TEFL in the USA: Insider Tips

By Jennifer Collis
March 14, 2013

Are you interested in teaching English as a second language in the your home country, such as the U.S. or Canada, rather than abroad? Or maybe you do want to go abroad, but would like to get some experience at home, first.

If so, Kristi Sather-Smith will inspire you! She took the Cambridge CELTA course here at Bridge headquarters in Denver, and returned to her home in Idaho to put that training to use in a variety of creative ways. Read on to learn more about your options for ESL at home:

Tell us about your ESL experiences there in Boise, Idaho.

I have been busy trying to develop my ESL/TEFL network here in Boise – with some success, too. I am now an adjunct ESL teacher for the College of Western Idaho – a local community college- and have been hired as a substitute for the Boise School District’s English Language Learning (ELL) programs. I just finished a two-week teaching assignment with advanced English learners at the community college. The students I had are living and working in the Boise area; they come from Mexico, China, Japan, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Bosnia, and Argentina! I am on track to substitute teach another course, soon – this time for low intermediate learners.

I haven’t worked for the Boise School District, yet – as I was just formally approved as a substitute. When school is back in session, I will be visiting all the elementary and high schools within five miles of my house and introducing myself to the teachers and administration there regarding substituting.

Have you volunteered?

I have been volunteering at the Jr. High School (only 1.5 blocks from my house) and working with individual students – one from Puerto Rico and the other from Somalia (her parents came over as refugees).

I have also been volunteering with refugees at the English Language Center. This is interesting, as the refugees have so many challenges: PTSD, interrupted education because of long stays in refugee camps, and illiteracy, to mention the most obvious.

What are your future plans?

I am exploring the possibility of setting up my own company. I am still working on the concept – but am leaning toward working with educated adults who want to learn English and work in the U.S. I have been helping a lady from Japan for example, whose husband is an engineer working for a company in Boise, develop her resume and get some volunteer work experience. She does well with English, but needs more practice and volunteering in the work environment (kind of like an internship) and this is what I have been helping her with. She was a professional menu coordinator and cooking instructor in Japan – so I am working on linking her up with a catering company that works with students in the Boise State University culinary department.

Do you think you’ll still go abroad to teach, and if so, where?

I still want to go to Latin America and teach, so am working on that too. Bridge has put me in touch with schools in Guatemala and Peru. I contacted them and they are interested in seeing my resume, etc. I am leaning toward Guatemala, Peru or Ecuador because the cost of living is low. I have also made some contact with a school in Colombia – this was through a former student of mine. I would love to go to Chile and work for Bridge, too, but the cost of living is a little higher. Time will tell . . .