Alumni Spotlight: Alistair Lee

Alistair Lee is 28 years old and grew up in a village called Kingswood in Gloucestershire, England. Whilst trying to decide what he wanted to do when he 'grew up', he worked in a number of menial, unskilled work roles through his early 20s (everything from barman to gardener). Alistair always wanted to travel in order to immerse himself in new cultures. He also wanted to escape the 'Work, Consume, Die' lifestyle that waited for him back in the UK after he returned from a stint of volunteering in the Southwest region of France and finished studying Sociology at the University of the West of England. In the future, Alistair hopes to travel to SE Asia, as he is certainly not looking forward to the coming winter in Prague!

Interview with Alistair, Oxford TEFL student in Prague

Why did you decide to take your TEFL course with Oxford TEFL in Prague?

Alistair: I was originally going to do a course in Prague with another school. The other course was cheaper, however I had no way of finding out whether they were a great, or not so great school. I did some background research before I parted with a 4-figure sum; so, I checked their Facebook page, which had virtually no comments from students or clients of the school. What's more, my point of contact offered me a 300 Euro discount to sign up for the course. 'That sounds good,' I thought, almost too good...

In contrast, Oxford TEFL was accredited by Trinity certTESOL, so I knew that I would be getting an internationally recognised teaching certificate for my money. I decided to go with them as the safe option. In addition, Oxford TEFL has schools in London, Barcelona and India, as well as Prague; though, the overall course, travel and living costs for completing the course at each of the locations was actually more or less the same. I chose Prague because I knew there was plenty of work there, and it is well located for further travel within Europe, when those opportunities arise.

Interview with Alistair, Oxford TEFL student in Prague

What made this abroad experience unique and special?

Alistair: I think there are probably many cities in Europe that are going to have their charms and attractions of their own. However Prague itself really is beautiful; the architecture is grand and artistic, with plenty of colour variety. It is also extensively littered with impressive landmarks.

What's more is that the people are unusually friendly and engaging compared to faster paced international cities, such as London and New York. Also, the assembled group of strangers, that I was thrown in with during the course, was a great bunch. We got on well, had a laugh, and supported each other when the going got tough with our studies.

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

Alistair: It's hard to say because I only completed the course about a month ago. Personally, I met some brilliant people, both my teachers and fellow students, during the course. Professionally, work is coming in promisingly enough, but you have to build up your number of teaching hours over time once you start out. In Prague, although there is a high demand for TEFL teachers here, it is met by a high supply as well. At the end of the day, my teaching certificate has opened up so many options to travel the world whilst making a living, where I can be both sociable and engage with my work. I like being my own boss with this sort of work; it certainly beats doing tele-sales back in the UK!

What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone considering a TEFL course abroad?

Alistair: Come prepared! The course is intense and you will have to work hard. Come with the mindset of a student and not just a tourist and you will be fine. For those of you who are less studious, like me, do some pre-course studying on the English language before you arrive here; also, it helps to complete any pre-coursework that your school assigns before you arrive. Also, it is perhaps a good idea to research what TEFL is all about. After all, you don't want to spend a lot of money on the course and travel costs, etc. only to quit the course on week 2! I would also advise that you invest your funds wisely on an accredited TEFL course.

Interview with Alistair, Oxford TEFL student in Prague