Sara Fredrich is a Brazilian born English speaker and teacher. As a young teen, she began learning English at a nearby private school in her hometown. A few decades later and now she’s back at that school, sharing her knowledge of English with all of the eager students there. Learn more about Sara and the work she does as an ESL teacher abroad!
Tell us about yourself! What drew you to teaching abroad?
I began learning English when I was a teen, I have been practising by watching movies and singing along to my favourite songs—I have always had a fascination for lyrics. I also got the chance to meet native people from the USA and Canada to talk to.
In 2010, I had just gotten my degree in Business Administration when I decided to come back to my hometown to help my family, my parents were going through a major financial crisis. I tried to get a job at one of the big companies in the area, but I was unsuccessful. I couldn’t find a job in my field.
At that time I lived near an English School, so one day I submitted my resumé for teaching. I thought that was something I could do to make money, meet new people, and I was pretty sure I would have fun doing it! They weren’t looking for teachers, but it was still worth a shot!
A few months later, they called me for an interview and I started the following week! It didn’t feel like a job at all, it felt like I was talking to my friends! Most importantly, I felt I was really good at something for the first time in my life!
We’re curious to hear more about your experiences as an ESL teacher in Brazil. Tell us about the highs and lows of your overall experience as an expat.
Teaching English is so much fun. I get to meet the most interesting and unique people! I am a talkative person, so for me, one of the highs of my job is talking to people all day. I love being around teenagers, they remind me to connect with my dreams. On the other hand, the most difficult thing for me is when it comes to teaching English to preschoolers and elementary students.
Here in Brazil, it seems they don’t think it’s important. Or, I am having trouble making them see how valuable it can be. Maybe because their parents don’t speak English and we can’t easily go to a place where English is spoken frequently. I’ll keep focusing on making English fun for the kids!
What made you decide to get a TEFL certificate despite having experiences as a TEFL teacher abroad already?
I decided to get my TEFL certificate in honour of all those years that English has supported me. I needed to validate what I knew.
What makes teaching abroad an attractive pursuit for you? Can you tell us about it and how it motivates your work? And, conversely, what are you most nervous about when it comes to life abroad?
As I have been in touch with different cultures throughout my life, one of my childhood dreams was to live, study, and work abroad. I have given up on this dream for so many years and now the urge has come back (and it still makes sense to me!). What drives me as my main motivators are my desires to gain knowledge of other cultures, to visit the places that are rich in history and in culture.
When I think about living abroad, the thing that scares me the most is safety for me and my child. I have a beautiful little daughter, and honestly, making enough money to provide for both of us is very important to me.
What’s your favourite part about being a teacher abroad, both in the classroom and outside of the classroom?
I am currently working in my hometown, so outside the classroom, I feel like I am a character in the community, Sara the English Teacher! I go to the market and my students point to me, “Mom, Look! It’s the teacher!” and I always greet them in English and that attitude encourages the parents to greet me in English too. I love that!
In the classroom, what I love most is the fact that I am teaching them a new language. I get to talk about anything with my students (provided I do it in English!). We talk about life, self-esteem, positive contribution to the world, professions, sustainability, green attitude, feelings, choices… and make them think!
What advice do you have for future young people considering teaching abroad long term?
We need passionate people teaching our students! Be enthusiastic about the English language! Understand what your student needs and be a bridge of self-confidence and independence!
If you enjoyed Sara’s inspirational story, check out our favorite Brazil nuts, Margot and Erik’s TEFL adventure.