Today I am excited to bring you an interview with Justin, one of our amazing English teachers!
Justin is currently based in New York City and he works with our students to help them improve their business English skills for interviews, meetings, presentations and many other situations.
Justin has a lot of experience teaching and learning languages and he is here today to give you some tips about how you can become a better English learner.
Ready for some great advice? Keep reading!
Q: What makes you unique as an English teacher?
A: Perhaps it’s how I tend to downplay my own role in students’ learning.
I know that a teacher is important, since I have studied other languages myself and I like the interaction, but at the end of the day it is the student who takes control of his or her own learning, and they are the ones who make language learning happen.
I see myself as a guide to show the way. I like to help students recognize their own abilities and potential. I also haven’t met many ESL teachers who grew up on a farm with pigs and chickens, as I have in Western Massachusetts!
Q: What do you enjoy about teaching English?
A: The best part about teaching English is the people who I’ve met and learned from.
I have been exposed to so many different people and cultures through my job. It’s thoroughly rewarding and keeps the job new and exciting.
Q: What are 3 habits of successful English learners?
1. Anxiety is a big problem that hampers even the best students. It’s important to try and get over being afraid to speak with native speakers. This involves a lot of direct contact and practice whenever possible. A student can practice asking for directions, for example, to a place they are already familiar with, just to get over the speaking anxiety.
2. Keeping motivated is also important. As a student, you need to remind yourself of how much you have learned and how far you have gotten; don’t worry about what you don’t know!
3. Finally, as a student, think of ways to integrate English into your everyday life. Find an English language website that talks about things you like to practice reading. Find a group or social network online to practice your language skills. Join a club or take a free course. It’s amazing how much is out there for people who are learning English once they start looking, in terms of websites, blogs, forums, etc. People who have the same interests as you are less likely to judge your language ability and will be more focused on the discussion at hand.
Q: What can students do to cultivate those habits?
A: A lot of what I suggested involves lifestyle changes to some degree, but they can all begin with very small steps. You don’t need to suddenly do English-related things 24/7, just work progressively toward small goals.
Learning a language is a lot like working out or other kinds of training.
Q: What languages have you learned and what methods worked best for you?
A: I can speak German fluently, since I was able to live and work in that country on two separate occasions; I actually began my teaching career in Germany.
I majored in German and French in college, and I also understand and can communicate reasonably in Spanish. Now I’m tackling Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese). For me, focusing on gaining fluency in speaking and overcoming the anxiety to speak is the most effective “method.”
There you have it! Take Justin's advice! Take small steps to make English a bigger part of your everyday life, acknowledge your progress to stay motivated, and remember that you are in control of your own learning!
Many thanks to Justin for taking part in this interview!
Photo credits: kristyhall