8 Lies That TEFL Providers Tell To Get Your Money

Summary – I have noticed that some TEFL provides say several things on their websites to sell their courses which aren’t 100% true. So this is my impartial and personal warning about what to be careful when choosing a course. With these same organisations and companies all claiming they are the best in the industry here are 8 white lies to look out for and be careful with.


Continue reading

How to TEFL without a TEFL (/CELTA)

Introduction – So you want a TEFL certificate and can’t afford it or you have one are looking for experience but your TEFL certificate is not accepted in your country of residence because it is not a CELTA, Trinity TESOL, etc. So how can you earn money in the TEFL world or build up experience for your C.V. (resumeé if you are American).
Here are 7 ways to get experience in the TEFL world without a recoginsed TEFL certificate:

Continue reading

My 10 Reasons Why Trainee Teachers Are Put Off Teaching

[This originally was a post on the StudentRoom forums]

Personally I have gone from wanting to teach PE in a Secondary School; to quitting QTS in my third year of my 4 year QTS teaching degree; to not wanting to not wanting to teach in a British Secondary ever again.
I will try and narrow it down to the top 10 reasons why I was turned off the profession. However I am sure I can list many more.

1 ~ Pupils who don’t want to learn and just misbehave – Yes there are a few who do want to learn and try, but from my experience a teacher is more of a policeman than a teacher.

2 ~ Too much box ticking – I understand the purpose of some of it but sometimes it just doesn’t work and in my opinion it is hindering than helping learning. For example in all lessons the teacher must display the learning objectives. That is fine for most subjects but it seemed fruitless when we as PE teachers have to take a whiteboard out on a field (especially when it rains). It involves effort and a risk analysis by itself. Besides most students either know them and don’t need to see them on the field or don’t care and won’t look at them anyway.

3 ~ Too much paperwork – As a trainee I calculated that for every hour I taught I did more one hour of paperwork. Once you had taken in planning, making & laminating resources, lesson evaluations, etc. My belief in paperwork is the same as getting to a place: If it takes you longer to travel there than the time you have there, then it isn’t worth the journey.

4 ~ Too much red tape – Not only are we limited to what we can do but also we have to remember to do so much more in fear of being sued. I thought my mentor was joking by getting me to tell my Year 7 pupils not to run into the wall… she wasn’t but with the sueing culture becoming more and more present in our schools it is also becoming more and more applicable.

5 ~ Pupils know the rules better than we do – They are badly behaved and know they can do what they like and even be violent as they know there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. My Mum worked as a TA in Yr6 and the number of times a child would not like a teacher and deliberately bump into them just to say; “You hit me! I am going to get you fired” was ridiculous. Not saying it always worked but the mentality was there.

6 ~ The ridiculous expectation on teachers – I know it has been said before but it is true. It seems now if a pupil fails an exam it is obviously the teacher’s fault even if the pupil has put in 0% effort and caused the teacher pain for a year. Also teachers are blamed by parents for their child’s behaviour, despite the fact the child came to the school like that in the first place and is even worse at home. On top of the fact that teachers apparently have 8 pairs of eyes as it is actually nearly impossible to watch 30+ kids all at the same time while answering a question at the other side of the classroom.

7 ~ The whole ‘you are the teacher, you deal with it’ approach – I know it is a tad repetitive of the point before but what I am referring to the lack of support some schools have. It is nearly like teachers are not allowed to ask for help. It seems the attittude regarding issues with behaviour management is; “Well you are the teacher you should be able to deal with it”.

8 ~ You have no time to think! – I don’t mean the teaching or even the paperwork (although that would be bad enough). On top of this you have meetings, INSETs, lunch duties, break time duties, clubs to run, detentions to give, marking, etc. For a PE teacher it is even more as some times matches and competitions are at the weekend. Some times there just isn’t enough time in the day. For a trainee it is even worse. I remember in my second year when my mentor gave me a lift home and as she dropped me off gave me a ridiculous list of things to do that evening and then finished with; “but make sure you rest and get some sleep”. I remember thinking; “well I am either going to get this all done or I will be able to sleep, but I don’t have time for both”.

9 ~ It is hard to keep up with the National Curriculum – I started my QTS degree in 2008, but the time I graduated in 2012 the National Curriculum had already changed. It seems so difficult to keep up with the changes and the changes in opinion about how to teach in general. Just look how many times the way that how addition has been taught in Primary School in just the last 20 years alone.

10 ~ The general work related things such as pay and holidays – I know teachers get long holidays but most teachers still work through a lot of that just to get ahead/ keep up. Plus it is useless if you want to go away or want to do something specific as you are given holiday you can’t chose your time off and you are restricted to the extortionate school holiday prices. This is on top of the low pay which most people have mentioned.

I am sorry this has been so long but I think most people who have ever stepped into a classroom can related to at least part of this.

I believe the issue is; we all go into teaching with this romantic and glossy-eyed image of teaching, where we can help and our students, who are egar to learn, while having the freedom to teach how we wish. While in reality the world of teaching is quite different.

Personally I feel since these experiences I have found the perfect teaching job for me. I now teach English abroad. I feel like a normal teacher with lesson plans, observations, and my lessons look just like any lesson in the UK. However, and I’m trying to rub it in, but… I have a maximum class size of 12. I have no other responsibilities and my students actually want to be there and want to learn.

Operation Christmas Child – Why you should be involved

This is how one shoe box, 1-2 hours and €10-€15 can change somebody’s life for ever.
The charity, The Samaritan’s Purse organise a collection and distribution of decorated shoe boxes filled with little essential items and cheap little toys to children all around the world; most of which have never received a present before in their life. This is a great project and I really hope more people can be involved in it here in Portugal too. Every year over 10,000,000 are sent a year, but less than 1,000 come from this country.

Introduction to Operation Christmas Child
This is a project which has been happening every Christmas in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zeland since 1991. It is run by a Christian charity called the Samaritan’s Purse.
Every year people fill a shoe box with small items and they take them to small very poor communities or communities that have been hurt by war and give them to children who literally have nothing.
For most they have never received a Christmas present in their life. The charity also brings any of relief they can for the community.
As it is a Christian organisation is also acts as a missionary project too.
This seems not too well known outside of the countries mentioned but it is a massive ordeal. They deliver over 10 million boxes every year. Currently a total of over 100 million children have received one of these presents over the past 24 years.
This video from the appeal in Canada this year sums it up well:

This one explains the history well too:

The Effect
I will keep this short as a picture is literally worth a thousand words. However if you see the videos of these children getting these presents I am sure it will make you cry. These are such simple gifts of pens, paper, toothbrushes, small cheap toys but they seem happier and more excited than most children in Europe would be about getting a new playstation or similar.
This 30 second video says it well about a boy getting a box in Angola

This is a video about boxes from Bedford, England going to Ukraine and Liberia

This is a particularly touching about a boy who received a box in the Phillipines

There are hundreds of videos about the stories of many people and countries who have received these boxes, just seach ‘Operation Christmas Child’ on YouTube.

How They Change Lives
It is not just how they make the children feel when they get them but also how it effects the rest of their lives. These are stories about adults who received a box in the early/mid 1990s and how it changed their lives. Some of which have been adopted by American and Candian charity workers.

How To Be Involved
The Portuguese involvement seems to be through the Anglican church and they seem to be collecting boxes this week. The deadline is 30th November.
This video shows you exactly what you need to do:

Personally it took me about 2 hours and managed to get everything in a Chinese shop. I wrapped and packed it front of the TV.
The boxes need to go to the Anglican church in Estoril. However I too am trying to get my 2 boxes there so please email me at and I will help it get to the right place.

12 Truths About Living in Lisbon – The effects the city has on the Expats there

Introduction – After living in Lisbon for a year and a half I have noticed that living in this city has several effects on those living here. Some are habits that you don’t notice you’ve picked up and other are things which are more general.
Please note – Many are general for living abroad as well as just for Lisbon. This post was influenced by a similar blog post I read recently. Also, note this was written from my own personal opinion and as a British perspective as I am British so might have a different comparrison and perspective to those from other countries.

Continue reading

Cycling at Cascais (Saturday 14th March 2015)

Introduction – Myself, my friend Amanda and a collegue Keiran went to Cascais and rented some bikes for the afternoon. We followed the coast road on a cycle path up towards Cabo de Rocha (the most western point in Europe), but we got no where near that point. We stopped a few times and finished at a little beach before turning back.
[Please Note – This is more a personal diary for myself than anything else]

Continue reading

Tips for Eating Out in Lisbon

Introduction – I posted this as a reply on a TripAdviser forum but as I wanted to repeat it thought it I would copy and paste it to here.
This is my personal tips of where to eat in Lisbon when visiting.

My personal advice is go for the traditional little restaurants. Yes, like someone said they aren’t flashy or up market but they are small restaurants often family run. They are friendly and food is always excellent. Especially the fish.

There is a street of great restaurants in Rua Santa Marta (just off Avenida de Liberdade, near Marquês do Pombal). You won’t spend more than €15 on 3 courses (including drinks).

[The other reason I love local restaurants is they become more personal and the staff never change so they remember you. My favourite one I visit at least once a week (and will mention later) they know me well and as soon as I sit down they tell me which of my favourites they have that day.]

Also 4 more tips:

Tip 1- Find the ‘Prato do Dia’. These are 3 course meals including a drink and coffee. There is one I know of in Rua Santa Marta called Restaurante Cordinho (I think, I can’t remember the name even though I go there at least once a week). You can see it from the Tivoli theatre in Avenida de Liberdade’. That ‘Prata do dia’ is €7.50. It is all day but as it is fresh, it some times is in limited stock, so some options might not be available in late evening.

The other in ‘Ruxa’ in Avenida Duque de Loulé, one of the roads coming of Marquês do Pombal. If you are coming from there it is about a 5 min walk, on the left just a little after Santander bank (also only 200m from Picoas metro station). I went there for the first time last week as it is literally 6 doors from where I live. The food was amazing. That ‘Prata do Dia’ was only €8, but only at lunch time.

Tip 2 – Take a translator. You will find a lot of restaurants only translate the most expensive dishes. I took a photo last week of a menu outside that demonstrated that perfectly. 2 pages in Portuguese and only half a page translated into English.

Tip 3 – Don’t buy a bottle of wine. I know for us it is normal and if you want a specific wine you might want to. However if you are just going for a hkuse wine, the majority of restaurants will also offer a ‘jarro’, meaning a jar. This can be a 1l or 500ml. Sometimes, you can even get 250/350ml too. Again, they might only offer the expensive bottles in the English translation. So check the Portuguese for ‘Jarro de Vinho Branco’/’Jarro de Vinho Tinto’ (‘branco’ being white and ‘tinto’ being red). If you look around to the local you see this is what they do they order these and share them. 2 of friends and I at our cheap restaurant used to order 1l Jarro de Vinho Tinto (which we also thought tasted better than the bottle we had tried too). We got 2&1/2 glasses each and came to a total of €3 (i.e. €1 each).

Tip 4 – Try Pastalarias. This is the name of the cafes/pastry shops with the long glass counters. They usually do lunch and dinner at a dirt cheap rate! Especially soup! Most pastelarias make a massive pot of homemade soup and sell bigs bowls of if for less than €1.50. It summed it up when a friend of mine visited and I took her one near my school and we had a bowl of soup each and a coffee. I went to pay and when I got back she asked how it was. I replied €3.60 and she commented; “That is amazing. Only €3.60 for coffee and a big bowl of lovely homemade soup, it would be twice that in the UK”; that is of course when I said, “No, I didn’t mean each. That was the total price for both us!” lol.

Oh, when I say Pastelarias I don’t mean any in Baixa. I have tried a few in that touristy area in middle of the city centre and it is such a rip off! They are all twice the price and the quality and service is no where as good as elsewhere. Try the ones in the other areas. For example off Avenida de Liberdade or Rato seemed to be a nice area for this. The exception though is the chain Paderia Portuguesa. That is worth it and a lot more like it. I always notice it is mainly locals who are in there. There is one not too far from the lift (Elevador de Santa Justa) and one opened in July next to the Post Office in Praça do Restauradores too. [Note – If you do go there you need to get a ticket at the door (Number 1, not 2). It is like a delicitesan (how ever you spell it) in the UK. I sometimes wonder it is to put off tourists as that is the only thing not put in English. I’ve often had to help out confused tourists there and I have seen a few give up completely as they don’t understand why they aren’t being served].

Another favourite are the all you can eat buffets. There are 2 which my friends and I like and go to often. There is a Brazillian buffet near Rossio train station on the road running parrallel to Rossio Square. This one has a cavery style for the meats plus vegetables, salads, pastas, rices, etc, oh and desserts. This one is €6.50-€8.50 (depending on the time of day you go). We usually get a jarro too (although more expensive) and in total about €12 or so. But seeing how we usually go for at least 3rds it feels like it is well spent.

Similarly there is Chinese all you can eat buffet literally next to the lift (Elevador de Santa Justa – the left hand side; i.e. opposite the side you queue). The quality is usually very good. There is plenty of choice and is only about €8.00. I went there last Sunday with 2 friends. We went up 4 times and shared 1L of Sangria. In total we paid €11.30 each.

Sorry this is so long. I have learnt a lot in my year so far that I have been here and love to share what I have learnt to help others. Personally I am not a big fan of cooking and as it is so cheap here I usually eat out 3-4 times a week at different places.

Christmas Day in Qatar

Introduction – As my parents now live in Doha, Qatar, we (as a family) spent the Christmas holidays in Qatar. It was strange compared to most Christmases; firstly it was sunny and 20 degrees C (although cold and windy where we went). Also we didn’t spend Christmas day at home but more like sightseeing.

Summary – On Christmas Day itself we opened our presents early in the morning. We got ready and left at about 10am. We drove through the desert to get to a fort and the ruins of an old settlement. Afterwards we went to ‘City Park’ (ironically still in the desert) to have a picnic with Christmas crackers. Then on to the ‘beach’ which was more like a bay for wildlife with lots of sand dunes. After we got home in the late afternoon Mum and Dad picked up the Christmas dinner which we had ordered from a local hotel. In the evening we just drank wine, ate and watched films.

Continue reading

2 days in Porto – Wonderful, Wet & with Wine

Summary – Me and my friend Amanda went away for the weekend to Porto. She had some friends she wanted to visit who were also doing part of their year abroad in Portugal too but in Porto rather than Lisbon. I also had a friend who I had been meaning to meet up with for ages! They also proved to be good tour guides.
We saw most of the town during the 2 days and also went to one of the wine cellars and wine tasting.

Continue reading