Alumni Spotlight: Alan Moorhead

Why did you decide to get TEFL Certified with ITTT TEFL in Vietnam?

I chose Vietnam as my destination because I had previously been here 3-4 times on holiday. I was ready for a new experience in life and decided on teaching English, there were some similarities to work I had done previously and I thought it would be a good transition. I am 54 and wanted to do something exciting and rewarding, as well as give something back to the country I was working in. There was no specific reason why I chose ITTT, I was looking for an accredited TEFL course in Saigon and chose ITTT/Compass, I had no previous knowledge of either organisation.

Did you teach abroad? How did this TEFL Course impact your experience?

Before the course I had no experience teaching abroad. However, upon completing the course, I have been teaching a variety of students and surrounded by environments, including language schools for private paying students. Currently, with the ongoing support of Compass, I have a full time role working in Vietnamese public (state) schools; I make such distinction because public schools in the UK are very different. The impact of doing this course is quite simple, without the course completed at Compass, I would not be teaching, or have the experience that I would have had today.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering this TEFL Course and teaching abroad?

Make sure you are ready for intensive work for 4 weeks. It is not a course that can be taken lightly. Also prepare well in advance for living abroad, having the correct paperwork for work permits, visa extensions, confirming documents, etc. can alleviate much stress and allow you to concentrate on the course. If possible get as much done in your home country as you can. Also "time" your arrival to maximum effect, if you plan on travelling round, do so before the course, this also helps you to acclimatize, but also consider when is the best time for finding work, such as during public school time. Otherwise you may struggle before you start earning money. This works in reverse as well - do the course early and then travel before schools start, arrive back at the optimum time for finding work.

What was the highlight of your experience?

The highlight of the course is difficult to say - the teaching and support staff at Compass are fantastic and continue to be so, I met some great people and have remained friends. Obviously I also learnt a lot in terms of teaching English. Post course I have had tremendous assistance from Compass, who have found me work and I am currently enjoying working with the children in Vietnam. So several highlights really.

Anything else you would like to share?

If you are doing this and will be on your own, like I did, prepare for some difficult times, stick with it and the benefits are fantastic, but there are times when you feel alone and a bit helpless, questioning if you have made the right decision. I have met a couple of people who didn't make it, it wasn't at all what they were expecting and a bit of a culture shock, both of them younger people. If you are coming from a western society to the east, be prepared: it's very different. But once you knuckle down and start enjoying it for what it is, then you will have a fabulous time.