Staff Spotlight: Martin Hejhal

What position do you hold at Live TEFL Prague? What has been your career path so far?

Martin: I’m the Academic Director for Live TEFL Prague. I’m responsible for the course design and content, tutors, final exams and for compliance with teacher training standards. I got my MA TESOL in 1999, and have since taught General, Business and ESP English at private language schools and at the Ministry of the Interior. After that I became Director of Studies for a mid-sized private language school.

Some years later I left for a similar position with a school that was part of the Bell International chain. In 2006 I joined St. James Language Centre, which later changed its brand to SPEVACEK Languages, and I have been the Academic Director since that time. SPEVACEK Languages has grown rapidly and we now have almost 300 teaching staff members. We have 6 schools focusing on different clientele – young learners, post-secondary education, corporate students, groups and individuals in public courses, and teacher training at LiveTEFL. I’m also a board member for the Association of Certified Language Schools.

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

Martin: I haven’t taught abroad, but I did spend a month in Denmark conducting a comparative study of the Danish and Czech education systems. I also attended two-week teacher training courses in Slovenia and Romania, and I remain in constant contact with English teachers all around the world. Each country is different, but the core is the same everywhere – if you love teaching and never stop learning and improving, you’re bound to be successful.

What does the future hold for Live TEFL Prague - any exciting new programs to share?

Martin: LiveTEFL has launched a unique teacher training program - onsite TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) - using the know-how and premises of one of the biggest language schools in the region. Our graduates are ready to teach a wide portfolio of courses (for example, one-to-one, exam focused, General English, Business English, English for Specific Purposes, conversation, textbook based, etc.).

Another key skill our graduates acquire on the course is how to effectively incorporate modern technology into their teaching. Our graduates are able to use iPads, Apple TVs, Android smartphones, wide-screens, web apps, e-learning software, Skype and other cutting edge technologies to stay ahead of language teaching game. An important part of the program is job interview skill training – even the best teachers need to pass an interview, and our students leave LiveTEFL with a recorded demo lesson that they can upload to YouTube. The top graduates qualify for a job guarantee with SPEVACEK Languages.

What about the future of the TEFL industry? How do you think English teacher training will change over the next 10 years?

Martin: Even though modern technologies have taken over a huge part of people’s lives, or maybe because they have, most people who want to learn languages prefer face-to-face contact. So I don’t believe internet-based learning will replace real, flesh and blood teachers. Technologies are extremely helpful and we show our trainees ways to incorporate them in their courses, but they don’t take the place of a teacher.

I’m sure in ten years time courses offering practical teaching experience will sweep away online TEFL courses. You cannot become a teacher by just watching sophisticated videos, completing loads of written assignments or analyses. I believe trainees will discover that they need real classroom experience to survive their first class. So around 2025 people will be on the lookout for TEFL courses with plenty of practical teaching experience; courses that are connected to big language schools and are implementing modern technologies to boost students’ motivation. That’s exactly the idea behind LiveTEFL.