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ASU TESOL Students Spend Two Weeks Abroad With CIEE TEFL!

In 2017, CIEE TEFL partnered with ASU TESOL (Teach English Now!) to offer international opportunities to ASU's TESOL students. Sandra M., completed ASU's online course, then boarded a plane to complete two weeks of practicum in Rome, Italy with CIEE. 

We asked Sandra about her experience, check it out!


Why did you decide to participate on Destination TEFL Rome?

I choose the TEFL Destination to teach English Foreign Language in Western Europe because I find this part of the world intriguing on a personal ancestral basis as well as a socio-cultural and linguistic one.  My short -term goal was to complete my TEFL certification which I gained valuable insight and hands on experience teaching English abroad.

Did this in-person practicum complement your online course? If so, how?

This in -person practicum married up nicely to my online course.  The practicum in Rome allowed me to utilize my knowledge, skills and abilities in a real-life setting. which has provided me with the tools I needed to be successful and go forth in my career.

Do you feel CIEE’s TEFL course and two weeks in Rome prepared you to be an English teacher?

Yes, I sincerely believe that participating in the CIEE’s TEFL course for the two weeks in Rome was a valuable experience as it prepared me for a teaching position.  It allowed me a personal insight of what would it would be like to live and teach in another foreign country.  Because of this experience it has provided me with the knowledge, tools and confidence that I could teach in another country.  I believe that the two weeks in Rome were invaluable to preparing me to teach English in a foreign country.

What was your favorite part about your two weeks in Rome?

One of my favorite part of the two weeks in Rome was the people and cultural experience.  Also, I enjoyed speaking with the teachers and learning together and sharing different experience with my colleagues in class.  Also, the wonderful support that was given by the facilitators.


What advice would you give someone considering going on a Destination TEFL experience.  program?

I would advise anyone that is planning to teach abroad to take this opportunity as it will assist and enhance your knowledge, skills and abilities in becoming an effective and successfully foreign language teacher.  Also, it will provide you with first hand experience teaching in a foreign country.  I believe this opportunity allowed me to grow as a foreign language teacher, by having the opportunity to speak and observe the other foreign language teachers first hand. 

What will you do next with your TESOL certification?

I am currently preparing to embark on a teaching placement in Murcia, Spain with CIEE this fall.  Also, I am considering also to do some online teaching.

Learn more about Destination TEFL here

Teaching without TEFL

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A TEFL certification is not always required to teach English. The benefits of getting this certification are out there, but we don’t usually talk about what happens when you teach without TEFL. This is what happened when I taught without training:

I gave them a fish, but didn’t teach them how to fish.

When I taught without training, I could tell my students when they made a mistake, but I couldn’t tell them why the mistake was made (and how to not make it again). For example – if my student said “I don’t play tennis, but I look at them playing every day”, I knew from being a native English speaker that was incorrect. The correct sentence is “I don’t play tennis, but I see them playing every day.” I could tell my students the right way to say this sentence, but I couldn’t explain the difference between look and see in this sentence.

Is that grammar correct?

This was embarrassing, but I hadn’t studied grammar since I was in high school. In my daily life, I’m very confident with my language skills, but when trying to teach sentence structure, adverbs, relative clauses – let’s just say it wasn’t great.

That lesson didn’t take long.

This happened a lot in the beginning. I thought my students had a lower level than they did, and the lessons I planned that should have taken an hour took 20 minutes. Now I have 40 minutes of class left with nothing to do. That’s seriously not fun for anyone.

I can tell they’re bored.

I hated this – I spent so much time planning for class, and I wanted my students to enjoy learning English. They clearly didn’t in some of my classes, and that was hard. I knew it was because the content was too easy for them, but I didn’t know how to elevate the material to be appropriate for their level.

The semester is over. What did my students learn?

This is the worst one, because I had no idea what I did to help improve the English level of my students after teaching without TEFL. I hated feeling defeated and unaccomplished. I knew I owed it to myself and my future students to put the work in to actually teach them. If I’m not going to make a difference, why do it?

Life after TEFL


So you're TEFL certified and thinking about what’s next. Your future. You’re a planner and a realist, and understandably grappling with the question:

What will I do after teaching English abroad?

Maybe you fell in love with teaching. Maybe the course made you realize that teaching is not for you. Maybe you like teaching, but only as means to travel. Maybe you are unsure how to transfer your international teaching skills to a job in your home country. Whatever the case, everyone comes to the inevitable “what next?” question after teaching abroad.
The good news is that we are living in a growing global marketplace, and employers are placing even more importance on effective international communication and cultural competence. . As a teacher in a foreign country, you have already proved that you are capable of both. You now have invaluable cultural experience that will help guide your life path and make you stand out on a job or graduate school application. Rest assured that your decision to teach abroad will continue to pay off.

Capitalize on your global experiences

These make great talking points in interviews. Don’t underestimate the importance of real-world experience. Aside from teaching students and trying to keep up with the local language, maybe you were solving transportation crises in Thailand, or figuring out how to negotiate with street vendors in China.

What did you personally gain from teaching English in a foreign country? Increased patience, cultural understanding, greater adaptability, a comprehensive worldview, improved communication with others, management and leadership abilities, confidence and independence in unfamiliar environments…and the list goes on! Don’t be afraid to mention personal experiences either—this will make you an even more memorable candidate.

Brag about your TEFL Certification

Another resume booster! Maybe you won’t be teaching professionally anymore, but that doesn’t mean your hard-earned TEFL certification will go to waste. This course helped your professional development, interpersonal skills, relationship building, cognitive and problem-solving ability, and cross-cultural sensitivity. It’s all about relating one experience and ability to the next—even lesson planning skills can correlate to project planning for a company.

Never underestimate what you’ve gained from managing hundreds of students per week in a foreign country. The ability to adapt to new environments can help you in whatever career you choose back home. Or, you may never want the adventure to end! Don’t forget your TEFL certificate never expires, and with it there are endless job opportunities abroad—especially if you are an alumni of CIEE.

Pros Of A Practicum

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All teachers can describe two very important moments in their career: the first time they stood in front of a class, and the first time they succeeded as a teacher. Practicum takes CIEE TEFL trainees beyond the theory and into an authentic learning environment where you can finally put what you’ve learned to the test. Don’t worry, we won’t take off the training wheels until you are 100% ready.

So why is practicum so essential? Let’s break it down:

It’s required by many schools abroad and at home.

The international standard for TEFL certificates around the world is 100-120 hours of coursework combined with at least 20 hours of practicum with ELLs. A credential that complies with these requirements will give you flexibility as an applicant and world traveler.

It helps you find your footing.

If you’ve ever taught before, you’ll know firsthand that this is a hands-on profession. Acquiring the knowledge and skills that TEFL will provide is one thing, but applying them is another. Practicum allows you to get your feet wet, work out the nerves, and see what teaching English is all about. It’s a safe space for you to learn, grow, and gain confidence before starting a paid position.

See your coursework in action

You’ll work hard on your TEFL assignments for a good reason. Practicum helps you to apply concepts and approaches used in EFL classrooms around the world.

It’s crucial for professional development

Your course hours should give you an idea of where you want to go next professionally. This is a time for you to establish career goals whether it’s exploring a specific area of English, getting to know different learning styles, or working with a certain age group.

Benefits of a TEFL certification

Those who consider teaching abroad often come to the same crossroad: Should I invest and become TEFL-certified? Experts and English teachers alike will all have slightly different answers to this question. Almost everyone can agree that even for the countries that don’t require it, a TEFL certification can always benefit someone headed into a foreign school system.

Here’s how:

Gives you classroom confidence

A CIEE TEFL certificate benefits both you and your students. It’s totally normal and expected to be nervous about moving to a foreign country, standing in front of a class, and teaching a grammar concept that you might not have learned well yourself. Earning a TEFL certificate will put these nerves to resting you the confidence skills you need to rock any teaching position anywhere! Even if you have teaching experience, TEFL is invaluable in preparing you to enter a foreign classroom—because let’s face it, no one really knows what they’re doing until they get there!

Resume booster

This is the most straight-forward reason. Many like the fact that they can translate their teach abroad experience to a unique certification on their resume. A TEFL certificate equals an added professional skill that most recent college graduates lack. This course will develop your interpersonal skills, relationship building, cognitive and problem-solving skills, all highly-desirably skills in the workforce, no matter the discipline.



Opens the door to a global career

As an added bullet on your resume, your TEFL certification can also lend itself to a global career. TEFL is not only a teaching certification but your key to becoming an international citizen. It gives you the training to think and speak cross-culturally, react quickly and think on your feet.

It never expires

Don’t want your teach abroad experience to end? Most don’t. With your TEFL certification, you can extend your contract, or travel to another country and teach English. Your TEFL certificate is your one-way ticket to paid travel. If a country requires a TEFL certification, you will always be able to teach English there. How about that for job security?

Better paying jobs

In some cases, having a TEFL certification earns you a higher salary. With a TEFL certification, you are automatically more qualified than the average college grad with a bachelor’s degree and no foreign experience., and many employers look for that. In a stack of similar resumes, this special credential will make you stand out as a candidate.

Opportunity to test the waters

Maybe you’ve recently graduated and want to try your hand at a teaching career, but aren’t ready to go back to school right away for your education degree. Maybe you are curious if teaching is even right for you. Or maybe you have no idea what you want your career to look like at all! If this is the case, then TEFL is your answer. It’s a short-term course that gives you the knowledge you need to succeed, and first hand experience in the classroom as part of your required TEFL practicum. It’s the perfect way to give teaching a test-drive without the full commitment.