About

The ABCi initiative was absorbed by the English Teacher Training College in 2015. At that time, the existing ABCi volunteer programs were discontinued and the college began offering incoming students internationally recognized TEFL certifications in conjunction with Trinity College London and Cambridge University.

Founded
2011

Reviews

Danny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Apologies for the informality of this review but sometimes I think it is best to just hear it how it is.
This review isn't the average, it is aimed towards the 18-20 year olds that don't have a degree and are trying to find themselves.
I was in Austria around this time last year and everything changed from there. I still always talk about it!
Not only that but it gave me a direction..at only the age of 18. Sometimes it takes someone like Mr Stone to tell you to your face that 'you are a natural teacher' to make you think maybe I could do a bit more of this TEFL stuff.

SO WHAT WAS IT LIKE AT ABCI?
It is no walk in the park, especially if you are on the younger side. It is very demanding, long hours and there is a lot of learning involved on the course. You may get into the habbit of comparing yourself to the others, maybe they have a degree in linguistics, German or are just hyper intelligent. My advice to you is just concentrate on yourself, Rome wasn't built in a day and nor is a good teacher.
Something you will learn is you are constantly learning and so are those others in your group, what you will likely find is they will help you one on one if you ask them so don't be afraid.
For example I could never get the parts of speech down I actually failed the test, I was actually the only one. Everyone helped me every night to prepare for the retake and sure enough I passed. Even Ben Stone who could be regarded as the busiest man in the world, Skype called me to go over some of the things that could be on the test for over 40 minutes! Support like this really shows the caring dedication of ABCI and why people 18-20 can also be right for ABCI life.

IS IT FOR EVERYONE
ABCI is hard work you have some very early mornings, long car rides with your flatmates falling asleep on you and you have to feel the pressure of having your lessons assessed. The first week is non stop! Just remember I know you have never been to uni before so you are not used to staying up late and getting a deadline in early the next day. Do the smart thing a work hard first and play hard second, I get its all new and it will be your first time away from home with no rules but be sensible! If you take this into account you will be able to get up the next morning no trouble making life so much easier.
You will also get quite homesick but everyone is friendly and they are there for you, dont forget the senior teachers are people too. If that doesn't work you could always just bring your home to the classroom. For example, I always told classes no matter the age that the classroom was Manchester it helps you get the 'only English' point across and actually helps fight home sickness. I did it all the time at ABCI. I even think it started to annoy some of my group but it definitely helped!

SO WHY ABCI?
You will not find a more character building course any where in the world. Gmundens mountains, Sanct Poltons whisky bar and Graz' Christmas lights are breathtaking
It is a very good deal because you are very highly subsidised and even though they can't pay for you flight there and back, it is because it just isn't practical only once you have done a CertTESOL and got your certificate from ABCi do you have the experience for companies that would be willing to fly you out somewhere to even look at you. Also the people at ABCi will grow you as a person and a teacher. They gradually get you to grow a thick skin and show you how to give constructive criticism. For example, in my very first assessed lesson I actually said to the students 'come in, come in everyone for a..erm....plenary..' much to Ben Stones amusement.
Although, by far the best thing about ABCi is they contiue to check on us even after leaving, asking if there is anything they can do to help. This I think sets ABCi apart from the rest!
I would and have recommended ABCI to people of all ages but I think those of you like myself at 18 who think they know everything, but are not ready for University definitely should try your hand at TEFL teaching you might like it.
If you have any other questions about ABCi I would be glad to answer them.

What would you improve about this program?
Just keep going as you are.
Keep responding to reviews and take in to consideration the feed back.

Toby
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I came to ABCI and Austria off the back of finishing an English Literature degree. I was unsure of what I wanted to do and found the chance of moving to a new country for a short while and learning a new skill to be a fascinating prospect. Teaching, was not something that had interested me before or something that I thought I would ever consider. Throughout the course (January 2016) myself and other trainees were put under immense stress both through teaching and completing various assignments that were required for your certification. It was intense to the extreme, at times it seemed no matter how much time you put in to your assignments and lesson planning that it would not be enough. However, through the help of your fellow trainees and staff members you will find that the college has an atmosphere much like a well meaning, although at times; dysfunctional family. Each individual whether trainee or member of staff were always on hand to help with any problem whether small or large. While this doesn't always mean that things run as smoothly as planned (there will be highs and lows to your experience, as in any new place) it is an experience that I would thoroughly recommend providing you are prepared for one of the busiest workloads I have ever experienced.

Austria as a country is beautiful, while not every weekend will be free for you to roam around, you will find yourself with a little time at least to explore, meet new people and enjoy what Austria has to offer. Through ABCI and my experience in Austria I decided that teaching was in fact a career path that I wanted to explore, and now only a short while after completing the course I find myself about to go into my first paid teaching job in Poland, this can only be down to the support and encouragement I found at ABCI.

Although you may read discouraging reviews for ABCI (English training college of Austria) I would advise you to take them with a pinch of salt. Of course there are areas of improvement for the college but at the same time there are also many fantastic aspects to the college and your own experience that you will not find anywhere else.

What would you improve about this program?
Organisation,
Facilities.
Default avatar
Sinead
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ABCi is a fantastic charity which works with schools across Austria to provide interactive English workshops to pupils. The organisation is run by Frank and Ben who are very passionate about their mission and delivering high quality English education. It's great because you teach English and travel around Austria, meeting other teachers along the way and get your food, accommodation and a TEFL qualification in return!

The work is most definitely not for the faint hearted. The days can be long and you must be dedicated to becoming an excellent EFL teacher. There is a big emphasis on training and improving and practicing your craft, as well as some (very) early mornings.

If that does't perturb you, then ABCi is the volunteer programme for you. You will have great fun with the children, delivering their excellent programme of activities. I am now a teacher and frequently employ many of the active based learning techniques that I delivered through my work as an ABCi teacher.

This is a unique, challenging, fun opportunity in a beautiful setting. You will make friends for life and better your professional life. What is not to love?!

What would you improve about this program?
n/a
Default avatar
Grace
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

There are a lot of mixed reviews of ABCi but my experience was very positive.

I have never worked so hard in my life: I spent 4 months waking up between 4.30 and 5.30am to work at schools that could be up to a 1 hour and 45 minute drive, teach for 6 hours, then return to do 2-3 hour training sessions. As well as teaching I had to study and do assignments as I was completing the CERT-TESOL (which is a very good certificate to have in the ESL world) so I didn't have much free time throughout my time spent in Austria. But, with the time I did get off, I had the chance to visit different places in Austria as well as Hungary and Germany a couple of times!

This course is not a holiday. It is hard work but rewarding work. I taught students aged 6-19 in 18 weeks of teaching and I also gave one-on-one adult lessons. The adult lessons were pretty unorganised which was unfortunate but it was good experience nonetheless.

Although this course is a lot of hard work, the support I was given from my senior teachers was incredible. They would give me all the support I needed, answer any silly question I had and most importantly, made the long days fun. This course relies on the support you all give each other (between trainees, senior teachers and staff). As it is so intense, it really is so important to be a positive and optimistic person. In all honesty, I don't think my group of trainees would have completed the course successfully if it wasn't for the support and encouragement we gave each other. Although you are completing this course to become a qualified ESL teacher yourself, you have to be a team player. Working together and sharing ideas is what is needed to be successful.

Living situation- It is like living in first year halls/dorms all over again. Lack of privacy, shared rooms (up to 4/5 people in a room) and shared bathrooms. Although the accommodation doesn't give you any privacy, it is actually really nice. They are modern and there are large kitchens/ living rooms to chill out in. ABCi provides basic food (pasta, pasta sauce, rice, etc) which is a big help. The most important thing is to be flexible. Sometimes you would be relocated to a different town/city with very little notice. Although this can be very frustrating, you just have to take the positives from it- it's a new place, different schools, working with a new senior teacher who will give you more tips, etc.

During my time with ABCi, there was a lot of stress but also a lot of laughter. I would definitely recommend this course if you are looking to become and ESL teacher as it gives you so much experience in such a short amount of time and getting this training in such a beautiful country with lovely students is obviously such a great bonus. You just have to be ready to work and to be committed for the whole time you are there.

What would you improve about this program?
More organisation, assignments spaced out better, more privacy in accommodation.
Kristen
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I worked for ABCi back in 2013 when they had some paid staff (senior teachers) and volunteers. Volunteers were in Austria for 3 months and got teacher training, free lodging in some of the most beautiful places in Austria and wonderful experience teaching. I then moved back to the states for two years and when I returned to Austria at the end of 2015 I was surprised to see an advertisement for a job placement on the Austrian unemployment website. I applied for the job and was amazed at how much the organization had changed. It is no longer the two man show of Mr. Carle in the office and Mr. Stone in the field with other staff helping create the programming and being lead teachers in schools. They have established the English Teacher Training College of Austria where student teachers get scholarships for different certificates (CertTESOL, CELT-P, etc). If I had known this I wouldn't have paid over €2500 for a CELTA in the US. I will admit I miss the days of 1 lead teacher and 4 volunteers teaching at a school in the alps with the afternoons free to explore the lakes while living in Gasthäuser. Now Student Teachers pay their own way to Austria, but are provided with dorms (VERY much like the ones at your local state college... no frills here), travel to and from their teaching practice locations, subsidized teacher training, BASIC food (think staples: rice, pasta), and the support of all staff.
ABCi has gone from a somewhat hectic volunteer organization to a real professional college (although sometimes it is still hectic, especially the first week of a course).

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Danielle Pierson

Danielle is from California, Kentucky but currently lives in Newmarket, England with her husband and daughter. She lived in Austria 2005-2008 and worked with ABCi in January 2013. She enjoys traveling, photography, and everything outdoors!
Austria is a picture-perfect country

Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with ABCi in Austria?

Before the English project week began, the teaching team met to plan for the week. We discussed the background of the school we would be at and any special activities planned for the week, and, if new teachers were present, we would spend some time getting to know each other. School days would begin with a group ride to the school, meeting the headmaster/mistress, getting our classrooms ready, and greeting the students. Frank and Ben always made sure we had enough materials and were ready for the day. Their enthusiastic smiles made the other teachers and students smile as well. In our individual classrooms, we would warm up with a few fun/easy activities in English, then “sneak” in some educational activities. The students usually had so much fun that they didn’t realize they were learning!

The days were always full of songs and silly dancing. At the end of the day, we recapped the lessons and songs, and asked for feedback from the students as to what they liked and didn’t like. ABCi has a great program, but they’re always looking to make it better. I found this feedback session helped me as an individual teacher too, because then I knew what to do differently the next day. After school, the teachers would meet for dinner and discuss the next day’s plans. Frank and Ben always made sure we were comfortable and prepared. The rest of the evening would be free time.

Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

I had previously lived and worked in Austria for two years, so working with ABCi was a “homecoming” of sorts for me. I LOVE Austria and its people. Meeting the students and a few parents through ABCi’s program reminded me again of why I love the culture. The people are so welcoming and appreciative. One student even gave me a jar of homemade strawberry jam as a thank you gift! Traveling abroad is a wonderful life experience. Working or volunteering abroad and genuinely interacting with locals magnifies the experience beyond unforgettable to life-changing.

Was it difficult to navigate around language barriers?

In a way, if a teacher doesn’t speak German, he/she has an advantage! Since ABCi’s goal is to provide students with a native English immersion week, teachers are supposed to speak only English in the classroom. I speak German, but I found it best to hide this from the students. I didn’t want them to take the easy route of speaking German to me since my value to them was as a native English speaker.

It’s more difficult to pretend one doesn’t speak a language than one might think! I had to constantly monitor my reaction to the times when students accidentally spoke German, making sure I didn’t answer their question or otherwise indicate I knew what they had said. Outside of the classroom, it is helpful to know German, especially in some of the smaller towns, but not essential. Austrians are friendly and glad to help, especially if you show interest in their culture. Many Austrians know basic English, if not more, so volunteers could get around on their own just fine.Frank and Ben at ABCi are considerate of the situations of all their volunteers and will also help with the language barrier whenever necessary!

What do you the miss the most about Austria or your experience?

In short, I miss the people and the beautiful scenery. I have some wonderful friends in Austria that I wish I could see more often. I also miss the general hospitality of the Austrian culture and people. Austria is gorgeous, no matter which part of the country you’re in and no matter the season. I miss the snow-covered mountains just as much as the glimmering lakes surrounded by beautiful wildflowers!

For people looking to travel throughout Europe, Austria is an ideal choice because of its location. From Austria, one can easily reach the traditional countries of Western Europe, but one can also quickly and easily reach Italy and Eastern Europe.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Angelika Kochem

Job Title
Administrative Assistant
Angelika is one of the Austrian members of staff at ABCi, and graduated from Handelsakademie in Gmunden. Alongside her work at ABCi, she works as a body painter and as a semi-professional photographer. In her spare time she likes to walk her dog, ride her horse and spend time with her two children. I work in the Reception office as Administrative Assistant, that means to care of everything and everybody at the campus.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Once I joined a PD at a school, to get a clear idea of our work. The children really enjoyed the education. We all had lots of fun with the humorous and inspiring form of teaching. I great experience.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

My work is very challenging. I started with work order to care for the Campus and the People. I was told to do a great job and could expand my work order to Accountant, Information and Help desk for everybody, especially with legal issues.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

They all enjoy the time working here. It's challenging and a great experience. They're confident that they'll be able to teach anywhere at the world, because of the enormous amount of teaching hours. They wanted to teach and at ABCi they've the chance to do so.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would love to teach the way they teach at ABCi. My children told me, they would enjoy always to be taught this way. I would enjoy to increase English knowledge at Austria.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We've a very familiar system. All colleagues help together. Somebody isn't available. No Problem. Another colleague is here and helps you.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

A good idea and a wonderful colleagues like mine.

More Interviews