Leticia is an experienced Brazilian teacher at a language school in Marília, who decided to sharpen her skills by taking Bridge Specialized TEFL Certification courses, Teaching Young Learners & Teens and Designing Custom Courses. We interviewed her to find out more about her unique career path from au pair to educator, and her ongoing focus on professional development.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Leticia. I’m 37 and I’m from Marília, a small city in the countryside of São Paulo State in Brazil. I’ve been teaching English since 2005. This is how I became an English teacher: I studied translation (English and Spanish) at college and after that, I went to the USA where I lived for 2 years as an au pair.
The au pair program
In this au pair program, I had to take some English classes. My class was a very mixed group; there were Brazilians, Mexicans, Japanese, Chinese and Indians, but mostly Brazilians and Mexicans. Our teacher was Miss Margareth; she was 78 years old and she was a wonderful person and great example for all of us.
From teaching assistant to teacher
In some classes, she had a few problems explaining grammar points to the Mexican students, so I helped her (because I could use Spanish to explain the topics for them) and after some days helping her she asked me to be her “assistant.” I would help Brazilians and Mexicans who had problems understanding the topics of the lessons. Miss Margareth also took me to some TESOL conferences around the USA and during those trips we talked a lot about being a teacher. And that’s how I fell in love with this job and decided that it was the job I wanted to have.
Tell us about your current teaching position.
Students’ ages and levels
Nowadays, I am teaching in a private language school from Monday to Friday. I have students of all ages, from kids (7 years old), to teenagers who are advanced-level, and older people who just have conversation classes not to forget what they already know.
A typical workday
I start my day at 12:00 with the younger students. In the afternoon I have the teens, and at night the older students. My last class finishes at 8:30 pm. I also have a few private students who have specific kinds of lessons (such as English for business, medicine, and travel).
Our classes focus on conversation, so they’re always fun, with games and competitions. We try to make our students learn without noticing and bring the contexts to real-life situations, so the classes are meaningful to them when they see they are already speaking.
Why did you decide to get your TEFL certification with Bridge?
Most of my students are teens and young learners, and in Brazil, we don’t have specialized courses for those ages. The Specialized Certificate courses Bridge offers are fast, excellent, and convenient. I can do the course whenever I have time and the certificate is recognized anywhere I go. I was already offered a job because of the online TEFL course I took with Bridge.
How did the Bridge Specialized TEFL courses you took, such as Teaching English to Young Learners & Teens, influence your work in the classroom?
My work in the classroom has improved a lot. I was able to correct a few mistakes I used to make without noticing, and I have also become more critical. My coworkers are also happy because I am able to help them. We prepare the lessons together, and we talk about what worked and what didn’t work. When we have problems with a student, we discuss a solution. I feel extremely delighted to be able to help other people.
Even my students noticed the difference. I have been using some techniques and tips I learned during the course and I’ve gotten some feedback from the class. They told me the classes are more interesting and sometimes time even goes by faster, when they notice the lesson has already finished.
What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming an English teacher?
I think it is the best job in the world. It can be a little tiring sometimes but it’s the most rewarding job! After a few years, you will be walking in the grocery store and someone will come in your direction and say “Teacher, I miss you sooo much,” and that’s what our days are made of.