Alumni Spotlight: Veneta Makropoulou

Veny Makropoulou is a graduate of the English Department of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She has been teaching English for 8 years in various institutions and as a freelance English teacher. She has also worked at primary and language schools in Greece at all levels from early beginners to advanced learners, as well as certificate classes and she has taught different age groups from pre-school children to adults. Finally, she has recently completed a course in London leading to a TEFL-TESOL certificate with specialization in Business English.

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

Veny Makropoulou - ITTT TEFL London Participant

Veny: I first heard about TEFL courses while in University, in which the professors in Applied Linguistics and ELT methodology recommended students to take a course like this. At the beginning of my teaching career, I still remember in one of the first job interviews I did in my life, the interviewer said: ‘Your first degree is perfectly fine but do you have a teaching certificate like TEFL?’ It was a good position at a publishing house and if I had got the job, I would have worked as an editor for ELT books. I decided to start looking for TEFL courses at that point, but what really made the decision was after another relevant experience with an employer. I was working hard under his supervision but he kept pointing out that something was missing from my lessons. I asked for his advice and he mentioned that a TEFL course would help.

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

Veny: I didn’t teach abroad because I have students here in Greece and I can’t leave them without a teacher! Seriously, I think it isn’t easy to leave everything behind and start from scratch, especially when you have people around you who appreciate your work. However, I took a lot out of this TEFL course, as it helped me organize my lessons better and make sure that the students can understand and use the language in the classroom, which is the first step towards using the language outside the classroom. I am currently working at a private language institute and all my lessons follow the methodology we used at the course, since my present employer insists on this method. Even in the private lessons that I give I follow the instructions we learnt, because in my opinion this method puts the students through their paces. They are guided through the various stages and have the opportunity to have a better understanding by practicing the new language.

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

Veny: I would tell them that it is a unique experience and if they seriously want to commit themselves to teaching English, it is an experience they mustn't lose. This course offers practical information and valuable teaching practice with real students of different cultural backgrounds. It answers a lot of questions and the trainees are guided and supported by experienced and friendly tutors. Although it is an intensive course, real life challenges are more demanding, since as a teacher you will be asked to meet deadlines while preparing for and giving lessons. In this sense I would say that the course prepares you for your future life. It is however a very rewarding experience, if you see it as an opportunity to develop your creativity. As far as finding teaching positions is concerned, the course is a good start but throughout its duration or after its completion the prospective teachers have to work hard towards finding employment and it is a process that requires a lot of patience and personal involvement.

What was the highlight of your experience?

Veny: To my mind, exchanging comments and experiences with the other trainees was the highlight, given that we all came from different places, although there were three Greeks in the same group. Getting to know more or less experienced teachers from other countries was very interesting and I think that it gave to all of us food for thought. Personally I was benefited by talking to colleagues who brought their reality to the classes and shared their knowledge. There were times during break that we discussed all sorts of things related to teaching and language acquisition. Talking to both native and non-native English teachers was enlightening and I think all the participants got something new out of it. It is interesting to see how teachers and English speakers from different cultures approach language learning and teaching. We have kept in contact with many of the trainees and we still discuss issues concerning teaching and job opportunities.

Anything else you would like to share?

Veny: I would say that giving lessons to students from different parts of the world was a very out-of-the-ordinary and purposeful experience. As B.F. Skinner put it, “Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.” Each and every lesson that I gave was like an adventure for me and a chance to find new and interesting ways to help and motivate the students, who were mostly motivated and eager to learn, so they made the teacher’s job easier. It was great to see how all these students coming from different countries cooperated and interacted with each other. At this point, I would like to emphasize the contribution of our tutor, who was very supportive and patient. We were lucky enough as a group to have a very influential, creative and enthusiastic trainer, who was more than willing to share her experience as a teacher, foreign language speaker and trainer. She was very authentic and honest and created an excellent learning environment.