Posted on February 24, 2023 by Leo Healy
Hello! Alyssa is my name; I'm 22 years old and half German and half French. Hence, not a native English speaker. I began working in sales after completing my education in business.
Hello! Alyssa is my name; I’m 22 years old and half German and half French. Hence, not a native English speaker. I began working in sales after completing my education in business. I did, however, recognize that there was still a lot to learn about this universe. Thus, I decided to apply for a TEFL internship in Cambodia, and here I am!
I was raised in a multicultural setting; I was born in Strasbourg, France, and attended French schools, but much of my homeschooling was German. I’ve always been surrounded by people from many cultural backgrounds, hearing various languages and practising multiple customs. Mom tried to take us on short trips around Europe, including Croatia, Greece, Italy, England, Austria, Tunisia, and Turkey, and she always encouraged me to travel the world. I told my mother I wanted to move to the US and have a prom when I was 16. Mom just gave me a quick nod and said, “Go ahead!” Since then, I have become obsessed with travelling. I spent a year in Maine when I was 16, 2 months in Mexico when I was 20, 2 months in Peru and two months in Japan when I was 21 and spent the past year in Ireland. So doing TEFL in Cambodia was an easy decision for me.
One day, a close friend and I went out to lunch. We visited Buns, a Dublin restaurant serving my favourite burgers and sweet potato fries. The future, our plans, dreams, and aspirations are our favourite subjects to talk about. I told him about my desire to own a business, either a school or a hotel, but it would have to be a social enterprise enabling me to assist others. He then mentioned one of his acquaintances who works as a TEFL teacher to me. I researched it online and read everything there was to know. What most thrilled me was the prospect of travelling to another nation, where I could educate, interact with locals, and learn about the local way of life. I love to travel, but it is so much better and different when you live the local life. Spending time in hotels and beach resorts is not travelling, but teaching abroad is!
I discovered many companies when looking for TEFL certifications and teaching positions. I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity because the person I was in contact with was so kind and encouraging. The internships involved working with regional Organizations. Since I didn’t speak English as my first language, my options were somewhat constrained. Although I didn’t know anyone who had visited, I thought Cambodia was the most genuine nation on the list. Also, the school is part of a regional charity with other TEFL initiatives around Cambodia. Even though the school is where the NGO gets most of its funds from, it still offers affordable English courses for Khmer people compared to other schools in Phnom Penh.
Before travelling to Cambodia, I visited Thailand. The first thing that shocked me in Cham Yeam as I crossed the border was the cows wandering the streets. I also wanted to withdraw money from an ATM. My second surprise was that the ATM asked me if I needed American dollars or Khmer riels. I was very perplexed!
Nonetheless, everyone here is extremely polite, cheerful, and courteous. Seeing a smile on someone’s face makes you feel pleased. The nation is relatively underdeveloped, yet everyone—including mothers of young children—works very hard. This is perhaps one of my favourite aspects of Cambodia. A staff member could be seen holding a child in any store, restaurant, beauty salon, or hair salon, which is perfectly acceptable. Children don’t seem to be thought of as annoying people. Every day I learn a lesson about life and optimism from this country.
I teach from 3:30 pm until 8:15 pm, Monday through Friday. On Mondays and Tuesdays, we also get a 90-minute workshop to assist us in becoming better teachers. Around eight in the morning, I typically get out of bed, get ready, get a coffee, and begin planning my lessons. I instruct two conversation classes and one class for young learners. The young learners’ style is the most difficult to prepare; it takes me approximately an hour or two. Considering how easily those children become bored, you must have many activities ready. And it would be best if you always kept them occupied.
I get up at 8 am, start lesson planning at 9:30 am, print everything I need at noon, eat lunch at 1 pm, and get to work at 3:30 pm, to put it briefly. We always go out to eat after school with other instructors before returning home around ten o’clock. It was only the first week of classes, so lesson preparation should go more quickly in the coming days. As a result, I should be able to swim in the morning.
Being able to teach in Cambodia is one of my favourite things to do. They, indeed are incredible. I enjoy going to class so that I may talk to them. They are excited and eager to share some facets of their culture with me. Even though I am the teacher, they also teach me so much!
After my first week, I polled my students to find out what they liked and disliked about the class. I was hoping for some input to help them have a more enjoyable and engaging time in class. They told me that the course was fantastic and that they loved how I taught. I was thrilled because of how lovely and kind they were in stating it. One of my kids also asked me, “Teacher, why are you so cute?” This was also an adorable and amusing moment!
About nine teachers make up our group, and we frequently work together. For instance, we visited the province of Kampot to see one of the NGO’s initiatives and spent three nights in Siem Reap during the water festival. On Fridays, though, we always visit a pub, and we like to try new things on our days off. I attended a culinary festival, an aerial yoga class, a singing bowl yoga class, a bike tour, the Pétanque World Championship, etc. There is a ton of tremendous do.
I want to spend some time in Laos when my internship ends in January. Potentially secure another teaching position in South America after that—possibly in Brazil. I don’t intend to be a teacher forever. But I enjoy that I can teach anytime I feel like going anywhere. It’s similar to a joker card.
I would advise aspiring TEFL instructors to go for it! You won’t ever look back; I guarantee it. You may have never had such pleasant students if you are a skilled instructor. Becoming a teacher for the first time will force you to leave your comfort zone and teach you a great deal about life. You will learn many abilities that you can apply in everything you do after teaching, even if you don’t want to do it forever. The other educators I work with range in age from 22, 23, 27, 32, 45, 47, 57, and 60. It’s for everyone; it’s not just for kids. Some teachers have been travelling for pretty much all their lives, but two of them have never travelled before, and Cambodia is their first country!