An interview with Drew Peterson from the United States who graduated from TEFL Zorritos in August 2016.
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.
- 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).
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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!
TEFL Zorritos: What could be better? Study in a beautiful Peruvian beach town at our outdoor beachfront training centre with great accommodations available, including delicious local food. Fully accredited 120 Hour TEFL course with a practical approach that provides you with 10 advanced certifications at absolutely no extra cost! And a job placement program in Peru including positions with a work visa, paid holidays, health insurance and other incredible benefits.
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