After leaving the corporate world, IDELTOnline™ grad Julia Rivera, from the Dominican Republic, sought a career in higher education. Specializing in standardized exam preparation, she’s currently supervising a test prep center at a university in her home country while running her own consultancy business. She gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to work with adult students and shares her strategies for helping English proficiency test takers.
Hi, Julia! Can you share a bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Currently, I live in the Dominican Republic, where I oversee the Test Prep Department at Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE), and in my spare time, I do consulting for international students.
I also have a Master’s Degree in International Commerce and am currently doing a Master’s in Higher Education with the American College of Education (ACE).
How did you get into the higher education field?
I worked in marketing and sales and was a Corporate Employee Trainer — that’s where I got the hint that teaching adults would be something I would enjoy. I also worked in the Admissions Department at a college in Chicago, Illinois 10 years ago, and it was there that I realized how much higher education was the industry I wanted to be in.
What do you like most about working in higher education?
What I enjoy most about working in higher education is that the students come from different backgrounds and levels of experience and that they can share and help to enrich the class.
Can you tell us more about your job at the university?
Our Test Prep Center at UNIBE helps students prepare for standardized tests like TOEFL, SAT, GRE, and GMAT. We also help international medical students who are looking to do their medical residency in the USA with the USMLE.
What type of consulting do you do for international students?
My consulting business, Estudios Globales, is specifically for Latin American students looking to study at a university overseas. We help them search for universities tailored to their student profile, revise their essays, and give them interview tips. We also motivate students who live in the Dominican Republic to go to UNIBE Test Prep Center to study for the standardized test (if needed) to help maximize their score results.
What is one of your strategies for helping students ace English proficiency tests?
One of the strategies I like to share with students is letting them know that English happens outside of the classroom also. The importance of practicing English outside of their courses is crucial to help with their reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills.
For example, students can practice listening and reading by watching movies in English with subtitles. They can also improve speaking by singing along to songs in English. This helps build confidence for English language learners.
You took the 150-Hour IDELTOnline™ course. Why did you decide to take this course?
The reason I decided to pursue the IDELTOnline™ is that I shifted my focus to international education for adults, and having this certification provides me with the credentials I need to not only successfully guide a classroom but also train other teachers interested in becoming international educators.
How did this course help you professionally?
This course gave me tools to create and design courses for adults in English language learning settings. It also provided additional resources specifically for lessons tailored to adults.
What are your plans for the next weeks or months as the world deals with the pandemic?
Due to the pandemic, our Test Prep Center at UNIBE became 100% online (until further notice). Since we cater to our university students at UNIBE as well as to the general public, we have never stopped working to provide these online classes for students. We are currently waiting for clearance on behalf of the authorities in order to open our doors again at the UNIBE Test Prep Center.
Do you have any advice for English teachers who want to work in the Dominican Republic?
There has never been a better time to teach English than now in the Dominican Republic! There are schools, universities, and independent students looking for qualified teachers to learn or improve their English.