My parents were refugees to the UK so my early years were spent in a German-speaking household (unfortunately a language I have not kept up). My parents were not initially native speakers so in some ways my brothers and I helped them in mastering English.
Since those days a lot of my English teaching has been on an informal level in that I have travelled extensively, met lots of people and with English being the lingua franca ended talking, helping, advising and teaching people via conversation, practical help – banking, shopping etc. This experience also helped enhanced my ‘feel’ for other languages.
Some years ago I taught Chilean refugees in the UK conversational English on a one to one basis, which I found very satisfying. More so when I’d bump into some on the streets some time later and could hear and see how they had mastered the language.
When I lived in Sweden I went to college with native speakers – young adults who wanted to ‘catch up” on their missed years in high school – and ending up taking English classes. I’m not sure how it came about but it was an interesting time in that as the class was conducted in Swedish I learnt that language while the Swedes learnt English.
Nowadays as a Britain living in the USA I feel that I have had to learn a new language as American English is different to British English in expression, humor, nuance and meaning. It led to some amusing situations were sometimes you are having a conversation with an American when suddenly you both realize that neither of you exactly understood one another.
I was educated mainly in the UK. I attended a Secondary Modern School (High School would be the US equivalent). I was educated to GCE level, which is a highly regarded Examination board throughout the UK. I graduated with Certificates in English, French, Science, Geography, History and Math. These helped me enter into University, which I did as a ‘mature’ student’ to take a degree in American Studies. This graduate course covered politics, society, literature, history and global influences of the United States. I graduated with an Honors Degree. I then went on to complete a Post Grad course in teaching. This course concentrated upon teaching young adults who attended Technical and Community type colleges. My areas were English, Social Sciences, History and Information Technology.
I would aim to develop the trust of the student and try to gauge their knowledge of English, their ability to converse and what might be areas of interest and those of sensitivity that should be avoided. I would also find out the reason for them wanting to learn English – business, pleasure, travelling, reading etc. I will give students a little background information about myself, encourage them to ask questions and try to develop a good, comfortable teacher/student relationship. From there I’d like to create a situation where we can pick up conversations from earlier lessons or move onto to something else with ease. I would encourage students to take on new challenges and chances in their use of English.
These would be:
In my experience it is better to allow students a sort of free flow of their language skills where in exchanges they can pick up vocabulary from their tutor. It is important to give a student confidence in their abilities by allowing this free flow of conversation and not constantly stopping them for corrections to their pronunciation, vocabulary. I would perhaps point out some errors in a short summary at the end of the lesson and ask the student for feedback on their own performance, if appropriate. This way along with our earlier conversation I could gauge what the next step might be – pronunciation, the use of particular words, grammar. I believe that conversation that exudes confidence gives a good impression and is the key to help most people to settle into a new country, new language and for work, day to day requirements, making friends and finding their way around.
Be confident in your abilities.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Ask, ask and ask again.
In my free time I like to garden, especially growing vegetables, cooking for family and friends. I enjoy visiting art exhibitions, museums, music concerts, the movies and reading. I like to do handy work around the house, which involves at different times, woodwork, painting and some electric stuff. I enjoy watching some sports and I suppose nowadays living in the USA l have become a Yankees fan, although soccer is my number one sport hailing from Manchester my team is Manchester United. I like cricket too but don’t get to see much at the moment.
I would prefer those that are mature, motivated and have an interest in learning.
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