TEFL 101

Even today, close to four months after having left Prague, questions continue to flood in regarding my time in the Czech Republic.

“What were you doing over there?”

“Was it hard to teach English?”

“How did you find a job?”

“How much do I need to save beforehand?”

“I’m tired and need a change, how did you teach English in Prague?”

I truly enjoy answering all questions thrown at me and take time to thoughtfully answer each one.

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Not only is teaching abroad in Prague a simple decision, but it’s quite easy to execute as well.

The country, as a whole, is inexpensive.

A TEFL course is easy to sign up for.

Finding a job, post course, is made easy by the connections made through The Language House (TLH).

I decided in March that I was going to teach English abroad, and moved at the end of August; in a matter of five months I made all arrangements necessary to tie up loose ends in California and throw myself headfirst into a foreign country.

Upon moving over there, I didn’t know a single person.

I had never been to Prague before.

In fact, I had never been that far East before.

I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Beyond the TEFL course I was signed up for, I had no plan regarding job, visa, money or a home.

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I would encourage everyone, at some point in their life, to take a leap and live abroad. Ideally, go on your own and have no expectations. It is such a life changing experience that I’m so incredibly thankful to have accomplished.

Of the twenty something students I took TLH course with, I was one of the first to leave Prague – some seven or eight months after the course. Each of the students found their niche in the country, found a job (or multiple jobs) and made a life in the new country. A pretty good success ratio if you ask me. As of now, a majority of those students are still in Prague.

Teaching English is a very rewarding experience that introduces you to new cultures, ideas and perspectives.

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TLH is a month long intensive course that will give you all the skills necessary to teach English to a non-native speaker. After completing the course I felt confident in my ability to teach private or group language lessons at any age.

I had lesson plans all ready to go, and plans A B and C ready for a lesson that might not go as planned.

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I was set up to successfully teach a class all on my own.

I ended up working full time at an international school, “teaching” 2-5 year old students from all over the world. I use the word “teaching” loosely because it’s quite hard to really teach children that young. They are sponges, everything is new to them. Not only were we teaching, but we were feeding, putting to nap, reading to, and playing with these kiddos all day long.

One of the best parts was seeing these kids from all over the world, from all different backgrounds and native languages, speak to one another…Rather, I should say say, attempt to speak to one another.

For example one of my students had a mother from Ukraine, a father from Saudi Arabia, she was living in the Czech Republic and went to an English language school. This little four year old was already exposed to four different languages on a daily basis. That’s not even including the languages her peers were speaking in their free time.

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My students were from Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey, Africa, Germany, Russia, Chechnya, Ukraine and more. An insane amount of nationalities were covered in one school grade.

The opportunity to work with these kids, speak to them, and watch them learn and grow is one that I never would have imagined I might have.

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So, I say go for it. If you’ve been thinking about living abroad, teaching English as a foreign language, or just going on an adventure, this is one of the best and most affordable ways to make it feasible. Consider this your final push to take the leap into a new life changing experience.

Feel free to email me with any more questions. I didn’t bother covering all the boring logistics and details in this post but will do so in the future; sakehm@gmail.com.

Below are some photos of my sweet little students.


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Dear Milton, Florida,

I would like to take the time to commend you on some newly discovered hidden gems scattered throughout your “seemingly” boring boundaries.  I have been pleasantly surprised on multiple occasions over the last few days, as I have stumbled upon various restaurants, cafes and antique shops. I must admit, upon moving to your township two months ago, I was slightly hesitant to leave the comfortable confines of your more attractive, popular, big sister Pensacola, but hereby declare that I have been sorely mistaken. New, self-gathered evidence points that Milton truly is a quaint, entertaining town all on it’s own. That is, if you’re willing to give it a chance.

Well done, Milton. I applaud you and look forward to future discoveries.

With newfound respect,

Sarah

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Alright guys, it’s true – there really are places worth visiting in Milton! I am finding that I am really starting to enjoy myself here. From Bands on the Blackwater activities each Friday evening, to the quaint little thrift shops and antique stores, I’ve certainly been finding a lot to enjoy.

I’ve recently learned that Historic Milton is having some trouble thwarting plans of an intrusive four-lane highway. The highway proposal could potentially destroy old buildings in its charming district as well as redirect any prospective tourism straight out of the pleasant little downtown.

“Saving downtown does not just mean saving our past, it means investing in the brightest future for our beloved little city.”

In honor of small towns everywhere, let’s hop on board and help give Milton a chance to prove itself. For more information read and sign the petition here to help fight for preservation of Milton, Florida’s Historic District.

OR if you live in the area, stop by Old Post Office Antiques. Sign in person and enjoy one of the lovely buildings that could potentially be harmed by the lane add-ons. They also have the most delicious lunch cafe with the sweetest staff.

Wearing: Rag and Bone denim, thrifted neck tie ($1 downtown Milton!), Mango gladiators here (40% off!)



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Food For Thought: The Art of Stillness

I took my first hot yoga class this evening. I’ve been practicing at URU Yoga & Beyond in Pensacola, Florida. I’ll admit, after a day of work, hot yoga really kicked my ass. It was one of those workouts that pisses you off and makes you want to work harder.

At the end of the class, while we were in shavasana, the teacher had some great quote that I mentally logged to look up later.

In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still. So you can go on your next vacation to Paris or Hawaii, or New Orleans; I bet you’ll have a wonderful time. But, if you want to come back home alive and full of fresh hope, in love with the world, I think you might want to try considering going nowhere.

I found that the quote was from a Ted Talk given by Pico Iyer in November of 2014. Iyer is a British travel writer with a great backstory including teaching at Harvard and working for Time magazine. After watching his 15 minute talk I’m feeling quite inspired. At age 29, Iyer decided to give up his ‘dream life’ and moved to Kyoto, Japan in search of stillness and ‘going nowhere’.

Iyer describes ‘going nowhere’ as taking a few minutes out of every day or a few days out of every season, or even, as some people do, a few years out of a life in order to sit still long enough to find out what moves you most, to recall where your truest happiness lies and to remember that sometimes making a living and making a life point in opposite directions.”

Much of our lives are spent in our minds, memories, and imaginations. Iyer notes that I found that the best way that I could develop more attentive and more appreciative eyes was, oddly, by going nowhere, just by sitting still.”

I have found in my personal life that whenever I attempt mindfulness or stillness, I struggle with what I may be missing while away, or what I could or should be doing for someone else. Iyer makes a good point:

And every season I do try to take three days off on retreat but a part of me still feels guilty to be leaving my poor wife behind and to be ignoring all those seemingly urgent emails from my bosses and maybe to be missing a friend’s birthday party. But as soon as I get to a place of real quiet, I realize that it’s only by going there that I’ll have anything fresh or creative or joyful to share with my wife or bosses or friends. Otherwise, really, I’m just foisting on them my exhaustion or my distractedness, which is no blessing at all.

While I haven’t physically tried to get away, this point hits close to home. Somedays I don’t realize what I could be bringing to the table in terms of ideas or attitude. I’m extremely guilty of being distracted and really up until now, haven’t realized how much my distractedness can affect those around me.

After watching this video, I’m now challenging myself to get my distractedness under control. From using my glowing screens less before bed to just being still in times of wait, I plan to incorporate stillness into my every day life.

Consider The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer added to my “To Read…” list.