Bolivar square in Bogota Colombia

Win a TEFL Course in London or Bogota!

Would you like to win a TEFL course in one of two fantastic worldwide locations?

Cactus TEFL is bringing back our popular Suzanne Furstner Scholarship in January 2016, and this time we are excited to be giving away not one, but two TEFL courses!

Become a qualified English teacher in the vibrant heart of London, or jet off to Colombia’s historic capital to gain your prestigious CELTA qualification – the choice is yours. These are two of the best teacher training courses available and will equip you with the skills and confidence you need to launch a career teaching English.

Scholarship Prizes:

4-week Trinity CertTESOL course in London, UK

4-week Cambridge CELTA course in Bogota, Colombia

Win a TEFL Course – How to Apply:

  • Create a video of 3 minutes maximum on the subject: ‘Why I want to become a teacher’
  • The video can be as creative as you choose, as long as it is relevant to the subject
  • Videos should be posted on YouTube with the following hashtags in the Comments box: #cactustefl #winacourse
  • Check ‘Also share on Google+’ below the Comments box
  • If you prefer to keep your video private, there is an option to select ‘Private’ in the Privacy Settings
  • The link to the video should be sent to with the subject line ‘Suzanne Furstner Scholarship Entry 2016: [your name]’
  • Please specify your preferred course location (London or Bogota)
  • Dates for entry 1st January – 31st March 2016

Winners’ Criteria:

  • The course prizes must be taken in September, October or November 2016
  • The winning videos will be published on the Cactus TEFL website, Cactus blog and social media channels
  • The winners will be required to create a video diary of their course to be published by Cactus.

Suzanne Furstner Scholarship

An annual scholarship that gives aspiring teachers from all the world the chance to win a TEFL course, the Suzanne Furstner Scholarship was set up in 2006 in memory of our much-loved colleague Suzanne. To date, we have sent winners to take CELTA and CertTESOL courses in locations ranging from Spain and Italy to San Franciso and Playa del Carmen.

Remember, entries are accepted from 1st January 2016, so you have plenty of time to start thinking and make your dreams come true in 2016!

CELTA Course Winner – LIVE Prague Blog

Do you want to know first-hand what it’s really like to take a TEFL course?

Follow our 2014 Suzanne Furstner Scholarship and CELTA course winner, Shervin Hejazi, who has just arrived in Prague to claim his prize of a 4-week Trinity CertTESOL course at our partner school Oxford House TEFL.

Shervin started his course on Monday and is already well under way. When he’s not revising English grammar and carrying out teaching practice in front of fellow students, he’s busy updating his blog with his thoughts and experiences on his TEFL course in Prague – giving would-be teacher trainees a window into the world of a TEFL student, and hopefully inspiring them to do the same! We’re loving Shervin’s blog and we hope you do too!

Follow Shervin’s TEFL in Prague blog

Read Shervin’s winning Scholarship essay here

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Cactus TEFL is an admissions and advice service for quality teacher training courses worldwide. Cactus works with the majority of well-known course providers to offer CELTA, Trinity CertTESOL, equivalent and online courses in over 90 locations across 36 countries. Cactus TEFL also offers free post-course careers advice and support, as well as access to our very own TEFL jobs board and job alerts.

Suzanne Furstner Scholarship 2014 – Winning Entry

Congratulations to Shervin Hejazi who has won this year’s Suzanne Furstner Scholarship. Shervin wins a 4-week CertTESOL course in Prague with Oxford House TEFL during 2015.

‘My Dream Teaching Job’ by Shervin Hejazi

“Time up!”

The class of students put their pens down, except the odd one or two who frantically try to finish their last sentence. It is my weekly intermediate English class to young Spanish students who wish to be fluent in the English language, and today’s exercise is to write about your ‘dream job’.

“Alex,” I call, “would you like to start?”

Alex beams as he elevates his notebook and begins to describe his dream job. “My dream job,” Alex begins proudly, “is to be the President of the United States!”

Suddenly the class erupts into laughter.

“Alex,” his colleague Cris whispers, “you know you’re not an American citizen, right? Kind of importante.”

“Oh,” Alex bemoans, his head sinking as the beam disappears from his face.

“Hey,” I interrupt the class’s unanimous laughter, “let’s not put Alex down. If he wants to be the President, he can be the President.” I look directly at Alex. “Alex, I challenge you to be the first Latino to be the President of America. That’s definitely a dream worth having.”

Alex’s beam returns.

“How about anyone else?” I ask, “who would like to share their dream job?”

One by one, my class of students share their hopes, dreams and passions. There were future lawyers, teachers, psychiatrists, athletes; as well as the less typical: circus clowns, comic book artists and ghost writers. It was a diverse class of optimists and enthusiasts, all determined to make their mark on the world, all possessing that young belief that the world is truly their oyster. Suddenly, I felt a pang of pride. Here I was, witnessing the development of a new generation of bright minds. I felt truly grateful that they accepted me as a tutor in aid of their journey.

The ‘dream job’ question then comes to Clara, one of my more cautious students. I noticed several scribbles on her notebook, and a conflicted look on her face. “Would you like to share your dream job with the class, Clara?”

“Well, Sir,” she begins, “I’m not really sure.”

“That’s OK,” I advise, “you don’t have to know what you want to be. My parents still don’t know, and they’re retired!”

The class laugh again.

“Well,” Clara continues, “I don’t know what job I want, but I know how I want to feel. I want to feel like I’m helping people, like I’m making a difference, that people can maybe depend on me, look up to me, and trust me to be there for them. If I have a job where every day would be like this… well, I think I would like that.”

And then there was no laughter. There was only silence. A universal silence, as each student knew that what Clara had said was something worth pondering. It was a noble endeavour, a reasonable dream, and my previous pang of pride could be felt once again, even stronger.

“And what about you, Sir?” Clara asks, returning the question. “What is your dream job?”

I look around the class of students, watching their faces as they eagerly anticipate an answer. A knowing smile forms across my face.

“Well, class. It seems I’m lucky.”

“Why’s that?” asks Alex.

I pause to smile again.

“Because I have already found it.”

The Suzanne Furstner Foundation was set up in memory of our much-loved friend and colleague Suzanne Furstner. The annual Scholarship reflects Suzanne’s love of TEFL, languages and travel, awarding a full time TEFL course in one of our best worldwide locations. Please visit for details of all our TEFL courses and the Suzanne Furstner Foundation.

CELTA course in Philadelphia: 2013 scholarship winner’s blog

Rumina Iftikhar won our Suzanne Furstner Scholarship in 2013, and this summer she took her prize of a 4-week CELTA course in Philadelphia. Here is Rumina’s blog article telling us about her experience. Congratulations Rumina – we’re delighted you gained so much from it!

The Cambridge CELTA certification! It had been my dream for the longest time. This year that dream came true and I got the opportunity to go to the US to do my CELTA. Back home now, I often think about those four weeks that I spent in Philadelphia. It was a memorable time and has left me with many fond memories. At the time, of course, there was no opportunity to think of anything beyond the CELTA. Would I pass? Would I make it through the next teaching practice? What if nobody liked me? It was a new place I was going to and I didn’t know much about their ways and customs.

I soon realized that the CELTA is a lot more than a course that just teaches you ESL techniques. It forces you to challenge yourself, to improve, to grow, to be more, more professional, more determined. It teaches you about life. You are thrown together with complete strangers and these strangers become your family for the next four weeks. You grow to love them, to rely on them for comfort, support and encouragement. For me, it was not easy leaving my family and going off to a country half way across the globe from mine. On the first day I was sure I would fall flat on my face walking in through the door, or say something incredibly stupid and become the butt of all jokes. Instead I found a group of people who, though as uncertain and unsure of what to expect as I was, were incredibly warm and open. For the next four weeks, though I missed my family, I never felt alone. For one, you don’t have much time to feel or think about anything else and secondly, should you stumble or make a mistake, your colleagues are there for you. Always!

During the CELTA, we were thrown into the deep end of the pool almost immediately! Now I didn’t know much about the course so it came as a shock when I was told, on the first day, that I would be the one to teach the first class. Of course, the trainers helped. Their advice and help was invaluable. But the thought of teaching a class while being assessed not only by my trainer, but also by my group members, was daunting! However, if you prepare well beforehand things never go as badly as you fear. I did a lot of things I shouldn’t have done and it was not a perfect class, but the students seemed to enjoy it and that gave me the courage to keep going.   During the feedback session, I was gratified by the encouraging and supportive words of my peers and trainer. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s all praise and nothing else. If you do the CELTA, please leave your ego at the door. Because the feedback is meant to point out not just what you did well, but also what you didn’t do and should have done! So, though couched in the nicest possible way, it is brutally honest. It has to be! You need to learn and quickly. The course simply isn’t long enough to give you time to nurse your ego or learn at your own pace!

The input sessions in the morning were a lot of fun. We got to learn by being the students, by first-hand experience. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of bonding. Then lunch break and the teaching practice. Did we go out for nice, leisurely lunches? No! We ate on our feet and then got down to preparing for the teaching practice. The ‘lunch break’ saw me running between printer and photocopier nonstop. And I had to be quick because everyone else needed the printer too. Actually, I think I had lunch a grand total of ONCE during the course!

The best part of my day was the long walk home. In the morning I would just take the bus, to ensure I wasn’t late. But in the evening, I’d walk back. I still get nostalgic when I think about those walks. It was the only time of the day when I’d put all thoughts of studying out of my mind and the lovely sunshine, the beautiful Philadelphia skyline and the smiling people helped me unwind and prepare for the long homework sessions. For once at home you DO need to put in a few hours to prepare for your next teaching practice. And you should. You don’t want to enter a class unprepared and not ready to deal with questions the students may have. That can be embarrassing and, of course, will affect your grade.

But when it was done, I was almost overwhelmed by the sense of achievement that washed over me. It was over. I’d done it! What did I take away from the course? The knowledge that if I can survive this then I must be made of tougher stuff than I thought, a head teeming with new ideas and creative teaching methodologies and friends who’d warmed my heart. People I didn’t know even existed a month ago, and yet they’d seen me at my worst, at my best, seen me stumble, picked me up and encouraged me when I didn’t think I was doing anything right.

Since I’ve been back a lot of people have asked me if the course was as grueling as people say it is. My answer is, yes! It’s not a course for the fainthearted or for those who think that they will sail by with a modicum of effort. It takes everything out of you and you do NOT have a moment to relax! But is it worth it? I’d answer (again) with a resounding YES!   These four weeks have taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined. Most importantly, I learned that teaching can be fun! My pet peeve against teaching had always been that I felt that conventional teaching techniques never left much room for the students to enjoy learning. But after the CELTA I have learnt to incorporate fun in my lesson plans. I can’t wait to use all I’ve learnt on my students, to watch as they take charge of their own learning and see how interactive and lively the classroom can be! To watch as attitudes change from resigned boredom to active interest and they grow to love the language as I do. The CELTA has opened my mind! Not only has it given me oodles of confidence, it has also left me thirsting to learn even more and keep growing and improving as an ESL teacher!

Rumina won a CELTA course through the Suzanne Furstner Scholarship, which gives away a prestigious CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL course each year.

Suzanne Furstner Scholarship 2014: enter now to win a TEFL course!

Thinking of taking a TEFL course? Look no further if you want to WIN a prestigious Trinity CertTESOL course in the historic city of Prague, Czech Republic.

July 1st marked the launch of the 2014 Suzanne Furstner Scholarship, giving would-be teacher trainers the chance to win a TEFL course in an exotic corner of the globe.

This year we’re delighted to announce that the beautiful Czech capital of Prague is home to our scholarship prize of a fantastic 4-week Trinity CertTESOL course, to be taken in 2015.

The scholarship assignment is to write a maximum of 1,000 words on the topic ‘My Dream Teaching Job’, in addition to a short language awareness task. Full details and an application form are available on the Cactus TEFL website, as well as examples of previous winners’ entries. The deadline for submissions is 1st October 2014.

Cactus is proud to run the Suzanne Furstner Scholarship each year as part of the Suzanne Furstner Foundation, which was set up in memory of our much-loved friend and colleague, Suzanne, who we tragically lost in a road accident in Spain in 2006. The Foundation aims to support language and educational projects across the world, a subject that was close to her heart.

Good luck to all those that enter – we’re looking forward to reading your entries and to sending one of you off to train to be teacher in Prague next year!

Cactus TEFL is an independent TEFL course admissions and advice service. We work with schools across the globe to deliver high quality, professionally-delivered teacher training courses.

Suzanne Furstner Scholarship 2013 Winning Entry: Rumina Iftikhar

We were thrilled to receive entries from all over the world into our scholarship this year. After careful deliberation by a panel of judges, we are delighted to announce Rumina Iftikhar, from Pakistan, as our overall winner. Many congratulations to Rumina who will take her prize of a 4-week CELTA course in Philadelphia next year. Thank you to all applicants for your inspiring entries.

Here is Rumina’s winning essay…

It’s seven fifteen in the morning and I’m on my way to work. I switch on the MP3 player and flip through the songs till I get to Rihanna’s “Diamond in the sky.” I sing along, loud and carefree. It may be Monday but that’s not going to get me down. I’ve got my planner for the week made, a pile of horribly written English language essays duly checked and I feel prepared to face anything. Even school! Nobody’s going to accuse me of shirking my responsibilities!

As an MBA who opted for teaching after my kids were born, because of the flexible hours and summer and winter breaks, I have often felt at a disadvantage because I have never received any formal training in teaching the English language. That’s the problem with Pakistan. A country that focuses more on long-standing feuds with neighbors than on education and training. Anyone who can speak the language fairly well becomes an English language teacher. Now, me! I’ve always loved this language! As a child I would devour story books. Enid Blyton was my favorite writer, followed by C.S Lewis and Louisa M. Alcott. I was happiest sitting alone in my room, nose stuffed into a book. So though I love the language and feel very passionately about helping my students, sometimes I feel, even after all these years, that I’m just groping in the dark. I’ve learnt on the job, I’ve had some fantastic people help me, but no formal training. And that is what I want more than anything else now. My MBA just won’t let me get very far in this field.

So, back to Rihanna. She helps me enjoy my long, long drive to school and it is with deep reluctance that I get out of my car when I finally arrive. Nevertheless, I stride purposefully into school and make my way to my class. The kids stand up as I enter and chant “Good morning ma’am,” with big grins on their faces. That is what I love about them, their unquenchable spirits. Even Monday can’t dampen those. They may not be the best at essay writing or figuring out the meaning of words from the context, but there is no lack of enthusiasm and good cheer here. They like their English teacher, though she can be a bit of a grouch at times, and they’re willing to try as hard as they can to please her. This week I want them to write a science fiction story. We’ve discussed different genres and the features of some of them. Science fiction appeals to me because there is so much scope for the imagination here. I’m sure they will enjoy it.

I’ve brought along an interesting sci-fi story that I downloaded from the net. We’re going to read that first and go over the features of a sci-fi story as we read. Next is the long brainstorming session. We think up several brilliant ideas and I show them how to turn these into a simple narrative essay. After 80 minutes of non-stop brainstorming, instructing, guiding, I feel they’re ready to fill in their sci-fi prewrite, duly photocopied and handed to everyone in the class. Then they should be able to write the story.

They work assiduously, silently. I walk around the room keeping an eye on them to point out any startling grammatical errors. I know they’re enjoying this, but I can only hope they churn out decent stories. The problem with these kids is that they come from families where English isn’t spoken very frequently and neither do they, as a general rule, enjoy reading. This makes my job even tougher. I don’t have a magic wand, and despite all my planning and researching, I still feel like there is so much more for me to learn. So much more that will equip me with real confidence in my own teaching abilities and will allow me to guide these children better. These children who look upon me hopefully, sure that I will put an end to all their language-related woes, something I would dearly love to do. I think longingly about the CELTA course being offered in Philadelphia. Six weeks of that grueling course would teach me so much, and I would come back so much more poised and in control, undaunted by the challenges of my exacting job, ready to face them head on. It seems like a dream right now, but it’s one I’m determined to achieve.

Cactus is proud to run the Suzanne Furstner Scholarship each year as part of the Suzanne Furstner Foundation, which was set up in memory of our much-loved friend and colleague, Suzanne, who we tragically lost in a road accident in Spain in 2006. The Foundation aims to support language and educational projects across the world, a subject that was close to her heart.