Alumni Spotlight: Leon Taylor

Why did you choose this program?

American ESL teacher with Thai students in classroom

In short, because I’m demanding. I chose Vantage TEFL Certification in Bangkok as I wanted a lot of personal attention and that’s exactly what I got. On the teaching side, their lead trainer had 25+ years in the industry and really knew his stuff.

He had a very engaging way of teaching, so even though we received a lot of new material each day, it was always both fun and challenging to digest the material.

The other thing I wanted was personal attention on the job front. I got that in spades. We created what Vantage call a “Power Resume”, which we did one-on-one for a full afternoon a week after the class ended. I don’t know how much that would have cost me in the States, but that doesn’t come cheap.

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

Vantage provided everything I needed for the actual course save pen and paper. They also gave great assistance in helping me find accommodation in their neighborhood. Even their receptionist was a great storehouse of local knowledge on where to go to eat and routine matters.

They even gave me a lot of pre-course advice so I really didn’t have to worry much about anything. I just had to get myself to the school.

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

That it’s a lot of work. If you just want to sit in class and then ‘entertain’ yourself at night, you’ll really start to feel in after a few days.

Having said that, the class is very engaging so the challenges are both welcomed and anticipated. The time will fly by. But I guess that’s what made everyone in my class a really professional teacher by the end of the course. We all improved dramatically.

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

Every day was intense. We’d start bright and early going over that day’s topic in the course syllabus. We would often discuss that by the lead trainer elicitation of our thoughts and understanding on the topic. This would be expanded to group discussions. This sometimes led to actual demonstrations of the teaching technique both by us and the trainer.

On days we had our practicum, which we start late afternoons, we would be teaching and observing other students well into the evening.

The days were long and because the program was so intensive, our group bonded together very well. The social interactions led to making the course even more enjoyable.

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

My biggest fear was that I wouldn't get the same quality of program outside the USA. However, everybody at Vantage was great. The lead trainers really encourage my use of art in the class. Their Jobs Coach worked with me for hours one-on-one.

I even got additional support from their trainer who teaches Thai as a foreign language experience. He help me at the nearby local market with food and fruit names.

What was your favorite part about Thailand?

I believe what really makes Bangkok special is that so many Thais from all over the Kingdom come here to work. And that means they bring their unique part of Thailand with them. Bangkok is a melting pot for all things Thai. If you’re new to Thailand — as I was — it’s a great place to get a feel for the entire Thai culture.

The other strange thing about Bangkok is that, even though it’s among the planet’s larger cities, it really has a small town feel. People smile at you and are very friendly. If you can speak a bit of Thai, they will talk to you.

That doesn’t happen so easily in Los Angeles, New York, or London.