I took part part in ABCi’s August - February program in 2017-2018. I had just completed a Masters program in history, and was interested in teaching, traveling, and learning languages. The experience I had was, on the whole, fantastic. Since completion, I have been teaching ESL in China. In this time I have benefited from the experience and instruction I recieved at ABCi, and I would definitely recommend it to others.
The two aspects of the program that really set it apart are: 1) the quality of the feedback, training, and methodologies taught; and 2: the classroom experience. To the first point, the course tutors I had were consistently experienced, thoughtful, and engaging instructors. An emphasis on Task Based Learning, CLIL, and generally communicative, student-centered teaching was central to both our teacher training and the content we delivered in the classroom. The senior teachers are supportive and understanding. The overall rigor struck me as substantially higher than comparable TEFL courses with which I’m familiar, but student teachers who struggled with the coursework were well provided with support and guidance.
The impact of the training and instruction itself was greatly magnified by the opportunity to put it into practice every day in diverse classroom settings. There is no real substitute for being thrown in the classroom and teaching, and ABCi offered the support and structure to enable prospective teachers to experience this without undue stress. Teachers learn, practice, and execute day and week long immersion programs at various schools, generally working with two classes of students (each for half the school day). The vast majority of students are eager and intrinsically motivated to develop their English, all the more so given the dynamic teaching style fostered by the organization. While the first few weeks are, invariably, quite rough for many, the benefits of plunging into the classroom and learning how to manage, engage, and instruct students soon become clear.
Among the greatest appeals of learning to teach in this manner is the broad range of classroom environments one encounters. Over my time with ABCi, I taught students from kinder to high school ages and from low A1 to high B2 CEFR levels. I taught in rural, urban, and alpine environments, in schools in Germany, Austria, and Slovenia. In the space of two weeks, I went from teaching in an isolated mountain town in Carinthia -- where students and teachers spoke a highly localized dialect of Southern Austro-Bavarian, hardly intelligible to outsiders-- to an urban Polytechnische Schule with immigrants whose first languages ranged from Serbian to Dari.
I lived at all three campuses, and found the accommodations largely satisfactory. At the outset of my time there some logistical issues regarding food vouchers occured, though these were ultimately resolved. Each location offers fantastic opportunities to travel independently on top of what you do in going from school to school. The communal spaces will, ultimately, be what you and your fellow teachers make of them. The vast majority of Austrians I met were incredibly welcoming, and each location offers unique opportunities to experience different aspects of local Austrian culture, from Krampus and Christmas Markets to Fasching. Even waking up at the crack of dawn to drive to some far-off school is made considerably more agreeable by the consistently breathtaking landscapes one gets to see at sunrise.
The course is by no means a breeze. Teaching a full school day, then attending input sessions, and finally settling down to attend to coursework can all add up-- particularly if you don’t manage your time well. You will no doubt frequently avail yourself of the coffee and pastries generously offered in most Austrian faculty rooms. But you will also find ample support from your course-tutors, senior teachers, and ofcourse your fellow student-teachers, who will all be in the same boat.
In short, if your interested in rigorous teacher training, extensive and varied classroom experience, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and scenery of Austria, I would strongly recommend this program.