After taking some time off from working as a writer and editor, Jill Conversano was looking to get back into the workforce. “It would have been easy to drop back into writing and editing, but I wanted to do something different,” she said.
Hoping to live and teach overseas, she found our TESOL program through a Google search. It offered the in-class experience she was looking for. Jill attended our January 2017 Open House and began the program that August.
Throughout the TESOL program, Jill found the culture portion the most enjoyable. “Cultural awareness and sensitivity is paramount if you want to be an ESL teacher,” she said. She discovered exploring different cultures was important with so many students being from different countries. Receiving information about others helped to expose them to unique cultures that they otherwise would not have been able to learn about.
“I was surprised at how we all bonded. Everyone was supportive and we enjoyed classes together,” Jill said.
A part of the program structure is to observe an ESL class, so Jill went to Gwinnett Technical College to complete the assignment. This is where she first learned of a job opening. In November 2017, she started the interview process and received an offer a month later.
In January 2018, Jill began her position as an Adjunct ESL/Literacy Instructor for GTC’s Adult Education Department. She also works alongside with Liz Bigler, creator of Bigler ESL, teaching Japanese students English in North Fulton County.
The most rewarding aspect of teaching for Jill is the students themselves. Being in a classroom with students from numerous countries and seeing them all work together toward a common goal allows her to see the importance of inclusiveness in America.
“They are so inspiring with their hopes and dreams for using English – better jobs, talking with their children’s teachers and just being able to complete day-to-day activities and be a part of society,” she said.
Her preferred method of teaching is conversational. The more the students are speaking English, she believes the more they will feel comfortable and retain the knowledge.
Filling up four hours of classroom time has been a challenge that Jill has overcome. Aside from having a lesson plan prepared, she makes sure to bring worksheets, plans discussions and games. The “Teaching Methods” section of the TESOL program helped her to learn how to have an interactive classroom.
Her current position is helping her prepare for a career overseas. Jill’s husband is applying for dual citizenship in Italy, where his paternal grandparents are from and he lived during his high school years. Ultimately living there is their main goal. She wants to apply what she learned in the program and bring her experience with her.
The best advice she can give to those interested in teaching English as a second language overseas is to be aware of the other countries’ rules and regulations. She advises to do lots of research and look for resources such as “Teaching English Abroad,” a book by Susan Griffith.
“But most importantly, have fun!” Jill said. “Your knowledge of English will help someone in so many ways and it will give you a more expansive view of the world.”