Bridge graduate, Will, who is originally from China, was an ESL teacher there before moving to the States and continuing his work in English education. Now he runs the California International Teachers Association, an education consulting business in Los Angeles that matches qualified teachers with ESL students in Asia.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in China. I graduated from college in 2010 and took a management position in a medical university in China. Soon after that, I took on a teaching position in the School of International Education and became an ESL instructor. I taught for about 3 years and then moved to Denver, Colorado, where my family was.
Like many others who have stepped onto the career pathway as a teacher, I gained my passion for teaching a lot earlier, as a student. I consider international education the most meaningful career one can pursue, as it fosters world peace and brings people from different parts of the globe together.
You took the 120-hour Master TEFL Certificate course with Bridge. Why did you choose this course and how has it helped your career?
Initially, I was seeking career advancement. After that, I decided to pursue a career as an ESL teacher, and BridgeTEFL stood out to me from the market of options. It brought me more opportunities, and more importantly, confidence. This confidence made me think I could do more, and I did; I became an entrepreneur and opened my own ESL classes while I was in China.
Is English your first language? If not, how has that shaped the way you teach?
NO, my mother language is Chinese. Therefore, I find myself in a situation where I can see the two sides of the coin easily, which is an advantage that I consider key. Literally, I know better what’s stopping the East Asian ESL learners from making progress at a certain stage of their English learning, as I have been there.
Could you tell us a little about your current job?
I am currently a business owner. I run an international company named California International Teachers Association (CITA), with a team of 20.
CITA is a bridge between quality US teachers and ESL students from abroad. To put it simply, we find online teaching projects for our teachers from the States through our channels with over 500 educational companies abroad. The students taught are mostly international coming from China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
What inspired you to start the California International Teachers Association?
Before I started CITA, I was working for an international education company as the Director of Teaching (DT). As the DT, one of my major responsibilities was to recruit, train and manage qualified international teachers. While I was working for them during that year and a half, I found that there were so many teachers in the States who were underpaid, and they were so ready to utilize their talents in a more flexible and meaningful way to help with their paycheck-to-paycheck life.
At the same time, there are a great number of kids out there who have very limited access to quality ESL learning resources. This is due to one major cause, the geographical barrier, which can be eliminated with the help of me and my team, through hard work and educational technology.
CITA has a dream that one day we can build an excellent platform on which educators can best utilize their talents, spreading their knowledge to once geographically isolated children all over the world.
Where do you see CITA in 5 years?
In 5 years, CITA is on track to be facilitating 10,000 hours of international online teaching on a monthly basis, which means there will be over 500 international teachers teaching with us every day (most in addition to their full-time jobs).
To someone interested in starting their own business, like you, what advice would you give?
It’s really hard to be an entrepreneur. You will have to decide what you really want yourself to be – a businessman or a teacher? If you want to be both, you’ll need to pinch yourself every day as a reminder to keep a nice balance between both.