Interview with a Trainer

Jacob Greca

Why did you decide to become TESOL certified?
Having studied English and German as well as English-German translation, I was very interested in how languages work and evolve. As I had twelve years of language-learning experience and had struggled through most of the journey, I knew I had a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. I was sure I could help people who were also struggling to learn a language.

What was your favorite part of the course?
The institute I did the course with took all of the trainees to a nice restaurant after our first day. Baskets and plates of food were placed on the table, so we didn’t have to do any ordering. We could just dig in! We were so tired and hungry that there was really nothing more fitting than that to make us feel welcome and ready to start the course.

Not so favorite part?
For our first lesson, we had to co-teach with another trainee. I (the most structured guy) got partnered with the most unstructured trainee. We came up with a plan together, but it totally went out the window when we got into the classroom. I felt quite hopeless in that moment. Luckily, I got to teach alone thereafter.

How has TESOL helped your career?
It opened the door to a career. After the course (in Egypt), I did a short internship there and got a call from a language school in Germany. I flew home for 4 days and started working for the language school the next week.

How long have you been teaching ESL?
I’ve been working with the same company for nearly twelve years. I worked as a freelancer for nearly 8 years and have been on contract for a little more than 4.

In which countries have you taught ESL?
Egypt and Germany.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching?
I like getting to know people from all walks of life and helping them to break down any barriers they might have to learning the language. I want them to feel that they have a place to retreat from all the chaos of daily life and have no worries or fear, which might block them from realizing their greatest potential in language-learning.

What advice would you offer to newly qualified TESOL teachers?
Make sure you find out what all of the visa and financial requirements are for your country of interest and remember to do your taxes for your country of origin. Even though, you normally don’t have to pay anything, they still want a tax declaration from you every year. When you find a job, figure out how high you can set your limits and still be happy and healthy. It’s very difficult to develop a good reputation, if you have to say “no” a lot. I would recommend something between 15 and 20 teaching hours to start, then moving up to something around 30. More than that tends to drain creative energy, which can have a negative impact on the feedback you get from your students.

What is the most interesting/valuable thing working abroad has taught you?
How to see the world from different perspectives and understand that my way is not always the best way.

If you were a movie title, which would you be?
The Fast and the Furious. I am a notoriously fast driver, although I don’t like when people drive fast in the cities where pedestrians should be considered. On this note, getting a local driver’s license early (and knowing how to drive a manual) has proven to be one of my greatest advantages, as a great majority of my courses has been in company.

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