Interview with a Trainer

Peter Bartolomy

Why did you decide to become TESOL certified?
Just before the millenium, I wanted to go and live in another country for a year to expand my horizons. I had researched job opportunities and I became interested in teacing English. Even as a native English speaker, I decided to become TESOL certified, so I would be able to give my students the quality of teacher they deserved.

What was your favorite part of the course?
Definitely the teaching practices with the kids. I took my course in Chiang Mai, Thailand and we would go to teach 11 to 15 year olds in local government schools. They were always willing to learn and have fun and it made the first couple of lessons less nerve-racking.

Not so favorite part?
Fear of the unknown. The evening before my first lesson, I was quite nervous about how I would do, but it turns out that I had been worrying for nothing as the lssons went well and I really enjoyed myself.

How has TESOL helped your career?
It has given me the skills and the confidence to start my career as an English teacher and been a great foundation which I have been able to build on to improve my skills as an ESL teacher.

How long have you been teaching ESL?
I have been working as an ESL and EFL teacher for 19 years.

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

What do you enjoy the most about teaching?
I like to see the improvement in English from my students and how that builds their confidence and the different doors it opens regarding travel and work for them. I also get to meet lots of different people from all walks of life, so it’s never boring. Teaching also allows me to use my creativity as no two lessons are the same!

What advice would you offer to newly qualified TESOL teachers?
Make sure you don’t turn down too many classes as a freelancer when you get started. It takes time to build up your reputation. Plus it is easy to get a contract with a school later on. Also, take as many different classes as you can with different levels, ages, and curricula. You will sometimes be surprised about which you prefer teaching.

If you decide to work away from your home country, make sure you learn about the culture of the country you are working in. For example, in Thailand using your feet for anything is considered very rude, or in Germany everything is closed on Sundays. Knowing these things will help you intergrate more easily.

What is the most interesting/valuable thing working abroad has taught you?
It opens your horizons and you get to meet and get to know people that you might never come across in your everyday life.

If you were a movie title, which would you be?
Marathon Man. Great movie with Dustin Hoffman, but apt for me as I like running and do marathons from time to time. I like to run in the mornings before class as it wakes me up and I come into class fresh and ready to teach.

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