Leon, Nicaragua Teaching English Q&A With Kaitlin Emmons

Leon, Nicaragua Teaching Q&A With Kaitlin Emmons 


ITAN Class Of JAN 15



What is your citizenship?    

United Stateskaitlin-teaching-english-in-bali


What city and state are you from?

Mattapoisett, Massachusetts


How old are you?

26 years old


What is your education level and background?

I am a University Graduate with Bachelor degrees in Political Science and Studio Art.


Have you traveled abroad in the past?



If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?

In the past I have traveled to Guatemala, Botswana and Zimbabwe. I studied abroad, volunteered and participated in an internship in Tanzania and South Africa and completed my TEFL certification in Nicaragua. I taught English for 10 months in Bali, Indonesia before traveling to Perth, Brisbane, and Cairns, Australia.


If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?

I studied abroad at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa


What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?

After my first trip to Tanzania I knew I wanted to work abroad, specifically with children. My future was determined all at once when a five year old was teaching me how to count in Swahili. It was in this moment I experienced the magical power of teaching, human interaction and education – how it can transcend all social constructions and cultural barriers, and open up a world of opportunity and growth. I knew right then that I wanted to explore the light of the world through this medium.


What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?

I was worried about being away for an entire year, nervous to run my own classroom and apprehensive about being so far away from home.


What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?

My friends and family have always been nervous, but supportive during my travels abroad. They have come to realize that I am determined to pursue teaching abroad and have given up, for the most part, trying to talk me into staying home.


TEFL CLASS INFORMATION Nicaragua TEFL Graduate Kaitlin

Which TEFL certification course did you take?

I took the TEFL Certification course in Leon, Nicaragua.


Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy Nicaragua?

I greatly enjoyed volunteer teaching abroad and I decided to get TEFL certified to take my teaching experiences to the next level.

I chose International TEFL Academy because of the tremendous amount of support and advice I received during the first stages of planning my trip. I spoke with my advisor on the phone several times and she was extremely relatable and understanding. She really made the process fun and exciting.


I chose International TEFL Academy because of the tremendous amount of support and advice I received during the first stages of planning my trip. I spoke with my advisor on the phone several times and she was extremely relatable and understanding. She really made the process fun and exciting.


How did you like the course?

I really enjoyed the intensity and demand of the course. The instructors offered incredible support where I felt comfortable enough to make mistakes and take risks. It was stimulating, learning so much new content everyday, and I finished the course feeling extremely proud and accomplished.


Ometepe Island Nicaragua

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?

My TEFL training helped immensely during my position as an ESL Teacher. I utilized the majority of content I learned during my TEFL course. From complex grammatical concepts to classroom management techniques and interactive approaches to present content, the TEFL training I received in Nicaragua was invaluable!



Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?

I taught English in Bali, Indonesia. I was applying to jobs in Taiwan and came across a job opening in Bali, as a devout sun worshipping beach lover I felt compelled to submit an application. I had never been to Southeast Asia before and when I got the job offer I couldn’t refuse.



How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?

I lived in Bali for ten months.


What school, company, or program are you working for?

I worked for EF English First.


How did you get your work visa? If you didn’t get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.

I was promised a work permit within the first two to three months of my contract, which was never produced during my entire time in Bali. Living in Bali without a work permit was not the end of the world but did pose several logistical complications that could have been prevented. Without a work permit you cannot open a local bank account and it is virtually impossible to transfer money to an American bank account. (Wiring money is very expensive.) I made the mistake of not getting an International Drivers Permit before arriving in Bali and was unable to get an IDP in country without a work permit.kaitlin-teaching-young-adults-in-bali


Tell us about your English teaching job!

I taught three to four 80-minute classes per day and worked from 1pm-9pm Monday through Friday. Classes were divided up into age range and ability. I had classes of students that were four to five years old, six to ten years old, eleven to fifteen years old and sixteen years old to adults of ability levels that ranged from basic beginner to near fluent. It was an amazing opportunity where I had a lot of autonomy over how material was presented and how my classes were run. The workweek was perfectly laid back with weekends off to explore the beautiful paradise we called home.


How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?

The company I worked for helped me find accommodation initially then I found subsequent flats through friends. Accommodation options in Bali range from extremely basic rooms all the way to luxury villas with private pools and everything in between. I lived comfortably in a building with five apartments. My place was ten minutes from work and less than five minutes from the beach!


COUNTRY INFORMATION – FUN!uluwatu-fire-dance-bali-indonesia

Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, and travel opportunities in your country:

Bali is an extraordinarily unique little island where culture and spirituality collide head on with the debauchery of adventurous party going tourists. While Balinese culture is very conservative and reserved you might not realize it unless you manage to pull yourself out of the magnetic grip of the Kuta madness and explore other parts of the island.

There are several options for public transportation that include proper taxis, ojeks (motorbikes for hire), hiring a driver, renting a car or renting or buying your own motorbike. A massive expat community infests the majority of the southern part of the island that ranges from backpacking surfer hipsters to retired Australians, families on vacation, and full time resident business partners. There is a wide spectrum of food options that range from delicious Indonesian cuisines to upscale European restaurants and fresh organic vegetarian cafes.

There are unbelievable travel opportunities when living on the island of Bali. Snorkeling adventures in Menjangan Island, Lovina and Amed, waterfall and rice terrace excursions and benders on the Gili Islands made up just a few of the weekend activities we opted for. It is also very easy to organize trips to other islands throughout Indonesia from Bali (when the airport isn’t closed due to volcanic eruptions). There are several Balinese holidays throughout the year, which allow for plenty of exciting journeys.



What are your monthly expenses?

Monthly expenses included rent, motorbike payment, petrol, food, drinks and sometimes bribes for the police when pulled over without my international driver’s license.


How would you describe your standard of living?

I maintained a very comfortable standard of living while working in Bali. It was not an all inclusive resort experience in Nusa Dua but we were creative with our spending and were able to go on several exciting weekend excursions.


In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?

In order to live comfortably, enjoy weekend adventures and casual nights out I would recommend earning between 8.5 million – 10 million rupiah per month ($650 – $765 USD in October 2016.) depending on how good you are with your money. It is extremely easy to live very cheap in Bali but it is just as easy to splash out on the rampant temptations of beach chairs, western dishes and trendy surf shops.kuta-neighborhood-indonesia



What advice would you give someone planning on considering teaching abroad?

Invest time in familiarizing yourself with the work permits and visas in the country you plan on living and working in. Do not be afraid to ask direct questions about practical consequences of not being able to get a proper work visa and talk to teachers currently working at the company before hand. Take the time to get to know your students, their stories, and ask them for advice on must see destinations in their country. Be patient when working abroad as businesses operate differently but know when to stand up for yourself and when to be proactive.


kaitlin-teaching-young-adults-in-baliWould you recommend teaching in your country?

It comes down to how much support you require when living abroad. In order to teach in Bali you need to be able to fend for yourself and be very self-sufficient. I would recommend looking at opportunities with international schools where the pay is higher and the promise of a work permit may be more realistic. Overall, Bali is an absolutely stunning island with beautiful culture, loving people and endless opportunity for adventure.



Other articles written by Kaitlin about her experiences living abroad:

Staff article about teaching English to children in Nicaragua.




International TEFL Academy Nicaragua BBB Business Review