Cat McIntyre - 2015 Program Participant

Why did you decide to apply for a TEFL certification program abroad?

I wanted to travel to Central Europe, and my goal to teach classes in Vietnam required a TEFL certificate.

Why did you choose TEFL Worldwide Prague?

It was the right length (one month) to fit my travel plans, it was well-reviewed on GoAbroad (which has given me reliable advice at least three times before), and it was located in a country I wanted to visit.

Italian language students in Italy

Learning Italian in Sardinia last year

What was your favorite part about Prague?

Having a shared apartment close to the school and to a shopping center, and real, live Czech students studying English to teach.

What characteristic of your program makes it unique in your opinion?

Very experienced teachers, a well-planned program of study with high expectations, and solid support for attaining success. I haven't worked so hard for years, which made succeeding especially meaningful.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

Always positive, always there as scheduled, always energetic and helpful. When I didn't have a towel, the head of the school personally loaned me one of her's for a month! Guidance one-on- one from teachers outside class, a bank of computers and three printers to complete required lesson plans, an excellent resource library for lesson plans, and even Czech lessons! Not to mention answering many logistical questions about getting around the city, changing money, and providing links to previous program participants now teaching locally.

Alba Iulia statue in Transylvania, Romania

Visiting Alba Iulia, in Transylvania, after completing TEFL training in Prague

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

I wish I had known beforehand how difficult it was going to be to be a student again, and have to keep up with people 30 to 40 years younger than me.

Describe a day in the life of your program.

Up at 5:30 a.m., complete lesson plan over first cup of coffee, breakfast and personal prep, walk to school by the time the doors opened at 9:00 a.m. Print out lesson plan and submit, two one and half hour classes with 20 minute breaks in between, another 75 to 90 minute break for lunch, an hour teaching Czech students by myself, and then observing others teach for two hours followed by 45 minutes of getting feedback on my teaching. Home for dinner and some rest. Then two to four hours making lesson plans and completing other assignments before sleeping.

What did you spend your free time doing?

Finding and buying teacher tools (i.e. highlighter pens, scissors) and local foods (with no English labels) and exploring Prague.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it? 

An apartment, shared with another student, that was ten minutes walk from school and a shopping center, with my own bedroom and a well-equipped kitchen. It had a great view (since it was on the third floor) in a pleasant neighborhood. There was a washing machine in the basement and drying racks provided. There was always hot water and the apartment was easy to keep clean.

What was the hardest part about earning TEFL certification abroad?

I hadn't been a student for almost 25 years, and the other 22 students were much younger, so it took a while to become confident that I could master this task. Plus, it was a ton of work, very concentrated; my brain was taxed big time!

What surprised you most about Prague?

Few people spoke English, or few are willing to speak English. They are a very reserved culture. The city has excellent public transport that is better than Vienna! With a special trip to Florenc station, Czk 100 worth of photos, and another Czk 20, I was able to get a senior card that enabled me to travel free. Finally, I was thrilled to be in the midst of a populace that loves classical music. For those of us seniors that are no longer enthused by inexpensive beer, inexpensive opera is fantastic.

Mountain view in Torosco, Transylvania, Romania

Torosco, Transylvania, Romania

How difficult was it to communicate with locals?

Pretty difficult, but on the first day in class we learned greetings, and that seemed to break the ice when interacting with locals. Plus, most of my early interactions were with people in and around the school who seemed familiar with my needs and spoke enough English to successfully communicate.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before traveling to the Czech Republic?

That I needed a towel in my apartment. I was first assigned to a hotel room, where towels are provided. Near my departure for Prague, a shared apartment became available, so I snatched it up, but towels did not come with the apartment and none were to be found in nearby stores. Luckily, the hotel and the school proprietor both loaned me a towel for the month I needed one.

Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Prague?

Other than the towel, mentioned above, I had everything I needed in my bag. I have lots of travel experience, and with the washing machine available in my apartment building (once I figured out how to use it), I got by well. Just be aware that drying what you washed requires at least a day on the rack in cold weather!

How has earning your TEFL certification impacted your life?

I have already begun planning to assess the student I've been tutoring for three years to find out what she really needs and to develop an individual teaching plan for her. I've also volunteered to teach grammar to classes through the English literacy program where I have volunteered for eight years.

Would you recommend TEFL Worldwide Prague to other aspiring English teachers?

Absolutely, without any hesitation. Best teachers, best program, best students, and best location.