Alumni Spotlight: Eric Wollersberger


Eric is a dual American / Austrian national. Although he was educated in English and knows the language from his American mother, he’s also fluent in German having grown up in Germany and Austria. He is a recent graduate of Falmouth University in the UK.

Why did you choose this program?

I looked through around ten websites as I was doing my research. I found Vantage’s website to be highly informative on the specifics on what I’d be learning — the course content — as well as a lot of good information on the English teaching industry.

I also looked at reviews on sites like Vantage’s reviews had a lot of “meat” on them and gave me a good idea what to expect in doing a TEFL program with them.

Another consideration was the class sizes. Many of the other programs I research had classes of 16 and even 20 students. Vantage promised no more than eight and I believed I would get more personal attention in a small group.

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

I had already graduated and wasn’t on campus when I decided to do my TEFL. So I did all my own research and that led me to choose both the country and the course provider. However, once I decided on a course I contacted Vantage and they answered all my questions.

I had a barrage of questions that were answered over a series of emails. Many of these were dealing with logistical things like accommodation and transportation but also I needed to know the legalities such as what type of visa I needed. Longer term, I wanted to know how I could transition into an employed teacher with a Thai work permit.

Vantage really helped with an understanding of all my legal options and even such things as how to open a Thai bank account.

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

I think I’d tell them to forget about any preconceived notions they made have had about being a successful teacher.

I’m not extroverted and I thought that was something more or less essential to becoming a good teacher. After all, I’d have to stand up in front of a class and deliver a lesson.

As my practice teaching session went on, I learned how my introverted side can be an asset in the class. Introverts do have many strengths: we are often empathetic, thoughtful, we are often completers/finishers – and my trainers pointed out that these are excellent traits for a teacher.

The feedback I got from Vantage’s trainers was that it was observed I was particularly good a working one-on-one with individual students. I’ve since learned to incorporate this into group activities and role-playing exercises.

I learned that there’s no one style in becoming a successful teacher. Good instructors are part extroverts and part introverts.

I’ve learned how to develop—or bring out—my own personality in directing a successful lesson in a live classroom. And while the introverted side is my strong suit I’ve now developing an extroverted side to complement my current strengths.

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

In a word—busy. This class is intensive especially during the days where you do your observed teaching sessions. While we started late morning, we would often go into the early evening as well. And on some days, you’ll have to prepare lesson plans for the next day’s class.

Having said that, it was always engaging and always challenging. But be forewarned: there is a lot of work to do. But the load can be handled if you keep up on a daily basis.

For me, the rewards were well worth it. Spending most of one month focusing on teaching has made me confident that I could step into a classroom and successfully teach English. And I couldn’t have said that before I took the course.

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

I’m not sure how this question applies to me. I’m a dual national so I grew up abroad—and I have traveled extensively as well. So I am pretty used to experiencing different ways of doing things. My biggest fears were about becoming a professional teacher. I didn’t really have any cultural issues at all.