Sophie Huggon

Teach Enrich Empower

Teaching in a Buddhist Monastery in Nepal

Hi! I’m Sophie, I’m 19 and I took a gap year after finishing my A levels to travel and teach English abroad.

I decided to take a TEFL course because I knew I wanted to travel and I love teaching. I felt that doing the online course would teach me the basics of lesson planning and managing a class and make it a better experience for my students. It’s also a great way to earn some extra cash while you’re travelling as it’s an internationally recognised qualification. So, after privately tutoring English freelance for several months in France and Spain, off I went to Nepal!

I spent a month living and teaching English to young monks in a Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of Kathmandu and it was incredible. The monastery was beautiful and so peaceful, with views of the whole of the Kathmandu valley. The school, funded by the monastery and donations, was on the top floor and the three classes I taught ranged in age from 5-14. I was given very little guidance on what to teach and very few resources, which is when my TEFL course with The TEFL Academy really helped me – I knew how to think on my feet, judge the level of the class, help both the stronger and weaker students and, above all, control the class. It was also quite difficult to teach such young students because of the language barrier but I learnt to use my hands and pictures to explain things. I was always teaching and managing the class by myself and frequently classes would get merged without warning. But the challenge and perseverance I needed when teaching the monks felt like nothing compared to the reward of seeing them improve, the effort they put in and their keenness to learn (most of the time…) and above all their smiles when we played games during and outside of classes. Thanks to my TEFL course I knew how to deal with the situation and engage the students, solving all of the problems.

“My TEFL course was such a useful starting point to teaching English.”

One of my best memories was the students’ improvements during my time, no matter how small. After a week, my youngest student stopped writing his S’s backwards and eventually learnt to copy from the board by himself. Everything they learnt made me feel so proud and when we weren’t in class, they were always asking me for new words and pointing others out. I really formed a bond with all the monks in the school, young and old, and loved teaching them games and songs to help them learn English. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience and it would not have been possible without my TEFL course.

This year I will start university to study French and Spanish and I would love to do something in education when I finish. But even if I don’t, my gap year wouldn’t have been the same without my TEFL course and I know I will carry on travelling in the future. It was such a useful starting point so that I wasn’t thrown in completely at the deep end! For anyone who is considering travelling or a possible career in education or just genuinely interested, I would recommend it – I really enjoyed my course, I learnt so much, received great feedback and advice and it opened up so many doors for the future.

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