Alumni Spotlight: Paul Stanton


Paul Stanton grew up in Leeds, England: the Mecca of the North. After working in Leeds, he realized he needed a fulfilling travel experience and was a little apprehensive to go it alone. Paul decided to try his luck at being a teacher with i-to-i and chose Hanoi, Vietnam as his destination of choice. A three-month volunteer program, teaching in a secondary school in Hanoi, turned into Paul falling in love with the Vietnamese way of life. After i-to-i’s program finished he was given the opportunity to work full-time in a language school and due to his interest in language, he also decided to study and learn Vietnamese. Six years later, Paul still resides in Vietnam where he lives with his wife and family.

Why did you decide to get TEFL certified through i-to-i TEFL?

I decided to get TEFL-certified through i-to-i because I felt that I needed to “test the waters” so to speak. At that time, I did not know if teaching was the right thing for me and a full time intensive course was going to be no good if I only taught for about 3 months. i-to-i’s courses seemed to be full of the right knowledge and teaching techniques and had many different types of courses (that were short but packed full of the skills needed in order to survive your first time teaching abroad). When I first contacted i-to-i in 2005, I initially just wanted a unique travel experience with their volunteer programs, but then soon discovered their TEFL courses. Their skill and knowledge (and the patience to answer my many questions) were fantastic and it was a great stepping-stone into the life I have now.

What made this online TEFL experience unique and special?

At first I was a little skeptical due to the fact that courses seemed much too short and I kept comparing them to other TEFL courses. I was also worried whether the course would be internationally recognized in the locations where I wanted to teach. Regarding the first problem, i-to-i was great in explaining the differences between programs. Although the courses were short and could cover aspects of practical teaching skills in just a weekend, the i-to-i courses were packed full of the necessary skills and teaching know-how’s that I needed for my first venture into teaching. The courses are great as they give you the time to absorb all the skills and theories behind teaching. Taking you through the material step-by-step, the tutors, who were very helpful, were always there to provide further explanations and give you sound advice.

How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, etc)

After my first teaching post in Hanoi, Vietnam with a secondary school called Binh Minh School (Sunrise School) in 2007, I traveled for a while and I returned to Hanoi to work full-time at a language center in the center of the city. I was swamped with offers from other schools too as English classes are growing in popularity in Vietnam and much of Southeast Asia. One thing I noticed is that many employers were thankful I had teaching qualifications, which were of course thanks to my i-to-i training. This greatly impressed the employers and put me in a good position to negotiate the terms and gave me great confidence in answering their questions about the methodology of teaching a foreign language (which they will ask you to test your teaching abilities).

I have grown professionally in that since that first teaching post in 2007; I have gone on to teach all levels of the English Language from beginner levels to advanced levels, taught business English for many high-profile companies, and trained students for the TOEIC (Test of English in Communication). From there, I have taught IELTS (International English Language Testing System) given to students around the world who need to apply for university placements in English speaking countries.

Happiness? Well I love it out here in Hanoi, Vietnam. I have a great job that I love everyday, a good life and most importantly, the first person I ever met in Hanoi became my soul mate! We dated for three years before getting married in 2011. We are happily married and enjoy every second together. I thank i-to-I, as they gave me a foot in the door to true happiness.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering an online TEFL course?

Life has its up’s and down’s; if you feel lost or scared (like I was) to take a leap into unknown worlds, then at least have a back-up to help you along the way. Mine was the i-to-i TEFL course, which helped greatly in giving me the confidence to stand in front of a class full of students and deliver quality English lessons. Teachers around you will really appreciate your skills and effort. Employers will recognize your knowledge and skill on the subject. As always, one thing will always lead to another and many great things may happen, new people will be met and you will feel like the world is your oyster. Don’t worry about the “if’s and but’s” -- they are what make the journey and experience that much better. You never know where it all may lead.