Regarding my personal life, I'm a wife and mother of two children - now adult. My husband and I live in rural Wales, and love the peace, quiet and greenery of the area. I was born in north London, though, and still retain my English accent. I enjoy listening to classical music and making up tunes on my guitar. Art is another interest and I often include sketches in my teaching. But the English language appeals to me more than anything - its rich variety of expressions, its numerous different accents and dialects, its complex history and mix of origins, and the fun it offers, creatively.
I have an honours degree (2:1) in English, from Exeter University, UK, and a certificate in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language, from St Giles College, London).
My love of the English language has shaped my working life, also compelling me to pass on my passion to others through writing and teaching. I'm a published writer of articles, mostly for teaching magazines and largely on the subject of teaching creative writing. I'm also a children's poet, with about 200 poems published in various anthologies. With this background, I've been running creative writing workshops for schools for the past twenty years, on a self-employed basis. This involves helping children and teens of all abilities to speak and write expressively, fluently and with confidence in English. Through this rewarding occupation, I have developed a range of communication and teaching skills which are also relevant to teaching English as a foreign language to adults, such as bringing the language alive with the help of artefacts, pictures and even mime and drama. The experience has also given me insights into some of the challenges English poses to learners, both native and new to the language - challenges posed by its rich and nuanced range of vocabulary, its subtly different tenses, complex grammatical structures and inconsistent spellings, as well as its vast and ever-evolving array of idioms and catchphrases. My teaching role in schools has also taught me to listen carefully to individual learners, and adapt to their differing needs, bringing meaning and inspiring confidence for joined up learning.
Before working in schools, I taught English as a foreign language to adult learners, having gained the TEFL certificate mentioned above. I did this privately on a one-to-one basis, and also in classes for organisations, such as the local council. I worked with people from around the world, including Europe, the Middle East, Somalia and China. Each experience brought me in touch with different cultures, approaches and teaching needs. My TEFL training equipped me with the essential teaching skills, but I learnt a whole lot more from the real-life experience of working with students who urgently needed to understand and be understood through the medium of English. Breaking down the language barriers to enable us to communicate our complex thoughts was an exciting challenge, both for me and my students, often carrying us way beyond the lesson plan as the possibilities for communication opened up. Some students were fluent speakers but wanted to improve their writing, others were good at understanding but less skilled and making themselves understood in English, and others had different problems - and that variety of needs taught me to stretch and adapt my teaching methods accordingly, sometimes on the spot. In fact, I'd say successful teaching is a matter of cutting a fine balance between a carefully chosen and prepared lesson plan and the ability to put it all on hold, think on the spot, and adapt as need be - a two-way process, from moment to moment.
My teaching is relaxed and informal, while also incorporating structured guidance and information. I do not prepare students specifically for exams, but teach and nurture all-round English. I offer speaking, listening, reading and writing, as required, but start and finish every lesson with informal conversation, keeping the language alive and relevant. I offer a trial lesson to find out what the student needs and wishes to learn and to get to know each other a little. I can then prepare future lessons accordingly, consulting the student at the end of each one to ensure they are happy with the content, level and pace. Each lesson will include vocabulary to learn, a grammar point to practise and revision of past lesson content, as well as any specific teaching areas requested, working continuously towards all-round fluency.