Teaching Traveling: Welcome to James Heywood, co-founder of an online ESL lesson business called Off2Class, and long time Teacher-Traveler.
James, tell us about your background.
James: I’m a 44-year-old ESL teacher from Australia. I studied Romance languages, literature and linguistics… but after university I didn’t settle well into a corporate job. I moved between different industries, working in hospitality, publishing and finance until I started teaching ESL at the end of 2006. I spent five of the following seven years in Istanbul, teaching at language institutes, a private Turkish school and mostly supplementing my income by private tuition. By January 2013 I was teaching exclusively online on a full time basis, mostly to a mix of Turkish young learners and adults.
Recently I launched a project called Off2Class, which releases ESL lesson plans I developed for my own online business to other ESL teachers. I want to empower other teacher-travellers to use my lesson plans, and reduce their lesson preparation time, as they develop their own independent ESL businesses.
TT: Love it! Tell us more about your travels.
J: I have had the privilege to travel extensively throughout South East Asia and the Indian continent. I started in Bangkok and very slowly worked my way across to India and Pakistan. I had been to India twice previously but this time I moved much more slowly. Pakistan was a highlight for me, especially the north of the country. A landscape so spectacularly different from anything I had previously seen. I accepted a job to teach at a very small school in the Gilgit region, however I changed my mind and moved on, as traveling was still foremost in my mind.
Several months later I crossed from Iran into Turkey and, after spending a couple of days in Istanbul, I decided that this is where I wanted to settle. My initial memories of that enchanting metropolis are still with me, years after I naturally had to deal with the realities of living in such a busy and chaotic agglomeration. Istanbul became home for three years… Then I left, and was back two years later!
TT: Wow! How did you find these travel opportunities?