Alumni Spotlight: Ambrosia Maddox


Ambrosia has taught English as a TEFL teacher in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Whenever she isn’t booking a flight for her next great adventure, Ambrosia may be found exploring the outdoors of her current city of residence, snapping photos with her GoPro, or learning something new about world history. She is also a fan of five-dollar Tuesday at her local movie theater in Chicago.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose the program offered by International TEFL Academy (ITA) because the course was available at a classroom location in person as well as online. The ITA website provided a wealth of information regarding tuition, course dates and availability, the length of training, class locations, job search guidance, accreditation, and numerous other topics.

I phoned the contact number on their website and spoke with an ITA adviser who answered my remaining questions and helped me select an online class that worked well with my 40+ hour work week. He also set up a payment plan so I was able to pay the tuition in a timeframe that worked well for me. It was evident from the start that the ITA staff really wanted me to succeed in their TEFL program, and that played a major factor in my positive first impression of the program.

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

ITA’s descriptive website provided me with the knowledge I needed to select a TEFL course, and the adviser assisted with enrolling me into the course. The instructors lead the 11-week course that resulted in my becoming more culturally sensitive and an overall better TEFL teacher for my students.

The ITA website also has job guidance advice, and there are numerous social media platforms with ITA groups where alumni offer tips and suggestions on finding work after completing the TEFL course. I’ve even seen alumni offer other prospective teachers a place to stay while they find a place to live once they’ve arrived in their country of choice. There’s a great support system with ITA, and I haven’t felt alone in organizing anything so far.

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

A piece of advice I would give to someone going into my program: do not procrastinate on the readings and assignments. The workload may seem heavy at times, but the instructors provide a syllabus and a course calendar prior to the start of the class so students are able to prepare a plan for completing the work by the deadlines. All of the assignments are relevant and beneficial to someone with the desire to travel to a different country and become a TEFL teacher, so it’s important to complete all of the work and do your very best.

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

For a participant of ITA’s online TEFL program, the course runs for 11 consecutive weeks and includes an additional 20 hours of in-person practicum teaching. Students are provided with a syllabus at the start of the course as well as the textbook so they are able to plan accordingly. At the start of each week, assignments are posted to the online portal for students to complete prior to the weekend. Assignments include chapter readings, quizzes, a discussion board, course projects, and various other activities that transform students into well-equipped TEFL teachers.

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 when going abroad was not succeeding. It was extremely intimidating to travel to a different country on a different continent where I didn’t know anyone or the language. I wanted to be a great teacher for my students but the road to achieving that goal seemed so uncertain.

I overcame my fear by not expecting everything to go perfectly and having a backup plan if “plan A” didn’t follow through. Traveling overseas to be a teacher required me to “roll with the punches”, and I quickly realized that the unexpected twists of the journey made the entire experience even better.

Do you have to be rich to become a TEFL teacher?

No, you don’t have to be rich to become a TEFL teacher. I was fresh out of college when I first went abroad as a TEFL teacher to China; I paid around $950 for a one-way flight to Shanghai, and then I had around $500 left in my pocket. The school I was working for had on-campus apartments for teachers, so I didn’t have to pay rent or utilities, and I had no additional expenses upon my arrival to China.

I was able to save a few thousand dollars during my first year of teaching in China, and that allowed me more financial freedom for the next year. There are different opportunities available, and it’s important for prospective TEFL teachers to find the position that is the right fit for them. I recommend saving as much money as you’re able to prior to embarking on your new adventure. You don’t have to be rich to take that first step.