GoAbroad Interview

Kimberly Bird - Assistant Director

Kimberly Bird - Assistant Director

Kimberly is from Salt Lake City, Utah. During her undergraduate studies, she realized that she wanted to travel the world while also gaining valuable skills. After graduating, Kimberly taught English in Russia, Ukraine, China, Hungary, and Estonia before joining the BridgeTEFL team. As Assistant Director, she thoroughly enjoys watching aspiring TEFL teachers become successfully certified international ESL teachers.

You were an experienced ESL teacher before you began working for BridgeTEFL. How did you come upon the job opportunity at BridgeTEFL?

I was looking for an opportunity to work at an organization that was internationally focused with an emphasis on education. Since I have taught abroad several times throughout Eastern Europe and Asia, I was excited to help others get certified so that they could do the same!

International teacher with kindergarten students in Budapest
Kimberly teaching at an international kindergarten in Budapest

How do you use your own experience teaching abroad to guide individuals interested in participating in BridgeTEFL’s programs?

I love guiding participants through the decision making process of finding the right certification for their preferred teaching region. The world is an exciting place to teach, and I want to help answer any questions that come up along the way. I like helping people who are not traditionally teachers to get the training they need to become an EFL/ESL teacher abroad.

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

I’d recommend having a healthy balance of open mindedness for when things don’t go as expected, but still plan as much as you can! If you can set as much up before you depart, your arrival in the new country will go that much better. But, you always have to be aware that things will be quite different, so flexibility is also key.

As an experienced TEFL teacher, what makes BridgeTEFL stand out from other TEFL/TESOL certification providers in your opinion?

I’d say that our backstory is different from other TEFL/TESOL providers. Bridge began as a language training center with EFL/ESL teachers. Bridge found that their teachers needed more training and help to be the best teachers possible, so they created their own internal training program to make their teachers the best in the industry.

As time passed, Bridge saw that they had created a fantastic training program that should be shared with the world! Later, Bridge took advantage of online learning and created one of the first online TEFL/TESOL programs, so that teachers could train from anywhere in the world.

We recently launched an entirely new learning platform for our online courses that is the new best platform in the TEFL industry. Learning online should be fun and interactive, and that’s what ours is (and mobile friendly)!

Students visiting Zion National Park in Utah
Kimberly with a group of international students visiting Zion National Park in Utah

How does BridgeTEFL support participants once they have completed their program?

Finding a job abroad can be daunting, that’s for sure! We provide job resources within the course, and for those who complete our IDELT Online or an onsite course, we also provide lifetime access to a job advisor, who can guide participants through the process of finding and qualifying for jobs.

In your opinion, what is the greatest benefit of being TEFL certified?

The first few times I taught abroad, I wasn’t TEFL certified and I had no idea what I was doing! I didn’t know how to design a lesson plan or teach grammar. I was basically making it up as I went along, and it was stressful! After I got my TEFL certification, I was much more confident in the classroom. Just because I spoke English natively didn’t mean I had the skills needed to be a great teacher; my TEFL certification filled that gap. 

How do you think teaching English abroad enables BridgeTEFL alumni to travel meaningfully?

I always wanted to live abroad, not just travel. I like visiting new cities and touring all of the historic sites, but at the end of the day, I wanted to support myself abroad and really dive deep into the culture and language where I was living. Teaching abroad gave me that option; I could earn money to support myself while also spending significant time in different regions of the world. I think that it makes me much more of a global citizen, having lived for so long in different countries. 

River view in Mostar, Sarajevo
Kimberly traveling in Mostar, Sarajevo

If you could teach English abroad again, where would you go?

So many places! I’d love to teach in Germany, Slovenia, Chile, or Morocco.

What is the best part about your job?

Hearing from alumni about where they are now teaching. We love to spotlight past students and their current teaching adventures!