Working abroad is not a new thing for Mairead. In fact, she has lived and worked on four continents over the last few years. However, she has only recently dipped her toes into the world of teaching English. Having spent a month in Europe teaching English with Angloville, she has now returned home with the hope of becoming an online English teacher.
Tell us more about yourself and what sparked your interest in teaching English?
I have always been interested in traveling, so I have always found an excuse to move away from home and see the world. I have lived away from home ten times in seven years, which has included living and working in the USA, China and Zambia. When I realized that English teaching was an option, I saw it as another exciting opportunity for me. I would be lying if I said that it had always been something that interested me. I didn’t even know it was a thing until I completed my Angloville program a few months ago!
You recently completed a bunch of programs with Angloville. How was that for you?
My experience with Angloville was incredible! When I had applied to teach English in Europe with Angloville, I was told that I could participate in the Anglo-TEFL scholarship. This meant I was able to complete three consecutive programs in both the Czech Republic and Poland. After my programs, I would be able to complete a 120 hour TEFL certification with Premier TEFL.
My overall experience of Angloville was wonderful. My first program brought me to the Czech Republic where I started my adventure in Brno. After this adult program, I made my way to Warsaw for another adult program followed by a junior program. It was fantastic to be able to have the experience of teaching both adults and children as it allowed me to adapt my teaching methods to each age group.
You had the opportunity to teach a wide range of participants, varying in ages. Which age group was your favorite and why?
For me, I found that adults were personally my favorite age group to teach. Of course I loved teaching the younger participants and I had a lot of fun. But I found that the adults I worked with were able to get so much more out of their program, especially those I was working directly with every day. I also found that the adults were more eager to learn and actively improve their English skills. For me, this was fantastic as I was able to relate to them a little more. We were also able to enjoy a drink in the evenings and have a more relaxed environment to socialize in. This meant that we were all able to work very hard in sessions during the day, and reward ourselves in the evening.
For the junior program, I spent a lot of time engaging in games and activities. This was an excellent method of teaching English as we were able to engage with the participants in a more natural and relaxing environment. I really enjoyed the junior program, but I definitely found the adult program to be the one that I benefited the most from. I have also stayed in contact with a lot of the participants on the adult programs and hope to visit them in Europe in the future.
What is your favorite part of teaching English?
My favorite part of teaching English is seeing the development from your learners. When I was in Europe, I was paired up with my own ‘mentees’. I found that I was able to quickly develop strong relationships with them also. This meant that we were able to understand and trust each other which made the teaching experience beautiful. At the end of each week, my mentees had to present in front of the rest of their peers. Watching the presentations was the most fulfilling part of my English teaching experience because I was able to witness first-hand how much my mentees had improved and developed their skills and confidence. The learning journey for those you teach is truly wonderful to be a part of.
Can you share with us a special moment that you experienced when teaching English in Europe?
There are too many amazing moments from my time in Europe! It’s tough to narrow it down to only one experience so I will share a few with you.
On my first program in the Czech Republic, I arrived at the venue and introduced myself to everyone. I could see someone lurking at the back and it seemed like she wanted to speak to me. Out of nowhere, she asked me, “where are you from”? I immediately recognised that her accent was similar to mine. A bit flabbergasted, we both said “Lurgan”. The rest is history. Instantaneously in that moment we became best friends because we were from the same town in Northern Ireland yet we had never crossed paths!
Another special moment for me was when I was paired up with my first mentee. This was my first experience of teaching English, so I wanted to make a good impression. We both worked hard throughout the week, and after my mentee had finished her final presentation, she squeezed me so hard and said, “you are not my mentor, you are my friend”. An incredible moment.
Lastly, on my final program I met another one of the volunteers at the meeting point in Warsaw, Anastasia. We both looked a little lost and just started chatting. After sitting together on the bus, we asked if we could be paired up in the same room. At this point we met another volunteer, Fatma who seemed like a lot of fun. We were then able to arrange for all three of us to stay in the same room. Over the course of the week we pulled muscles from laughing so much, had two questionable DIY bathroom haircuts and memories that will stay with us for a long time.
You have also recently become TEFL certified and completed your course online. How did you find the virtual aspect of learning in the absence of classroom learning?
I recently completed my 120 Hour TEFL course with Premier TEFL. I found it to be highly engaging, informative and easy to understand. One of the best things about studying the course online is the ability to do it at your own pace. I was exhausted coming back from Europe. Being able to do my TEFL course in my own time was a blessing. I also found the app to be very slick and user-friendly. This meant I was able to complete different elements of my course without having to open my laptop. I believe people learn differently, but for a kinesthetic learner like me, I thought the online course to be appropriate and effective.
What is next for Mairead? Do you see yourself continuing to teach English?
At some point in the near future I will certainly be traveling again. But in the meantime, I might try my hand at teaching English online. I have a lot of friends who currently teach online, and I am jealous of their schedules! I think I might also go back to teaching English in Europe at some point when I’m able to travel again.
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