Susanna House

Teach Enrich Empower

Susanna House - Teaching in Senegal

I am a 19 year old university student and I completed my TEFL qualification with The TEFL Academy during my gap year last year.

I had decided to spend my year teaching English with the charity Project Trust and I spent a whole year living and working in Kaolack, Senegal. At the age of 18, this was, to say the least, a bit daunting. I decided to prepare as much as I possibly could by doing a TEFL qualification. This turned out to be the best preparation I could have done.

I worked in the community education centre, Diapalante, so I taught all ages (from 7 years old to 70 years old), all levels (complete beginners to students who seemed to have memorised the whole English dictionary) and all group sizes (one-on-ones to groups of around 30) As the centre worked as a drop-in centre for most of the day, I had to be prepared for any of these combinations at any moment. I think, over the course of my first year teaching English, I must have encountered nearly every type of challenge a teacher of English can face. Therefore, The TEFL Academy Handbook became almost like a bible for any difficulties I was facing!

Senegal was a great place to kick-start my TEFL career. The people are so welcoming, the dancing and music are contagious and lively.The country is beautiful and full of surprises, there was never a boring day living in Senegal!  The centre I worked in, means ‘solidarity’ in Wolof (which is THE most fun language to learn) and the centre lived up to it’s name. Everyone in Senegal is super friendly, hilarious and just wanted to help you. This made the centre one of the most positive environments I’ve ever been in. Everyone just wanted to learn and help others to learn as well.

“There was never a boring day living in Senegal!”

The centre itself was not just somewhere to learn English and IT, but it was a community. People would come in just to say “hello” if they were passing by. The centre celebrated many international days like World Malaria Day and Nelson Mandela Day which involved the whole community; crafts and other more active activities are provided for the children and there is an annual trip for members (we went to the beach last year!), amongst many other things. I think my favourite afternoons were the relaxed informal afternoons, teaching the children English or skipping, whilst teaching English grammar to some of the intermediate students. It was a fun, friendly atmosphere and having everyone in the outside courtyard doing different activities at the same time was hard-work but very rewarding and people from all age groups developed friendships by learning in the same space.

I think if I had to give anyone tips for their first TEFL experience abroad, my three main ones would be: try to learn the local language, say “yes” to new experiences and make sure you achieve what you set out to achieve. I was in Senegal for a year and despite the time going by very quickly, I achieved many things. I became TEFL qualified, became a more creative teacher, learnt Wolof, and even became part of a local South African Gumboot dance group! Before you go, make a list of all the things you want to achieve, make the most of it and embrace every opportunity!

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