Meet English Language Partner Erin

October 27, 2016
27 October 2016,
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How would you describe a typical lesson at Spoken English Practice?

As an English language partner I structure a lesson to flow as a regular conversation among friends, with the student will be doing the majority of the speaking. I like to guide students and ask questions for them to answer, and provide my input using different vocabulary, expressions and slang, or using a word/grammar point that they may have used incorrectly or that we have been practicing.

If a student is stuck, I have a variety of conversation starters and questions to use.

Outside of class I like to research a student’s interests so that I am better equipped to discuss topics they enjoy, and encourage English on a student’s own time in the form of articles, Ted Talks, movies and tv programs that we can discuss at the next class.

What are your favorite conversation topics?

One of my best friends recently told me “Erin, you could talk to a rock”. I love to talk and listen! Learning about people and their interests is fascinating to me! I love, love, love world travel, geography, and learning about different cultures, as well as dogs, food, sports, books, video games, science, and strange facts :).

English Language Partner

In your experience, what area in English do students need the most help? Grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation or something else? How would you address this in your classes?

Pronunciation and grammar are two difficult areas, as English is full of contradictions and surprises. As an English language partner, believe that while textbooks can help learn the basics, these skills cannot be mastered without frequent conversational use. Depending on a student’s preference I will either correct as a student is speaking, or at the end of a topic or lesson.

Whenever possibly I like to use self-correction or give the student 2 options (one correct and one incorrect) so that the student gets to think and has a chance to identify their own errors and find the solution. Then I can cheer when they are correct instead of just telling them the answer.

If a student is struggling with a certain grammar point, then I will try to get them to tell me a story that will require a specific tense. If a particular word is difficult, I will use it as often as possible in as many different senses as I can, so that a student can repeatedly hear the pronunciation and proper use.

Lastly, I will use a variety of vocabulary, synonyms, and idioms if the student is trying to really expand their lexis. Look! We just reviewed first conditional (if – then) main and conditional clauses without even trying! Grammar can be incorporated into learning without it being obvious, dry, or focusing on the rules. Conversational learning for the win.

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What are your top 3 tips to ESL students around the world?

Hey, I’ve been there. Actually, I still am right there with you – I’m a language student too. Learning a new language isn’t easy, and it’s a lot harder when you don’t use it often. I started to have the most success when I stopped being scared to make mistakes. Don’t know a word or phrase? Try to describe it instead of looking it up immediately. It’s more fun and explanations are a great way to stretch your brain and practice being creative with English.

Secondly, practice. Sounds easy enough, right? Not necessarily! But if you can incorporate English into your life through music, movies, tv, books, and other mediums you will improve your listening skills, vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar immensely. I know it’s easier to do it in your native language, but resist! At least put on English subtitles for me, okay? Or if you’re listening to a favourite song in your native language, try to translate it to English as you listen.

Another great way to practice Spoken English is to talk to yourself if you’re not comfortable or don’t have people to practice with. Sometimes I role-play with myself and act out different characters, which forces me to use different verbs and vocabulary than I normally would. The more you make an effort to think and speak in English, the less effort it will soon take and you will be able to talk without thinking about each word.

Believe in your abilities and speak up! Even if you don’t get all of the words, tenses, or pronunciation exactly correct, you are more likely to be understood if you have confidence and speak loudly enough for the other people to hear you easily. You speak 1.5 languages or more! That’s amazing! Show it off.

Tell us more about your education

I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree and worked in a rural community for several years before discovering that my passion was truly the teaching aspect of my career. I have since completed a 120 hour TEFL course and love that it enables me to talk to people all day working as an English Language Partner.

A little bit about what you like to do when you are not teaching English.

My life outside of working as an English Language Partner is very dog-centric. I volunteer with an amazing local animal rescue and dedicate a lot of my time to fostering and training dogs so they can be adopted state side! Sports have always been a huge part of my life – I spent 24 years figure skating and miss both it and roller derby dearly. I am making up for the lack of opportunities to skate in Guatemala by rekindling my love for volleyball and learning to dance salsa. In addition, I am a travel addict and am succeeding in my goal to always have visited more countries than the amount of years I have lived. Books, video games, and movies are things that I also really enjoy.

Skype English Language Partner

What kind of students do you prefer?

I think every individual has different strengths and values to offer, but in my experience I find that the students who learn the quickest are the ones who have a clear goal and desire to achieve fluency. I have an especially great time being an English Language Partner people to students who are brave and daring with their use of English, who strive to use new words, slang, and ideas, and who are up for talking about unusual topics in order to push their abilities with creativity.