Learning and Earning in Portugal

In any inquisitive mind, there are at least 5 basic questions. Here are some answers…


Who would want to have a complete life change age 51 and 3/4 by moving to Portugal? Me.



It’s time to learn and earn again – by expanding my repertoire to include even more online work. I feel very excited about this new chapter! I’ll sometimes be teaching and training face to face, sometimes online, sometimes writing teaching materials and sometimes writing marketing content.


Where am I?

Good question! Physically I am about 70% in the UK and 30% in The Algarve in Portugal. Professionally I am 20 % face to face and 80% digital. Healthwise I am as good as I can be and mentally I am happy. So all in all I am in a rather good place!


The idea to work digitally in the future actually came to me a really long time ago – when I lived in Australia. At that time the technology didn’t exist in the way it does now, but I decided to learn as much as I could to equip myself for a future life like this one. I studied and worked to understand the emerging tools, technologies and possibilities.


I didn’t know back then that I would head to Portugal – I just knew that I didn’t want to be 100% in a traditional work environment. I love variety and change. I love learning. I love travel and I love my friends and family. Living in The Algarve will give me the best chance of doing the things I love as well as seeing the people I love. Also the weather is super, the lifestyle is simple and I live next to orange orchards and pomegranate groves.


How did I get here?

I planned and worked and saved and tried and tried for years and years and years. So nobody dare tell me how lucky I am! Literally, Simon Reid sold the UK place, Carlos Borges at Remax helped find a new place in Portugal, I flew here on Ryan Air, Algarve Express collected belongings from the UK and delivered them to Portugal. But really I got here because my husband, friends and family supported me all the way. OK so you can tell me how lucky I am after all.

Want to know more? Send me your questions :0)

What’s the diff? Say ABC and iTutorgroup?



Teaching friends have asked me about teaching online, so here is a bit of info on two of the companies I work for – iTutorgroup and Say ABC. Learning to teach online has taken a bit of adjustment but now I love it and…no commute on those days – bliss! Here is a quick comparison based on my own experience and opinions:

Say ABC iTutorgroup
Very straightforward hiring process – have a brief Skype interview including a role play demo – the recruiter pretends to be a child and you pretend to teach them for a few minutes, supply TEFL certificate, degree, and passport. More complex hiring process as more than one recruiter will be involved, having said this, the recruiters are very supportive in assisting you throughout the process.
Pay is in $US sent at the beginning of each month for the previous month. Pay is in $US and is sent at the beginning of each month for the previous month.
Good hourly rate and bonus system when students complete a series of lessons with you and when they book after you teach trial lessons. Lower hourly rate but currently more bookings, so worthwhile. Bonus for students who complete a demo with you and then book more lessons.
Peak hours = weekends and evenings Shanghai time. Other hours are available but teaching peak hours definitely gets you more bookings. It is easy to book and change hours in portal. Peak hours weekends 10.30 to 1.30 UK. Other hours are available but teaching on weekends definitely gets you more bookings. It is easy to book hours in the portal but difficult to change or cancel.
Very quiet now. Expected to get busy March through November Student numbers fine now and expected to get busier March through November
Children usually aged 6 – 10 in groups of up to 4 students Children from age 6 and also adults – more children sometimes in small groups, but more often individual students.
Lessons 40 minutes plus 5 mins before for prep and after 5 mins after for report Lessons 25 minutes plus 5 mins before for prep and 5 mins after for report
Lesson slides and teaching notes provided Lesson slides provided – some with teaching notes
Initial training is all online and must be completed before teaching starts. There is a very limited window to complete training, so bear this in mind when talking to the recruiters. Initial training is all online, some of it is live and must be completed before teaching starts.
Training and teaching community activities appear in the portal. Training and teaching community activities appear in the portal. There is a lot available!
Excellent admin support. Excellent admin support, but the company has 20,000 teachers so sometimes it takes a little longer to deal with any problems
Clean background displaying SayABC Logo on wall behind teacher’s right shoulder. Wear professional clothing. iTutorgroup background must be displayed on wall behind teacher. They provide this once the teacher is onboarded. Wear a red polo shirt.

Overall, both are super companies with lovely students. If you decide to apply and you use my codes, you get directly to the recruiters and I will get a bonus once you begin teaching :0)

For iTutorgroup


I hope this info helps!  Feel free to contact me with any questions.






What do 21st Century teachers need to succeed?

A training colleague asked me,

‘ what training do new ESL teachers need for the modern classroom?’

I would say that the choice for every class depends on the students, their goals, needs and interests.

I am a teacher with many years’ face to face and online learning experience.

In face to face class I use traditional methods together with free online tools and games like Kahoot, Quizlet and Socrative – students access these on their phones. I also recommend Grammarly and Padlet for sharing projects.

My class has a Whatsapp group which students can opt to join when they wish to share resources and communicate online. I encourage students to research and share language apps in class too.

My classroom has a Smartboard which has interactive digital activities. In the computer room students use digital lessons too – The British Council has a wealth of these.

For some groups I help them to set up collaborative blogs and wikis.

I also teach online using platforms such as Zoom and Skype, using interactive activities and techniques to enable students to communicate in the online space.

Based on my 18 years of 21st Century TESOL experience, I have developed ’21st Century TESOL’ –

a range of modules for new and updating teachers wishing to understand about what is needed in various roles-

Each module is online and hands on – taking around 6 hours to complete. Each module is £27.50 – with a discount for participants completing more than three modules. Specialisations include:

21st Century TESOL Online and Blended Learning

21st Century TESOL IELTS

21st Century TESOL Teaching Young Learners

21st Century TESOL Teaching Business English

21st Century TESOL Teaching Private lessons

If interested, please contact

If you have questions or suggestions, please contact 🙂

TESOLFran is a Cambridge CELTA Trainer and Assessor with an MA in Elearning and 25 years’ experience in TESOL, teacher training, management and course design.

Which TEFL course?

Valerie asked…
I am hoping that you may be able to advise me please. I have for the past few years been considering taking a TEFL course….
I have seen many TEFL courses advertised online, the cost varies, I am wandering if the courses on Groupon are as good as the ones that are not…..
Regards Valerie
Hello Valerie,

Thanks for your message! The choice of course is tricky isn’t it? I will write some ideas here then post to my blog for others to benefit –

If you have a degree and you get an online TEFL Certificate, this is usually the basic requirement for teaching English online to Chinese children. A Groupon would be ok for this – or to give you a taster. If you would like to learn more about teaching online, or to apply, please see my posts for links:

The two initial qualifications that are in demand and taken more seriously will probably give you more chances of being employed face to face or online with better pay and conditions.

These are the
Cambridge CELTA
and the
Trinity Certificate in TESOL
Personally I began with the one month intensive Cambridge course, then after teaching for a while and so as to progress my career, I took the Cambridge Diploma Course. This opened doors to roles in marketing, management and teacher training.
Whichever you choose I wish you a happy and fulfilling experience!
Fran :0)

Handy digital resources for teachers



There are loads of great resources available to help students with pronunciation. I will build on this post bit by bit so please feel free to share any other resources I can add! Here is Fabien Snauwaert’s American IPA Chart. So useful – so enjoy!

Please contact me with ideas – or for info on my teaching and learning services.





Handy digital resources for teachers



I will build on this post bit by bit so please feel free to share any other resources I can add! Here is a handy lesson plan and slides so that you can help students to use word clouds to self assess and improve their writing. Enjoy!

Feel free to contact me for ESOL teaching and learning info here:

Learning and earning teaching kids online

You can earn US $15 for a 40 min lesson- or up to $21 when bonus payments are in operation. Use this code to apply direct 😁

It’s fun!

Teaching kids one to one or in groups of up to 4 online is a fun new challenge. Even though I have taught kids before, I haven’t done it online. I love using the interactive slides and tools. The kids are so cute and I love working from home. Oh and I also get to use puppets and stars!

Why Say ABC?

They like working with different sorts of people. Tbey like that  you have your own style. They don’t want you to be a formulaic teacher. They have loads of flexibility in the schedule so you can fit this work around your other arrangements. Their platform is fab! They provide training and gorgeous teaching materials that the kids love.

The requirements?

• Native speaker level of English
• Bachelor degree or above (or final year student)
• Preferred: Relevant teaching experience
• CELTA or other Certificate in TEFL or TESOL

Once you have had an interview there are videos to watch and short tasks to do. The final stage is a demo lesson, but you get a couple of days to prepare and a mentor to help if you need one.

Good luck!  Just contact me at if I can help with questions 😁









Why write?

How many reasons can you think of? Here are some to start us off…

1. Writing is good for your memory

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Research shows that writing using pen and paper helps build motor memory. Why? The brain triggers as you form letters with the pen and associate the letters with ideas. Your brain loves to grab at new ideas.

2. Writing helps you relax

Ever tried to fall asleep while your brain scrolls through your “things to do” list and the negatives of the day? Add a 2 minute write down to your pre sleep wind down routine. Keep a notebook and pen next to your bed for this.

What if you are feeling down – or angry, or if you are depressed?

Make a note of your feelings – or write a letter to the cause of the feelings. It can really help to get perspective when you write. You can keep the writing – or  burn it later!

3. Can writing help you feel happier?

Experts differ in their views about Positive Psychology. But thinking actively and feeling thankful work for me. Again, using a nightstand notebook, I write down a message of thanks before sleeping. Maybe I had something major to be thankful for – perhaps a fantastic holiday experience. Or maybe something small – I had breakfast off my favourite plate. Or my cat curled up on my lap. Actively thinking about the positives, and looking at my list from time to time helps me to appreciate all that I have.

4. Improving relationships

It feels great to write and send messages on social media, giving instant connection and warmth. A written card or message received from a loved one helps us to feel valued and to know we are in someone’s thoughts.

5. Becoming a better writer

Do this by actively writing with a reader and a communicative purpose in mind. Think about organisation, grammar and vocabulary variety. If you would like to become more confident, why not write something for me? We can see how I can support you in getting your message just right.

Fran Traynor 😁


Tide Whisperer

Tenby September 15 2018


When I was a child we went to Tenby every summer. We camped. We played in the sand, we had ice cream for breakfast and ate chips for every other meal. It also rained every day. But we didn’t care. We put on our coats and carried on. We loved it. But everything changed.

One year we stopped. We became too old for ice cream and soggy games. We had friends to see and more exciting places to explore. It was 1979 and high school lay ahead. Long lazy summers disappeared and school work and Saturday jobs took over.


So returning last weekend was rather exciting. I didn’t camp – but stayed in a traditional guest house. I ate chips for every meal and walked on the beach. I am happy to say that not much has changed after all these years. It still rains and it is still beautiful.


On Saturday there was a National Theatre of Wales production – ‘The Tide Whisperer’. It was amazing. The audience wore headphones and we followed the actors to different locations where we watched each scene. The stories were so tragic. Stories of people having to leave their homes and travel across the sea to make new lives in new countries. We tried to understand from their different perspectives.

We were given headphones and divided into colour groups.


We walked in our groups to the beach.received_259963704851508The actors played their parts as we watched and listened.received_238335213518499Finally all of the groups converged at the water’s edge.received_551537621933238We were asked to consider these questions:

What if it was me? What if I had to leave my home, my family and my country?

What if it happened here?

How would I feel?

What would I do?

Where would I go?

How can I take responsibility and do something to change the situation?

If you would like to know more about Tide Whisperer, please go to

Fran Traynor


How do I become a TESOL Teacher?

This was a question asked by a lovely friend who has taught children for many years. Well, it’s a good question. To answer it, you need to consider what, who and where you would like to teach. There are many contexts for the profession….

You might consider Teaching English to adults or children (Teaching Young Learners) on short or extended courses at home, abroad or online. Many TESOL Teachers (including me!) work with students of different ages and with different goals both face to face and online.

Some learners want to communicate in English with people from all around the world. This is sometimes referred to as General English, or English for International Communication. Others need English language skills and qualifications to survive or thrive in their academic lives – (English for Academic Purposes) and careers – (English for Business). Many learners – and their parents- regard achieving a good command of English as being essential in life.

There is a variety of formal English Language Examinations which teachers can help students to prepare for. Students can use the results to demonstrate their English level to employers and academic institutions. Some examples of common exams are: IELTS, TOEIC, TOEFL and Oxford, Trinity and Cambridge Certificates at different levels. There are also specialist tests and qualifications to support specific professions and vocations, residency and citizenship in countries where English is spoken as the official first language. There are also suites of exams aimed specifically at young learners. There are so many ways for teachers to make a difference as they support learners in defining and achieving their goals.

The opportunities to make a difference to people’s lives through teaching really are major. Whilst low earnings can be an issue in this kind of teaching, the day to day variety and enjoyment of the work and the real impact of knowing I am helping other people keep me coming back for more.

To explore online teaching opportunities – search online as the situation changes daily. At the moment there are many organisations operating, most of them offering lessons to children. Some examples include DadaABC and iTutor Group. Teachers tend to work part time for different ones according to demand.

Requirements and conditions vary, but many provide lessons for teachers to use and most offer initial training. In addition, most will pay a higher hourly rate to teachers with qualifications and experience.

There is an excellent introduction course on Futurelearn – ‘Teaching English Online’.  It is run by Cambridge Assessment. The course is free, with a fee for people who want to get a certificate.

If you are aiming to work with adults in UK private colleges and  have an accurate native speaker level of English, you need a Bachelor’s degree and the Cambridge CELTA, Trinity Cert TESOL or another initial TESOL quaification with 6 hours of observed teaching practice. You can see CELTA Information at

Or ask me – I have designed and delivered 120 CELTA Courses and am a Cambridge ESOL Assessor.

A really handy book for teaching adults is ‘Learning Teaching’:

Learning Teaching: A guidebook for English language teachers … › Learning-Te…

If you are aiming to work with young learners in UK or international private colleges you need a Bachelor’s degree and the Cambridge CELTA, Trinity Cert TESOL or another initial TESOL quaification with 6 hours of observed teaching practice. You will need additional training, much of which tends to happen on the job. You will also need police checks and training in sadeguarding and other issues as legally required for working with young learners.

Some really handy books for teaching young learners are ‘English for Primary Teachers’ and ‘500 Primary Classroom Activities’:

For online resources check out BBC Learning English to start you off.

If you would like to see some examples of language presentations, I am building a set of videos on my TESOLFran Youtube Channel:

I also regularly share TESOL related info on my Facebook page:

Please feel free to like my page and you will see the info as I add it.

All the best with whatever you decide – and I hope to meet you in a staffroom somewhere one day –

In the meantime, please feel free to email me if you have questions that I don’t answer here at –

Fran Traynor