I started out as a kindergarten teacher in Shenzhen China in order to pay for my studies when I was 18 years old. Within a couple of years, I moved onto corporate training programmes, for companies such as IBM, Lego, and the Marco Polo Hotel group. I taught business English and communication, mainly focusing on negotiation, business language/jargon, and writing skills. I moved onto Berlitz in Riga Latvia where I taught full time for a year, mostly government level and preparatory classes for students heading to college, which included IELTS, ESL, TEFL etc.
I’ve been to 67 countries so far, and I am also a part time documentary filmmaker, which has taken me around the world. I have lived abroad for many years, did my degree in Applied Psychology, writing exams in places like Stockholm and Hong Kong. I’ve had malaria ten times and survived (happy about that), and generally made the best out of any situation. I have never said no to any adventure and could fill books with some of the most intriguing stories you can imagine. Teaching in itself is an adventure, and besides helping students with the necessary language skills needed to survive this fast-paced world of ours, I also bring essential life experience to the table, that broadens the horizons of my students with practical examples and knowledge that one can't get from a book.
My experiences in Africa have included gold and diamond mine investment and operations, equipment and materials procurement for mining and infrastructure projects and infrastructure related social and community development work. Through my project and social development work, I have gained invaluable insight into the culture, communities and socio-political intricacies of complex operating environments such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, DRC, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. My social development projects have brought me into contact with community and political leaders and dignitaries, including an opportunity to meet and shake hands with Chinese president Hu Jintao during his visit with president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia.
In business, I am an expert in identifying opportunities and developing the correct approach to African supply chain and project development, including the incorporation of social development and skills transfer to benefit the broader community. I graduated with a degree in Applied Psychology for the professional context from the University of South Africa and speak fluent English, Dutch, Afrikaans, and conversational mandarin Chinese.
I have a wide range of hobbies like - big game fishing, diving, skydiving, trap and skeet shooting, water polo etc. I am a voracious reader and can't get enough of anything non-fiction. That's me in a nutshell, and just that, I am much better in person than in a few hundred words.
Bachelor's in Applied Psychology for the Professional Context - University Of South Africa
Diploma in Conversational Mandarin Chinese - University Of Shenzhen
TEFL - I have done three of these in different countries where there were different regulations required to teach English in-country.
I have done various online courses in - Marketing, Business Analytics, Business Management, Content writing etc. from online Universities such as Edinburgh, Wharton, Oxford etc. Although these don't qualify as official diplomas, I only do these courses to stay on top of things and to keep myself current with international development.
My teaching approach has varied somewhat over the years depending on where I was in the world at that point in time. I believe your teaching method should be adapted to fit each and every student, as long as it's constructive and has clear goals you can work towards, and reach in a realistic time-frame. Practical examples and real life situations have yielded the best results and retention for me in the past, including newspaper articles, magazines or blogs even. A lot of what I teach comes from the students' initiative and interests, that coupled with a very positive feedback and if need be constructive criticism, which has to be so subtle that the students experience are always positive i.e. I never outrightly correct the students' pronunciation, I repeat the misspoken word so they can hear the correct pronunciation and thus pick it up, I will then repeat it clearly a few times during the lesson. Learning should never be tedious or forced, students should be engaged and completely immersed in the classes to fully enjoy the experience.
Different students have different goals, and a good teacher adapts to every situation to dial into that specific desire. By gaining trust and making classes enjoyable, and well prepared you can't go wrong. Whilst in Eastern Europe my students tended to focus solely on grammar, which in itself is not bad but this didn't prepare them for conversations they were bound to have when going off to College in the UK or America, which I then remedied by getting them actively speaking and using the language in a friendly positive environment which we created together. I taught business in China where the students had no interest in conversation but merely wanted to learn how to write emails and respond to online enquiries, which I then adapted and in the end their conversation improved without having realised it.
Setting goals early on, being a positive influence and giving your student all your attention and focus is the best teaching approach I know of.
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