A Tale of Two Teachers

by Janet Lucas & John Crump
Posted on 1st February 2008

Teaching on a Gap Year? (Janet Lucas)

One of the ways in which gap year students can make the most of their year is through teaching English at home or overseas. In the following account, 19-year-old Amy describes her experience:

"As I started to organise and plan for my gap year, one of the elders at my church mentioned doing a TESOL course and then using this to teach in Zambia. I prayed about this, God provided the money and I ended up on the TESOL Certificate course at International Training Network, Bournemouth.

During these challenging five weeks I found learning about the methodology of teaching fascinating, and I surprised myself in thoroughly enjoying the teaching practice!

Each Friday, there would be sessions on mission training in which we learnt how teaching English can be used to really serve people. We would also spend time each morning praying for the International Training Network course graduates teaching all over the world. This gave me an exciting glimpse of how the skill is used world-wide in mission.

"I achieved more than I ever thought I could have"

I found that the course prepared me more than I thought a five week course ever could, not only for the teaching itself but for the hard work I was to face out in Zambia. One week after the course had finished I was in Zambia and actually teaching, I taught a class of twenty ladies from the local village English and started a writing class for those who couldn't write. I achieved more than I ever thought I could have and at the end of my five months the ladies were given an exam and all passed with an average of 67%.

The TESOL course has already proven useful outside of my gap year as after returning from Zambia I changed my degree course to English Language Teaching and Linguistics so that I can really develop my skill and hopefully use it wherever God calls me in the future."

At International Training Network we specialise in training Christians to teach English, and we have trained a number of young people in preparation for their gap year trips. For those who want a first step in learning to teach English, International Training Network provides an online training course. We find, however, that many of our gap year students prefer to take the full 5-week face-to-face training course which leads to the internationally recognised Trinity College London level 4 Certificate in TESOL. This certificate opens doors to countries and teaching situations worldwide and, as Amy found, the course gives a thorough grounding, building the confidence and teaching skills that these gap year students will need to call upon when they are overseas.

Teaching after Retirement? (John Crump)

"most had never been to a Third World country before"

Are you a retired or semi-retired Christian teacher, feeling bored and not knowing what to do? Then SVN could be the answer for you!

Founded in 1996 by John Hallett, the organisation seeks to link volunteers with educational projects not only in the UK but around the world. Since the founding date, the organisation has completed over 80 projects in 30 plus countries and still the requests keep coming in!

SVN is made up of and run by volunteers. Out of the 155+ on the present register, most had never been to a Third World country before they completed their first project, but they all took that step of faith and everyone will say that they were fulfilled in being able to use their life long skills and expertise, and richer for the experience.

SVN volunteers do not usually go out to teach, but mostly carry out development work amongst teachers in the schools. This can be anything from the starting or developing the curriculum, whole-school appraisal, policy writing, heads & governors training, TEFL, Special Needs and many other things.

Volunteers usually go out in teams of 2-4, though this is governed by the need, and the length of time spent at a project is usually between 2-4 weeks. There will always be a team leader who will either have been to that country or is well travelled. Every effort is made to ensure that the project is 'safe' and orientation and briefing is given prior to every trip.

To maximise the use of time, a strong plan of action is drawn up before a team goes so that the main focus of the visit is known and can be prepared for. Of course there will always be other items to work at when a team arrives!

SVN has worked in all kinds of schools and colleges, including non-Christian or schools of other faiths, and whilst not overtly engaging in promoting the Christian faith, there is a Christian element to every team and this is explained to the hosts prior to departure.

Janet Lucas was the Training Director of International Training Network.

John Crump was the Executive Director of the Senior Volunteer Network. If you would like more info about SVN, visit their website at www.svnet.org