Giving Back in ACK

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Hey everyone! My name is Ellen and I am a member of CIEE’s TEFL team here in Portland, Maine. After receiving my degree in Elementary Education from Elon University, I immediately headed to Tanzania to volunteer and teach. Fast forward a few years, and here I am, working at CIEE and getting to share my love of teaching and travel with incredible people every day. I’d like to tell you a little bit about what a special community is doing through TEFL...

Nantucket is a place full of memories for me. I grew up visiting Nantucket almost every year as a kid, and now as an adult, it is a weekend trip spent with my mother and sister that I look forward to every summer. A tiny, isolated island off the coast of Massachusetts, Nantucket is known for being an exclusive summer destination with its cobblestoned streets, beautiful beaches, and high-end boutiques.

Although I’ve  spent so much time on the island, hearing CIEE TEFL was partnering with Nantucket Community School was a complete surprise. “Who needs to learn English over there?” I thought to myself. Turns out, a lot of people.

In recent years there has been an influx of immigrant families flocking to Nantucket seeking jobs. Over 50 percent of the students in Nantucket schools are English Language Learners and there are currently twelve identified languages spoken in the public school system. For every child in the schools who is struggling with English, there is likely a mother, father, or grandparent at home whose language skills are even less developed.

So, this is where CIEE’s TEFL program comes in! Our team was lucky enough to be approached by the Nantucket Community School- a community organization that offers educational and enrichment activities to Nantucket islanders of all ages. NCS was awarded a grant that allowed them to enroll 8 adults from the island in our 150-hour online TEFL course. These community members come from all walks of life, some are ESL learners themselves. They see getting TEFL certified as a way to give back to the community and enrich the lives of others. Silvia, a native Bulgarian who is taking the course said “We all want to be able to give back and help our community. It is a lot of work but it feels so good when you know you can make a difference in someone’s life. Learning English is very beneficial to many language learners and gives them an opportunity to improve their lives.” How amazing is that?! I love that Silvia understands the power of the English language and the opportunities that it can provide an individual.

This may be one of my favorite TEFL stories yet. I know that getting certified and traveling to a new and exotic country is appealing. Heck, I did it right after college! But there is something so incredible about people using their TEFL skills in their own communities. Knowledge is power, and our teachers are sharing that power with people in their own neighborhoods.

So whether you’re a TEFL alum or someone thinking about getting TEFL certified- I hope that the Nantucket Community School gives you something to think about. My TEFL course starts on October 30th and I’m already starting to daydream about teaching my own ESL class in Portland…

Have questions about getting TEFL certified and/or teaching English as a foreign language? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at!