Patrice works as a Student Advisor in the Student Services department of The TEFL Academy, assisting students with enrolment, general enquiries and providing an insight into the wonderful world of TEFL teaching!
Having taught in Spain as a TEFL teacher, she uses her experience and familiarity with the TEFL industry to aid and provide advice to both prospective and current students.
What is your favorite travel memory?
I have spent many years studying and living in Spain. I moved to Alicante, Spain to study as part of my Erasmus programme and lived there for nearly 2 years. I fell in love with the country, the people, the culture and, of course, the food!
I then moved to Murcia, where I taught English as a Foreign Language for a year. It was the best experience of my life and really shaped who I am as a person. I was teaching young learners (5-7 years old), teenagers and adults. I also taught Business English to local companies, which was really interesting! My favourite moment was when I could see that the topic or grammar point we were covering in class actually clicked with the students. It's such a proud feeling to see your hard work paying off and getting good results.
I spent my free time traveling around Spain and visiting different cities such as Valencia, Madrid and Granada. I fell in love with the small, rustic, colourful villages of the small towns, the gorgeous architecture and the warm, open personalities of the local people. I improved my language skills immensely and by the end of the year, I was able to hold a strong, fluent conversation in Spanish, so that was another perk of the experience!
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Working with The TEFL Academy is great fun! We have a fantastic team of supportive, enthusiastic and quirky staff. I really wanted to work for this company because I was keen to share my experiences with others and give hints and tips into what's it's like to be a TEFL teacher, what to expect, what to do/avoid doing. I have heard so many interesting and heart-warming stories from our students and I've also learned so much about different cultures of the world.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
My favourite return student story is one from our student Sandra Dawn Biddulph. Sandra completed our course and went on to teach in Northern Spain as a TEFL teacher. As a mature student, it was amazing to see Sandra immersing herself completely in life of the school, the local community and religious fiestas. Sandra worked in language schools but is also a private tutor. I love that our course has provided her with a full skill set and that she is using what she has learned to help others on their language-learning journey!
I was really able to relate to Sandra, having gone through a lot of the same experiences in Spain. Sandra proves that it is never to let to follow your dream and that jumping into the deep-end can result in the most fantastic experiences.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
The TEFL Academy offers many different internship programmes. If you're keen on working in Spain, I would definitely recommend the Spain Internship programme run by Meddeas. It offers TEFL-qualified teachers the chance to move to Spain to work as a language assistant teaching children from 2yrs to 18yrs old in a Spanish school for 3-9 months. I would love to complete this programme because it offers full board accommodation with a volunteer host family, which I think would be a fantastic experience and a great way to fully immerse yourself culturally. You receive a monthly allowance also, which is more than enough to get by, as your expenses in Spain will be quite low. Food, transport and accommodation are so cheap! A full meal would cost you less than €10 in most restaurants and a beer is only €1.50 on average, which is crazy!
Working 20-25 hours per week in a classroom environment, the programme gives you the chance to work on and develop many skills, such as public speaking, language skills, creativity, team working, topic preparation, patience, maturity, autonomy, and cultural awareness.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
I'm proud of our team every day. I love the fact that all of the staff in Student Services have TEFL experience and have worked abroad. We have a really broad range of knowledge, which is amazing because it allows us to help students out no matter what side of the world they're looking to teach in. We have a really strong and passionate team, who love what they do and I believe that we help with drive the company forward in the best way possible.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I think that it's essential that a company has a key set of values that it sticks by to in order to be successful. The TEFL Academy strives to provide support to our students, from the moment that they enrol, to assisting with their course, to the proud moment when they obtain their qualification, right through to their exciting job search. It's important that we are empathetic and that we can relate with our students on a personal level.