I started my career in February 2009 after deciding that I needed a challenge. After working in a steady job at Olympus for nearly 11 years I was in desperate need of something completely different and to learn Mandarin, one of the hardest languages in the world. I completed an online course at first with i-to-i 3 years before I left for China but soon realized that I needed a CELTA. I completed my part time CELTA with Saxoncourt, London in August 2007. It was another 2 years before I plucked up the courage to go and so I set off for Zhuhai, China. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life but it was well worth it. Some of my colleagues thought I was crazy to leave a ‘cushy’ job but I had to see what I was made of and what was out there in the big wide world even if it was at the tender age of 38.

Teaching for the first time really brought it home to me how much I was going to learn on the job and that the CELTA really was a stepping stone.So much depends on how you come across to students and how to not get too down when things don’t go to plan because there’ll be plenty of times when it’ll go right and in this game it’s all about experience and not getting stuck in a rut.

China was amazing but it was really hard to be so far away from the family and also very expensive. I began teaching the TPR method at an American English school and went on to teach IELTS at a design school for university students.

I worked in Zhuhai for just over 14 months and returned to the UK to look for work in Spain early in 2010. I found my first job in Europe through Tefl.com. I worked at the British Centre in Melilla for the following 2 years and then found my current position at El Centro de Inglés in Bailen at the Spainwise Job Fair in 2012.

I highly recommend anyone thinking of working in Spain to go to the next Spainwise as it is worth it and it is very well-organized. You’ll need lots of stamina as it can be an intense day but go for it. You won’t regret it one bit.

I very much enjoy the small town community and being so close to work plus it is extremely cheap to live here in Bailén. Adjusting to Spanish life isn’t hard but getting used to and eating late for me took a bit of time. Tapas is always a journey into the unknown but a nice one and you can find some very cheap tapas bars.

It is a demanding job but at the same time, and this is a corny line, “no two days are the same”. I like the variety and challenge of adapting my skills and teacher personality to the different ages and levels.

Every group has a different feel to it and there is nothing like seeing the penny drop with the students when they learn something new or they engage with you in a natural way. The school has been so supportive and I really feel a genuine desire to support and develop all the teachers.

Advice for newbies setting off on their TEFL journey: have some savings in case of emergencies, be prepared to make lots of mistakes and work hard but remember you’re going to develop so much as a person as well as a teacher and you’ll never regret it.

Happy travels!

Find out about the Spainwise TEFL Job Fairs here.