From her home in Iran, Bridge student Nasim Farahani moved across cultures and seized an opportunity to teach English in Baku, Azerbaijan. We were curious to know more about how she adapted as a foreigner, what her current life as a teacher is like, and what job prospects are for other ESL teachers in this history-filled country.
Nasim, how long have you been teaching English?
To be honest, I have been teaching English since 2013, when I was a university student. In Baku, I have been teaching for about two years.
How did you choose Azerbaijan as a teaching destination?
We immigrated to Baku because of business then I decided to follow my career here as well, so I sent my CV to many institutes.
How was it for you relocating from Iran to Azerbaijan? Did you move by yourself or with your family?
At the beginning, it was so hard. I moved to Baku with my husband.
How would you compare the culture of your home country and Azerbaijan’s?
Azerbaijan and Iran are neighbors, but there are still some basic differences which were very difficult to get used to at first.
Have you returned to visit your hometown since you moved to Azerbaijan?
Yes, several times. Thankfully Azerbaijan is so close to Iran.
What is the city of Baku like?
I love Baku. It’s very beautiful, calm, and it has hospitable people.
Is Azerbaijan a popular destination for teachers from Iran? How strong is the demand for teachers?
Nowadays many Iranian teachers want to work here. To be honest, the demand is high, but I can say that not all the institutes or schools are able to pay high salaries.
How is teaching in Azerbaijan? What do you like about it?
It is a bit challenging because I don’t know their language very well, but I love my students and my colleagues. They are so supportive and thoughtful.
Teaching in Azerbaijan brings about different kinds of experiences that are valuable for me. I have to say that being here has made me more active and pushed me to be up-to-date myself and my teaching methodology.
You’re currently teaching at CELT Colleges in Baku. How did you land your job there?
I have to mention that I was so lucky to find this college, as they are one of the best in Baku. To be honest I was searching for a more challenging place to work in when my husband (he is working at CELT too but in another branch) said one CELT was looking for a teacher. I came to them, had an interview, and got the job.
Can you tell us about your teaching job?
I teach General English, IELTS, TOEFL, and SAT. Almost all of my students are teenagers who want to study abroad.
Where are the English teachers you work with from?
Many of them are from Azerbaijan, but we have Iranians and Nigerians as well.
How has the COVID-19 virus situation in Azerbaijan affected you, as an English teacher?
Generally speaking, it was a bad shock for all of us at the beginning. But thanks to having a professional team, we adapted to the situation very fast and started teaching online effectively.
Did you like to travel to other countries in the region before the crisis? If yes, where did you travel?
Yes. I liked to travel to Turkey.
You are currently enrolled in the 120-Hour Master TEFL/TESOL Certificate course. Why did you decide to take this course?
As I mentioned before, teaching in a foreign country requires more knowledge, besides I am an idealistic person and I wanted to mix my experience with knowledge to make myself a helpful teacher to my lovely students.
What are your plans for the next weeks or months as the world deals with the global pandemic?
Well, I have already focused on my lessons in the 120-hour Master Certificate course, so being at home is really good for me. I’d like to say that this Bridge course is so complete, considering that getting all the details and information need a lot of time.
Do you have any advice for English teachers who want to work in Azerbaijan?
I can say that living in Azerbaijan can be interesting for them, although finding a well-paid job is not that easy.