I worked as an English teacher in a primary school in Milan for one year. After moving to the UK, I had the opportunity to work as a language assistant at the University of Birmingham. I organized a “Translation Workshop” from English into Italian for first and second year universitity students. Recently, I started teaching Italian via Skype and this activity is proving to be quite rewarding. I find particularly interesting to follow each student one by one and to plan fully personalised lessons. Having been a language student myself (I have a First Class Honours Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages), I had the opportunity to get in touch with many different teaching methods. Besides, I know that the most powerful incentive for students to learn is curiosity and amusement. I always plan my lessons keeping this in mind.
While taking my degree on English Studies at the University of the Basque Country I could not imagine myself as a teacher. I just had a passion for languages. Nevertheless, after trying teaching I have realised that being able to contribute to someone’s learning process is my passion.
How did you get into teaching?
The first encounter I had with teaching was the course for teaching Spanish as a foreign language offered by the University, “Universidad Complutense de Madrid”. This course introduced me to teaching and provided me the opportunity to get to know my native language (Spanish) better. It made me feel leaning towards becoming a teacher. However, it was not until I came across the opportunity to work as a teacher for children and adults at the language centre, “Centro Zabaldu”, that I became fully convinced, teaching is what I want.
This experience changed my mind completely. It made me believe that the right teacher can change any student’s life. Now I feel passionate about the process that takes place when someone learns. Seeing a student improving and not only understanding or acquiring knowledge but also creating a bound with the subject provides me with great satisfaction.
Therefore, I searched for other teaching experiences. In “Castmetal Vitoria” I found a stimulating challenge teaching English to adults who gave up studying long ago and had almost no knowledge of English.
On the other hand, the time I spent as a self-employed teacher provided me with the opportunity to enjoy reduced groups sometimes even one to one sessions, where the student has the freedom to learn at their own pace in a way that is unique to them.
Finally, once I finished my degree in English Studies I enrolled straight away into a M.A. master’s degree in Secondary School teaching. I decided to choose the distance learning option that the Camilo José Cela University offers because that allowed me to visit other countries in search of job opportunities and experiences. Regarding the master’s degree, which I am about to finish once I summit the Master Thesis in June, it has added to my academic training an extensive knowledge on teaching, learning processes and learning types, innovations etc. Moreover, the master’s degree allowed me to teach English and History in English in 8th and 10th grade and to enjoy being part of a large teaching community as it is the High School “Presentación de María”.
What international experience do you have?
To conclude, I would like to add that the experience of having lived in different countries as a student (Australia, Ireland, Germany) and having taken part in University Exchange Agreements (Erasmus, SICUE) has provided me with the capacities of adapting myself to multicultural settings, communicating in different languages, team working and problem solving skills.
Moreover, the fact that I have worked as an English teacher in different places and belonged to a basketball team and to a scouts group has enabled me to manage and cooperate with groups.
During the last three years I have been teaching languages in developing countries (Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan). I was teaching mainly English but also French and Russian. The methodology we used was based primarily on a computer courseware that allowed learners to acquire new material on the computer (structures and basic vocabulary). The courseware also gave students very precise feedback and helped them study better.
The role of the teacher was then to make them practice that material and extend it into their real life. Most of it was very practical and oral. The main idea was that the teacher should be facilitating more than teaching per se, and that the learners should be doing most of the talking.
To do so, I used several short activities, first focusing on using what they already knew, then using it for a more localised, personalised usage, going all the way from listening to speaking and then reading to writing.
Using that methodology, we emphasised automaticity as language must be used automatically without thinking too much about the language.
This way, grammar was not taught per se, it was used for its main purpose: communication in a foreign language.
The students very much liked that way of teaching as they are empowered, which really motivates them.
I used to teach young adults and adults, general English as well as technical English (mining, heavy machinery, banking).
My mother tongue is French, I have a near-native level in English and I am fluent in Russian.
Probably the best evidence of my skills is given by the website linked below, belonging to my previous institute: I wrote each content. (select English Language, then general activities > Language courses). About teaching, for me it is a semi-creative process that involves interaction with the class. Since communication in a given context is what gives a meaning to a language, I tend to promote learning by stimulating each of the four language-connected skills (speaking, writing, listening, reading) through experimentation. As psychologist, am very good at assessing students’ needs and expectations, adapting the program and my stile to their characteristics, as well about assessing the efficacy of learning processes. In addition, I am quite a decent drawer, able to quickly draw sketches of people and situations to provide students with visual supports that fit the taught topic. Even more, I love to alternate serious and formal moments with humour, because it helps students to better enjoy lessons, it keeps up the curve of attention and helps long-therm memory.
Teacher name: Ilaria
From October 1st 2013 to May 30th 2014 I taught Italian for foreigners, basic/intermediate English, basic Spanish to adults in a cultural association. It was my first experience in managing three language courses all by myself. The classes were small (mini groups: 2-5 people, sometimes one person) and the students were for the most part adults with different needs, abilities and background. I learnt to deal with their different needs and I realized how it is important putting oneself on the line, sharing experience and learning to learn. It was really satisfying putting a smile upon their faces each lesson, and also becoming someone they could rely on.
From February 17th to 28th 2014 I attended an internship in Italian language classes for foreigners. It was an amazing experience. The mini group (4 young students and a woman who came from all over the world: India, Iceland, Spain, Brazil, and USA) offered me the possibility to focus the attention on each person. Even if I was advised against speaking in other language than Italian when the foreign students did not understand something, I learnt how it is important to know other languages besides our mother tongue. First of all, if you try to learn a new language, then, when you’re going to teach your, you understand in first person fears and difficulties of students; moreover, you can quickly help to solve problems, especially when the language of the students is close to the language to learn.
For two months (June – July 2014) I had the possibility to teach basic Italian to African and Asian immigrants. After a basic course for teachers, and the exam for Didactic of Italian as second language, I felt more self-confident and more aware of my role as teacher.
I have experience of a number of years of teaching students through private lessons. Since I’ve arrived here in London (August 2014), I keep on teaching my mother tongue through private lessons.
My teaching style is authentic and communicative. I experienced myself how enjoyable, relaxing, interesting and quick for anyone learning through the use of lively, and up-to-date materials: songs, books, magazines, newspapers, films, etc., which make learning more fun and authentic. I like creating a positive and peaceful learning environment where I can improve the main four language skills of students.