Please introduce yourself and tell us where you are from and your educational background.
My name is John. I’m originally from the United Kingdom, but I have been living in Jakarta, Indonesia for the last 6 years. I originally studied a BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice, but have also done a TEFL course to aid in finding a job as an ESL teacher. I’m also half way through a Master’s degree in education, which I am completing through a distance learning course.
Could you give our readers a bit of background on your TEFL career to date, including when and where you qualified?
After I finished University, I did a TEFL course as I wanted to see the world a little bit. I came to Jakarta as I knew people from my university that live here. Initially I worked at an extra-curricular language school for a year but then went home. However, I found I had itchy feet and needed to travel again. I ended up coming back to Indonesia, this time working at another language school in Bali before moving back to Jakarta. Around the middle of 2009, I moved to a very multicultural International school where I started by teaching IGCSE ESL, as well as a number of other subjects, before moving to a full Primary class teacher. This meant teaching a lot more than just ESL, but gave me a massive range of teaching skills I would have otherwise missed out on had I remained teaching only in language schools. In 2013 I moved to another International school, this one focused only on students of one nationality.
Could you tell us about your current job?
I teach at an international school catering to expatriate children of various business people who live and work in Jakarta. As many of these students return to their home country for university, parents often want their children to have studied their home country’s curriculum to aid in getting university places. I work in the middle school teaching ESL and a specialised project based learning class aimed at developing skills rather than just focusing on facts and figures.
What got you interested in teaching English abroad in the first place?
I had my life planned. I was going to join the RAF as a Provost Officer – essentially a police/base security officer. However, I fell in love with a girl that derailed my plan. I came to Indonesia to continue the relationship, and it never ended. We got married in 2008 and I decided to permanently relocate here. The job situation back home isn’t particularly good and when I first came here teaching English I realised that I enjoyed it. Teaching can be very fulfilling. I’m now trying to finish a masters degree in Education, which should open up many new and exciting opportunities in the future. Teaching ESL gave me a taster of what a full teaching career would be like.
What have been your most enjoyable TEFL experiences so far?
As with any teaching role, any time you find yourself with a student who is struggling with a concept but then suddenly gets it – the look on their face when light dawns on them is priceless, as is the feeling you get knowing that you facilitated it.
What are your own particular goals as a TEFL professional, in the medium to long-term?
As I’ve said, I’m working through an masters degree in education. For me, TEFL was a stepping stone towards a full teaching career. I hope that new doors will open for me once it’s completed, and if I ever feel like moving out of the classroom, an MEd should open doors to alternate careers within the field of education.
What advice would you give to those who have either just qualified, or are thinking about studying to become an overseas English language teacher?
Immerse yourself in the culture of whichever country you end up in. Not only will it make your experience living there far more enjoyable, it will also help you relate to your students and see from their perspective making your job – and their learning – much easier!