Alumni Spotlight: Belinda Baardsen


Belinda Baardsen is from Colorado and is currently an ESL Instructor at King Saud University. She is an American expat with a TEFL from TEFL Worldwide, a Juris Doctor from The University of Florida and a Bachelors of Science from Endicott College. She has taught in The Czech Republic, The Republic of Turkey and Saudi Arabia. She's been involved in teaching, sales, toastmasters, public speaking and equestrian instruction for many years. She is a woman working on her second career and enjoys reading, hiking, horseback riding, exploring, photography, and animal rescue. You can follow her @BelindaBaardsen on Twitter.

What inspired you to teach ESL?

It seemed like an exciting adventure combined with my love of working with kids.

Why did you choose TEFL Worldwide Prague?

It was a complete accident. I found them AFTER I'd made a bad choice the first round - I found them AFTERWARDS. I had a broken foot, a bad TEFL School experience & I started googling & dialing. I got Cheryl on the phone & she rescued me from my nightmare. She's stayed with me every step of the way & that's a real sign of a great program in my opinion.

Describe your day to day activities as a student in TEFL Worldwide Prague.

It was a lot of work, but first they showed us step by step how to do the job, and then showed us how to put the materials together to create a teaching plan. The materials were very specific, and there was a lot of structured guidance initially. Then, we put our plans together & had them reviewed prior to execution. We then met with our instructors to review necessary improvements or to let us know good job. Then, we taught our classes and were observed. Each lesson was followed up with comments for improvement, or support on having executed the tasks correctly. It started slowly and built up to a full fledged teaching program where you were rotated from every level they had, and every class. Ultimately we had a written exam, and we were then introduced to the world of employment opportunities. They have stayed with us step by step.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Professionally, I feel it has been a positive career move allowing me to have international work experience in a unique culture and new, fully developed skill sets. It also allows for a pumped up CV because the schools that hire you are not set up so to speak. It demonstrates your versatility, and ability to keep a commitment in the wild wild west of teaching. This is not easy, and you must be self driven to produce good classes for your students.

Personally, I've grown a lot, and learned more about myself. I am much more relaxed as I travel the worlds community. I belong here, and it shows.

Academically, I've developed more relevant experiences and exposure because I've been/am exposed to so many different teachers with different approaches. It helps.

What is one piece of advice you would give to others thinking about teaching abroad?

Your school of choice is important, and critical. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Be prepared, but flexible. Don't take an arrogant view of the world; you may have a skill to offer, but you can learn something too.