The Oxford TEFL Blog

Graduate Story: Zoe Zymanczyk

Zoe completed her Trinity CertTESOL course in August 2014 at Oxford House, Barcelona. After finishing the course she spent 3 years teaching in Spain, Colombia and South Korea. Zoe returned home to London in April 2018 and is currently working in ELT publishing alongside colleagues who helped create many of the textbooks she used to teach from!  In this blog post she tells us how the Trinity CertTESOL has helped her throughout her career in ELT.   

When did you do you Trinity CertTESOL?

I completed my Trinity CertTESOL in August 2014, in Barcelona. I had just finished my degree in History at university in the UK and knew that I wanted to teach and live abroad. I thought Barcelona would be a far more exciting place to start my adventure than London, and so found myself at Oxford House, alongside about 15 others, eagerly waiting to learn how to teach English.

How did you find the course?

The course was invaluable in preparing me for what to expect in the classroom. From learning the ins and outs of the grammar behind the wonderful English language, to the very memorable teaching practice opportunities, the course and tutors ensured that after a month I felt happy to step into a classroom on my own.

What did you do after the course?

Step into the classroom alone was exactly what I did. After my time in Barcelona, I was determined to learn Spanish and moved to Madrid to start teaching in an academy there. Over the year and a half I spent in the city I taught a range of students from young learners to adults, exam preparation classes to private classes and everything in between. I was continuously learning and developing as I taught, but everything I learnt in the course was certainly put into practice and provided me with very strong foundations upon which I could build my own teaching style.

 

Did you teach anywhere else?

I absolutely loved Madrid, but with my plan being to live in a few different countries, I decided that if I didn’t leave at the end of the school year in 2016, I never would. I had always wanted to live in South America and so with some Spanish under my belt, I headed to Colombia where I was to work in a High School in Cali. It was certainly a big change from the teaching environment I had been used to in Madrid. With classes ranging from 20-35 boisterous teenagers, some with very little English, I learnt a lot about teaching within public schools and classroom management while I was there.

When my contract came to an end I headed Korea. This was another huge change for me as I swapped the narrow, hilly streets of Cali, where salsa played at every corner, for those of the vast metropolis of Seoul. I taught for a year in an academy for adults, with class sizes of only 4-10 students who were (almost!) always impeccably behaved. It definitely was a totally different experience to that in Cali.

Which teaching experience did you prefer?

When I look back on my experiences I am so happy that I sought out different teaching environments everywhere I went. I learnt a lot from each of them, and always took techniques from one place and used them in the next. I think that’s the best thing about being a teacher; continually learning and improving what works for you and your students in the classroom.

Additionally, having the Trinity CertTESOL qualification certainly improved my job prospects and I found that I was able to apply for better paid jobs in more reputable institutions throughout my teaching career, compared to my friends who had done courses online. I also felt better prepared and learnt so many techniques to use in class to improve the learning experience for my students.

When I look back on my experiences I am so happy that I sought out different teaching environments everywhere I went. I learnt a lot from each of them, and always took techniques from one place and used them in the next. I think that’s the best thing about being a teacher; continually learning and improving what works for you and your students in the classroom.

Additionally, having the Trinity CertTESOL qualification certainly improved my job prospects and I found that I was able to apply for better paid jobs in more reputable institutions throughout my teaching career, compared to my friends who had done courses online. I also felt better prepared and learnt so many techniques to use in class to improve the learning experience for my students.

What are you doing now?

I came back to the UK in April this year (2018). Despite having loved teaching, I decided to look for a role within ELT outside of the classroom and am now working for a publishing company as an assistant editor in their ELT department. It’s funny because many of my colleagues developed the textbooks I used to use in the classroom myself! Being on the other side and learning about all the thought and process behind producing pupil’s books, activity books and teacher’s books, certainly makes you think about them in a different way!

In October I attended a video workshop that was helping my department think about how best we can use video in our courses. The facilitator introduced the first speaker as a teacher from Oxford House, Barcelona, who was going to talk about how she uses video in the classroom. I looked over to see none other than Billie Haase, my tutor during my Trinity CertTESOL course! It was certainly a fantastic surprise! I felt like my ELT journey had serendipitously come full circle and it was so lovely to catch up and be able to tell her how the course had been the fantastic start to my ELT journey!

If you are thinking about teaching abroad and you would like to give yourself the best possible start, why not consider the Cambridge CELTA course? Get in touch to find out more or apply now to get started on your adventure.

 

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