From taking her CELTA in Newcastle in 2005, Louise Ingham has gone on to specialise in Young Learner teaching, and now enjoys doing English language teaching projects in more remote places around the world. Here, she tells her TEFL story!
How did your TEFL story begin?
My TEFL story began at International House Newcastle in 2005 for CELTA, followed briefly by voluntary teaching before I secured my first teaching post in International House Bratislava, Slovakia.
Where did a career in TEFL take you?
So far my career has taken me all over the world in various teaching, management and training roles with different organisations. My first role with IH Bratislava was a great foundation and basis as a teacher and I was fortunate enough to get experience with different age groups and different kinds of classes, including Business English and Cambridge Exam classes. Whilst difficult to manage all of that in my first year, it was great experience and gave me more confidence in the classroom. After 18 months, I transferred to IH Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and specialised in young learners, eventually becoming a young learner coordinator and a tutor on the IHCYLT (International House Certificate in teaching Young Learners and Teens). From then, I did a lot more teacher training with both native and non-native speakers of English in Australia, Spain, UK and Myanmar and some management positions.
My career has given me different opportunities, but what I love doing at the moment is different kinds of projects in more remote places – not just working a teaching centre or school. So I worked on an interesting project teaching “language for work” to oil and gas employees in an international company in Kazakhstan, Director of Studies of an activity-based summer school in Northern Ireland, training teacher educators in an education college in Myanmar, and most recently teaching Bedouin tribe teenagers and women in a remote part of Oman.
How did you progress in your career?
I have been fortunate to have been given so many opportunities over the years and have had a wide and varied career. Working at Apollo (IH Vietnam) in HCMC and Hanoi was the turning point in my career as that’s where I started doing management and coordinating roles and teacher training. I worked there for four years in various positions and learned a great deal from the opportunities given to me and the people around me.
I have mostly worked for larger companies such as International House or the British Council and with these companies you get good internal training courses, support and different kinds of opportunities. This then helped me to do more teacher development and training, which is what I love and really want to do more of in the future.
I have now been teaching for over 14 years and have a Delta and a Masters in TESOL and Applied Linguistics, specialising in CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) and teacher training, as well as having completed many of the International House online and face-to-face courses, such as advanced methodology, language awareness course and teaching Business English.
Tell us what you love and enjoy about teaching?
I love the variety of each day and the fact no two days are ever the same. I enjoy the opportunity to work with such a diverse and interesting group of people, both students and other teachers and to be able to work together to make something happen towards a common goal.
I see planning a lesson or a training session like a puzzle or solving a problem and I really love trying to work out how to stage the lesson to get learners from A to B with their full engagement, understanding and participation to reach the objective.
What advice would you give to someone who has successfully gained their initial teaching qualification and is ready to go on their own TEFL journey?
First of all, congratulations for passing. You won’t regret this decision. Next, keep an open mind, listen to others and take advice from others around you as they know exactly how you feel. Take every opportunity presented to you to and experiment as much as you can. With teaching, there are good days and bad days, but it definitely gets easier, the more you do it!