Alumni Spotlight: Dave Mack

Dave is a TEFL/TESL certified English teacher with experience teaching in Spain, Chile and USA. He's currently teaching in Chile and will soon be getting a Masters in TESOL education.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I wanted to travel abroad, become fluent in Spanish, be more broad-minded, and improve my job prospects. I specifically chose CIEE because I knew that going overseas can be pretty overwhelming and I that CIEE was a good program to get people used to life abroad. Plus, they generally had good reviews from past participants.

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

CIEE helped me with all legal paperwork, with the life adjustments that happen while living abroad, what to expect at work, websites regarding housing leads, and any counsel and emotional support that I might need in my daily life. I had to find housing on my own and go to the various government offices to get all the required documentation.

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

Be prepared that this could be a life-changing experience. When I first went overseas, my thoughts were of travel, learning Spanish and eating new foods. And now I want to make teaching English as a foreign/second language in my career. I'm getting a Masters starting next month in TESOL because this is what I want to do as a career. It's what I'm good at and it's what I'm passionate about.

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

For CIEE Teach in Chile, we're placed in a technical school and given a schedule of English classes at the beginning of the term of varying skill levels and career paths. We teach seven classes a semester. We have a mentor who observes and helps us. We are the lead teacher in the class and we are responsible for grading exams and taking attendance.

For CIEE Teach in Spain, we're placed in a primary or secondary school and are the assistant in the class. We help the students to practice their English conversation by asking questions, playing games, and using realia. We work four days a week, usually having Monday or Friday off.

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 teaching itself. I didn't know if I'd be any good or if this was the right thing for me. I gave a lot of thought to learning Spanish and traveling but very little thought about teaching, which is the bulk of what I'd be doing. But everyone was very welcoming and understanding. I had a great relationship with the students and the staff.

By the end, not only was I not afraid to teach anymore but I'd be excited to go to work. It's a great feeling to actually love your job.

What's it like to travel abroad?

Traveling abroad is amazing. It really does broaden your horizons and enhance your life experience. You finally get the chance to visit locations and experience things that you only see on travel shows and read about in blogs. You get to see what you're capable of and how you can stretch your dollar (or euro or peso). Trips that would be considered once in a lifetime for most Americans (such as visiting Paris or the Patagonia Mountains) can be done over a long weekend if you teach abroad. You see that there's a huge world beyond your backyard.

Bottom line: teaching abroad was the best decision I've ever made.