New Teacher Tales – Angela
In our New Teacher Tales series, we interview people teaching English abroad, about how, why and where they started out, about their experiences teaching abroad, and what advice they have for new teachers.
In this blog, Angela, who is originally from the Philippines and now teaches in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, talks to us about how she started teaching English and her current multi-role job.
Where do you work now?
I work for the British Council in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. I have several roles – For the past couple of years the split has between being an English teacher and being the Marketing Communications Manager. I also work with our Environmental Framework Team, organise events and administer oral exams for English proficiency.
What’s the best thing about living in Tanzania?
Living by the coast and being in a beautiful country. I’m also learning a lot about East African culture and Islam which is mind-boggling.
Why did you become an English teacher?
I fell into it because it was a job I could do when I first arrived in Vietnam. I taught in a city in Vietnam called Vung Tau. I worked mainly with adults teaching General English. Before I started teaching, I had a few days of observing classes and being trained by a teacher in the center I worked for. I taught there for more than two years, and managed the kids’ branch for our school. It was interesting and a lot of fun. My mom was a teacher and I always thought that I couldn’t be one until I started doing it.
I did the CELTA at ILA in Ho Chi Minh City in October 2010.
Was this the right way to start?
I think that for me it was. I can’t say that that’s the best way for everyone but for me, having experience teaching and realizing that I liked it before committing to a course was the right way. Doing the CELTA course wasn’t necessarily easy but I think that it was easier for me because I had something to base my lessons on and also had the chance to find out what I could improve in my teaching practice and strategies.
What did you do before you started teaching English?
I was a DJ at a radio station, a production assistant in a TV show and a debt collector.
Where else have you taught?
I moved from Vung Tau to Saigon in Vietnam to teach after the CELTA, and now here in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
What was your favourite place to work? Why?
I would say my current one because of all the roles I have. It can be crazy but it’s never boring.
What is the best thing about being an English teacher?
I have friends from all over the world, with diverse backgrounds, personalities, and ideas. I’ve grown more as a person and also learned a lot about myself.
How is it being a non-native speaking English teacher?
Being a non-native speaker, there are certain jobs I can’t get and companies sometimes don’t even respond to my inquiries. I couldn’t get a job in the center where I did my CELTA but my trainers gave the center that eventually hired me, (ACET) my contact information. There are countries that automatically don’t give teaching work permits to people who studied university or have a passport outside of the “big five/six (i.e. the UK, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and sometimes South Africa included in the list).
Is there anything you would change about your time as an English teacher?
Definitely not, I wouldn’t change a thing.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an English teacher?
Just because a career is good for one person doesn’t mean it’s for you and just because it didn’t turn out well for someone doesn’t mean it won’t turn out well for you. Try it out and see if being a teacher fits you. If it does, remain open to new possibilities and opportunities. Most of all, make sure you never stop learning. Being an English teacher can be a crazy and fun journey if you let it be one.
Angela blogs about a variety of things, including teaching and travelling, at Where the Wildebeests Are.