Alumni Spotlight: Toni Everitt

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I was looking to do a TEFL course in Peru and TEFL Zorritos seemed like my best fit. Ellie, the program coordinator was helpful and supportive throughout the entire experience, even in my annoying hyper questioning phase.

The location of the course played a big part in my decision to study with TEFL Zorritos too. The course is right on the beach and the town is an hour away from Mancora - which is perfect for blowing off steam at the end of the course.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

As soon as I had been accepted into the course, the program provider emailed me a whole document full of really useful information.

It included helpful tips about how to get to Zorritos (which buses to take, where to fly to, etc), information about the town itself, visa information (ask for 180 days at the airport), what to expect from the accommodation. It was a very comprehensive document that answered most of my questions.

I was able to email the program provider for anything that I wanted more reassurance on, and within a few days I had an informative and helpful reply.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

The one piece of advice I would offer is to come to the course with an open mind and a list of questions about teaching that you want answers to. Ellie has a wealth of experience teaching and it really helped to be able to ask her specific questions about things like classroom management, lesson planning, what sort of wage to expect, etc., and get honest answers from someone that has already been there.

Zorritos is an oddly expensive town, not by European standards, but by Peruvian standards. Bare this in mind before you travel so you can save a bit before you get here and don't be put off. Not all of Peru is as expensive!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The first week of the course requires the most concentration. It is heavily methodology based and you are required to complete a one page assignment every night. You will learn about different teaching styles, how to control your class, how to effectively plan lessons, and much more.

The second week is when you begin teaching yourself. In the mornings you learn the basics of English grammar through mini lessons with Ellie. She teaches these classes as if we were EFL students ourselves, which was so helpful because I didn't know the first thing about English grammar.

Monday - Wednesday evening you teach a one hour class. You will teach a different ability and age group each night (from beginner children to advanced adult). The day after each teaching session you receive detailed feedback from your observer.

The third and fourth week follow a similar pattern to the second week with the grammar getting progressively difficult.

In the fourth week you teach four classes instead of three to make up your 10 hours of observed teaching time. In the last few days of the fourth week your lessons with Ellie tend to revolve around her teaching you what to expect from teaching positions and schools in Peru and other Latin American countries, what questions to ask in your interviews, and other general housekeeping activities.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear about teaching abroad was finishing the course and being left in the lurch and having to find my own way around Peru. This was never once an issue. Even before I had finished the course, Ellie was there to help all of us find the cities that would be suit our personalities and in those cities, institutes she felt would compliment our teaching styles.

After finishing the course and moving to my new city Ellie has continued to be a source of support and encouragement. She was on the phone with me the night before my interview ready to help me plan my lesson and talk through the nuances of my grammar topic.

She was there on the phone when I found out I got the job and I am still in frequent contact with her.

Furthermore, looking back on it, I had nothing to worry about. Peru is a very hospitable country. I have never had a problem making friends here with expats and natives alike. Everyone is friendly and open.

How can you make the most of Zorritos whilst you are there?

Aside from the aforementioned wringing Ellie of all teaching knowledge, make sure you explore the town and the surrounding towns.

Zorritos is in a good location, Tumbes is very close. Whilst I was on the course, Tumbes was having a Peruvian food festival which was amazing. It had the best dishes from all over the country in one field.

Zorritos itself has some great little places to visit too. It has mud baths and a hot spring. It also has a good beach with surfing opportunities, nice chill restaurants to eat in such as 3 Puntos. Zorritos is an hour away from Mancora, a wonderful town with lots of good restaurant and great nightlife.