Andy is an alumni of ours and taught abroad in South East Asia for just over a year. He become deeply interested in the TEFL industry as a whole after he understood the benefits people gain from the experience of teaching English abroad.
What is your favorite travel memory?
My favourite travel memory from my time teaching English abroad was a trip me and my friends took after last semester of teaching. We all taught in Thailand and, throughout our time teaching, there we would visit local paradise islands during downtime, whether it be school breaks or weekends.
After our time teaching in Thailand, we decided we wanted a different kind of trip and headed to Cambodia and then Vietnam. Cambodia is a raw but beautiful country and one of the least developed countries within South East Asia, and this is one of the main reasons we wanted to visit, as we knew it would be a different experience to Thailand.
First of all, the people of Cambodia were the nicest and most welcoming people I've ever met and, as I learnt more about the recent history of the country, especially the genocide in the mid 70's, and I knew nothing of this, it was shocking, but also fascinating.
After Cambodia, we headed to Vietnam where we hired a bike and, as a group, we travelled down the east coast, visiting different towns, cities and beaches as we went on. More developed than Cambodia, it was a different atmosphere, unlike both Thailand and Cambodia, but still, Vietnam has it's unique beauty in Ha Long Bay, the most beautiful natural place I've ever visited. It's always a place I recommend people to check out and just thinking about it now I have a smile on my face!
We stayed on a boat one night, which then took us to a secluded beach within the heart of Ha long Bay, where we would stay for the next few nights and this was the highlight of my favorite travel memory.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Yes, I believe I have grown and changed during my time with TEFL Heaven. I've come to realize that what we do is a very responsible role and we have to ensure that we are honest and transparent at all times, since we send people away from their comfort zones to the unknown, usually the opposite end of the world.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
I know of a student, who became a good friend actually, that went on to teach in his hometown, back in America. He knew he wanted to travel and explore, especially at the age he was, and so he wanted to try TEFL. He wasn't sure whether teaching was something he wanted to do as a career and so he thought TEFL was a great way to, not only travel, but to try our teaching too. This was a few years ago and he's still teaching now.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I'm actually an alumni and have already done one of our programs. In October 2014, I bought a one way flight to Thailand and started my TEFL experience on a beautiful paradise island called Koh Samui. I ended up staying two semesters, which was just over a year in Thailand, and then went on the do some traveling afterwards. Thailand is our most popular program as there are so many places to visit whilst you are there, especially the festivals, islands and tourist hotspots. You'll meet many like-minded individuals, all doing the same thing as yourself there, and this made it a lot easier settling down, especially as I had no experience of Asia before my program.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
There are many TEFL providers out there, but qw pride ourselves on treating everyone like friends and family. We understand the experience as we have done it ourselves and, more importantly, we understand it's a big move.
We only provide face-to-face in country TEFL courses, as we believe this is the best and only way to prepare yourself for teaching in your chosen destination. Not only do you learn valuable teaching techniques, which are designed especially for your chosen country, but you get into the network, meet people, become accustomed to your new surroundings, cultures and traditions, all before you start your teaching position.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
Being positive, honest and transparent at all times is important when building relationships with students throughout their experience teaching English abroad. Listening to your students and adapting your processes and policies when needed, ensuring that everything runs smoothly. This makes everyones experience going through TEFL Heaven not only enjoyable, but life changing for all the right reasons.