I've been in Asia for over a decade, so I wanted to get a taste of European culture while escaping the brutal Japanese summer. While doing research on European programs, I came across the Language House and saw that it had a pretty good reputation.
Alumni Spotlight: Stuart Gregory
Stuart has been living in Japan for 12 years, with a few years of teaching experience interspersed. He wanted to get back to the teaching life after spending a while in the corporate world, so he decided to do things right and get his TEFL certificate before jumping back in.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The program provider basically took care of everything that I needed, including housing and transportation passes. We had a good orientation as well as some tours to nearby parts of the Czech Republic. I just had to buy my own plane ticket.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
This program requires a lot of work and effort, so don't take it if you want a couple of breezy weeks in Europe to relax and spend some free time. The Language House program is geared toward people who want to become teachers, so it's an excellent option if you want to get the most expertise in the least amount of time. Just be prepared to pay attention and put in the hours.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
The days at The Language House are packed. We start class at 9:30 and go until 1:00, with a 30 minute break in between. After class ends we eat lunch and plan our lessons before our classes start at 5:00. Teaching ends at around 7:30 or 8:00 at night, and then we have feedback from our instructors. Usually one day over the weekend is dedicated to doing a take-home assignment.
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've been abroad for a long time, so I didn't have any fears in particular. My biggest point of worry was the business side of things: How would I get new students when I came back to Japan? How much should I charge? What kinds of students should I go after? Most of these things were taken care of in a business lecture from Chris, where he covered the basics of how to run a freelance teaching business.
What was the biggest benefit of getting a certification in Europe as opposed to going without one?
The community is hands down one of the biggest benefits of actually going in person. Having man-to-man teaching classes where you're being observed by peers, making friends, and gaining a network for after you graduate are all irreplaceable aspects of the course.
Even after graduation, the staff keeps up with attendees pretty closely, and there are always job opportunities shared among alums.