Ashley McLain - 2016 Program Participant

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

Originally, I wanted to travel, but had no idea where to start. I didn't have any transferable skills, so I started looking into ways to be trained in something I already had access to. I wanted to give back, and also be able to provide for myself. I ran across several TEFL programs, and decided that this would offer me just what I wanted.

John Lennon Wall near Prague Castle

"John Lennon Wall" near Prague castle

What made you pick Smaller Earth?

I chose Smaller Earth because of the professionalism and the fact there were reviews from so many other sites from their students. I wanted to enroll in a program I felt was trustworthy, and that I knew would be the best for the price. It also helped that they never were pressuring me to hurry and sign up, or making it seem like another sale. They helped me find information and other resources before I had even decided on the program. This reassured me that they were genuine, and definitely made me feel more confident in my decision to go to them. I really liked that they incorporated so much into the month of classes, I feel like I took a lot away from them.

What did you enjoy most about Prague?

Prague is a beautiful city, full of awe-inspiring sites. I would see something daily that blows me away. The old architecture and rich history are so fascinating, both truly focus on art. I love that there are so many shows and festivals that are based around food, film, art, and history. I think that there was at least one event every weekend that I was there. I love that there are so many friendly people, and there is always something new to see. I feel like this city is a true gem.

Church of St. Ludmila, Prague, Czech Republic

One of the amazing daily views on my route to school

What made your Smaller Earth’s program experience unique?

I think it was unique that they brought us over to the country of our choice to learn from them. I think this was super beneficial in the teaching process because it let us teach students hands-on, and get a real feel for what teaching is going to be like. This is especially useful if we intend to use our TEFL certificate to travel and teach.

What did you think about the local staff support?

The staff were amazing, and really went above and beyond to help us. I love how everyone was super supportive, and they are really friendly. I think they made sure to cover all bases while starting this program, and I think that they did outstandingly at teaching us what we needed to know. They organized trips and events to help us meet local alumni/expats that they knew. I have had a lot of fun meeting everyone, and every event has been super fun. I think they have really created quite a community with people of the program, to help with anything that you could think of in terms of jobs, moving, etc. Overall, they are just a group of great, helpful people that go beyond their call of duty for the people they work with.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I would have probably stressed out less and took more notes. I think that I would have also liked to have gone to a few more social events with alumni and classmates while with the program.

A view of Prague Castle

Prague castle from the bridge

What was an average day like for you in Prague?

Around 8:30 a.m., everyone started taking turns on the morning routines, and by 10 a.m., everyone headed out for breakfast or to the tram stop for class. My fiancé and I generally stopped for a coffee and croissant in the mornings. We started class with grammar lessons, and then had a break before be taught how to present lessons.

After that, we would have lunch and lesson-planning time to start planning our lessons for the week or to get our homework finished. Around 4:30 p.m. we would start cleaning for the Czech students to come in, and, depending on the day, we would take turns teaching. Two people would teach in a night, and then afterward our trainer would give us feedback to help us better our lessons. We also did one-on-one lessons, but we had to do those around our lesson planning or regular class schedule, so it varied for everyone.

What did you do in your free time?

We didn't have too much extra time around homework, but we went out to try new restaurants. I really enjoyed walking around the Old Square when we went out occasionally.

How was your accommodations in Prague? What did you most appreciate about it?

We shared a flat with our other classmates. I liked that we (my fiancé and I) had our own room that was furnished like a studio. It was small, but super efficient and much better than a dorm. We had our own keys to the room, flat, and building so that we could come and go as we wished. It was set up in a roommate style which was great for when we decided to cook for each other and such.

Old Town Square, Prague, Czech Republic

Old square

Now that you're home, how has your program impacted your life? 

I actually am not home yet, and I really am not sure I am going back! I love it so much in Prague that my fiancé and I are thinking about using this TEFL certificate as an opportunity to stay.