: Darren Bigelow
: UC San Diego Extension, TEFL and International Programs
: Teaching English as a Foreign Language
, Teaching English to Young Learners
, most subjects related to Teaching English as a Second Language
Darren Bigelow headed to Japan right out of college and took up teaching English to, as he puts it in his Amazon author profile
“support my ‘habit’ of aikido.” But along the way, he fell in love with teaching. Though he returned to the U.S. — after studying art in New Zealand — he recommends that anyone interested in entering the TEFL field should spend some time abroad where they can be both teacher and learner.
Why did you choose this career field?
I originally went to Japan for a year of teaching. However, I enjoyed the experience so much I decided to extend my stay another 11 years. When I was younger, I was often bored in class. Then one day my fifth grade teacher had the students make movies — I loved that assignment! I realized that school could be fun as well as educational. I try to make my lessons the same way.
What do most enjoy about your job?
I like meeting new people from all over the world and hearing about their culture, lifestyle and experiences from their homeland. Even though I am a teacher, I feel I have learned so much from my students.
What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the field?
Go abroad. All you need is a bachelor’s degree and TEFL
teaching certificate in most places. You’ll have a fantastic time overseas, learn a lot about teaching and enrich your pocketbook.
How is your field changing? What new skills do people need to stay current?
I use a lot of technology in class these days. I didn’t even have a computer or access to the internet when I started teaching back in the early ’90s. I utilize programs like Schoology, which allow me to upload videos, PowerPoint, photographs and lessons. I also let my students use their cellphones from time to time to access websites designed to enhance their reading, vocabulary and listening skills.
What do you like most about working for Extension?
Extension and the English Language Institute
afford me a lot of freedom when teaching. We can use set materials, or create our own curriculum for lessons. We also have some of the most experienced instructors and staff in San Diego, so if you need ideas for teaching or have a question, you know where to go. In addition, I love the location — I can walk to work in 15 minutes and Extension is just minutes from the beach.
Learn more about the Teaching English as a Foreign Language program on our website, along with discovering the rich array of courses and programs we offer quarterly.