Staff Spotlight: Matthew Pickering

ITTT TEFL Online Tutor


Matt became interested in a career abroad after travelling through Europe and Asia in the mid 2000’s. Using his existing interest in the teaching field and keenness for further cultural experiences, he decided that teaching English abroad was an ideal profession for him. This is a decision he hasn't regretted for one moment since.

What separates ITTT from other TEFL Course providers?

Matt: The main thing that separates ITTT from other TEFL course providers is the amount of flexibility we allow. What we understand at ITTT is that it simply isn't possible for everybody to take a month out of their lives to take a course and gain the qualification they require to enter the TEFL field. People have jobs and families that make up a full time schedule. ITTT allows people the chance to take the course and still take care of their commitments. Feeling stressed about the deadline for an assessment or a unit, on top of every day problems means that students often sit down and attempt to complete their work in the wrong frame of mind. Being able to take the course at your own pace is a huge weight off your shoulders. With only a generous course deadline to work towards, and no deadline for individual units, students can produce their best work whenever they are able to do so.

What advantages do graduates gain in the teach abroad market with a TEFL Certification?

Matt: Too many people seem to have the idea that just because they can speak English, they can gain work wherever they are. The reality is that just like in any field, there is competition. Although jobs in the TEFL field are in comparison to other areas, plentiful, there are still plenty of people who wish to do exactly the same as you. In order to maximize your chances of finding the best jobs, a TEFL certificate is an absolute must. It is tangible proof of your knowledge and abilities as a teacher and shows any employer that you have met the standard to do your job successfully. There will always be employers desperate enough to hire without a TEFL certificate, but in my opinion this is foolhardy. Any employer who is lapse enough to hire this way is certainly not an employer that I want to work for!

If you had to decide, what's the top destination you would recommend for teaching abroad?

Matt: I am fortunate enough to have travelled widely and seen a lot of fantastic places, so this is certainly not an easy question for me! I was brought up in England and wanted to experience a completely different culture from the one I was used to. Mainland Europe has its similarities to England but also has many unique cultures within. South America is fantastic and again has numerous different places to experience very different things. For me though, South East Asia had everything I wanted. The weather, food and way of life are all huge selling points and the students are a joy to teach. They are respectful, fun and eager to learn and improve their English. A fulfilling working life against the backdrop of a beautiful and exciting environment is everything a lot of people can ask for. I would certainly recommend it to anybody who wasn’t sure of where they want to start or continue their adventure.

In your experience, what characteristics make a good international teacher?

Matt: First of all, the knowledge gained in taking your TEFL certificate is extremely important. There are a lot of natural characteristics though, that are vital to make a good international teacher. You need to have the patience, understanding and willing to open your mind and your life to a new way of life. The way things are done, in school and in everyday life may be completely different to what you are used to. You must be able to adapt and adjust your way of thinking at times.

Confidence is essential, but don’t worry if this is something you lack. I would wager that every teacher that ever set foot in a classroom felt some kind of apprehension or jitters the first time he was put in front of the class. Confidence is something that grows and as long as you really want to be there and really know your stuff, you will soon gain the confidence you need. A strong work ethic is something I also feel is vital. You must be willing to go the extra mile for your students, which may involve a lot more planning than you were expecting. The important thing to remember here, is that it really is worth it!

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering teaching abroad?

Matt: This is an easy one! The one piece of advice I would offer someone considering teaching abroad is to stop considering it and go do it! I considered this for a long time and it seemed almost impossible to leave my comfy life behind. What I found however, has been the most rewarding, important and fun period of my life. The whole world is actually just a decision away! This may seem corny and perhaps even an exaggeration, but the truth is that you can find employers in real need of TEFL qualified people all over the world.

You have the chance to work in places that people dream about and save for months and years just to visit. On top of this, you have the opportunity to work a rewarding job helping people to whom English can make a real difference. Learning English opens doors to many people all over the world. A new world has already opened up for you by deciding to work abroad, and by teaching English you are returning the favour immediately!