Our teacher Lorna reflects on 10 years of teaching English as a foreign language with us at Living Learning English - Something to celebrate!
10th June 2011. It doesn’t seem like a particularly important date, does it? Well, it is for me, as this was the date, 10 years ago today, when I first welcomed a Living Learning English student into my home. Some other, I hope interesting, facts about what has happened in those 10 years; from memory I’ve now hosted over 60 students from 15 different countries spread across 3 continents. In the last year, for reasons which are obvious, I’ve also started teaching online and have already had more than 40 online students. Almost unbelievably, these students have ranged in age and life stage from primary school (8 years old) to retired (70 years old). And of course, all with their own interests, unique backgrounds, stories to tell and reasons for learning English. It’s certainly been a diverse experience.
And what have I taught? Well, the beauty of 1:1 lessons is that they are all tailored to the student, so that the course develops according to what the student needs. I’m proud to say that I’ve helped many students to prepare for and pass exams in English, which will then enable them to access a further course, study abroad or improve their promotional prospects. I’ve coached business people to improve their spoken and written English so that they can communicate with international clients through phone calls, presentations, email and other media. For many teenagers, bored with ‘textbook’ lessons in their own country, I’ve incorporated a lot of topical subjects, giving them a reason to speak and want to use the language. The lessons with younger learners have involved many fun games, challenges and role-play so that the language learning has seemed incidental. Due to my own love of English literature, some of my favourite courses have been with students who requested literature-based lessons and together we’ve delved into Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens, as well as works by contemporary writers. More than anything, with all my students I hope they have had a sense of progress, that I’ve brought English to life for them and inspired them to go on learning.
Of course, the learning has not been all one-way, as my life, too, has been immensely enriched through hosting and tutoring. On a basic level, my knowledge of geography and the features of other languages has certainly improved. Professionally, I’ve honed my craft at teacher training sessions run by Living Learning English where I attended keynote speeches and participated in workshops run by some of the leading thinkers in the world of teaching English as a foreign language. But more than that, I am privileged to have shared many unforgettable cultural moments with my students, a few of which I will relate here. I sat awe-inspired with my family in my own kitchen, as a Japanese grandmother performed a traditional tea ceremony for us, having brought all the equipment and costume over with her from Japan for this purpose. On another occasion, me and some friends chatted late into the evening, in a replica of communal cooking in China, as a young Chinese woman showed us how to make dumplings and other regional dishes, which we then ate with gusto. I now have a greater appreciation of Italian wine and know what to look for when I’m buying after a refined Italian gentleman took me to the supermarket and gave me an impromptu tutorial. My tennis and swimming have both improved thanks to some top tips from students with a semi-professional level and a passion for these sports. On trips abroad, we have even looked up past students and been treated to an insiders’ tour of Barcelona, a sightseeing trip and dinner in Bilbao and a birthday celebration in Switzerland. How lucky are we to have contacts in so many countries?
The joy of revealing our beautiful country to overseas visitors has been another highlight of this job, whilst taking part in the social programme, an integral part of any Living Learning English course. I’ve visited some favourite locations and old haunts several times; the bustling market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, the amazing London museums, walks along the South Bank, the breezy Brighton seafront. Sometimes this has even led to me experiencing my own ‘firsts’ as a result of hosting: the first time I went to Cambridge, visited Westminster Abbey and rode on the London Eye were all when accompanying a student. You could say, it has given me a new perspective on the delights that England offers.
So today, 10 years on, it has been a time for reflection. I have enjoyed it all so far. And as I now look to the future, I wonder what dawning lights of comprehension, shared smiles over meaningful lessons, language learning triumphs and lasting friendships await.
Thank you Lorna, for a lovely reflection on your 10 years of teaching (and learning!) with us.