Meet Emma Barry, Five-Time TEFL Addict! 🎓
Emma joins us during the final stages of her Marketing & International Business degree at Cork Institute of Technology. She has a passion for experiencing new cultures and is fascinated by linguistics. She taught English in Catalonia for five consecutive summers and managed the academic side of the summer school for 2 summers. She loves to travel and has a long list of countries to tick off her bucket list. Read her story and learn more!
What has been your journey to working at Premier TEFL? Tell us about your education, your hometown, all the good stuff.
I am from Youghal, where our offices are based. I am currently completing a Marketing & International Business degree at Cork Institute of Technology – working with Premier TEFL is a part of my Work Placement module. I have three sisters and I live in the beautiful countryside of Youghal. I have a passion for travelling and and learning about new places so working for Premier TEFL is like a dream come true.
Have you ever taught abroad? If so, share some favorite memories!
I began teaching abroad in 2012 when I was 18 years old. I went to a small town called Prades, situated in the Baix Camp area of Catalonia. I had no teaching experience prior to working there and I ended up having one of the best summers of my life. I met so many new friends – some who I am still very close to in 2018. I had such an unforgettable time there that I made it my summer home, where I returned to every summer until 2016.
A favorite memory from my first summer in Catalonia was attending the town’s local “Festa del Cava” – which literally translates to Champagne Festival. The local town square’s fountain is replaced with champagne for one night – each person pays €10 and receive a cup and unlimited champagne for the night. But there’s a twist – the name of the game is to cover each other in champagne! Yes, I know it sounds daft but it is certainly a memory I will never forget from my first summer abroad. The teachers, monitors, and students I met in my first summer abroad gave me the best memories I will never forget.
Another favourite memory of mine is my first summer joining the directive team at my summer camp. I had spent 2 years teaching and my boss decided I would be a good candidate to become his assistant Director of Studies (ADOS). I was only 21 years of age so for me this was a huge achievement! It was such an amazing summer spent with the teenager term.
I really enjoyed being in charge of organizing classroom activities, reviewing lesson plans and checking up on teachers in their classes. It gave me a lot more time to engage with everyone and get to know kids of all ages in the camp. I made friends for life while I was teaching abroad, friends that I will always keep very close to my heart. Going abroad and meeting new people had to be something that EVERYONE should do. Leave your comfort zone, book the flight and go! Believe me, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my 24 years.
Having taught abroad multiple times, how would you summarize your biggest lesson learned from each individual stint in Cataluñya?
Due to the fact that I taught such an array of ages, every 2 weeks was different for me. When I would teach 4 and 5-year-olds, I loved incorporating music into my lessons. I loved teaching English through Disney songs that the students were familiar with both in English and Spanish. With my youngest class one year I did the Lion King Musical. Each student had a role and they performed songs in front of other classes, they also made their costumes during class from paper and materials which they painted themselves. I find that interactive lessons like that are very good for young students to keep their attention in class for more than an hour.
My lessons with the older teenagers were a lot more intense. I loved using video clips, that didn’t need any speaking to teach the teenagers about important issues like equality, love, respect, mindfulness and their futures. I particularly loved being seen as a friend rather than a figure of authority for the teenagers. This slowly but surely allowed me to engage with them on a mature level, and I still to this day have students who are now on their 20’s who I keep in contact with.
I used the website Film English a lot for my lessons. It is an amazing resource that provides lesson plans that are based on short films. Language teachers have been using films in their classes for decades, and there are a number of reasons why film is an excellent teaching and learning tool. I found it very good for my older students, as it always brought the class to a debate, in English!!
Another FAVORITE memory I have from my time teaching abroad is the numerous parties that we held for the kids, and all of the different dressing up moments I had. Every day would be a different theme in the camp ranging from Medieval Day to Superhero day to Halloween parties. I found myself dressings up and having so much fun with the kids.
(Wild West party)
(Asterix & Obelix party)
How do you let your teaching abroad experiences influence the work you do for Premier TEFL?
Working for a company that provides the opportunity to teach abroad is possibly one of the best places to work for. My experiences of being abroad and having such a fantastic time enable me to be genuine in my work. Every post that I share on social media recommending you to go abroad is truthful and genuine because I have been lucky enough to have had the experiences. I feel as though I am a great person for a first-time teacher to speak with for any nerves or questions they have, I am always happy to help anyone prepare for their first time teaching abroad.
Teaching abroad also made me much more confident. It helped me to become a public speaker and not to be nervous or afraid of doing presentations at home in university. It genuinely opens your eyes and matures you.
Tell me the three BEST things about you. <3
Hmm… I like to think I am a person who always tries to be positive and to spread it around to the people around me. I don’t like to see people being negative for silly reasons. Life is too short – I am very grateful for what I have.
I love a good laugh – there’s a rare hour that goes by where I don’t remember to laugh. It truly is the best medicine around.
I consider myself a caring person. I like to make sure people are okay and that they are not struggling or suffering. I suppose you could call me empathic, I think this characteristic is great for the job I’m in.
I’m worried about your travel ambitions to Tibet and your love for cheese. Did you know their cheese tastes pretty weird?
Haha, I’ve not tried Tibetan cheese—but Irish cheese is certainly a favorite of mine! Traveling to Tibet is something I want to do because I have always been fascinated by Tibetan monks and their lifestyle. I would love to go there and see their temples. Maybe I’ll bring them some Irish cheese 😉
Where do you hope to teach abroad next? (Because you’re addicted, right?)
At the moment, I’ve had my fun as a TEFL teacher. I have spent five summers teaching, and I am now focused on obtaining my degree in Marketing & International Business and doing some of my own travelling.
But if I had to do a TEFL job in the morning —I would be doing Premier TEFL’s Thailand Internship. And maybe the Vietnam one straight after… Ok maybe my TEFL bug is back now 😉 ✈️
Thanks Emma, and thanks for all the work you do to keep Premier TEFL going strong!