Leeann Oncu

Teach Enrich Empower

My Golden Ticket to the West.

My 40th birthday was fast approaching and I was thinking about how I could make a change in my life that would be significant enough that I could look back at my life and say ‘I did that’.

I spent 18 years working in a manufacturing company and really fancied relocating to Istanbul.  Speaking to my Turkish husbands’ friend, he recommended that a career in teaching English as a foreign language would be a great career move for a native English speaker to get abroad.  That’s it I thought….where do I start?

I enrolled in the TEFL course in September 2014 and over the next year studied the course flexibly as I was also working full time.  This meant that I could study at my own pace whenever I had time to dedicate to it.  By August 2015 we were choosing furniture for our new apartment in Istanbul and I had secured a job in a private kindergarten and commenced one month later.  The other native English teachers I met are so full of life, really nice to work with and very supportive of a new teacher like myself.  I teach three groups of 5 year olds and we use a course book which we supplement with other materials.

Kindergarten is a challenge as the children are getting used to school routines so classroom management is the biggest part of the TEFL course that I call upon.  My particular school is using a textbook and the TEFL course prepared me for the pros and cons of doing so. I always invest time supplementing the book with materials to make my lessons interesting and more interactive. I cannot speak Turkish in the classroom (good job because I’m still learning the language!!) but we are supported by a Turkish Teaching Assistant who can check the children’s understanding of the tasks, help with discipline and trips to the toilet!!

“I can highly recommend Turkey as an excellent destination.”

The first two weeks were the most daunting but four weeks into my new career I am more confident with lesson planning, classroom management and knowing what activities the kids enjoy during their lessons. The best advice I can give for working with young children is to keep them as active as possible through activities such as singing, dancing, colouring, painting and drawing.  If they are disruptive it’s most likely they aren’t enjoying the lesson and that’s fine, as a new teacher it’s a constant learning experience for you to.

Istanbul is an amazing city that I’ve really settled in to.  There is so much to do here and working and living here is such an experience.  The historical places to visit and the superb scenery are the best parts, closely followed by the amazing Turkish cuisine and the lovely people.

I will continue to teach and live in Turkey in the future but it’s too early to say if I will remain with the kindergarten age group.  If you are thinking of going abroad to teach, I can highly recommend Turkey as an excellent destination and the TEFL course as your golden ticket to get there!!

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