Meet Helga, one of EBC’s Trinity CertTESOL Road2Spain graduates. A copywriter and travel writer with a background in advertising and experience working with a multinational agency, she decided she wanted to add official TESOL certification to her arsenal. While she was at it, she also decided to move to Spain.

She took EBC’s Road2Spain programme, which allowed her to teach English in Madrid for a year while simultaneously taking a Spanish course. Throughout her adventure, she learned the Spanish language with a Spanish school, used the skills she learned in the Trinity CertTESOL course, and then moved to Colombia, another Spanish-speaking country.

In this blog, we go back with Helga to where it all started, as she walks us through her personal experience taking the course. She tells us not only of things she discovered about teaching English, but, more importantly, about herself.


From part-time to full-time

Though Helga had experience teaching English prior to starting the Trinity CertTESOL course, she did so mostly as a side job. “I wanted to teach seriously as a professional,” she says. “I had been teaching before, but always as a volunteer or as a side job, because I’m a copyrighter by profession. Copywriter slash travel writer–that was my full-time job. But then I decided to transition for it to be the other way around, so that teaching would be my full-time and copywriting/travel writing would be my side job. Once I took it seriously, I decided, “Okay, I have to be certified.”

Thus, she decided to get TESOL certified with EBC and signed up for the Trinity CertTESOL course.


Learning to stay the course

Helga takes us through a memorable experience during her TESOL course when she realised just how intensive it was. “It’s a lot of work condensed into one month,” she says.  She even mentions that she was set on quitting. However, when asked what made her decide to keep moving forward despite the challenge, for her, the answer was plain and simple. “To tell you the truth…it was Tita.”

Helga recalls how Tita Ashton, EBC owner and CEO, talked her out of throwing in the towel.  “Twice,” Helga says“. Twice.

She had to coax me into staying, and I completed the programme. (Then), when the moderator came…I ended up getting the highest score in my group. She reminded me when I told her I’m working full time now in Colombia, how I wanted to quit twice. I really said ‘No. No, I can’t. I can’t do this.'”

Helga reveals that it was a battle of the mind, saying, “

I just didn’t think I had it in me to complete it, (but) she said to me, ‘Yes, you can. Don’t drop out.'”

According to Helga, if it hadn’t been for the encouragement of Tita, she is sure she would have given up on the course. “I’m really thankful to her,” she says. At the same time, she learned a valuable lesson that she now takes with her everywhere. “It also taught me to stay the course, which I can now pass on to my students because I’ve had that experience.”


Indispensable takeaways from the TESOL course

When asked about her other highlights of the course, Helga mentions the camaraderie in her TESOL course group. “I still keep in touch with one of the group members,” she explains.

She also mentions the valuable skills and techniques she learned in the course. “Before, when I taught, I would always go back into Spanish when I couldn’t figure out a way to explain something because I normally teach Spanish-speaking people. The programme taught me that we can teach without having to revert back to the native language of the people we are teaching. And I use that all the time.

Helga also recalls the Unknown Foreign Language sessions wherein she and her coursemates had to learn Polish. “It was great because it’s the best way of learning how to teach a foreign language. Having somebody teach you a foreign language using various techniques that they’re teaching, so you can emulate that.”

When asked about what advice she has for future Trinity CertTESOL course takers, Helga highly encourages being prepared to put in the work. “Definitely get ready to work like you’ve never worked before,” she says, again highlighting that the one-month course is intensive. “I would tell everybody planning to take the course to put everything you have into it. If you can, just focus on the programme, because it’s just a month. But (it’s) worthwhile to do that intense month.”


The prize of being an overcomer

Despite the challenges she faced taking this TESOL course, and how close she was to giving up on the course twice, Helga proved herself to be an overcomer. After her final moderation, she ended up getting the highest score among her group. “I felt a sense of gratification that I hadn’t felt in a long time,” she recalls. “And as somebody that’s older…cause I’m 58 now–I was 56 when I took it–it gave me the confidence that I can still study and learn things.” Despite some people thinking that the older one is, the harder it is to learn something new, Helga clearly came out a winner. “It’s a sense of achievement that I didn’t have with my other accomplishments in life,” she says. “This, was actually, for me, the most fulfilling.”

Upon reflection on the course and what she discovered about herself, Helga says that it is the power of her resolve. “When I was younger, I quit a lot,” she shares. “Usually, if I (didn’t) get something right the first couple of times, I (wouldn’t) stick around. And now, when I think of quitting, I don’t. And truly, when you have that sense of failure before you actually accomplish something, the accomplishment means more, and it’s a personal growth experience.”


Passing on the torch

As a cultural ambassador at an institute in Colombia, Helga says that in her classes, she focuses a lot on conversation. “In a lot of my conversation classes, we end up dealing with goal setting and motivation, which the students are very interested in,” she shares. “Most of them do have goals and a lot of people want to either migrate or study in an English-speaking country. So they are quite motivated. It is fulfilling in that sense too because I can pass on these tips that will help them not just in the class (but) in their lives.”

Helga also reflects on a profound truth, saying, “The people who succeed in life are not necessarily the people who are the most talented, but they (are) the people who (stick) to it and (don’t)  give up.” As such, because she chose not to throw in the towel and persevere through her TESOL course, she won something not only for herself but also for her students.


Life after TESOL certification is an adventure

“Right now I teach at American School Way, which is an institute in Colombia–they have 23 branches, and I am at one in Manizales,”  Helga shares. She teaches English to students ranging from the ages of 16 to 60, with the average being people in their 20s to people in their 30s.

As Helga loves to travel around the world, she also takes people on tours and is heading to Chile in April. She also plans to visit Spain again sometime this year. Where will she end up next? Who knows! If you are like Helga and you love to travel, get in touch with us today. Our course is great for people who want to move around. After all, with a Trinity CertTESOL certificate, the sky is the limit.

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