Staff Spotlight: Jana Zalska

Instructor at LiveTEFL Prague

What do you do at LiveTEFL Prague?

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I am one of the instructors. I am responsible for the Teaching Practice and Lesson Planning modules, which means that I spend a lot of time with our trainees, watching them grow throughout the four weeks of the program. Together, we observe, we plan, we teach, we reflect, and move on to build our strengths and focus our energy on what we want to add to our practice. We do our best and learn from the experience. We laugh and we sometimes cry, and apart from learning a lot about learning and teaching English, we learn a lot about ourselves and each other.

What are the most satisfying moments of your work at LiveTEFL Prague?

Thank you for the plural in the question because there are quite a few, I will try to narrow them down.

  • Seeing our graduates, now colleagues, in the teacher's room on a regular basis.
  • Sending our trainees to observe exemplary teachers - our past graduates! - in their classrooms.
  • The moment in an observed lesson when a trainee turns into a teacher: when they forget about themselves and their focus shifts to working with their students, when they relax, when their best teacher self comes out. It happens within the first five to ten minutes of a lesson, it is a very palpable change.
  • More than anything, seeing friendships come to life. I think the LiveTEFL program bond is a strong and valuable one.

What unique qualities does your program have?

Apart from the heartstealing location? There is a team of people who really care, on an individual, basis, not only how well you do in your teaching but also that you have opportunities to socialize as well as take time to explore the place you live in.

The program is intensive and you work within a small group of trainees, you get maximum individual support from the instructors. There is a real, visible learning curve for our trainees, thanks to providing plenty of practice and reflection opportunities.

On the practical side, trainees have access to an extensive selection of resources and are immersed in a real language school environment, they learn the ropes, they see other teachers at work and at social events, they have access to up-to-date technology. Most importantly, the school doors do not close after they have graduated.

In your experience, what makes a trainee successful?

Everybody can be successful. There are a few things that help make the path easier, such as if you:

  • like people
  • take each experience to be a learning opportunity, not a performance test
  • ask questions and/or ask for help
  • focus on one thing at a time
  • take time to wind down/sleep/exercise/eat healthy, anything that will help your body and mind to get ready for the next day

Did YOU teach abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

I got my first degree in mathematics and economics, but in my last year of school I knew that I wanted to work with people more than with money and numbers, and I also wanted to be able to try living abroad. I had already spent a year studying in the US, and a semester in Russia, and I definitely wanted to continue to experience other cultures. Teaching English was one of the ways to be able to do that.

I did my training program, and loved every bit of it. My first job was in Prague, but I was able to move to Madrid and spend five amazing years teaching there. I also started to work in the UK in the summers, as a teacher and later as an academic director for EFL summer school programs.

Every person should be able to experience a new country/climate/language/culture. It makes me happy to be able to both show my English students the world through the international power of the language, and to help our TEFL trainees experience their learners' world. I think the LiveTEFL program falls naturally into this vision, allowing different cultures, nationalities, and languages meet.