Ryan McNicholas

Teach Enrich Empower

Chance of a lifetime turned into a career of a lifetime

I was looking over the prospectuses of universities in my local area for language degrees back when I was 15. I had always been interested in acquiring another language and yet I knew nothing of what lay ahead of me.

My name is Ryan McNicholas and this is my story.

I had been researching the idea of TEFL even during my degree. It was the thought of seeing the world, speaking to the locals and generally having the freedom to embrace another culture that had drawn me to the industry. I put the idea forward to my girlfriend (now fiancée) that we travel the world together like a couple of romantic novel characters in pursuit of new excitement for the senses. She was hooked on the idea and we immediately got to work finding the perfect qualification. We came across an attractive TEFL Academy advertisement with its vivid green and black lettering and thought it was perfect, reasonably priced and had a good structure.

Our first day of the 120-hour weekend and online course was met by a man called Neil. He immediately introduced himself in Spanish and put us instantly in the dark. It was then that we realised how difficult it might initially be for a foreign student to learn English. He broke down the many different facets of TEFL methodology and we taught and we both found it a pleasurable experience.

“They treated us well, paid us well and we had a fantastic time teaching children.”

Dzerzhinsky near Moscow was our first stop and it seemed a bit harsh and hostile at first. We arrived deep in a grey, wet autumn with a lot of fear in our hearts with what was in front of us. Luckily, all that angst was to be left by the wayside as the entire school year was met with some interesting people, tasty (yes you read that right) vodka and some remarkable Moscow monuments. I believe this entire time was a great learning curve, one that taught us how to react when things might not go according to plan.

We then flew on to a beautiful, little summer camp up in the mountains of Northern Italy near San Marino. They treated us well, paid us well and we had a fantastic time teaching children aged 8-14 years old. They were enthusiastic, well-behaved and best of all happy. Encountering little accent problems can be at times cute, other times rude such as when they would ask for ‘sheets’ of paper or ‘pieces’ of card. Both words can be troublesome for Italians so getting pronunciation right from elementary level can save you some laughs.

Our Italian teaching seeds were officially sewn from then on. We got a great job in a beautiful little area of Eastern Sicily and having settled in we explored the entire island, even managing to get to Rome for Christmas in the first year. Two great years were spent there, perfecting our trade and getting to grips with the Cambridge exams. As I look at my next confirmed application to China with awe and disbelief I wonder how this could have all been possible without The TEFL Academy guiding us through the early days. I believe being a good EFL teacher is all about patience, acceptance and creativity (along with more than a dash of grammar knowledge for those grammar militants out there). Taking your journey one step at a time is all you can ask for and there’s a whole world out there to explore.

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