Natalia didn’t choose to be an ESL teacher, but loves it, read her story and her views about the industry.
Natalia has spent lot of time teaching, copywriting and managing others. She also worked as a TV and radio presenter. Natalia asserts it was pretty much like teaching: you give information to a group of people, and make it entertaining and useful.
Natalia always had to speak either Russian or English at work. I have worked in a not-so-populated capital in Siberia and in super-crowded cities of China. According to feedback, Natalia is supremely organised and hard-working. She loves helping others to grow, and feels excited being in front of big audience.
She a good team player, but often has a different perspective (since most of her jobs were creative, it always came in handy).
What are your qualifications?
- TKT Young learners
- Master’s degree in English
- International Diploma in Language Teaching Management
How long have you been working in the ESL industry?
What made you choose teaching ESL as a job?
It wasn’t my choice, but I don’t regret it at all. Sometimes parents can choose the right occupation for their kids.
What challenges do you face in the school if you are working in a foreign country?
Language and culture barrier. You don’t know which ideas and concepts are acceptable and which are not. Several years ago my colleagues were surprised that Chinese students weren’t very excited about questions about their future job. It’s such a popular topic with kids in Western culture. But apparently, at that time, not so many Chinese kids chose jobs according their personal wishes, so the question: “What do you want to be?” was considered at the very least, weird. It’s like if you were asked: “How much money, exactly, do you want to have by year 2037?”
What challenges do you face in the classroom?
It’s a little embarrassing, but I’m still struggling with controlling my emotions. I’m a pretty open and sincere person and I’m afraid that my real emotions, like surprise, anger or lack of patience are quite obvious on my face even though I try to hide them.
What are the biggest obstacles in securing a position?
Your personal motivation and maybe background security check (Jokes!).
What do you wish you knew before you walked into the classroom for the first time?
I wish I was better at reading faces and feeling the general atmosphere in class.
If you are teaching in a foreign country what obstacles do you face from a cultural perspective?
You know so little of local culture that you can be taken as ignorant or rude without even realising it.
What are the greatest rewards with this kind of work?
You students’ progress, their appreciation and retention.
What is your top tip for people considering becoming an ESL teacher?
Every teacher is different and everyone should look for their personal style of teaching. Don’t try to be someone else, even if that someone is awesome.
What is a must have resource for the classroom?
A whiteboard and your imagination.
What is an important issue that is affecting the ESL industry?
There are some people who believe that ‘Those who can’t do, teach’ is a true statement.
How do you manage cultural differences and expectations in the classroom or with parents of students?
I ask questions and learn.
What do you least enjoy about life as an ESL teacher?
Frustrated colleagues, who don’t realize that bad students in their class are only their own fault in most cases.
What are your long term career goals?
I want to be really good at making new happy and highly-skilled teachers.
What do you wish the general public knew about the ESL industry?
I wish they knew that a decent teacher has lots of great skills: organising/scheduling, planning, managing resources, public speaking, managing people, motivating, leading, creativity and ability to learn forever.
Do you have an English only classroom? Do you think this is effective?
I usually do because most of my students can’t speak the languages I speak. I believe it’s very effective, though sometimes it’s good if foreign grammar is explained to you in your language.
Is there a difference to the way you teach adults and children?
Yes, I can’t imagine how to teach kids without allowing them to move around the classroom.
How much time do you spend lesson planning?
It depends. With new material at a new school, environment, country it might take longer at least at the beginning. But eventually it shouldn’t be more than 20 minutes. If it is, you are doing something wrong. Lost in Lesson Planning? Click here
How do you measure whether your students are engaged and learning?
Actually after some time a teacher is capable of reading faces, and now if I can’t see my online students’ faces, I manage to feel it by the length of a pause after my words.
What is a good learning activity you have had success with in the classroom?
A drinking game ‘21’ 🙂 It’s good for practicing new words and shaking up the mood in the class (but without drinking, of course).
For instructions on how to play ’21’, click here.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions and answers!
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The opinions expressed in this article/interview are the interviewees own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Travel Everywhere. Earn Anywhere. The content is as supplied to us, and no changes have been made.