Back to work

I try to keep this blog regularly updated, but there was a good reason for the distinct lack of activity on this website in the past few weeks: I took a short break from TEFL. Right after my last lesson of the year in the first half of December, I travelled to Europe and spent an eventful month there. The most important part of the trip was seeing my family again after a very long time on another continent, and I hope I won’t need to wait so long for my next visit. In addition, it was nice to go to some amazing places in the Czech Republic and Spain.

Prague

I have to say that it’s important to unwind from time to time. It was very pleasant to get away from teaching English classes and my own professional development for a while, especially after the previous two crazy years. I didn’t have much time to follow what was happening in the ELT world, but that’s fine. The blog managed to survive without my intervention as well, and I’m very happy to see that there are readers accessing old posts through search engines. It also seems that spammers never go on holiday because I found some annoying messages that slipped through the WordPress filter.

Another reason for my radio silence was the fact that I spent three weeks trying to get my Colombian resident visa. Providing live updates related to the process would have been entertaining for the audience, but I didn’t want to harm my chances of obtaining the residency. To be honest, it was quite a stressful period with a few sleepless nights. Fortunately, I was granted the visa, so everything turned out to be fine. It was a big deal for me because I’m pretty sure that if my application had been rejected, I would be looking for work in another country right now.

Barcelona

Did I consider staying in Europe and not coming back? Not really. I’m happy to be in Colombia and still feel that I can achieve my career goals here. My residency gives me more flexibility in case of interesting offers from abroad, but for now I plan to focus on having a career in ELT here. In practical terms, it means putting my Delta to a good use, and that’s what I’m going to focus on this year.

Of course, COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. I was supposed to attend an intensive training course for teachers right after returning to Colombia, but the sessions were postponed because of the virus, which threw a spanner into the works in terms of my work schedule. It’s far from ideal, but that’s something we have to live with now.

I finally taught my first post-holiday lesson yesterday, which made me feel great. It reminded me of my first few lessons on the CELTA course, when I quickly realised how much I love teaching English. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of talking to students because each of them brings their unique personality to the class. Having advanced qualifications and knowing how to use the latest technology can be very helpful, but the main principles of teaching aren’t that complicated: The students should have a good time in your lessons while learning English in a meaningful way. I can’t wait for the next class!

Blog anniversary

The TEFL in Colombia blog was launched exactly a year ago when I published the post Everybody wants to live in Medellín and shared the link on my social media profiles. Let’s take a look at what has happened since then.

Blog anniversary

Well, the most important thing I have learned is that I love blogging. You are reading the 49th article on this website, which is considerably more than I expected to write. I guess my background in journalism comes in handy, but it remains to be seen whether I can keep publishing new posts almost every week. In addition to writing articles, I think one of the most enjoyable aspects of blogging is interacting with other ELT professionals on social media because there is an amazing online community of people with plenty of inspirational ideas. I also follow a lot of blogs, which motivates me to write my own posts.

I originally planned to write mainly about Colombia and my experiences here, but most of my posts have been about my professional development. I finally became a Delta-qualified teacher last month, and I also took the Train the Trainer course. It was all quite demanding, so I think it’s time to take a break from studying, which means that my posts are going to deal with slightly different topics in the near future.

How many views does the blog receive? Some days are more successful than others. While the highest number of views has been 195, on other occasions the blog is lucky to get viewed 20 times a day. I occasionally share a link to one of my posts in some Facebook groups for teachers, which leads to a significant increase in views, but I still don’t feel fully comfortable with this form of self-promotion. I prefer seeing my posts shared by other people because it means I have written a text someone else considers useful. Thank you to everybody who has done that!

Five most viewed posts:
The importance of going beyond CELTA
Tips for passing Delta Module Two
Six ELT blogs worth following
ELT Concourse is a priceless resource
No Spanish in the classroom?

If you are a new reader, I invite you to go through the blog’s archives and see if you find something interesting there. You can access all articles from the main menu, which comprises the following post categories: Colombia, Teaching, Professional development, Interviews, Visa.

An interesting effect of having a blog is getting opportunities to express your opinions on other platforms. I delivered a webinar about blogging and social media at an online conference, and that’s something I probably need to start doing more frequently. I was also approached by Silvina Mascitti to talk about my TEFL experience for her magazine article featuring several teachers living abroad. Sandy Millin asked me to join in with the Delta conversations series on her blog, which made me very happy because I count her website as one of the original inspirations for starting my own blog.

What plans do I have for my second year of blogging? I actually have a few concrete ideas about what I would like to achieve in ELT. It will probably take a couple of years for me to reach the goals, but I’m now pretty sure that I can have a long-term career in this industry. I will continue documenting my journey here, and I hope that some teachers find the content helpful. In addition, I plan to publish more interviews with professionals working in a variety of teaching contexts so that this blog offers more than just my perspective.

At the end of this post I’d like to say that I really appreciate your interest in reading my thoughts. As always, if you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to get in touch.