30 June 2015 / by Elena Riches

TEFL teaching experience

If teaching English as a foreign language (commonly known as TEFL) is something that appeals to you, you may want to know what it's like before taking the plunge. Here, I am going to give you an insight into a real TEFL teaching experience .

John Shepherd was a teacher at Oxbridge TEFL in Barcelona but decided to move on to pastures new and is now teaching in Hong Kong. Here's what he has to say about his encounters:

How long have you been teaching ESL (English as a second language)?

I have been teaching ESL for two years, I started in Barcelona in the summer of 2013.

What made you decide to become a TEFL teacher?

I always wanted to travel and I found that teaching was the best way to combine travelling with some kind of career progression.

Why did you choose Barcelona?

I wanted to stay in Europe and I believed that Barcelona was the best city in Europe. It has everything.  A truly cosmopolitan, bustling city, with the beach thrown in there as an added extra!

What was your most memorable moment in Barcelona?

It's hard to pick one definitive moment as the whole experience was brilliant. I made so many friends - even people that started off as students became friends. For the whole 18 months that I was in Barcelona I was genuinely happy to go to work every day and that’s not a feeling I had when I was back home in the UK during the dark cold mornings.

How does teaching in Barcelona differ from teaching in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong I am teaching children and my oldest student is 11 years old so, its very different. At a young age the children have to take an interview in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, just to enter Kindergarten, so the pressure and challenges are very different to what I previously experienced in Barcelona.

Have you experienced any cultural difficulties in teaching ESL?

Not so much difficulties but differences. The discipline of the young children in Hong Kong is something that has surprised me. The children are so well behaved and very well educated. I teach 4 year olds in reading and speaking classes and cannot believe the conversations I have with them. Sometimes I can’t quite believe that they are even speaking in their second language so, the culture of childrens’ education is very different. From a very early age the children are in and around the English language and there is such an intense focus on it in Hong Kong.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I like to think I am a fun teacher, and if my students aren’t enjoying themselves then I’m not doing my job properly. I also feel that enjoyment plays a pivotal role in teaching and I'd like to think that that comes through in my teaching style.

What tips do you have for anyone wanting to become an ESL teacher?

Don’t be scared! I'm 28 years old and feel like I should have done this much earlier but didn't because I was probably a bit scared of the unknown. However, the unknown is exciting and should be embraced!

So, if you were thinking of becoming an English teacher but wasn't quite sure, I hope this real TEFL teaching experience was enough to sway your decision. Don't delay, contact Oxbridge TEFL TODAY for a no-obligation interview (either by Skype or in-person if you're in Barcelona or Madrid) and you could be well on your way to fulfilling an ambition. As John says...."Don't be scared"!




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