Why did you choose this program?
I work with airports and airlines. When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, commercial air travel declined dramatically. I had to consider the possibility that I might lose my job and be out of work for a some period while I hoped for a recovery and rebound in air travel. During that time, I saw an online ad for teaching English online. As I researched the possibilities, I saw that some opportunities only required a degree while other required a degree with a teacher's certificate. Those requiring a teacher's certificate recommended the Teach Away program sponsored by International House Berkeley in cooperation with Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I worked through an online course. I thought it was very easy to follow. They have an introduction video that helps explain the program. The online course has training modules comprised of individual lessons related to the overall topic of the module. The student is expected to maintain a journal of reflections in which he takes notes and writes responses to thought questions. At the end of each module, he must submit a homework assignment, which is graded pass/fail and then take an online test. I think the people organizing the course did a good job preparing students for both the homework and test.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
You get out of the program what you put into it. You have paid money to take this course. Make your investment count. The course provides links and references to external teaching materials, which are very useful. My advice is to look at those links and explore those materials. Learning is a process; take the time necessary to study the material.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
I can only speak for myself. I never lost my job in the aerospace industry. Even during the pandemic, I had work to do. My participation in this course typically occurred in the evenings and on the weekends. There were many times, especially midway through the course, when I was tired and did not feel like reviewing the lessons or performing the homework. I had to push myself, but I could get through a lesson in about an hour. Rather than try to cover a lot of material at once, I tried to do one lesson every few days to make progress. As long as you are making progress, you will finish. The key is not to stop and stagnate.
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 just finished my course, and I have not traveled overseas for a teaching assignment. I have a lot of international travel experience associated with my aviation career. This experience was very helpful in the latter part of the course when cross-cultural adjustment is discussed. I do not know whether I will teach overseas or not. I am waiting to see what opportunities exist for this type of work. Over the last 25 years, I have many experiences with missed flights, missing luggage, being lost in an unfamiliar city, not knowing the local language, and an assortment of other issues. The key in those situations is to remain calm and work towards a solution. Do what you can, but don't try to control what you can't control.
What do you like about international travel?
I like the adventure of it; I like seeing something new; I like observing those around me who are locals. It would be very easy to travel to an international city, stay in a business hotel, eat at the hotel or other international restaurants, and insulate yourself from the world around you. That is not living. I am not advocating for taking unnecessary risks, but if you are visiting a new place, explore it. Don't be afraid to get out among the people; try the public transportation; eat the local cuisine. If nothing else, it will give you stories to tell in your old age.