Do you have a passion for English and teaching? If so, you might be like Veronica Curzi, who has been teaching English for over 15 years and doesn’t plan on stopping there! We spoke with her from Buenos Aires, Argentina where she currently teaches English. Learn about her teaching experience and plans to teach abroad!
Veronica, can you start by giving us a brief background about yourself?
I am 37 years old, and I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina. When I was 17, I sat for the FCE (Cambridge First Certificate in English), and right after that, I got into university. I studied to become a teacher at Universidad Católica Argentina and got my degree after completing a 4-year course (Teacher Training College). My degree actually has a university level, something that is not that common in our country, since most people study in what we call Terciarios, which are not universities.
How long have you been teaching English?
I started teaching English when I was 15 because I used to help kids with their school homework, but when I turned 21, I started teaching at schools and institutes. So, we could say that is the beginning of my professional career. I have been teaching for ages.
Where has your teaching career taken you so far?
I have experience with kids, adolescents, and adults; I also have experience teaching business English and adults over 70. During all these years I have taught not only Language but also Science, History, Geography, Literature, and Environmental management, and I trained students to sit for international exams. I also help with the school’s debate team, and I have worked as an assistant teacher for Spanish lessons. I have always loved English, and I currently speak more English than Spanish, not only because of my job but also because most of my friends speak English fluently and we use it on a daily basis.
You took the 120-Hour BridgeTEFL Master Certificate online course. What made you decide to become TEFL certified? How do you feel you benefited from your Bridge TEFL certification?
I have always dreamed of living abroad, and even though I have an official university degree from a well-known Argentinian university, this was not enough to teach abroad. Besides, I love studying, learning, and improving, basically, because I love challenges. Taking the Bridge online TEFL course was simply fantastic. I was able to check that I am on the right track when it comes to teaching; I refreshed some concepts I had already learned at university; I also acquired some new ideas related to activities.
Could you tell us about your teaching job in Argentina?
I teach at two private religious schools in Buenos Aires. One of them is Instituto Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, and the other one is Instituto San Felipe Neri. My students are from both primary and secondary school; they are between 11 and 18 years old.
What is a typical workday like for you?
I get up at 5 AM every day, travel to school by bus, and get things ready — since I am really organized, I get to school quite early to get everything ready — and then at 7 AM, I start delivering classes. Some days, I also teach after I leave school at 4 PM because I have private students that are getting ready to sit for the FCE (Cambridge First Certificate in English) and a group of 3 ladies who are retired and love learning new things.
You teach at two schools and also teach students privately. What does your schedule look like?
My schedule is super busy; I work Monday to Friday from 7 AM to 7 PM, and then on Saturdays and Sundays, I correct, plan, and prepare material for my students… Or simply rest and go out with friends!
How did you find your teaching positions?
I had always wanted to work at Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, so I used to send my CV to the email address shown on their web page every year until finally, last year there was an opening and they called me! I was delighted! In regards to San Felipe Neri, one of my best friends is currently working there. As soon as there was an opening, she sent my CV to the English department coordinator, and here I am!
Visit the BridgeTEFL job board for TEFL job openings all around the world.
Since English is not your native language, how does this influence the way you teach English?
It is really useful because I can understand how my students feel, and I can clearly understand where their mistakes come from. I can soothe their frustrations and show them I am able to teach them to sound native-like, only due to hard work and never giving up. I did not attend a bilingual school, so I was not used to studying in English until I started my university course. Besides, I remember what it was like studying another language and how I used to feel when things went wrong.
English doesn’t need to be your native language to teach abroad. Hear from teachers doing just this!
What are some of your favorite lessons, activities, or techniques to use with your students in the ESL classroom?
I love using technology and acting. I usually make good use of videos, short films, and movies as a trigger, to introduce or revise topics, or as the main activity because it is a kind of closure to the unit; the movies are always related to what we are studying.
I love dramatic reading, role-plays, debates, and putting on plays. I love moving around the classroom and having my students be the center of the action— sometimes, I even let them be the teacher and lead the correction of an exercise. They make lots of oral presentations and even research different NGOs, and later on, we even organize campaigns to help them.
Need some quick and easy activity ideas? Your students are sure to love these 10 ESL icebreakers.
Could you explain how you incorporate technology in the classroom?
We have in every classroom either a huge smart television or an interactive board, so basically, everything is there! From projecting the book page, to working on listening activities, playing Kahoot or any other game, to having them show their presentations, showing pictures, and looking for information— EVERYTHING is mostly based on technology.
As a BridgeTEFL alumna, you’ve joined our new online community. What are your thoughts about the community and being connected to other teachers in the TEFL universe? What do you hope to gain from the BridgeTEFL Jobs Community?
I find it extremely exciting!!! It feels like my dream is finally coming true! It is great being part of a community made up of people from all over the world but with the same passion: TEACHING ENGLISH! It is also useful being in contact with prospect employers, learning about other countries, and reading the tips and job openings you usually post!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you plan to take your TEFL career further?
I see myself living and working somewhere else and holding a master’s degree. I know I want to start little by little, but I want my TEFL career to go as far as possible! I do not see myself doing anything else! I would also like being a coordinator and being in charge of other teachers and even training teachers to be! I want to get to know people from all over the world and share with them the love I feel towards teaching and English! This is the first time I’m actually doing something to move forward, so… I think I am on the right track!