Namaacha, Maputo, Mozambique. During Pre-Service Training, practicing teaching before headed off to my site.
Tell us about yourself – what attracted you to the TESL@TFLI course?
I was born and raised in Guatemala learning English as a second language and moved to the States (Nashville, TN) when I was 12 years old. Having been raised learning English at a young age I was able to succeed and have many amazing opportunities come from it. I studied nursing and psychology at Lipscomb University in Nashville and decided to apply to the Peace Corps two years after graduation. I decided to apply with hopes of giving others the same opportunity I had of learning English as a portal to greater opportunities.
I did not want to go into my service without any teaching experience and TESL@TFLI seemed like the perfect fit for me. Recommended by my father (because he worked there!) and others, I had always heard great things about the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute and what a great job they do of training and preparing teachers. What was most appealing to me was that the Institute had trained and worked with other Peace Corps volunteers in the past and that this certificate would make me a stronger candidate when applying to the Peace Corps. The work that TFLI does and the impact that it has in the community with immigrants and refugees was also of great appeal to me.
How did TESL@TFLI prepare you for teaching?
TESL@TFLI has taught me everything I know about teaching. I have adapted my own way of teaching, but without the training I would be running around like a headless chicken. One of the biggest things I got out of the training was being able to plan a well rounded lesson. Although I do not follow it to a t, I continue to use the same format which helps me with time management and assuring that most of the participation is coming from the students and not me. I now also feel well prepared in having a good presence and being confident in the classroom.
What are you doing now?
I am currently serving in the Peace Corps in Mozambique, a Portuguese speaking country in Sub-Saharan Africa. I teach at a teacher training school like TFLI! This institute trains students to be teachers in elementary schools. I am an English teacher and teach Language Use, which is mostly grammar, and Teaching Practice in which students get to learn and practice how to run their English lessons in new and interactive ways.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to teach in another country?
Every classroom experience will be extremely different. Go in with an open mind and be willing to be flexible especially to the needs of your students. If you are teaching in the U.S. take advantage of all the resources available to you! If you are teaching abroad, be willing to be or become creative because resources are scarce.
What is your favorite teaching or travelling experience?
The experience I am going through right now is my favorite. My students are young adults (18-25) who are enthusiastic about improving their English, ready to learn new ways of teaching, and excited to teach. Having gone through a system where they only get lectured to and fill in the blank is the only activity they take a part in, I can see how much they enjoy learning new ways of learning and teaching. Whether they know it or not, my students are very creative – they just haven’t had the opportunity to express themselves. I have loved every bit of watching them come up with new ideas, whether it is finding a new song they can use to teach their students or just coming up with a non-fill in the blank activity.
Do you have anything else to share?
If you are thinking about doing the TESL@TFLI program and aren’t sure, I encourage you to do it! Not only will you learn a lot, but you will be trained by one of the most kind, encouraging, and supportive staff.
If you have the opportunity to teach abroad, whether it is through the Peace Corps or otherwise, do it!!!