The TEFL Life: A TEFL blog

a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures

Travel Tuesday: sun, sweat and sand

As a TEFL teacher, one of my dreams has always been to teach for the British Council. Over the years I have applied for numerous jobs with them with no success. I don’t think I really understand their recruitment process, to be honest, because I definitely have the experience and qualifications and sometimes I don’t even make it to the interview stage.

Teaching in Doha

Anyway, last year I finally managed to get myself a BC position as a Young Learner specialist (which always makes me giggle – YLs are far from my favourite things and I definitely don’t consider myself an expert) and so I found myself in Doha, Qatar for 3 months. In summer.

The teaching itself was pretty chilled. Because it was summer holidays (and Ramadan for a month) we worked only 4 or 5 days a week, 3 to 4.5 hours a day. I taught a few classes of 10 year-olds (which was excruciating) and a couple of teen classes (which saved my sanity).

The only difficult thing about the teaching was the few cultural considerations I had to negotiate. With the very YLS, the boys and girls were in the same class but were not allowed to talk to each other (!), which made for some interesting game arrangements. The materials we used had to be very strictly assessed to make sure nothing inappropriate popped in. When using materials from mainstream coursebooks, this turned out to be more challenging than I thought; I found myself tippexing out drinks and any mention of ‘boyfriend’ or girlfriend’ and I found it quite difficult to find suitable youtube videos.

Living in Doha

Besides the teaching, what an experience! The heat was something I’ve never experienced before. I used to go for walks along the Corniche before sunrise because that was the only time it was cool enough to be outside. On some days while I was standing outside waiting for a taxi I swear my eyeballs were sweating.

I’ll be honest, there’s not much to do in Doha, especially when it’s ridiculously hot, which is most of the time. There’s really good shopping if that’s your vibe and if your bank account can afford it. Nothing is cheap. The food is phenomenal, though, no matter where you eat.

It’s a dry country, meaning that you can’t be seen drinking unless in specific places, but it’s very acceptable for the expat community to go to these places even though they tend to be dark and/or underground. What I ended up doing for most of my weekends was hang out in the pools or private beaches of the fancy hotels. That was a definite winner.

And topping off a day at the pool with drinks in a fancy sky bar wasn’t too shabby either.

A visit to Souq Waqif was always a good idea too.


The one thing I’d definitely recommend if you spend any time there is a visit to the Inland Sea, or Khor Al Daid. A 4×4 rollercoaster trip through the dunes will take you to this body of water which magically appears as if out of nowhere. It’s actually not a sea but it looks just like one and as you float in the (really warm) water you can look across to Saudi Arabia. This is another pre-sunrise excursion so the views you get of the sunrise are simply breathtaking.

Would I recommend living in Doha? Probably not. But it’s a great place for a quick little adventure – or if you want to go earn some good cash. Just maybe don’t go in summer.


8 comments on “Travel Tuesday: sun, sweat and sand

  1. FlutePlayer
    November 1, 2016

    “With the very YLS, the boys and girls were in the same class but were not allowed to talk to each other (!), which made for some interesting game arrangements.” Please elaborate.

    • Kirsten C
      November 1, 2016

      Hi FlutePlayer.

      In my classes of 10 year-olds, the parents didn’t like the students mixing ie boys and girls. Our classes were mixed so what this meant was they sat at separate tables in the classrooms and for any games we had to make sure the girls were grouped with girls and the boys were grouped with girls. We were asked not to mix them.

      Even with my teenagers, it was difficult to get the guys and girls to work together. I think they weren’t used to it so they didn’t like doing it.

      • FlutePlayer
        November 1, 2016

        Any interesting observations related to the effect of such arrangements on educational outcomes?

  2. Kirsten C
    November 1, 2016

    Wow, that’s a big question! To be honest, I don’t think it has any effect on educational outcomes. Because it’s the accepted cultural status quo, doing it any differently would’ve been likely to hinder learning in some way. As it stands, it can be compared to learning in a single-sex classroom.

    It definitely made things a bit tougher in terms of classroom management, though. And judging by the attitudes of the teenagers, I wouldn’t recommend it purely because the world around us doesn’t segregate males and females and learning to work together should take place from a young age.

    Does that answer your question?

    • FlutePlayer
      November 1, 2016

      Yup, thank you. And yes, one can argue that, ultimately, it might render students’ assimilation into a “mixed-gender” society tougher. If I were you, I would definitely consider keeping in touch with some of them/research in this area. Professionally it makes sense to build on such an experience. Besides, who knows, it may turn out to be a good thing not to be allowed to mix with the other sex until you have “grown up” hehe.

  3. Peter Pun
    November 3, 2016

    Hey, glad you finally managed to get work for the council. I held off applying for them for ages as I thought it was a kind of holy grail, and I was never quite good enough. I’ve been in bkk with them for a year now. My experiences are generally positive. Thanks for the info on Doha, a friend works there and I was considering it for next year. Sounds like a mixed experience.

    • Kirsten C
      November 3, 2016

      Hi Pete.

      I had pretty much the same attitude before, so it was great to finally be able to work for them. Hopefully now that I’ve done one post with them it’ll be easier to get another!

      Doha was definitely a mixed bag. It worked for me because it came at the perfect time in my life when I needed to chill out and focus on myself (and save Rands). I don’t think it would work if you’re looking for a party-type TEFL experience, unless you’re happy spending all you money. Having said that, though, the other BC teachers were all long-termers, so you never know.

  4. Pingback: 5 Reasons Not To Be a TEFL Teacher | The TEFL Life: A TEFL blog

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This entry was posted on November 1, 2016 by in General TEFL, photos, travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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