How did you begin teaching English as a Second Language?
In 2001, I left primary school teaching in New Zealand to travel and work in England and Europe. I arrived in the UK and decided to avoid London and go to Cambridge. As a teacher, I thought it was one of the best cities in the world to learn and teach. I was also keen to work in other areas, maybe business or the hospitality industry.
When I first arrived in Cambridge I lived and worked at the YHA, an international hostel where I met many people from around the world who came to see Cambridge’s amazing architecture and history. Quite a few were also hoping to stay in Cambridge and study or work.
Do not hesitate to ask for help if English is really important for your next step in your career, at home or abroad.
I was often asked by non-native speakers how they could communicate effectively in English when talking on the phone, preparing CVs, letters of application and how to respond in interviews. As I helped them I began to appreciate their cultures and languages. I realised that while many of them could express themselves ok in English they still felt unsure of their accuracy and lacked confidence, especially when it came to understanding local expressions. There was a lot of fun discussing the right and wrong way to say something!
I decided to specialise in teaching ESL. Now, after teaching English to a wide range of cultures in New Zealand, Spain and England I realise that successfully using another language is often down to your choices and experiences in that country.
Were you focused? Were you brave? Did you take risks? Did you try to step out of your comfort zone?
I have to be really honest and say that while I have visited and stayed in many countries I have not mastered another language. I feel quite sad about that, particularly after living in Spain for four years. However, it was one of the best experiences in my life and it certainly helped me to appreciate all the challenges one faces when entering a new culture.
However, I was totally stunned by the multilingual talents that many of my students had. I have tremendous respect for them. They really impressed me with their determination to succeed in their new culture.
I am most happy to share my skills with you, regardless of your challenge, culture or language.