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We caught up with Mark, one of the tutors who run our accredited TEFL courses in the UK, and found out about his experiences teaching English abroad. How did you first get into TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language)? I never wanted to be an English teacher. Rather, I had dreams of working in Hollywood as a film composer, writing exciting scores for movies and conducting large orchestras (my degree is in music - not English). However, when I came to my senses and realised that I needed a REAL job to pay off my student loans, I went to London to do a nine-week CELTA course before going to Japan to teach English there. It was the best thing I have ever done. Where in the world have you taught English as a foreign language? I have taught in Japan, Vietnam, Peru, the UK, the USA, Australia, Thailand, Spain, Sri Lanka, Italy, Austria, the CZ Republic and Slovakia. I think that's all... Where in the world have you most enjoyed teaching? Gosh! What a question! Errrmmm... maybe Peru. Lima is a wonderful yet strange place and the Peruvians are simply wonderful. But I could say the same things about Japan and Vietnam... How did it feel to stand up in front of the class for the first time? Very strange... especially when it dawned on me that my Japanese students knew more about English grammar than I did! What has been your best TEFL experience? It's all been good. I don't think I've ever had a bad TEFL experience. I think that I have realised and understood much more about myself and who I am after living in so many different cultures and environments. Learning to question your own ideas about life, living among people who find your own ideas strange makes you question everything. It is good to see where you fit into the world and realise how insignificant you are. What has been your worst TEFL experience? I had a snake in my house once and a scorpion in my bathroom, while in Vietnam. Does that count? What's the most interesting thing that has happened to you abroad? Being mistaken for Bruce Willis! No, really, I was. They asked for my autograph. What's your favourite food? Live fish in Japan, fried tarantulas in Cambodia, rat on a stick in Vietnam, guinea pigs in Peru. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! What is the worst tense to teach? Future Perfect Continuous. We don't use it much. Do you have any good advice for anyone heading out to teach English abroad? As Arnold Schwarzenegger said in the film Predator when luring the alien into his trap. Just "do it"! What is an essential travel item you could not live without? I used to say a towel and a clean set of underwear, but seriously, I have to say these days, I can't live without my laptop. Apart from TEFL and travelling the world, what other hobbies do you have? Playing my piano, writing music, playing scrabble, going to the cinema, writing stories and building shelves (I love the smell of freshly cut wood in the morning). What is your favourite thing about TEFL? Boring predictable answer: Meeting people and making friends from all over the world. Interesting geeky answer: Having a greater understanding of my own language.
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