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We interviewed Brianna, Live TEFL graduate

Brianna ShawhanWe’ve spoken to Brianna, a successful graduate of Live TEFL Prague who has joined SPĚVÁČEK Languages as a teacher, about her experience and motivation, and her decision to leave the US and work as a TEFL teacher.

Why you decided to go overseas and teach English in Europe?
All eyes were on me as I made my way to the stage laid out before me. One by one, people in green and white robes stood on the stage and were handed the ultimate paper that told them it was time to join the real world – their university diploma. I could hear my parents cheering in the background as my name was called – with incorrect pronunciation of course – but I was less enthused.

I had been waiting for this day for four years. I was ready to not have to take any more tests, write research papers, or partake in group projects that resulted in fighting. I was ready for the “real world” … until graduation day came. As I stood in the sea of green and white, I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do once this day was over.

Many of my classmates already had jobs or if they didn’t, they knew what they wanted and how to get that job. So in the midst of my confusion, I did what any 21-year-old would do – I made an impulse decision. Mere weeks before I left, I booked a flight to Romania to volunteer at an orphanage for two months. And it was the best decision of my life.

It is what inspired me to eventually make another impulse life decision and apply for the Live TEFL course in Prague. When I left Romania, and went back to my less-exciting hometown in the Midwest, I realized I wasn’t done traveling. I knew other classmates from college who decided to spend a year or two in another country teaching English. It sounded like the perfect opportunity to travel and gain professional experience at the same time.

Brianna at Teaching PracticeWith that, I began my search for the perfect location and course. Many late night Google searches told me that the best place to teach English in Europe is Prague because English is in high demand, so it’s easier to get a job here than in places, such as Italy or Spain. After taking in this information, I promptly pressed “images” to see where I’d be living. And everything I saw was beautiful. I was sold.

What made you decide to do a formal TEFL course?
Many people from my college took their TEFL courses online. This is certainly the cheaper option, but being a hands-on leaner, I knew it wouldn’t be right for me. I needed to be in a classroom with real people to help and support me along the way. That’s why I chose Live TEFL – the small classes and big staff guaranteed that there would be someone to talk to if I needed help or advice.

I feel like I learned a lot more being in an actual classroom instead of in front of a computer screen. I got to watch teachers in their classrooms, go to workshops, and try out many teaching styles and activities in front of my peers and experienced teachers. The feedback I received from this was more useful than any YouTube video or Skype presentation could be.

Tell us about your move to Prague ... what was great, what were the challenges?
The move to Prague itself wasn't hard. Prague is beautiful, and I had a lot of fun doing typical tourist things, such as taking pictures in front of everything  (and I mean everything) and buying snow globes with the Prague castle in them before settling down and getting to the challenging stuff.

Moving to another country is always going to be difficult, especially if you’re from a non-EU country. Finding cheap, but good housing was difficult at first since non-EU citizens need to get proof of accommodation papers, but there are lots of sources out there that can help, such as the school and expats.cz. Take advantage of these sources. They will be your best friends.

Brianna at Teaching PracticeIf you’re serious about staying in Prague, I would also recommend starting the visa process as early as you can to avoid any possible trouble. The school will be able to help you with this, so be sure to ask early on.

What did you find most enjoyable about the course?
The interactions with other classmates and the staff proved to be one of the most enjoyable parts about Live TEFL. Since the course is intense, we were there from 9 am to at least 5 pm every day. Then, we went back to our hostel to do homework. It proved to be encouraging to have others around who were going through the same things as you, such as assimilating to a new country and figuring out how not to be homeless. If you’re not a Prague native, you will be put into a hostel with other non-native students, so your support system will be built in.

What would you recommend to people who are thinking of doing a TEFL course in Prague and working here?
My number one recommendation to people who are thinking of doing a TEFL course in Prague would be to make sure you have enough money to at least get you through a couple of months, especially if you aren’t an EU citizen. I personally wished I had saved up more money than I had because my first couple of months here would have been a lot easier. Do lots of research, and whatever amount you think you need, double it just to be sure. Trust me, this will save you a lot of sleepless nights.

If you have enough money, my second recommendation would be to just do it – sign up and jump right into the experience. It will look great on anyone’s resume, and it’ll be an experience you’ll never forget.

By Brianna Shawhan, 21 March 2014

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