At the age of 20 I moved to Tbilisi, Georgia where I lived for almost a year and a half before moving to Berlin, Germany for 5 months, and working as an English tutor. In both Tbilisi and Berlin I taught English to both adults and children, privately, in small groups and also via Skype. The demand was much higher in Tbilisi, naturally, as there are fewer native English teachers there. I found ESL students were generally quite traditional regarding education and wanted to focus mainly on grammar, even though I could see they needed more confidence with English speaking, pronunciation and vocabulary. In Berlin, people were more relaxed about how they would learn and encouraged natural conversation, music and art as means of communication.
Speaking of art, I’ve always loved painting, drawing and graphics. I studied Graphic Design and Visual Communication for approximately 5 years with some focus on Art History. I love the analytical side of art, which revealed to me that I‘m more text-focused than I originally thought. Alongside art, I’ve always loved reading and writing and have that to thank for my extensive vocabulary and interest in other cultures! I’m hoping to continue my studies at Birkbeck College in London later this year – a BA in History of Art and Curating.
A typical Skype English lesson at Spoken English Practice will be full of stimulating conversation, assistance in areas where it’s needed and a completely relaxed environment as if you’re meeting a friend for a coffee!
I would begin by ensuring that my student knows what to expect before asking a question about a topic I know they are interested in or otherwise a question related to a TED talk or video we introduced in the previous lesson. I’d encourage them to talk, asking them questions every so often, perhaps adjusting the questions in such a way that the student addresses their less-confident areas without realizing. Then, we’d finish the lesson with a summary of our discussion, what they need to work on for the following lesson and highlighting any weaker areas they should bear in mind for the future.
I’ve found that a lot of students need confidence more than anything. Talking and communicating in a relaxed way with native English speakers makes such a difference in a small amount of time as the students use the language in a practical way, not just theoretical. Pronunciation can also be an issue, and is something I’ve been asked to assist with many times as I have a very standard English accent, being from Oxford, England. I would address this by trying to ensure the student is as comfortable as possible with the feeling that we’re old friends having a chat rather than a teacher-student relationship.
My first tip would be to find what aspects of the English language are necessary to you. Some people need more specific language for their career, whereas others just want to focus on everyday language to improve overall. The next thing I’d recommend is to keep talking even when you’re shy or nervous or feel like you’re saying something wrong. Even native speakers say the wrong thing sometimes! Just try not to be shy and speak English whenever you get a chance – even when you’re alone! Finally, allow yourself to use the language to understand more of the culture. This keeps it fresh and motivating, whilst expanding your social horizons at the same time.
I spend most of my time outside, walking my dog and exploring. During my travels, I was determined to put in that extra bit of effort to go out of my way and see something new and the habit seems to have stuck. To relax, I watch films (usually pre-1960s) and chat with my family and friends. I’m also happy to spend time alone, usually drawing or reading. I love to cook, especially as I’m vegetarian. After living in Georgia which is a very gastronomically-rich country, I began to experiment with different dishes and methods which I find quite therapeutic after a busy day.
Any student who is open-minded, eager to learn, friendly and excited. I think that includes everyone!