelmed with how all the Thai people took care of her during such a stressful time. While in the Southside of Thailand, Angelique got to experience more amazing Thai culture and Thai food. She loved everyone moment of it!

The second thing Angelique experienced is Smoke Season. Some of you readers might not have ever heard of the Smoke season in Chang Mai but Angelique got to experience it for real. Smoke Season is between March and April, during this time farmers and factories begin burning agricultural waste. Throughout these times, if you are exposed to the smoke, it can quite unbearable. One good thing to come from the smoke season is that students and teachers are on holiday during these months. So, Angelique would advise anyone to get out of Chang Mai and go to the South Island. Where the air is bearable and you can enjoy your holidays!

And finally, the third and last thing Angelique experienced was the weather. Angelique had visited Thailand before she decided to start teaching there, so she had a good idea of what to expect when it came to the weather. But when she went to Chang Mai, she didn’t expect December and January to be so cold. She enjoyed the cold weather during these certain months because it made Christmas more Christmassy.

While being away from her family during Christmas time is tuff but Chang Mai gave her the Christmas spirit with how decorative the place was. The malls were covered in Christmas decorations and filled with lovely sounds of carol singers. The run-up to Christmas in Chang Mai was an amazing and wonderful experience for Angelique. A top tip from Angelique is to pack for all types of weather if you are planning on living in Thailand for over a year.

What advice do you have for someone on the fence about whether to teach abroad or not?

Angelique advises anyone with a passion for teaching to go it. Just like she did! The experience is out of this world and teaching in a different country and so many benefits. You learn so much from your students but yet give back so much in return.

>> Want to read more of Angelique’s Experiences in Thailand?