CIEE TEFL Alumni Spotlight: Gregory Gaylor

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Greetings! My name is Gregory Gaylor. I received my Bachelor of Science in Japanese, German, and International Business from Georgetown University in Washington DC, and I currently reside in Houston, Texas, United States.

1. What inspired you to get TEFL certified?

Having been an English as a Second/Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) teacher for the past six years, I had always known about TEFL certification and how possessing such a highly regarded certificate would assist me in being able to better service my students by providing a wealth of new strategies, techniques, and methodologies related to the learning and teaching of the English language. I finally decided to officially proceed with certification based on several reasons, such as my passion for teaching, an interest in travel, enhanced global opportunities, personal and professional development, cultural exchange, and a sense of purpose and achievement in the field of languages and linguistics.

2. What have you found most fulfilling about teaching English? 

There have been numerous, wonderfully beautiful and poignant things I have both discovered and encountered while teaching English. A few that immediately come to mind and have proven to be the most fulfilling are the impact I have on my students and the successes they will have in their lives, cultural exchange and building relationships with an extremely diverse array of people, inspiring lifelong learning in others, and the ability to creatively express myself. 

3. What was the biggest challenge you faced as an EFL teacher? How did you overcome that challenge?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced as an ESL/EFL teacher has been how to effectively address and accommodate the diverse needs and proficiency levels of the students in my classrooms. I have been able to overcome these difficulties by providing a variety of materials, activities, and assessments to cater to different needs; offering personalized feedback to students based on their strengths and weaknesses; encouraging self-assessment and reflection to help students identify areas for improvement; fostering a collaborative learning environment where students can work together and learn from each other; allowing for flexible lesson plans; and establishing a supportive and low affective filtered classroom environment where students feel comfortable fully expressing themselves.  

4. What was the most important thing you learned in your CIEE TEFL course or while you were teaching abroad?

Having worked as an ESL/EFL teacher for the past six years at a language magnet high school in the most diverse city in the United States, I had already acquired more than a few techniques, strategies and methodologies throughout my tenure – all of which had proven to be successful to and for my students. However, one of the most important things I learned in my CIEE TEFL course was how to more efficiently assess students' progress, provide constructive feedback, and adapt my teaching methods based on these assessment results. These have been very important for me when fostering continuous improvement for both my students and myself. 

5. What advice would you offer to future CIEE TEFL and Teach Abroad participants?

There are many pieces of advice I would offer to future CIEE TEFL participants, but what immediately comes to mind is: understand who the students in your classes are, embrace cultural sensitivity, build strong relationships, wisely use technology, plan engaging lessons, stay patient and positive, and most importantly, BE FLEXIBLE as every situation you find yourself in will be different.

Thanks Greg for sharing your experience as a CIEE TEFL student and teacher!

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