Why did you choose LiveTEFL when you were choosing a TEFL course?
This year, I decided to move across the world – from New Zealand to the Czech Republic! This is a huge achievement and a scary one too, the chance to live and work in an entirely new environment is challenging enough without having to struggle with the choice of a TEFL school. I chose Live TEFL after hours of researching and reading reviews… It is true that the location is undoubtedly one of the best available and the school offers a very supportive and friendly environment, but most importantly – they have a group of truly dedicated and passionate teachers, that is why I chose Live TEFL.
What made you want to change your life and take a TEFL program in a foreign country?
I have been a music teacher for many years, and I know I adore this career. The experience of sharing wisdom and encouraging growth in the people around me while learning from them, is so unique and I am always grateful for this. This year, however, I chose to take a different direction and teach the English language (though some could say that music is a language in itself!). I had always wanted to make the leap and have the courage to immerse myself somewhere foreign, to learn from other cultures, languages and people around the world. So, I decided to take the Live TEFL course in the heart of Europe.
How was your first month in Prague? What was positive, what was challenging?
I arrived to Prague one month before the beginning of my TEFL course. My first month here in Prague was incredible and scary. I was lucky enough to have a partner who took time off work to show me around Prague, a.k.a, my new home. I know for a fact, I would have faced many more challenges had it not been for him. The language barrier was hard, and as wonderful as Czechs can be, my natural fear of appearing rude or disrespectful when attempting to speak Czech made it very difficult to explore with a carefree spirit. Overall, my first month was challenging and I had a lot to adjust to, but in the moments that I was not glued to my google translator app, it was exhilarating and awesome.
What were the best and worst moments of your TEFL course? (Worst and best moments of your first month in Prague?
The TEFL course is difficult and comprehensive. I read numerous reviews online before committing to the course and a overwhelming percentage of these reviews mentioned the intensity of it being more than expected. While I was prepared for it to be difficult, I still found myself struggling and striving harder than I ever have in such a short time. The best part of the course for me, was learning from teachers and coaches who genuinely wanted me to succeed. Having that amount of support was really important and during the most stressful moments, it was what kept the ball rolling.
How did you feel after finishing the course?
After finishing the course I went out for drinks. I don’t often feel like I have studied so hard and so consistently that I deserve such a celebration, but that evening I did.
How were the two months after finishing TEFL? Can you describe your first experience with English teaching?
Messy, silly, easy, good. I still have students from the first class I taught post-TEFL. They are currently some of the most fun and curious students and I deeply enjoy my lessons with them. On the first day, I showed up to no one. After hanging around for half an hour, panicking and then knocking on all doors possible, I was confronted with a very agitated young woman who sternly informed me that she had permanently cancelled these lessons because she no longer had the time. I was embarrassed of course, and confused, but I also saw it as a good opportunity to remember that things can always go wrong. Anyway, I came back the next week to her two colleagues who were more than ready to begin working with me and honestly, that was my real first lesson, and that was awesome.
How was your first year (abroad) in general? What were the best and worst moments of your first year?
So far, my worst moments have been the real practical bits and pieces of moving countries. Everything you’d expect, but still struggle with nonetheless; The paperwork, the applications, the insurance, the security. All of these things are scary and they are messy, there is no way around, just through. My hardest moments have been ones spent in deep frustration (and impatience). The best thing about that of course, is that the paperwork is really the only terrible or frustrating part of my year. At the end of the day, all I need to do to experience the most amazing and pleasant reality shock, is to look up.
What is it like to be an English teacher (in Europe)? Is it what you expected?
Every culture is different and unique, so I decided when I teach to make sure I walk in with as little expectations as possible. My experience with teaching is so deeply affected by the students’ personalities, their habits and their expectations of me as well. Teaching in Prague I have learned so much about the people and I think if I had held onto any expectations, I probably would have noticed many more differences, maybe even difficulties.
What do you like the most about life in Prague?
I love the architectural contrast all through the city, the ancient buildings and the gorgeous bridges, the modern art and the graffiti. Sitting on the tram or riding just one stop on the underground, you can close and open your eyes for a moment to find everything is different. Maybe to locals, it is an unusual opinion or it doesn’t make sense, but I have grown up in a world so different to the one I live in now – and I love that.
What is the main difference between life in the Czech Republic and life in your home country?
The smallest of things can catch me off guard here. In New Zealand, I am used to saying hello and thank you to the bus driver, but rarely to the store owner. Here in Prague, it’s the direct opposite. The light switches are backwards and everybody owns at least two shoe horns. Why don’t they butter their bread?! It’s so DRY! It sounds ridiculous but it’s the tiny things in life that somehow became significant when I moved countries. Most of the time I smile or laugh when I observe such differences, because really, it makes you question the way you’ve lived your whole life, and that’s a pretty cool way to learn and think about new things.
In what aspect did your life change the most?
Moving to Prague has been one of the biggest events of my life and certainly the most positive. I miss my family and my friends very much, but I don’t regret a thing. Every day, I’m immersed in the language and I’m faced with the need to use the clearest communication with more confidence than I’ve ever had in the past; I often attempt to speak Czech too which is something I wouldn’t have been so willing to try in the past. I have yet to discover the world of music here and there is always more to explore, but already, I know I have grown in the best possible ways. I’m scared and nervous all the time, but honestly in only 7 months, I have upgraded my self-esteem, my ability to take initiative, my motivation and my appreciation in all things ‘life’. It has truly been the most wonderful and challenging time, one I’ll continue living for as long as possible.