“Teaching English in Spain, South Korea, Brazil” written by – Lois Pearo
Attended: EBC Madrid, Spain in August 2007
Course choice: Found on the internet
My name is Lois. I am now 41 years old. That’s me on the far left of the top picture. I was born in Brasília, Brasil. I have my B.A. in Speech Communications and my M.A. in Counseling. I then received my Licensure in Counseling.
Before becoming licensed as a professional counselor, I left my job as a Student Support Counselor at Mercyhurst University, the North East Campus, in August of 2007, to travel to Madrid, Spain for the EBC International TEFL Certification course. It was an intensive one-month training course. I met very kind and intelligent people who were globally-minded like myself. Students and teachers who love to teach, travel, and learn about other cultures and languages. My class was diverse and my favorite thing about it, was the diversity, interesting people, and group projects. My group staged a play about boarding an airplane while teaching new vocabulary and parts of speech to the class. Our group presentation was not only educational, but very fun and entertaining.
Since graduating from EBC, I have taught as a Certified EFL Teacher in Salamanca, Spain, New York City, Hanam City, South Korea, and in the city of my birth, Brasília, Brasil.
I believe that all teachers should be certified before teaching abroad. The EBC course teaches you how to incorporate vocabulary with parts of speech into each lesson, while being aware of the age and culture you are engaging in the classroom or one-on-one.
I became interested in becoming certified and teaching abroad because, as I previously mentioned, I am globally-minded. Learning about other cultures, places, languages is an important part of my life. The same with all the students in my training program. Some North Americans are content to be born in one area of the world and never to venture forth to learn about other areas of the world. I and the other EFL Teachers are not one of these types of people. We have an ongoing quest for knowledge, personal and professional expansion, always learning, growing, and experiencing new things and ideas.
Leaving home, a familiar town, friends, family, is daunting. It is a great risk. I admit, teaching in Salamanca was a struggle for me personally and financially. But teaching and living in South Korea was more secure. I worked for the South Korean government and was provided with a very small flat, health insurance, and consistent pay each month. I set up a South Korean bank account and received direct deposit from the high school I worked with, Shinjang High. This stability allowed me the freedom to experience South Korean culture, food, and people. I love some of the fresh foods from South Korea and made life-long friends during my one-year stay there. We keep in touch to this day.
Some of the high school students in Hanam City were a challenge because learning English was mandatory for them. So instead of making it a power struggle, I came to their level, offered mutual respect and good-will, and tried to make learning English a more fun experience for them.
My students in Salamanca, Spain were much more motivated because they were coming to class voluntarily and paying out-of-pocket. I loved the variety of classes, the diversity, and the small class size in Salamanca.
In South Korea, my classes were 45 students to a class, three to four classes four days a week. This was quite the challenge and exhausting. But the school gave me wonderful resources, a big classroom, a reading area, a giant screen with my own computer and power point hookup. Plus, I was upstairs with big windows and a great view of the mountains.
In Salamanca, I had small classrooms and no view. The Spain-South Korea experiences were polar opposites in so many ways.
Back to my experience in South Korea. The school year was quite the challenge, but I did receive a paid vacation in which I was able to holiday on Jeju Island, SK. This was an amazing experience. My South Korean friend and I, took one full day to bike up and down the coast. I met women divers, ate incredible seafood soup, and biked back to our lodging against the wind, along the coast, and felt as if I lost ten pounds in that one day.
Also in South Korea, when the summer time arrived, I got paid to come to school, work at my downstairs desk and computer, then teach a very small class of girls who volunteered to take my summer English class. This was amazing. I was paid the same, but had a small class of motivated, young female students. I brought food every day to class, they chose topics they wanted to learn and study, and each class was relaxed and great fun, with a lot of learning going on. This was ideal.
After teaching in Spain, NYC, South Korea, I went to Brasil for a short time to teach. My students there were extremely kind, loving, caring, and motivated, not to mention great fun. The students in Brasília had an amazing sense of humor. We learned and the curriculum there was very strict, but we laughed and laughed together. But I was not able to survive on the low pay I received in Brasília. I was preparing for classes, grading papers and essays, teaching, with no time off for low-pay, and living in a tiny tiny flat. Seriously, I had to move side-ways to get around this flat. Hence, the students in Brasília were extremely kind, intelligent, and very fun, but the pay and living conditions were not enough for me and sadly, I had to walk away from this position.
Since returning to the States, I have earned my licensure in counseling. But I have not found a full-time position with the economy as it is here with my new label as a Licensed Professional Counselor (L.P.C.). Many times, I wish to return to teaching EFL and traveling to other places. If I do this again, I want to make sure that I will earn enough, with nice lodging, insurance, and perhaps incorporating my counseling into the teaching career.
Jim Ross of EBC has kept in touch with me, always showing kindness and assistance. Getting a certification with EBC is a life-long connection. This is one of the best things about it.
Thank you very much.
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