I graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor's degree in French and International Relations from The University of Warwick in the UK. Two months later I began my first teaching job in Sri Lanka at Colombo International School in the primary section - class teacher, all subjects, British National Curriculum. Our principal employed graduates from top UK universities rather than graduates with a teaching degree so it was a tough learning curve for me to learn how to teach. Having knowledge is one thing but ensuring your students leave your classes with that knowledge in their heads is a skill I had to learn fast. The international backgrounds of my students gave me my first glimpse of the diverse issues foreign students encounter when trying to master English and I realised one size does not fit all. Language problems differ depending on your mother tongue.
In 1998 I moved to Poland and completed the Berlitz Instructor Qualification Program before accepting an EAL teaching position in Warsaw. My French degree helped me immensely during this course. However, it was my Cambridge Certificate students in Poland who tested my subject knowledge to a level I have never seen since! This is when I discovered that simply being a native speaker does not cut it when students reach advanced levels of English. You must be able to explain errors on the go. Students never forget if you cannot answer their questions and instead feed them a load of rubbish to save face. I had to know my stuff before delivering these classes and I have built on that knowledge over the years. It was tough, but it forced me to know my subject thoroughly.
Following this I relocated to Hong Kong and taught as an EAL instructor for two years at Hong Kong Institute of Languages (HKIL). My learners were aged 3 to 70. Here I saw the very specific issues Cantonese and Mandarin students encounter when learning English. I also realised Chinese learners often have excellent English reading skills but tend to feel shy when speaking (especially in front of other learners). It was here I discovered that two-hour or 90-minute lessons are a great idea financially but very demanding in reality for both students and teachers.
With many of my younger learners at HKIL it became clear parents understandably wanted them to excel in English tests at school and that is why they employed me. When I looked over these tests and realised they were often written and marked by non-native teachers rather than an official examining body I understood many of the struggles Hong Kong English learners have. 100% in a dictation test does not mean you can speak English.
Seven years as a teacher in the English department in two local schools (KCPS and GT College) after this in Hong Kong helped me understand how most people here have received English instruction. During this time I completed my Postgraduate Diploma in Education (English) at The University of Hong Kong (2006) and studied with serving teachers in Hong Kong gaining experience from them along the way.
I moved on from EAL to work for the English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong and Kiangsu & Chekiang International School. These two positions broadened my teaching ability beyond EAL but I still drew upon my EAL knowledge regularly when supporting students.
In my spare time I'm a keen runner and train with my dog on the trails near my home. I compete regularly in Hong Kong races and like to think my commitment to empowering students to be the best they can be is similar to my personal commitment to running.
2006 - Postgraduate Diploma in Education (English) - The University of Hong Kong
2003 - English Language Proficiency (mandatory test for teachers) Hong Kong. Distinction
1996 - BA (Hons) French & International Relations - The University of Warwick, UK
2010-2012 - Kiangsu & Chekiang International School, Hong Kong - Class Teacher
2008-2010 - English Schools Foundation, Hong Kong - Special Needs Class Teacher
2007-2008 - English Editor, Career Times (newspaper)
2006-2007 - Gifted & Talented College, Hong Kong - EAL Teacher
2000-2006 - Kiangsu & Chekiang Primary School, Hong Kong - EAL Teacher
1998-2000 - Hong Kong Institute of Languages, Hong Kong - EAL Teacher
1998-1998 - Lingua Nova, Poland - EAL Teacher
1996-1997 - Colombo International School, Sri Lanka - Class Teacher
My mission is simple: Make it fast. Make it fun. Empower English learners with the confidence to speak to anyone.
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