Our Success Stories

Our September 2015 Course

Logan with his fellow trainees

An interview with Logan Austin from the  United States who graduated in September 2015. 

My name is Logan Austin, and I am originally from Hughesville, Missouri, USA. I am currently living and teaching in Busan, South Korea.

I completed my TEFL Certificate course in September of 2015. After the course, I went back home to gather the needed documents to teach in South Korea. In just three months, I had been hired and was in Busan preparing to teach.

For me, experience has been the most rewarding thing about teaching abroad. When I decide to move back to the USA, I want to be a high school teacher; so gaining teaching experience while traveling and experiencing different cultures is perfect for me. South Korea is a very modern country, but everything is still so different from the U.S. Living abroad helps you to adapt to different policies, foods, and lifestyles. I think it has really helped me grow as a person.

The most challenging thing is just the fact that everything is different. For me, it was: a new job, new friends, new food, new house, new culture, new language, and even a new way of getting from one place to another. At one point this year, it was really overwhelming; but I got through it and focused on the positive changes that I enjoyed.

Our September 2015 Course

Logan in a Peer Teaching session

In my school, the textbooks take up the majority of the class time, but everyday I still use things that I learned in my course. Before the course, I had no idea how to communicate to students who don’t speak English as their first language. Every day, I use many techniques that I learned from Ellie. The course also taught me how to teach material through interactive activities. This has helped me a lot because kindergarteners have to be active. The course also gave me confidence in my profession. I have knowledge that I learned from someone who taught many years of ESL. This year would have been much harder without that knowledge.

I would just say that teaching is going to take up a lot of your time. Teaching abroad is a great opportunity to see the world, but the work is a big part of your time. If you are a prepared and confident teacher, your experience abroad will be more rewarding.

I would like to teach somewhere in South America next. Right now I am applying for jobs in Chile and Uruguay.

TEFL Zorritos was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I learned so much, but also, I genuinely had a lot of fun. The beach in Zorritos is the best learning environment.

 

An interview with Drew Peterson from the United States who graduated in August 2016.

  1. Our August 2016 Course

    Drew with his fellow trainees

    What is your name, age, where are you from originally and where are you currently living?

My name is Drew Peterson. I am 26 years old and I am from the United States of America. I was born and raised in Franklin, Tennessee, which is close to Nashville the capital. Currently, I am living in Salamanca, Lima, Peru.

  1. When did you successfully complete your TEFL Certificate course and what have you been doing since then? Please tell us about who and where you have been teaching.

I completed my TEFL program with TEFL Zorritos in August of 2016. Since then I moved back to Lima. I took some time to get settled in but quickly started teaching at Euroidiomas at the Camacho location which is right in front of the University of Lima and Jockey Plaza. It’s great because it’s within 15 minutes walking distance of where I live plus it is a beautiful institute.

At the moment I am teaching a wide range of student populations and topics. I teach an advanced general class to adults and I do test preparation for an adolescent. Then on the weekends I teach two children’s classes. The ages range from 7 to 10 years old. The most interesting class I teach is a pronunciation workshop. It is just two hours of drills, phonemes, and the international phonetic alphabet. I totally nerd out on it! The greatest thing is it is all at one location so organizing my schedule is easy. And of course I have a few privates here and there.

Living in Salamanca has a pretty low cost of living. I only have to work around 20 hours a week to cover my expenses. That means I spend a lot of time training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, studying/practicing my Spanish, hanging out with my friends and roommates, exploring the city, and eating and learning how to cook Peruvian food (mainly eating of course) (the street food in Salamanca is the bomb).

 

  1. Our August 2016 Course

    Enjoying some of the local coconuts

    What has been the most rewarding thing about teaching English abroad?

I came here with the mission to find out if I enjoy teaching languages and so far I have been enjoying every minute. It’s amazing spending everyday with co-workers and students who enjoy languages and then getting to share your knowledge about them between each other. I believe that mutual exchange is what is most enjoyable for me. Because believe it or not you will learn from your students about English, languages, Peru, and life.

 

  1. What has been the most challenging thing about teaching English abroad?

The lack of resources is always difficult. Being a child of the technology age, it was difficult to adjust. Not having things such as internet at work, not having a copy machine, and not having access to basic office supplies at work was very foreign to me in the beginning.

Another big difficulty was creating context for my students when explaining grammar and vocabulary. I had to really learn to reference Lima as oppose to some part of my life in Tennessee. Explaining words/phrases such as central heating, or jury are difficult because neither of those things exist here in Lima. The climate is temperate so very few people have central heating and they use judges instead of juries.

 

  1. How have the skills you learned in your TEFL course helped you so far?

The top 2 skills are definitely learning to teach grammar, and learning the difference between teaching different ages. I was very nervous about learning and teaching grammar (because I was horrible at it in my childhood) but after TEFL Zorritos it has become one of my favorite parts of English teaching. As you all read above I teach all age groups. I learned different approaches both in Zorritos with Ellie and in the advanced courses that are offered. The approaches teach you what type of material the students are going to be able to absorb depending on their developmental level, how to create authentic learning experiences, and the use of activities such as the use of routines, classroom set up, story telling, songs, puppets, art activates, etc. I would be lost teaching youth and adolescents without that knowledge.

 

  1. Our August 2016 Course

    Drew with his fellow teachers & students

    Do you have any advice for people thinking about taking the plunge into the world of TEFL?

Fall in love with languages and new experiences. You are going to be teaching a language so you better like it! Being a language learner myself has made my experience 10 times more enjoyable for my students and myself. It has given me the ability to use those experiences to build engagement with my students and to bring them into my lessons.

Living abroad I believe could be summed up into the two words “new experiences and challenges.” I only speak my native language half the time I am awake during the day. I shop at a market and a bakery instead of a grocery store. I even had to relearn how to buy fruit, bread, meat, and most of the other food groups. The proportions and when I eat my food has changed. Greetings are different and given more importance in Peru. A more relaxed attitude about time and formality is been something I quite enjoy yet was difficult to adjust to. But all of these differences have been mostly a good challenge, interesting, or fun! So when moving abroad be open!

Another random tip I would give about moving abroad is to continue your hobbies. It really helps build a social circle quickly.

 

  1. What are your plans for the future?

My plans are pretty open. I plan on staying in Peru for another year or two and continue teaching English as well as improving my Peruvian cooking skills!

 

Our February 2015 Crew

Sonya with her fellow trainees

An Interview with Sonya Burns from the United States who graduated in February 2015

  1. What is your name, age, where are you from originally and where are you currently living? Sonya Burns, 42, I’m from Texas and I’m living in Texas.

2. When did you successfully complete your TEFL Certificate course and what have you been doing since then? Please tell us about who and where you have been teaching.

Since completing my TEFL Certificate Course in February 2015, I boarded a plane and headed to the Dominican Republic to teach as a volunteer in a local Haitian community.  I started my journey in Santiago where I spent a couple of months FULLY immersing myself in the Dominican lifestyle by living with a local family and going to local Spanish school to brush up on my Spanish. I then headed north of the island and lived in a small community called Muñoz, which is in the city of Puerto Plata.  In Puerto Plata I taught kids of all ages English and held some Adult classes from time-to-time.

3. What has been the most rewarding thing about teaching English abroad?

The LOVE and Appreciation from the kids and the community when they “get-it”…when they understand and thirst for more knowledge.  Additionally, the open arms hospitality from everyone.

Our February 2015 Course

Sonya in one of her teaching practice classes

4. What has been the most challenging thing about teaching English abroad?

Well, not having enough (if any) available resources (paper/chalk/hand-outs etc…) to be as creative as I would like to be was very challenging to me. The second most challenging thing about “teaching” is getting the kids to settle down and not fight with one another during class. Lastly, it was challenging to ensure that they had their own school supplies.

5. How have the skills you learned in your TEFL course helped you so far?

Honestly, the FIRST thing I noticed and appreciated was the GRAMMAR.  Had I not had a refresher in grammar, I would not have been able to understand my own Spanish teacher when I was brushing up on my Spanish.  But most importantly, I would not have been able to seamlessly pass this on through my teaching in a way that “we both” understand.   The other skill from the TEFL course that was helpful was the various techniques to get interactively involved during class and how to inject discipline for the older kids that had an influence on the younger ones.

6. Do you have any advice for people thinking about taking the plunge into the world of TEFL?

GO FOR IT!  Just remember they look at you as “KNOWING IT ALL” so you really can’t go wrong in the way you implement your approach. This is new to them, so they look for to you for guidance.  But most importantly, be creative and use all your resources (on-line, TEFL materials and other teachers etc…). 

7. What are your plans for the future?

I’m preparing to return to the Dominican Republic for good over the next year. 

8. If you have anything else to add please feel free!

This experience has been life altering and I would NOT change one aspect of the route I took to get here.

 

Our March 2016 Course

Matt with his fellow trainees

An Interview with Matt Peterson from Australia who graduated in April 2016

  1. What is your name, age, where are you from originally and where are you currently living?

Matthew Peterson, but Matt will do. I am 42 and originally from Adelaide, South Australia. I am currently living in Lima, Peru

  1. When did you successfully complete your TEFL Certificate course and what have you been doing since then? Please tell us about who and where you have been teaching.

I completed my course in April 2016 and had a lot of fun doing it. Since then I relocated to Lima and, with some help, I found a great place to live and accumulated some simple living items, ie bed, fridge, microwave etc.  Then I went on to find work. It was a little slow to start with but it picked up very quickly and I had a full schedule of approx 30 hours after about 2-3 weeks of looking. I teach a variety of people from different backgrounds. From a mountain bike mechanic and tour guide to a top flight insurance salesman. I teach anywhere in Lima that is no more than about 30-40 min ride from my house in Surco

  1. Our March 2016 Course

    Matt in his teaching practice classes

    What has been the most rewarding thing about teaching English abroad?

The most rewarding thing to me, has been seeing that first sign of improvement and seeing the new understanding of a particular grammatical rule or even a passage that the student is reading. Seeing the smile slowly creep across their face and they say ‘I actually understand what I am reading’ is a very satisfying feeling. Also the meeting of new and different people and how they allow you into their homes and lives is quite special.

  1. What has been the most challenging thing about teaching English abroad?

The most challenging thing for me, so far, has been the language barrier. Before I came to Peru I knew no Spanish at all and as I am involved in teaching English all day, most days, I find it difficult to improve my Spanish. But slowly I am picking up some things here and there. I hope to be earning enough in the near future whereby I can decrease my hours teaching and hopefully attend a Spanish language course.

  1. How have the skills you learned in your TEFL course helped you so far?

One skill I am most grateful for having learnt is being able to put a lesson together from scratch. In most cases there will be some materials already available for you to use but not always. There have been times when a new student calls to take classes and starts their first class the very next day. You then get called to teach that student at 8:30am the next day!! Also if you obtain your own private students this skill is invaluable.

  1. Our March 2016 Course

    Our March 2016 Course

    Do you have any advice for people thinking about taking the plunge into the world of TEFL?

My advice is just do it!!  If you enjoy meeting new people, forming new friendships and encouraging and developing people to reach their full potential then you will, without doubt, love this career path. You will not only learn about new people, new cultures, new foods, you will also learn more about yourself than you otherwise would have had you not started down this path. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier!!

  1. What are your plans for the future?

I am very happy where I am. I plan to remain in Lima and continue teaching as many people as I can. I hope to start my own business in the very near future as I have had a lot of people asking, from there the sky is the limit.

  1. If you have anything else to add please feel free!
Enjoying some pool frisbee at lunch time

Enjoying some pool frisbee at lunch time

The first thing I would like to add is the importance of getting a TEFL accreditation. This is essential to your success. Without it you would find it very difficult to gain any sort of work anywhere, especially if you also have no previous experience teaching. This is where Ellie and TEFL Zorritos will be able to help. Calling them should be your first step!!

Here are some other things I have learnt that I will pass on. I am mostly referring to Peru when I make these observations, but they are applicable elsewhere also.

  1. Life moves at a different pace here sometimes anything up to 30 mins or more, slower!! You are not in Australia, or the USA or Canada anymore, you are in Peru, go with the flow.
  2. If you’re planning on coming to Lima to work, get a mountain bike to get around on. It is faster, cheaper and less of a headache than any other form of transport, also the ‘combi’s’ here are death traps. It also keeps you fit. Most of my students are no more than a 30 min ride away from home
  3. A good mobile phone service is essential as is a good wifi service at home.
  4. Drivers here are ‘loco’. If you choose to ride be extra careful. Just because the light is red it doesn’t mean people will stop!!  Just because the right hand indicator is not blinking doesn’t mean they will not turn in front of you. Pedestrian crossings??  Hahah they don’t mean anything!!!
  5. You will make friends whether you like it or not.
  6. Food is cheap and tastes damn good, get into it!!
  7. If you come to Lima look me up.

 

Our September 2014 Course

Adam, on the far left, with his fellow trainees

An Interview with Adam Stengel from the USA who graduated in October 2014

  1. What is your name, age, where are you from originally and where are you currently living?

My name is Adam Stengel and I’m twenty-eight years old.  I am from the United States—Arkansas to be specific—and as I write this I’m residing in my home state.  By the New Year, however, I intend to go abroad and start a new TEFL adventure.

  1. When did you successfully complete your TEFL Certificate course and what have you been doing since then? Please tell us about who and where you have been teaching.

I completed the TEFL Zorritos course in October 2014. When the course concluded, I moved down to Lima, and, after taking several interviews—which Ellie helped tie down—I took a job at Euroidiomas, a private language institute in the city.  Since last summer, when I returned to the States, I’ve been adjunct teaching (I also have a Master’s degree in English) and doing freelance editing/writing work.

  1. What has been the most rewarding thing about teaching English abroad?

I love my students, and so making classroom connections is the most rewarding thing.  When it becomes apparent that your teaching has made a difference, well, regardless of the local currency exchange rate, that’s a priceless feeling.

  1. September 15

    Adam in one of his teaching practice classes

    What has been the most challenging thing about teaching English abroad?

Culture shock is real, y’all.  Adjusting to a foreign environment, where you may not have family or friends or speak the local language, can be intense and difficult.  But everything I’ve learned and experienced since setting out on my TEFL odyssey has made the difficulties worth it and the regrets obsolete. 

  1. How have the skills you learned in your TEFL course helped you so far?

TEFL Zorritos was intense, a pedagogical boot camp if you will, but everything in the curriculum is applicable to TEFL.  The practice teaching component especially helped show me what teaching language learners would be like.  Without the course, transitioning right into teaching would have been much more difficult.

  1. Do you have any advice for people thinking about taking the plunge into the world of TEFL?

Certainly one should get TEFL certified.  Having proper training and credentials makes procuring a job much easier and something, in some markets, which you can tie up remotely.  And a top shelf certificate, like the one offered by TEFL Zorritos—120 hours, on location, practice teaching included—is all the more valuable. 

  1. What are your plans for the future?

ASAP, I want to go back abroad and teach.  China, or somewhere else in East or SE Asia, given the plentiful market, is looking like a solid option.

  1. If you have anything else to add please feel free!

TEFL Zorritos kicks ass, vamos! 

 

Our September 2014 Course

Our September 2014 Course

An interview with Greg Zoller from the USA who graduated in October 2014

  1. What is your name, age, where are you from originally and where are you currently

Hello, world! My name is Greg Zoller. I’m a 26-year-old from the United States, currently taking a year “off” from the world of TEFL to live and work in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

  1. When did you successfully complete your TEFL Certificate course and what have you been doing since then? Please tell us about who and where you have been teaching.

I finished my TEFL certification in October of 2014 and was almost immediately recruited to work for Euroidiomas in Lima, Peru. I stayed there for a good while, teaching English to teens, adults, and business professionals until August 2015. At the moment, I’m a caseworker/life skills coach/tutor for adults with significant barriers to employment, but I’ll be heading back the world of TEFL in a few months here.

 

  1. What has been the most rewarding thing about teaching English abroad?
Our September 2014 Course

Our September 2014 Course

Teaching English abroad has been an interesting and overwhelmingly positive experience for me. Prior to beginning the TEFL program in Zorritos, Peru, I had limited classroom experience. I’d volunteered as an ESL teacher in my community and had done a bit of one-on-one tutoring, but it had never been my full-time gig. Turns out I loved it! One distinctive feature of a language classroom is that you’ll have the opportunity to talk with your students about all sorts of topics – science, art, morality, business, travel, going out – because it’s crucial that students leave your classroom being able to converse confidently in all manner of situations. This means that you’ll get to know students really well – and you’ll never go a day without learning something new yourself. Plus, there are few things more rewarding than seeing a tangible improvement in your students’ confidence and abilities.

I’m also incredibly grateful for the fact that TEFL provides me the opportunity to learn the local language in the place where I’m teaching. Languages have been a passion of mine for years, and thanks to my TEFL certificate, I’ll be able to continue expanding my linguistic knowledge throughout my life.

 

  1. What has been the most challenging thing about teaching English abroad?

Hmmmm…well, it hasn’t always been a cakewalk. While getting acquainted with the local culture was, overall, a wonderful experience, I’d say that the most difficult aspect of my experience in Lima stemmed from an unexpected cultural idiosyncrasy…a (much) laxer attitude toward time. If you have a meeting in Lima – even in a professional business context – don’t be too attached to the scheduled start time. It could very well start 30 to 60 minutes later than you expect.

 

  1. How have the skills you learned in your TEFL course helped you so far?

Whatever small success I’ve had as an ESL teacher can, in large part, be chalked up to my time with TEFL Zorritos. Thanks to Ellie’s excellent instruction and the opportunity to teach in a real classroom setting during my time in Zorritos, I was able to approach my first paid ESL class with excitement rather than nerves, and teach it with confidence rather than uncertainty.

 

  1. Do you have any advice for people thinking about taking the plunge into the world of TEFL?
Our September 2014 Course

Our September 2014 Course

Take an in-person TEFL course with an incorporated supervised teaching element, if at all possible. You won’t regret it – especially if you have little to no prior teaching experience.

Be open to new experiences. Some aspects of life in your new home will be difficult; others may be easier or more convenient than what you’re used to. The only thing that’s guaranteed is that things will be different. Go into it with an open mind and learn what you can.

And don’t worry about perfection in teaching, because not even the best teachers can effectively teach everything to everyone. You’re a fallible human working with fallible humans, and your definition of success may differ from those of your students. Just be patient, pay close attention to your students’ needs, and do the best you can.

 

  1. What are your plans for the future?

I’ve just started the process of soliciting ESL jobs abroad once again, but haven’t quite decided which country I’ll be moving to.

 

  1. If you have anything else to add please feel free!

TEFL Zorritos was a great experience. Besides granting me the opportunity to visit a corner of the world I might never have seen otherwise, it left me well-prepared for my time as an ESL teacher. I highly recommend it!