This post is the first in a series about an Oxford Seminars TESOL instructor meeting the students he trained on his trips abroad.
I have taught with Oxford seminars for nearly a decade. My favorite thing about training prospective teachers is meeting dozens of new, interesting people every year, each with their own compelling reason for obtaining their TESOL certification. But a fringe benefit—one that I hadn’t anticipated—is the fact that I now know at least one person in an astonishing number of locations around the world. I always end my courses by asking my students to keep in touch, both with their classmates and with me. Often, I follow this by saying, “hey, if you’re lucky, I might just visit you once you’re abroad!” Most people chuckle, but I think few realize that as an avid traveler, it is a real possibility.
Just last month, I was fortunate enough to travel to Santiago, Chile to attend a conference. Once I had booked my flight, I remembered that I knew of two former Oxford students that had gone off to teach English there. One, a young woman named Cecilia, and the other, a middle aged man named Thomas. I hadn’t corresponded with either of them in a while, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn when I contacted them that both were still teaching there. I happily made plans to meet up with each of them, eager to hear of their experiences.
My first day in Santiago, Thomas had the afternoon free, and was kind enough to join me on a free walking tour of Santiago. We later grabbed a coffee, and he told me more about his life in Chile. After applying for jobs all over the world, he settled upon Santiago, where his decades of experience in the corporate world proved a valuable asset. He has spent the past five years tutoring Chileans. Some seek out Thomas’s services to refine their English for conducting international business, while others want to improve both their written and conversational skills to pursue higher education in the English-speaking world. Thomas was proud—and rightly so—of the fact that many of his students have gone on to enroll in prestigious universities in Europe and North America. He continues to tutor, and has no immediate plans to move back to the United States. Chile is, for all intents and purposes, his home.
After a brief sojourn to the south of Chile, a visually stunning region with crystal-blue lakes encircled by volcanoes, I met up with Cecilia upon return to Santiago. While Thomas had gone to Chile after decades in the work force, Cecilia, rather, moved to Santiago in her mid-twenties to gain experience and learn some Spanish before beginning a career in earnest. Over dinner (a delightful meal of Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine), she told me that she hadn’t planned to live there for the better part of a decade, but as time went on, she kept finding more reasons to stay. After a short while teaching at an English school, she was promoted, and put in charge of curricular development. By that time, her Spanish had blossomed from a mere few phrases into outright fluency. Her current position there requires spoken and written proficiency in both English and Spanish. After seven years in Santiago, Cecilia plans to return home in the coming months to pursue a law degree. With her impressive resume of working overseas, she imagines she will be well positioned for a career in international law. (I quite agree!)
Although I only had a few days in Santiago, I am confident that the city is a prime destination for teaching abroad. After learning how successful Oxford Seminars TESOL graduates have been there, and how well established they had become there in both their personal and professional lives, I am thoroughly convinced that anyone, regardless of age or experience, who is looking to teach English in a large, global city in a country so rich in natural wonders should give Santiago a second look. You’ll be glad you did.
Written by Jeremy White
Jeremy White has lived and worked in several states and countries, most extensively as a TESOL instructor in South Korea. He has a master’s degree in linguistics and has taught Oxford Seminars courses in both New York and Minneapolis