TEFL in Rio de Janeiro: Notes From the Field Interview with Bridge IDELT Graduate Thomas Stertz

So you have decided that you want to find a TEFL job in South America, but you are not quite sure which certification course to take to make this happen. Here is an interview with Thomas Stertz, explaining how the Bridge IDELT course helped him reach his goal of teaching English as a foreign language in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

What made you want to take the IDELT course?

For me, the IDELT course looked like a good opportunity to make a living in Brazil.  It is not easy to find someone who has a program already worked out so well for you in advance.

Why Rio?

I had been to Rio twice before on vacation and loved it. The city is beautiful, energetic and the economy is doing great!

Describe your experience taking this course.

The course was probably more difficult for me than most students.  It had been many years since I had studied English formally in college and being a business major, grammar was something I had seldom given a second thought.  I had also never been a teacher.

What 5 activities/tasks within the course were the most helpful/enjoyable?

The classes are held in a very nice school in central Rio.  Just getting to and from school was a challenge the first week and being in a country that speaks another language, even getting lunch was a new experience.  The school, teachers and the others students made adjusting to a new city an enjoyable adventure.

Ok, top 5 activities:

  1. Being taught how to ride the subway by myself without understanding Portuguese.
  2. Watching as fellow students became more comfortable and better at teaching actual students in small classes.
  3. Teaching students myself and watching as they really understood and could use English from my lessons.
  4. The day I turned in my final papers at school I already had a paying student lined up for lessons and
  5. Hearing Vera, the program trainer, tell me I was going to be a great teacher and knowing she really meant it.

How did the trainers help you most?

Besides giving us the basics on actually how to teach, they had to teach me first about grammar.  If I had ever learned some of those lessons, I had certainly forgotten them years ago.  The most helpful for me though, was the encouragement and the real caring of Vera, Fernando, Veronica and the rest of the staff.  They take you in as one of their own and help with whatever you need whether it is related to classes, teaching or just helping to set up your phone.

How did the IDELT help prepare you for teaching ESL?
The program and the people of the BridgeBrazil school know exactly what they are doing and what their students need to succeed in teaching English.  Follow the program and it works – as long as you do.

To what extent did the course meet your expectations?
The people of Bridge and Bridge Brazil far exceeded my expectations.  This is not a “buy a diploma and you are on your own” program.  They had interviews set up for me and helped me find students so I could survive on my own.  That is something very rare to find and these people are a true treasure.  I still stop by the school occasionally to see a smiling face, get a free cup of coffee and meet the new class of teachers.

What advice would you give a friend who was about to do the course?

It’s fabulous.  Do it now!

Are you teaching abroad now?
Yes, I am teaching business English in Rio de Janeiro and I love it.  I have many very smart, hard working students with major companies who just need help with their English.