New Teacher Tales – Evonne
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.
Here, Evonne from Malaysia talks about how the economic downturn in Asia forced her to start teaching English, and why she is really happy that she did.
Where do you work now?
I’m the Director of Studies at Malayan English Academy in the southernmost tip of Malaysia, Johor Bahru. My scope is mainly writing the curriculum, planning course timetables, training teachers, overseeing 11 other centres scattered around Johor.
Of course, we know there’s more to be done than my job scope. Additional things I do here include executing Cambridge English exams, teaching and yes, making sure the plants are well and alive.
What’s the best thing about living in Malaysia?
Everything! The variety of food, the people, the weather – you name it. What beats living in paradise?
Why did you become an English teacher?
Becoming an English teacher was never on my list. I had always wanted to be a doctor only to give up the dream when Asia faced an economic crisis when I was in high school. There was no way my parents could even afford those medical books; not to mention the fees.
Back then, I had to go to student’s homes to provide private English tuition classes so as to help out with the household expenses, my older siblings fees (they were halfway through their diploma) and anything that had to do with money. I guess that was how it started.
What did you do before you started teaching English?
This is a good question. I was enjoying myself without having to worry about life – everything was provided for which was taken for granted until we were hit with the economic downturn.
How did you start?
I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with Richard Crees for the Malaysian government several years back and he introduced the CELTA course to me. I did it because he was such an inspiring man and I can say my only regret was coming across the CELTA too late.
Though I had been teaching English for years, I didn’t really know what I didn’t know about English or the approaches and methodologies. A couple of years after CELTA, I pursued DELTA and that was how I got to know Kris!
What was your first teaching job?
Working in a kindergarten was my first official job and it was TERRIBLE. It felt a lot like taking on the role of a super nanny and classes were all about making sure the kids stopped fighting.
Where have you taught?
I’ve spent my entire life teaching in Malaysia though I did spend a number of months working as a voluntary teacher in Australia too. The funny thing about me is when I taught in Australia, I said to myself ‘This is the place to be’. Now that I’m in Malaysia, this is where I want to be.
What is the best thing that has happened to you since you became an English teacher?
Knowing awesome people in the same field and having friends in every country I visit. What can be better than that?
What is the worst thing that has happened to you since you became an English teacher?
Having to give up the dream of becoming a doctor.
Is there anything you would change about your time as an English teacher?
Absolutely! If I could rewind that clock, I’d want to do my CELTA way earlier.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an English teacher?
Make sure you’re here for the love of sharing knowledge and if you’re non-native, there are many challenges to overcome. Many jobs are open exclusively to native speakers.
All photos are from the Malayan English Academy or from Evonne.