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Tuesday, February 07, 2023
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UW graduate teaches English abroad

The International TEFL Academy (ITA) aims to offer a solution to students’ question of what comes next — through the opportunity to teach English abroad.

“I knew after leaving college I wanted a job that allowed me to work with people of various backgrounds, and I also wanted a job that allowed me to travel,” said Ilsa Strough, a 2020 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh graduate. “I came across getting certified to teach English abroad, and I decided to do it because it sounded like exactly what I was looking for.”

Founded in 2010, the ITA prides itself on Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). The ITA offers a variety of TEFL jobs in over 80 countries. Strough chose South Korea as her teaching destination and moved in November of last year.

“The process of settling into Korea was stressful,” Strough said. “Once I arrived in Korea I had to quarantine, then I had to do a health check, go to the immigration office, start work and go to the bank. It all was overwhelming and stressful.”

Strough went on to explain that classes started shortly after the initial move-in.

“I had no prior teaching experience outside of my 20 hours I did to receive my ITA TEFL certification. I had a week of training at my job and in that week I had to learn everything about teaching,” Strough explained. “It was a lot of information, and I know I made mistakes, but I think it all made me a better teacher.”

Strough taught English at a hagwon, a Korean private school. At the school, students came to learn English after spending their day at public school. 

“My working hours are 1:45 to 9 p.m. with only about five of those hours being teaching,” Strough said. “My hagwon is very academic, so we teach students how to write five paragraph essays, we focus on reading, listening, etc. After work, I typically head home, relax and get ready to do it all again the next day.”

The ITA offers opportunities to teach English abroad to students not long after graduation. Strough graduated in May 2020 and decided to get certified through ITA about a year later. However, Strough made it clear that teaching abroad is not for everyone.

“Teaching abroad is a full time job, and the amazing travel opportunities are just a bonus on the weekends or on time off,” Strough emphasized. “The school and the students deserve 100% of you, so if you have no interest in teaching or just want to move abroad to travel, teaching English abroad is not for you.”

ITA, along with a host of other TEFL schools, is currently accepting applications.

“It is scary, there are so many unknowns, you are picking up your entire life to move abroad and experience something completely new,” Strough said. “It is an experience you will never forget. You have a chance to fully immerse yourself in another country and culture, and you will be so thankful you took the chance and did it.”

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For students not graduating soon, UW-Madison’s study abroad program offers opportunities in 65 countries. Students interested in teaching English abroad can view opportunities at internationalteflacademy.com.

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