Sarah McAtee - 2014 Program Participant
Oktoberfest 2014 - Munich, Germany
What inspired you to become an ESL teacher?
As a recent graduate, I was looking for a way to travel and go abroad while making money at the same time. I also wanted to explore different career paths, so I thought teaching English abroad would be a great way to do this. There are numerous programs to go through if you want to go abroad, so I started doing a lot of research until I found the right fit for myself.
Why did you choose TEFL Worldwide Prague for your certification?
As I was researching online, I saw an ad for TEFL Worldwide Prague that caught my eye. I had friends that had studied abroad in Prague, and they only had amazing things to say about the city. The more I looked into their website and what they had to offer, the more excited about it I became. I immediately felt like I found the perfect program for what I was looking to do.
What is so great about Prague?
Prague is a city you can't help but to fall in love with. It's jaw-droppingly beautiful, and it's hard not to be happy in a city like Prague. The best part about Prague, though, in comparison to other European cities, is how affordable it is. They're not on the Euro and they have their own form of currency, so it's almost shocking how low the cost of living is. As a recent graduate and someone in their early twenties, this was a very big selling point for me. The location is also very central in Europe, so traveling to other areas around Europe is very easy.
What makes TEFL Worldwide Prague unique?
The people. Everyone at TEFL Worldwide was so helpful and welcoming before, during and after the course. Not to mention, our two instructors were some of the best teachers that I've ever had. Everyone wonders how you're going to teach English to people that don't know your language at all, and they made it look so easy.
Another unique part was being thrown into teaching right off the bat during the first week. At first it's a little nerve-wracking, but it completely forces you out of your comfort zone, which is so important for teaching. After a month of the program, I felt completely comfortable and motivated to work with students that hardly knew any English words. The course offers a perfect balance of intensive training and fun.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The staff knows how scary and overwhelming it can be in your first month abroad, let alone while taking an intensive course. They made sure to make us feel as comfortable as possible with the entire process. They kept us up-to-date with all job offers throughout Prague and other cities of interest. They helped guide us in the right direction to finding affordable apartments, getting our visa process started, and ways to enjoy what Prague had to offer. Before the course started, we were given a tour of the city, along with helpful information, such as using the metro and getting a SIM card. Everyone is so friendly, so any questions we had were easily answered by staff that had previously been through the same process.
Is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
There's not a whole lot I would have done differently. Originally, I wanted to live abroad and travel for about six months. I ended up loving it here so much, though, that I decided to stay in Prague for a year. I wish I would have committed to a year-long stay earlier, this way I could have prepared better by possibly saving more money before I moved here. But all in all, it wasn't that big of a deal.
What was a typical day like during your TEFL certification courses?
A typical day during the program was from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The best part about it, though, was that every day was completely different and not monotonous. Before lunch, we would sit through two different lessons; for example, the first hour would be on how to teach a "conversational" English lesson and the second hour could be how to teach "grammar". After lunch we would have another lesson, and then it would be our turn to teach Czech students after the lesson. We would teach every other day, with a total of six lessons throughout the course. This is where we had to take what we learned from our morning lessons and put them to the test as teachers ourselves. If it was a day that we weren't teaching, then we got to go home early to prepare our lesson plans.
What did you enjoy about living in Prague outside of your TEFL coursework?
Since I came during the summer, the beer gardens were pretty hard to beat, especially while the World Cup was going on. The Czechs are known for their great beer, so there are several outdoor beer gardens where you can go hang out with your friends and enjoy cheap, delicious beer. Everything was still so new during that first month, so exploring the city and seeing everything there was to see was another one of my favorite activities. There's always something new to see and experience in a city like Prague.
Where did you live? What did you like best about your housing arrangements?
I lived in a flat about half a mile from the school. The best part about it was that everyone in the villa was in my program. Most of us went from not knowing a single soul to having immediate roommates and friends. My roommate was randomly paired with me, she is from New York, and we are still living with each other today, nine months later. The accommodation was very affordable for the month during our program, it was close to the metro and was walking distance to class.
How has participating in TEFL Worldwide Prague changed your life?
Currently, I am still living and teaching in Prague. I will be going home in about three months. Choosing to do this program and move abroad has forced me out of my comfort zone tremendously. I had never been abroad prior to this, so it has definitely been a true test of character and resilience, and a priceless experience at the same time. Seeing what else the world has to offer opens your eyes to more opportunities than you could ever imagine. A year ago the idea of moving abroad all by myself seemed almost impossible and something only my courageous friends would do. But now I know how doable it is, and it just makes me want to continue to challenge myself in different ways as I move forward with my life.