A mother-and-son CertTESOL team

Our next Teacher Story comes from a mother and son team, Helen and Matt. Helen took the CertTESOL with us in July 2012 and Matt followed in her footsteps in October 2018.

Why did you choose the Trinity CertTESOL at Active Language, Cádiz?

Helen: I was looking for a course with a good reputation and good results. Also, for a course that offered hands-on teaching practice. There are many online courses available but they do not offer any actual teaching. Most people can, in time, learn the theory and the grammar but the art of teaching a foreign language is an entirely different matter. All the schools that I applied to after the course were not interested unless you already had some teaching practice under your belt.

Matt: The most important consideration for me was the reputation of the school. I was aware that there were cheaper and quicker options available but had also read enough to know that that route almost always invariably caused problems later on, as a lot of schools don’t accept online certificates. Also, I was serious about teaching as a career change and so wanted to be as well-prepared as I could which meant choosing the best school. The fact that it is located in the beautiful city of Cadiz and you can spend some of your lunch break (if you have the time) sleeping on the beach is a bonus.

What was the course like?

Helen: The course is very thorough but it is also very intensive. For the first couple of weeks I felt completely out of my depth, stressed and I often doubted my ability. The course tutors were incredibly professional, supportive and enabling. I left the course with a huge sense of achievement but I also felt realistic in that I still had a whole lot more to learn.

Matt: It is one of the most challenging things I have undertaken for sure. It must have been 15 years since I had been in an academic environment and the first couple of weeks were definitely a bit overwhelming. You really need to be very organised and manage your time wisely if you are going to complete all the work on time and get the grades required. There were a few nights where I didn’t get much sleep but after the first couple of weeks, it was clear that passing the course would be achievable, you just need to not visit too many bars in the evening!

Did other people have a similar experience?

Helen: I shared a flat with other course students and we worked well together; it was great to be able to share stuff and support each other. When there was time, we also had fun. Cadiz is a truly stunning city, there is so much to see and do. What I loved the most is the food, the museums/galleries and the people. An added bonus was that it was easy to walk or cycle everywhere plus a town beach to boot.

Matt: The main highlight for me was meeting the other students on the course. I was lucky enough to be grouped with an extremely bright and humorous bunch who helped each other along the way. We spent a lot of time together, studying at the academy and socialising in the bars and cafes of Cadiz (hundreds of these) and have remained friends to this day, talking regularly to find out what everyone is up to post-TEFL. The staff at the academy were extremely professional and helpful (as well as patient) and despite the tough nature and fast pace of this course, we managed to have a good laugh in most classes which really helped.

What have you been up to since? How has doing the course helped? What might the future hold?

Helen: I found a job immediately after finishing the TESOL course and I have been teaching ever since. I still think about and use what I learnt on the course in Cádiz. What I love about this job is the students and seeing their confidence grow as they master the language. Also, the ability to travel and the fascination of language/s and how as a teacher you never stop learning and discovering new things. I was so inspired by the course and the TESOL way of life that I recommended it to my son and a friend.  Both have now completed their course and are in various parts of the world teaching English.

I am now of retirement age but I am going to continue teaching English until my students tell me it is time to leave!

Thank you Active Language for opening up this world to me.

Matt: I went to work straight away in an English center in Alcala, about 50 mins up the road from Cádiz. I worked there for 3 months but my plan had always been to work further afield. I applied for jobs all over the world including Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Thailand and Vietnam. I was offered a few positions but after a lot of research opted for Vietnam, which is where I am today. I have a full time position in an English school here and am very much enjoying the challenge of this new career and of course of living in a new and very different yet wonderful country.

If anyone thinking of doing their TEFL course then I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. It opens up a whole world of opportunities which I intend to fully explore. And of course I would recommend doing your CertTESOL with Active Language: I have very fond memories of those 6 weeks and am very grateful for all of the help and guidance.

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