While the stereotypical TEFL teacher is just out of college, there are actually many people that come to TEFL later in life. As an example, we asked a recent graduate of ours, George Mandeville, to give us a brief history of the career path that eventually led him to TEFL. The following has been edited with permission.

My professional career started at the telephone company when I was 19. I was paid $121.50 per week for collecting bad bills, conducting directory checks (making sure people were who they said they were, background, documentation etc.), and verifying the number of phones being paid for. I was also responsible for backing up others when they were out of the office, so I was trained and substituted for the teller, order writers, service representatives and supervisors.

In 1973 I was drafted and served my country for two years as a Military Policeman in West Berlin. After returning to the US, I spent over 30 years in various positions with the telephone company, including sales and implementation, customer service management and project management. After I retired in 2001, I started working as a motorcycle escort for funerals, which I do presently.

My varied work experience prepared me for relating to people of different ages, cultures and backgrounds. I have extensive experience in all types of communication and enjoy interacting with others.

I have taught ESL and GED preparation for many years, as a volunteer with programs in Minnesota and Colorado. I currently volunteer tutor at Bridge in Denver as a substitute, as well as tutoring reading and writing to 3rd and 4th grades at Fort Logan Elementary school in Sheridan, Colorado. I have served as an intake coordinator as well as on the board of directors of different organizations.

I chose (to take the) CELTA because of the reputation of Cambridge University, as well as the intensive, “hands on” approach utilized by CELTA. No online course could give one the experience and skills offered by the four week ESL boot camp that CELTA was (and I have been to basic training); CELTA was that hard! The instructors are very skilled, fair yet detail oriented.

My plans are to teach overseas with my friend Francha, who has an MA in ESL and is a retired DPS (Denver Public Schools) ESL teacher who has extensive teaching experience in Japan and China. Our first choice is someplace close to Tokyo (not right in the city). She is applying for jobs and interviewing next week in Japan. If that does not work, we will try someplace else.

If you think the CELTA might be right for you, you can learn more on our website or contact a program advisor for additional information.