GoAbroad Interview

Hannah Leidich - Admissions & Job Guidance Coordinator

Hannah is from Pennsylvania, USA and holds a BS in Psychology and a minor in German. She has always loved languages and knew she had to seize the opportunity to live and work abroad when it was placed in front of her. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, practicing German, baking, and playing the piano.

You offer your teacher trainees support throughout the entire TEFL course process. Teachers can turn to you after years of teaching if they need help. Does this ever happen?

We frequently receive emails from graduates who want some support in their job search. Some grads are moving from one location abroad to another while others have been home for a while but couldn’t shake the itch to teach abroad again!

A beautiful view of Prague and the Vltava at dusk

A beautiful view of Prague and the Vltava at dusk.

What challenges do teachers who have been in the TEFL industry for years run into to?

The biggest challenge that our graduates old and new face is the constantly changing visa requirements that vary by country. Every time someone relocates to a new country, the visa process can be a whole new challenge!

You just earned your TEFL certification recently, yet moved right into the advising and administrative side of the industry. Why did you move so quickly from standing in front of the classroom to helping other teachers?

 A view from Křivoklát Castle in the Czech Republic

On a whim Hannah decided to join some friends and take a day trip to Křivoklát Castle. This is the view from one of the towers they climbed!

I’m really happy where I am right now because in addition to TEFL Worldwide Prague, I also work with a few individual students every week through a local language school so it keeps me on my toes with teaching. However, I find the administrative side of it extremely rewarding because I get to assist people in their transition abroad. I’ve had the fortune of traveling abroad a few times before including an exchange program in Germany and I know the value of an international experience. It was always my dream to facilitate an exchange program or a system that helped people be part of a new place and culture. I received an excellent education at TEFL Worldwide Prague and it makes me proud to represent such a wonderful school as a means for others to live their dream abroad.

One of your specialties is job guidance. Since your advisees could literally work almost anywhere, where would you recommend someone teach if their mission was to earn as much money as possible? What about someone that wanted to truly just get away from it all?

In both situations, they should have their sights set on Asia! Especially if they’re careful with their money, teachers in South Korea can save an impressive amount of money. Southeast Asia, like Taiwan and Thailand, are good to get away from it all (since many of our graduates are from the US and the UK, I’d say the other side of the world is as far away as you can get!) Visa regulations in Asia, especially South Korea, can be very strict so be sure look into the timeline of requirements.

On the other hand, if Asia isn’t exactly what someone has in mind, there are small towns in the Czech Republic which can offer a refreshing change of pace and certainly allow you to “get away from it all.” Plus, there are beautiful European cities right in your backyard when you’re feeling a little more adventurous!

You are originally from Pennsylvania, but now call Prague home. What do enjoy most about life in Prague?

The three things I enjoy most about Prague are:

  1. The phenomenal network of TEFL Worldwide Prague graduates that are here. We’re all different but have a common thread that all lead us to the same place at the same time and I’m so grateful for the friends I’m surrounded with here! We just celebrated a Thanksgiving dinner with over 30 people. The sense of community is very strong.
  2. The location in the heart of Europe. I’m in the process of planning a few upcoming trips and I feel like every European city is at my fingertips!
  3. It’s safe here. I’m from a small town in Pennsylvania and I would never call myself a city girl, but here I am comfortably living in a city and loving it! 

Honorable mention: Sure, Pennsylvania has Hershey's chocolate, but that doesn’t compare to all of the delicious chocolate here!

A view of Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

After a hike up the mountain, Hannah stopped along a bridge for a great view of Neuschwanstein before our tour of the famous castle!

You had traveled throughout Europe, but a month in Prague is what made you stay. What was it about the city that really grabbed you?

The three things I love most about it are what grabbed me. I realized how beautiful it was here and not only could I live in a safe and beautiful city, but I also had wonderful people to experience it with! Plus, I have to mention that it has a very reasonable visa process for teachers and the cost of living isn’t as high as western Europe. I saw a million reasons to stay and very few reasons to consider anywhere else!

Your background in Psychology seems like the perfect fit for advising future teachers. Do you often need to help trainees that are running from something back home or, on the other side of the coin, very homesick?

I’ve heard it all - everyone has their own reasons for deciding to live and teach abroad, and it runs the gamut from “I couldn’t take another day of my 9 to 5 office job,” to “I just can’t wait to teach a bunch of cute kids!” There’s something inside of all of us that made us take the leap of faith to take the first major step, and once they’re in our office talking to me, they’re looking to the future more than they’re thinking of past. Some people get homesick, but that’s actually a very fortunate circumstance… it means they have something wonderful behind them as well as something exciting ahead of them so they really can’t go wrong! Those that have been proactive enough to come to this point are usually ready to keep moving forward, no matter what brought them here in the first place!

Colorful parrots in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Hannah couldn’t help but get a picture with these colorful parrots in San Juan.

What does job guidance really entail? Can you find someone a job almost anywhere?

Job Guidance at TEFL Worldwide Prague has two primary parts. First, we’ll talk about what to expect in interviews, typical salaries (especially in Prague), and what it’s like to be a TEFL certified teacher. We also offer CV and cover letter review, and I’m happy to sit down with someone before a big interview to talk things through and shake off some nerves! The second part of our job guidance is our job postings. Whenever we find an appealing job offer online or a school contacts us, we post it where our graduates can access it and respond to the ad. When a graduate contacts us, we do our best to find him or her jobs ads in the requested area and talk about the general TEFL job market there. However, at the end of the day it’s up to the teacher to apply, interview, and get the job.

You also work as an Admissions Coordinator for TEFL Worldwide Prague. What is something you look for in potential teachers?

Being personable is very important! It doesn’t mean that they have to be outgoing, but have a personality where they have experience working with other people and reading their needs. The rest of the technical teaching skills can be learned at TEFL Worldwide Prague. I didn’t know anything about teaching before I came, but they really teach you what you’ll need to know. Having a friendly, patient, and hard-working personality are important qualities in potential teachers!

What is the most common concern of new TEFL teachers and how do you help them work through it?

Their biggest concern is “will I get a job?,” and my response is simple: apply, apply, apply!! There’s usually a positive correlation between the number of applications sent and the number of job offers received, so the best thing to do is apply as much as possible! I’m here to review their CV and cover letter before they send it off so I’ll support them with that.

Tourist at the Pantheon in Rome, Italy

It was a swelteringly hot day in Rome, but that didn’t stop Hannah’s excitement for being at the Pantheon! 

TEFL Worldwide Prague offers a Job Workshop on the last day of each course to help graduates find jobs. What does this day include and do many of your graduates find a job that day?

The representative explains his or her school to our students and it’s a nice role reversal - our students aren’t selling themselves to the schools as much as the language schools are selling themselves to the students! Our students may listen to as many presentations as they’d like and share their CV. Not only do the schools collect CVs from our students (which often results in interview invitations!), but it also gives the students a “feel” for language schools in Prague, and they can compare the differences between schools.

Are there any new developments at TEFL Worldwide Prague happening this year?

There’s nothing in particular that I can think of at the moment except that we’re excited to see what 2015 brings and we’re looking forward to another great year!