On a motorbike in Laos one day near the Chinese boarder I decided to get certified to teach English as a second language. To give the gift of communication. Throughout the rest of my time traveling in Southeast Asia I researched programs for TEFL certification - everywhere from Indochina, to South America, to Europe, etc, etc. I knew what I wanted: Spanish Speaking Country, Job Opportunities, Supportive Staff, Good Materials, A good Community, good living conditions, and of course, a beautiful place. My brother recommended Maximo to me having volunteered with them in Cusco. So one morning under the shadow of a Durian statue in Southeastern Cambodia I put down my deposit and signed up for Maximo.
From the start the program was streamlined, efficient, and welcoming. My travel from Guatemala City to Antigua was painless. My accommodation and host mom were wonderful - Sandra was a great cook and a good companion. Maximo provided just about every opportunity I could hope for: travel advice, job advice, immediate placement upon completion, and a rigorous course. This program isn't half-hearted or lazy in its pedagogy - Suzanne Harle, my TEFL trainer, is a gifted instructor with the kind of genuine passion and serious expertise necessary to prepare anyone to teach English who is willing to put the necessary time into it. You simply must commit to doing real work all the time and trust Suzanne completely, in everything, all the time. Which is good, because she is always right. Thankfully, it is fun and instructive - what a combination!
The educational strategy is immersive and reflexive. You are taught to teach in the style that you will be teaching in. Effectively, you get a great example(Suzanne) and then the opportunity to build up, step by step, to becoming that wonderful example. You feel yourself learning. You remember the techniques. You rely on what you've learned. And you teach. You actually teach.
The staff in Antigua are all wonderful and knowledgeable as well as realistic and forthright. You are your only biggest obstacle, however, if you buckle down you will be rewarded with a new skill and a great network, and maybe even a new vocation.
The surrounding area is magnificent: looming volcanoes, pristine lakes, lush coffee plantations, and at the heart of historic UNESCO certified Antigua, full of a chromatic smorgasbord of shopfronts and beautiful, ruinous Spanish Cathedrals. It is lively and frenetic in the city, small but quaint, with a good community of teachers, expats, locals, and others to converse with and learn from. Guatemalan culture is great. Delicious food, music, and feelings all around.
It isn't the cheapest program around, and it is difficult and rigorous. But this is all good. You get what you pay for. There is nothing janky. You are not misinformed. Materials are available, everyone is willing to help, and there is a strong sense that you are taken care of personally and sincerely. There is also the strong sense that Maximo is constantly interested in its own improvement(while I was there they were installing an entire new computer lab for their students to use) which is really refreshing and positive, and speaks to a genuine care for their project and those that use their services.
I highly recommend the TEFL Certification at Maximo Nivel in Guatemala! What are you waiting for?