What is your favorite travel memory?
It's so difficult to choose as I've lived in several countries and have traveled to a dozen more! Reflecting back on my experiences, I'd say one of my best travel memories was the first time I ever left the U.S. I was 19 years old and chose to study abroad in Perth, Australia. It was absolutely exhilarating to travel to the ends of the earth to a place I had long dreamed of visiting. I lived among an international community of students and made great friends from all over the world: it was such a wonderful opportunity to engage in cultural exchange. During semester breaks, I jumped at every chance to explore Australia's natural wonders, which included a 10-day backpacking trip into the Outback. It was unforgettable and one of the best travel experiences of my life.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
When I joined CIEE TEFL, it was my first time teaching in an online setting, and something that I was unsure about was how to promote a sense of community as this looks a bit different online than in the physical classroom. The live tutorials are one way I get to connect with students every week, and I have since learned effective strategies to engage students, encourage participation, and foster an inclusive and supportive learning community.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
What I love most about being an instructor for the course is providing students with guidance and encouragement to nurture the teacher within, and to develop essential knowledge and skills to feel confident and ready for success in the classroom. It's incredibly rewarding to hear from former students who tell me that they felt prepared and confident to teach thanks to the course and my support.
CIEE TEFL students have different goals for pursuing a TEFL Certificate. Some plan to teach for just a year or two while others are considering a career in TEFL. Recently, one of my former trainees returned from South Korea and told me that she loved her experience so much, that she decided to pursue a Master's in TESOL and was recently accepted into a program at the University of Pennsylvania. When students begin the course, they don't quite know where their TEFL journey will take them, and for many, it's the beginning of a fulfilling, life-long teaching career. I love being a part of the first step in that journey!
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
That's easy: I'd choose the TEFL Program! My first real experience teaching English was for the Peace Corps. I was placed in a village in Northern Kazakhstan and taught grades 4-12. Most of my students had little knowledge of English, and while there was some teacher training provided prior to my placement, I wish I had gone through a program like the CIEE TEFL program. I would have had a much stronger foundation in common TEFL approaches and methods, as well as an abundance of activities, materials, and resources to help me plan lessons. Without a doubt, I would have felt much more prepared, confident, and effective in the classroom. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful teaching counterpart from whom I picked up many valuable teaching skills.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
A unique aspect of the TEFL Program, which I feel sets it apart from other programs like it, is the 20-hour teaching practicum.
The practicum gives students the opportunity to apply what they've learned in the course before setting out for their first teaching job. Students write a reflection upon completing the practicum, and I can't tell you how many times I've read how grateful students are for that experience.
Adopting a reflective practice is an important component of the practicum. Students reflect on their strengths in the classroom and areas needing development, and then devise an action plan to address those needs. Students demonstrate a lot of growth throughout the practicum and feel ready to take on their first teaching job as a result of this practice.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I believe one of the biggest factors in being a successful company is having a leadership team that is supportive and receptive to feedback. CIEE TEFL strives to offer the best TEFL training program on the market, and I believe this is very much due to being so receptive to instructor and student feedback.
I love being a part of a team that cares so much about the success of its students, and as a course instructor and TEFL professional, I feel very valued.