My EF story: Christine Troyano

I chose to live in Indonesia because I loved the idea of living in a tropical climate.  I have spent many years living with cold winters and snow.  I was ready for some year-round sunshine and warm weather. I have lived in Sidoarjo since July, 2014 when I began working for English First as an ESL teacher.  I have enjoyed working with a professional organization that supports it’s staff as well as treats us with respect.  I enjoy working along side so many local teachers as well as a handful of fellow Native speaking ESL teachers as myself.  Most of my students are also very respectful and well ef-teacher-christine01behaved as well as being able to speak English quite well at such a young age.  I also enjoy the positive working environment at the Sidoarjo EF.
The city of Sidoarjo is a conservative, predominately Muslim city.  The school is located in the heart of the city, so there are a couple options for shopping malls and chain grocery stores within walking distance of the school.  The local residents are always friendly and eager to say hi to the foreigners.  As I am vegetarian, one of my favorite foods is Gado-Gado and Pecel.  On the weekends I enjoy traveling around Indonesia where I can learn more about local culture and history of where I currently call home.  One of my favorite places I have been so far is Papuma Beach.  The seascape is beautiful and peaceful.  But one of the places I am looking forward to going to most right now is Bali.  I have some friends that live there and I am quite excited to be able to go there over the upcoming holiday.  Everyday is a new day to create new memories.
As far as the recruitment process, it was a quite say and painless journey.  It helps that the EF has its own recruitment department so there was no need to rely on an outside recruiting agency.  Everyone that assisted me in arriving here from the US was very helpful and professional.

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My EF story: Alex

I had never heard of Surabaya until I saw ESL jobs with EF advertised here and  I was intrigued by what life could be like in Java.  Five and a half


years later I am still finding out what life in Java is all about.

As a DoS my job is hectic and rewarding. Most days are pretty full on, never boring and always noisy when the students start arriving for their lessons.

Surabaya has changed a lot in the time I’ve lived here – more shops, restaurants & entertainment, which I love.  I have been to Jakarta a few times for work and holidays.  As much as I enjoy myself there I am always happy to come back ‘home’ to Surabaya after a couple of days.

I think I’ve tried most of the food on offer and Padang is an absolute favorite of mine – I could eat it 3 times a day, every day.

At the weekends I’m mostly to be found wall climbing at Class 5 and I enjoy exploring east Java – I especially like the south coast.  And of course I never turn down an opportunity for a weekend of shopping, eating and relaxing in the sun in Bali.

I haven’t been to nearly as many places outside of Java as I should have in the time I’ve been here.  I think I’ve been to 16 islands – so I’ve got aef-indonesia-review-testimonials-ptc few thousand left to visit.  More than anything I really want to eat padang food in Padang, Sumatera.

Other than all the wonderful places I’ve visited, making great friends and working with a great team is what’s kept me here for this long.

For me, the recruitment process was very straight forward and hassle free.



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EF Indonesia testimonials

My EF story: Emma

I’m Emma,one of the British teachers from EF where I’ve been based for almost five years now. After having taught in Korea and Thailand, I chose to return to Indonesia where I’d traveled previously and held fond memories.

The EF schools here in East Java are modern, with each classroom having access to an interactive whiteboard which the students love and really helps them to become more involved in their lessons. EF produce their own coursebooks with age appropriate materials from Kindergarten to adult classes and user friendly lesson plans accompany them. EF is focused on ‘learning through doing’. This approach allows students to acquire new language in a manner that makes them forget they are in class and have fun while studying.

The city of Malang is a small botanical city surrounded by spectacular mountain views.From here there are many activities to participate in at the weekends and are accessible via public transport. Active types can try hang gliding, mountain biking and sunrise views of Mount Bromo, a volcano just an hour away. Animal lovers can snuggle up to the orangutans at Taman safari park or head to one of the many beautiful beaches for some snorkeling.There is a great variety of food to try here in ‘warungs’, from food carts, or in more upmarket restaurants.Nasi Padang is a particular favourite for me. This is a tapas style array of meats and vegetables for those who love a bit of spice!

The recruitment process here is efficient and hassle free and you could find yourself in the classroom within a month of applying!


EF Indonesia testimonials

EF Indonesia testimonials

EF Indonesia testimonials

EF Indonesia testimonials

EF Indonesia testimonials







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My EF story: Christine

Being an English teacher at English First in Jember, Java has been an exciting experience. There have been many adventures and growing experiences through this year of teaching.

I would like to share with you some of the highlights of my experiences here in Jember as a teacher.

The staff at EF Jember have been very welcoming to me. On arrive into Jember, EF cared to me as if I were part of a new family. Any question, help, or advice I needed was addressed and cared to with comfort. All the staff and teachers on arrival supported me to understand the flow and expectations for the classes that I would be teaching. The material that was provided for me to teach opened up a whole new world of understandings with a fun and interesting way of teaching students a language.

The students at EF have been warm, funny, respectful, and creative. The students here have had many questions for me related to where I came from and what it is like there. There is so much that the students and I have learned together here related to language and cultural differences. It has also been interesting to teach all ages language. It keeps your day fresh and exciting.During my experience here at EF, I have taught children as young as five years old to adults.

Outside of EF, was just as fresh of an experience for me as teaching. When I arrived in Indonesia I could not speak Indonesian.Being that a large majority of the population in Jember doesn’t speak English, I was given the opportunity to learn a new language.The community in Jember has been very friendly. Many went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcomed me with warm smiles. Being that Jember is a city, there are many different avenues of interests to explore here from: music, dance, language, and cultural arts. There are also some beautiful beaches that you can visit on your free time. I have made many friends here in Jember that I know I will continue to communicate with and learn more. Jember is a wonderful place to explore and I would recommend the experience of teaching at EF to anyone interested in learning new and exciting ways of teaching English to all ages.






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My EF teacher story: Dan

My EF story: Daniel

I came to Indonesia shortly after completing my CELTA in the UK not really having any idea what to expect.  I’d never travelled to Asia, or a developing country.  My reasons for coming were that after a lot of research, Indonesia seemed like an excellent place to travel and EF seemed like a good school with which to get a lot of experience with a solid support network to back you up.

Plus the pictures of all the Balinese temples and rice paddies on Google Images looked nice.

After 18 months I’ve taught kids as young as 3 or 4 and have traveled out of Surabaya to small businesses in neighbouring towns Passport Phototo teach groups of absolute beginners in their workplaces. I’ve planned complete conversation courses from scratch and seen a marked improvement in all of my students lesson by lesson. My resume looks a lot better than it did a year ago!

Throughout I’ve had great support from fellow teachers, senior teachers and directors of studies who have always been there to lend a hand, suggest an activity or clarify a grammar point I had to go and teach.  Coming here fresh off the CELTA, I still had a lot to learn, and still do! The pressures and strains of living in a chaotic city half the way around the world are thankfully lightened by the managers and support staff.  Rent, bills, visas and residency permits are all handled so all you really need to do is put money aside to eat, travel and enjoy yourself. Saving is realistically possible, although whether or not the exchange rate makes that worthwhile is up to you.

The first thing you read about Surabaya in the Lonely Planet guide to Indonesia is that it is a difficult city to love.  I’d agree to some extent, although after a while it can certainly become quite comfortable. The EF house I lived in was in a nice neighborhood, and just a short bike ride from the school I worked at.  We had all the mod-cons, AC, hot water, internet.  Very civilized! There are seemingly countless air-conditioned malls dotted around the city where you can find pretty much anything you could get at home and a few pseudo western bars and restaurants that no doubt you’ll be invited to come and check out within your first few weeks.  You can approximate your life back home pretty closely if that’s really what you want to do.

My favorite Indonesian food is Nasi Goreng, (a unique fried rice) and as soon as I’d had some from a warung guy on my street I was hooked.  You can eat very well and very cheaply here if you spend the time to learn the basics of Bahasa Indonesia, (which thankfully is very simple and easy to learn.) Other highlights were Sate Ayam and Sate Kambing – skewers of meat in a spicy peanut sauce served, as with everything else on this side of the globe – with sticky white rice.  Everyone you see and speak to on your nightly forays out to get food will be excited to see you and ask you questions that you likely won’t understand at first, but take the time and you’ll find Indonesian people are charming and extremely friendly.

On weekends in the city, teachers will often arrange to meet up at a swimming pool, in one of the malls or in one of EF’s shared houses to hang out.  Internet is easy to get hold of here, and most of the shared houses already have a connection set up so that’s always open to you.  The connection speed is usually just okay and frequently patchy, if you plan on gaming with friends back home you should know the latency is going to be a problem connecting with European or American servers.

When you do get some time off though, and the 15 days leave you get along with a plethora of national holidays allow plenty of that, you’ll find that traveling is where Indonesia really shines.  In a little over 18 months I’d been all over East Java, climbed volcanoes on three day hikes, been all over Bali, toured Lombok on a rental bike and visited tropical islands and ancient sites like Boropodur temple. Really, there is so much to see and do here that it’s easy to understand why some teachers never want to leave.  I highly recommend getting a bike and learning how to ride it.  There really is nothing like riding three hours out of Surabaya up to Bromo with a good friend.

If ever I come back, (which I hope I will,) I’d have to go and see Lake Toba on Sumatra, one of the world’s largest lakes, the orangutans at the reserves in Kalimantan, I’d like to take a boat-ride out to see the islands further to the East.  The list goes on.  Fully expect to spend a year here, then be amazed when you look at a map of Indonesia and realize that you’ve only just scratched the surface.

EF Surabaya’s recruitment process is generally very good.  After two skype interviews where I got to ask as many questions as I could, I was given the e-mail addresses of two teachers I could ask anything else I wanted.  Finally a date was set, and I flew to Singapore to arrange my working visa and then on to Surabaya where I was welcomed at the airport and driven to my house where a welcome package awaited me. I did find it confusing as to why I needed to go to Singapore to meet a man to arrange my visa to work in Indonesia, however the whole process is very easy and it’s an excellent excuse to spend an evening looking around Singapore itself which is well worth the extra bit of jet-lag!

Overall, I’d say if it all sounds good, go for it.  The money isn’t great internationally but here you’ll feel very well off.  I’d frequently eat at restaurants three nights a week, go on week-long holidays at the drop of a hat, would go out for perhaps a few too many drinks with friends and never felt short for money. On the balance, you get a good balance between work, travel and regular social life.






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My EF teacher story: Ellie

My EF story: Ellie

EF’s recruitment process is fair and thorough. The team who manage recruitment are fantastic as they will be there to answer your every question. I should know, I sent about 50 emails before agreeing to fly out! They help you through every step of the process and the help continues when you arrive. EF likes to look after their teachers and it shows because many people decide to stay longer than they originally planned on doing so.


At the weekends, I often go swimming at a nearby hotel or country club. Teachers regularly hang out together at the weekend, so there’s normally a party or gathering to attend somewhere. The weekends can be a little crazy in the malls here, but it’s always fun to go shopping. Or if you’d prefer a more relaxing time, there’s always the opportunity to go and get a massage.My favourite Indonesian dish is Rendang. Slow cooked beef in an amazing spicy sauce, served with rice.


So far this year I have visited Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands, Ambon and the Banda islands. The Gili islands are by far the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. Three perfect islands in the ocean, with the clearest water you’ve ever seen. All the island differ in their atmosphere, Meno is very chilled and relaxed, whereas Gili T is the party island, Air is a combination of the two. Other than that, Bali is always great for a cheap weekend away, given that it’s so close. At the moment, my goal for next year is to visit Flores and Komodo. But I also want to see Sumatra, the orangutans in Kalimantan, and Sulawesi. There’s so much to see here, you’ll find it hard to pack into 1 year!


The most memorable experience I have had so far was catching the Pelni ferry from Ambon to Bandaneira. Never before have I seen such a chaotic scene, with thousands of people clambering on and off a gigantic ferry, all during a huge downpour. It’s a tough and extremely long trip, and I wouldn’t recommend it for those who get easily sea sick; but if you can handle the challenge it’s definitely 100% worth it when you arrive in Banda. Travelling in Indonesia can be tricky or very easy depending on where you go, but usually, the harder a place is to get to, the better the experience.image(1)image(2)image(3)image(4)image(5)






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