TEFL Interview with Love TEFL's Gordon Mathie
Teaching English overseas is a great way to spend a gap year. Even if you are fresh out of college and have no experience, your ability to speak English is a great asset that you can use to work your way around the world. The best way to get started is by getting yourself on a TEFL course - TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Langauge. These courses are really affordable, give you a certificate that is recognised around the world, and they also give you practical advice on how to teach students in other countries. To find out more, we spoke to Gordon, at LoveTEFL.
What's life been like in the last 6 months at LoveTEFL, any interesting things happening?
In a word, hectic! Like any small business starting out in the world, there's never enough hours in the day, or spare hands to do what we want to get done. But we have a great team here, morale is high and we're all enjoying the challenge. There are lots of interesting things happening - we've just launched a new range of short TEFL Trips from 2 to 4 weeks, geared for those who want to 'dip their toe' into the world of TEFL.
What are you looking forward to the most at LoveTEFL in the next 6 months?
In the next 6 months baby number 2 will be arriving into the Mathie household (September due date)…..so I'm looking forward to coming to work to get away from changing nappies! Seriously, for us the summer will be really busy operationally, as that is when a high percentage of our interns and job seekers go overseas to start their teaching experiences…..so we'll be in regular contact with our teams in China, Thailand, South Africa, Cambodia and Colombia and we'll also be sending a number of our UK staff overseas during this time too to help out and bring back great videos and photography. Then we gear up our marketing efforts for the start of the new University term time, when students once again are searching for opportunities to work and travel…dreaming about what they're going to do when they finish, or during their holiday breaks.
There are other TEFL organisations out there and it is a competitive market, what makes you stand out from other TEFL providers?
There are certainly a huge number of TEFL organisations out there, and this can become very confusing for the customer who's trying to work out what TEFL is all about and which provider to trust with their hard-earned (or borrowed!) money. Many customers tell us just how confused they feel when shopping around for their idea TEFL course or overseas teaching experience.
At LoveTEFL we aim to stand out in 3 ways; firstly, we believe passionately about the travel & adventure side of TEFL as opposed to the dry academic side of the industry. A TEFL certificate opens up a whole world of amazing opportunities and its our mission to get as many people as possible using their certificate and not packing it away in a box in the loft gathering dust.
Secondly, we recognise that to jump on a plane and go to a new country where you don't speak the language, and start a new career takes a lot of courage….and so from the very moment someone signs up to our TEFL course or internship/trip the LoveTEFL team offer an exceptional level of service and support. Thirdly, we know money is tight, so all our prices are kept extremely fair so can offer customers amazing value when they buy through LoveTEFL. We keep prices low by keeping our overheads low - it's as simple as that!
If you could teach TEFL anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
As an adventurous spirit who has been lucky enough to travel to over 70 countries through my work and personal life, I am drawn to the ‘out of the way' places, finding the next secret destination. I've been to China many times since founding LoveTEFL in 2012, and it never ceases to amaze and inspire - one place where we've sent many interns and teachers is the city of Hohhot in Inner Mongolia. It's an intoxicating blend of Mongolian and Chinese, and it's not far from the grasslands which are quite incredible. Hohhot is one of those wild west towns which people just don't want to leave…..I'd love to spend a year there and try it. They have this drink there called Baijiu, it's a rice wine and it's so potent it makes Scotch whisky seem like Ribena!
What would you say is the best thing about TEFL?
For a very small investment of £99, you can soon be working and living in a wide range of incredible countries and in a rewarding job. As native English speakers we are blessed with this life-changing opportunity. It's as simple as that!
If I wanted to go and teach TEFL what would be the 3 best pieces of advice you could give me?
Firstly, just do it. Too many people give up on their dream, without trying it. If you go through LoveTEFL we will ensure you are helped every step of the way to make it happen. Secondly, go with the flow. Living and teaching in Chengdu or Bangkok is just not the same as teaching in Manchester or London or Glasgow! But that's the allure of TEFL isn't it – to explore and become immersed in new cultures? And if you go with the flow you just get so much more out of the experience. Thirdly, put roots down wherever you end up. You might think this is a 12-month teaching contract in Shanghai, or a 2-month internship in Thailand…but a huge number of people like it so much they decide to stay on. So, regardless for how long you think you might be there, put some roots down and think long term - learn mandarin, thai, Spanish, make local friends – don't just hang about with expats, join the local football club or Tai chi club.fully immerse yourself in the local culture and you will be hugely rewarded.
Do you have a University degree to do a TEFL course?
No. Anyone can do a TEFL course. The other piece of good news is the certificate has no end date, it's valid forever. So you can do the course just before travelling overseas for your dream job, or if you are someone who likes planning years ahead then that's fine too!
What do you think are the most rewarding things gained from a TEFL programme?
Honestly there are too many to mention. It does come down to the individual though, as how much they put in often determines how much they get out. For the person who goes for it 100%, they can get all of the following: great experience for the CV, learn a foreign language, lifelong friends, savings (yes, you can actually save cash as a TEFL teacher and there are many opportunities to earn extra in evenings and weekends), see amazing cultural sights such as the Terracotta warriors, Great Wall of China, trek in the Sierra Nevada in Colombia, visit the Harbin Ice festival, spend weekends lazing on the beach in 30+ degrees….even dare I say it find a partner (one of our firstteachers who arrived in Hohhot in August 2012 is now getting married!