GoAbroad Interview

Jennifer Collis - Content Marketing & Social Media Manager

Jennifer Collis

Jennifer graduated from the University of South Florida, Tampa, with degrees in English and psychology. After working in social work, she gave in to her wanderlust and became TEFL certified; she then spent time teaching English in both Costa Rica and Morocco. Aside from teaching English, Jennifer also enjoys volunteering, and she has worked with foster kids in Costa Rica as well as rescued donkeys in Spain. She started working for BridgeTEFL as a TEFL Advisor in 2011, and she now serves as the Bridge Content Manager.

Your TEFL certification took you to three different countries, Costa Rica, Morocco, and Spain. What initially inspired you to become TEFL certified? 

I have always loved English (it was my first major), but for a while I was pursuing a career in social work (psychology was my second major) and it just wasn’t feeling like the right fit. Then I took a vacation to Costa Rica with a friend, and a lightbulb went off for me; I just knew I wanted to live there. Teaching English seemed like the perfect way for me to make that happen, so I found a course and got TEFL certified.

International teacher with students in Costa Rica
My first students in Heredia, Costa Rica 

You have traveled, volunteered, and worked in many different places and roles. How did you end up in your current job with BridgeTEFL?

After teaching abroad for a total of four years, first in Costa Rica, then in Morocco, I was ready to take a break from teaching and spend some time back in the States. I moved to Denver from my home state of Florida to try something different, and was lucky enough to see a job posting for a TEFL advisor at an international educational organization. I was determined to get the job, and I’ve been with Bridge ever since.

How do you use your experience teaching abroad to help effectively disseminate the benefits of tefl certification and BridgeTEFL’s programs?

For me, earning my TEFL certificate and then teaching English abroad was life changing. It’s so much different than just traveling somewhere, because you get to be part of the community where you’re living. Working for BridgeTEFL has given me the chance to let other people know that it’s possible for them to do this too.

TEFL certification is not just for English majors, or even people with degrees for that matter!

You don’t have to have tons of money to get certified (I didn’t!) or have teaching experience, necessarily, to get your first job. It’s really open to anyone, and I love educating people about that.

Girl standing in front of a mosaic tile wall
Morocco

You are in charge of the organization’s content marketing. What is BridgeTEFL’s most marketable attribute?

BridgeTEFL’s most marketable attribute is its accreditation and academic quality. What most people don’t realize is that TEFL providers don’t have to get accredited; the field does not have the same kinds of requirements that, say, universities do. However, Bridge has excellent accreditation and it’s recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and we got that through a very thorough review process that must be renewed every few years. Beyond that, we also have high standards for our TEFL courses in general, such as qualified tutors and updated curriculum, and I think that fact makes us marketable, too. 

When participants complete their program, what do they love most about their experience with BridgeTEFL?

If they took an online course with us, they usually they mention the tutors. Personal tutors give feedback throughout the many modules of their course, so students tend to form a relationship with their tutor during that time. People who get TEFL certified in our classroom courses usually say they love the connections they make with their classmates and teachers during the intense, four-week training. 

What do you think the biggest myths around the TEFL industry are? How do you help change people’s perceptions of the TEFL industry?

One one of the biggest myths is that you have to be in your 20s to go teach English abroad. Not true! I’ve worked with teachers of all ages, and in many regions, such as Latin America, older teachers are quite respected. We certify more and more retired people who are looking for an adventure abroad in the next phase of their life.

English teachers in Rabat, Morocco
With my fellow teachers in Rabat, Morocco


How does having a TEFL certification and teaching abroad allow people to have more enriching travel experiences?

I mentioned before that living and teaching in a country is really different from traveling somewhere as a tourist, and TEFL certification makes that possible. When you teach English, you are not taking from a country, but giving back to it. You are empowering people with a skill that can be life changing, leading to tangible improvements, like better jobs or acceptance to university. Tourists rarely get the chance to have such an impact!  

Girl hiking in Chefchaouen, Morocco
Hiking in Chefchaouen, Morocco

What is your best piece of advice for someone going abroad to teach for the first time?

My advice is to take all advice with a grain of salt. As individuals, our tastes, perceptions and expectations are all so different, and one person’s opinion on a country can vary wildly from another person’s perception of the same exact place. Trust your gut, first and foremost, when choosing a teaching location, and once you’re there, always try to keep an open mind. 

What is your favorite part about working for BridgeTEFL?

I’m really passionate about TEFL, which is a pretty specific niche in the field of education! So my favorite part of working for Bridge is having the opportunity every day to work in the field I love, and to inspire others people to try teaching abroad.