Teresa Bestwick is the TESOL Administrator in our partner school in Cádiz. She is also a tutor on the Trinity CertTESOL and DipTESOL courses. She has been teaching in southern Spain since 2004 and frequently presents at ELT events around Spain. In this interview, she shares some of the highlights of her ELT journey and describes bhow she helps graduates during and after the course.
What inspired you to work for Oxford TEFL?
I knew that Active Language had a strong focus on professional development as I had often seen teachers presenting at the annual ACEIA conference in Sevilla. I knew I wanted to develop further and it felt like a great environment to do that. After I started working in Cádiz as a teacher, I was given the opportunity to join the teacher training team – becoming an Active Language and OxfordTEFL tutor has improved my own teaching skills immensely. It is a fantastic feeling helping other people start their own ELT journeys.
What attracted you to the TEFL industry?
To be honest, I never really wanted to be a teacher. Before my year abroad at university, they offered a one-week TESOL taster so people could pick up some teaching work while they were studying abroad. On the first day, I decided I may as well sign up for the full four weeks as I wasn’t starting my summer job for another month…and never looked back!
What makes your TEFL course unique compared to other TEFL courses?
Cádiz is one of the few centres which runs a five-week CertTESOL course as standard. We started doing this to give trainees a three-day weekend, meaning more time to assimilate everything they’re learning, prep lessons and write assignments. But perhaps more importantly, having a three-day weekend means that trainees can allow themselves some time off to enjoy the beauty of Cádiz: a stroll along the seafront, an ice-cold beer in a sunny square or some friend fish in a beach bar.
(Image: La Caleta, Cádiz’s city beach which is just a ten-minute stroll from the school)
Why take the course in Cádiz as opposed to another location?
Cádiz gives trainees a feel for authentic Andalucian life – it’s a small city, meaning that there’s plenty to see and do, but everything’s within walking distance. It’s a city where the modern mixes with the traditional: you can enjoy some of grandma’s tapas in a typical bar with a glass of local sherry or splash out on dinner in one of the up-and-coming fusion restaurants around the city.
Also, there’s definitely something about the light in Cádiz – it rarely rains and the sky is often a piercing blue, cloudless and bright.
What does a typical day look like for you?
When I’m tutoring on the Trinity CertTESOL course, my day might start at 9.15am with an input session. I often do the phonology sessions as well as being the Learner Profile and Materials tutor on some of our courses.
After chatting to the trainees about their lessons for the day, I’ll be observing Teaching Practice from 11 – 1, then it’s a quick break before we give feedback on the lessons. In Teaching Practice Guidance, the trainees and I chat together about their lessons for the following day – brainstorming engaging activities to start the class, providing ideas for how to incorporate materials into the lesson or looking at suitable texts to adapt for our learners.
After lunch, there are two more input sessions in the afternoon, meaning that I usually finish around 7pm.
As TESOL Administrator, I also keep in touch with trainees about upcoming courses, letting them know about the accommodation options and Spanish classes we offer. I also handle the marketing side of TESOL, so I’m often at my computer, writing articles for our blog or preparing the centre’s newsletter.
What are some of the best ways future trainees can prepare themselves for the course?
We’ve recently changed our required pre-course reading and so trainees only need to purchase one book in preparation for the course: Trinity CertTESOL Companion: A Guide for English Language Teachers (Jason Anderson). This book outlines the different components of the course to give trainees a thorough background into what the course entails.
How do you help support participants in finding a job after certification is complete?
There are two input sessions during the course on Working in ELT. In the first, our careers advisor guides trainees through how to make their CVs TEFLtastic, which is particularly important for those people who are new to teaching. Trainees can also chat to the careers advisor in an individual meeting, to look at their options for the future. We have good connections with a number of local schools too and many trainees choose to stay on in Cádiz after completing their TESOL course with us.
What is one thing you would like participants to take away from being TEFL certified?
Taking a five-week Trinity CertTESOL course is just one step on your ELT journey. Having a recognised, accredited qualification gives you the opportunity to travel and teach anywhere in the world. But it doesn’t just stop at teaching: perhaps you’ll go on to open your own school, get into materials creation, become an examiner…there are so many avenues to choose from!
What do you love most about your job?
I can’t imagine doing anything else – I love helping other people develop the passion for teaching which I see in my colleagues.
What is your favourite TEFL experience?
There have been lots…but I was incredibly happy when I attended InnovateELT for the first time in May 2018. Since it started, I’d always wanted to go – being there, surrounded by like-minded ELT enthusiasts, with craft beer(!), it was an amazing feeling.
What does 2019 look like for you?
I was back at InnovateELT earlier this month (I’ve got the bug now!) and I’ve set in my proposal for ACEIA’s November conference. Before that, in the summer, I’ll be tutoring on our August CertTESOL course and the face-to-face component of the Trinity DipTESOL.
I got married back in October and we haven’t had our honeymoon yet…so that’s something else to look forward to for this year!