Who has the experience and knowledge to make me a better speaker of English?
Who can make learning English fun, practical and effective?
The answer is here….
Contact me for a free introductory online session (15 minutes). If you are a business professional, a university or school student, someone who wants to improve their English to travel or work, I can help YOU.
Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
¿Cómo puedo mejorar mi nivel de inglés rápidamente?
¿Quién tiene la experiencia y el conocimiento para hacerme un mejor hablante de inglés?
¿Quién puede hacer que aprender inglés sea divertido, práctico y efectivo?
Wie kann ich mein Englischniveau schnell verbessern?
Wer hat die Erfahrung und das Wissen, um mich zu einem besseren Sprecher der englischen Sprache zu machen?
Wer kann Englischlernen unterhaltsam, praktisch und effektiv gestalten?
Comment puis-je améliorer mon niveau d’anglais rapidement ?
Qui a l’expérience et les connaissances pour faire de moi un meilleur locuteur de l’anglais ?
Qui peut rendre l’apprentissage de l’anglais amusant, pratique et efficace ?
Come posso migliorare rapidamente il mio livello di inglese?
Chi ha l’esperienza e le conoscenze per farmi parlare meglio l’inglese?
Chi può rendere l’apprendimento dell’inglese divertente, pratico ed efficace?
Bagaimana saya bisa meningkatkan level bahasa Inggris saya dengan cepat?
Siapa yang memiliki pengalaman dan pengetahuan untuk menjadikan saya pembicara bahasa Inggris yang lebih baik?
Siapa yang bisa membuat belajar bahasa Inggris menyenangkan, praktis dan efektif?
어떻게 하면 영어 수준을 빨리 향상시킬 수 있습니까?
누가 나를 더 나은 영어 구사자로 만드는 경험과 지식을 가지고 있습니까?
누가 영어 학습을 재미있고 실용적이며 효과적으로 만들 수 있습니까?
كيف يمكنني تحسين مستواي في اللغة الإنجليزية بسرعة؟
من لديه الخبرة والمعرفة التي تجعلني متحدثًا أفضل للغة الإنجليزية؟
من يمكنه جعل تعلم اللغة الإنجليزية ممتعًا وعمليًا وفعالًا؟
Mistakes. The scourge of the student. The fear of all language learners. A reason for shyness, for feeling inadequate, a reason perhaps to give up.
How many times at school did you receive a test back from your teacher? Over your page is a spider’s scrawl of red ink. INCORRECT. WRONG. SEE ME AFTER CLASS!!!! The fear wells up inside you as you expect to be yelled at, made to feel stupid for getting things wrong and even worse, humiliated in front of your friends and school mates.
Aren’t teachers supposed to be educating, nurturing and developing young minds?Surely the best and most effective way is to create a culture of trust and respect and environment that is conducive to learning. Not one that is borne out of some perverse power and ego trip that puts the teacher as the font of all knowledge, to be obeyed and respected through fear, like some despotic dictator. I still remember teachers at school who I feared being in a classroom with. Fear of their temper, fear of making a mistake and fear of never being good enough.
Then again, I remember even more those teachers who were the opposite. Who garnered respect through encouragement, patience and a willingness to help those who found particular subjects or ideas difficult to comprehend. When you made a mistake, they did not single you out or belittle you. Rather they would go over things again, possibly with the assistance of a more capable student. They would demonstrate, illustrate, provide clear and easy to understand examples, but crucially, they allowed you to try again. And would not scold you for making the same mistake again – but they understood you would eventually get it. Given time and the right environment for learning, all students would be able to understand even complicated theories and ideas – but everyone has a different potential for learning and critically, a different speed at which they can assimilate ideas and develop.
Learning anything is not a linear, equal process. I was excellent at geography, won a school prize in the subject, went on to study it at university. I picked up everything without difficulty (except for scientific equations in geomorphology….my Kryptonite). But put me in front of a physics or chemistry text book and it was like learning Chinese or Arabic or Russian. Like a different alphabet and language altogether. I still struggled, but I had patient teachers who assisted, rather than cajoled and pressured me to learn.
Learning English – Mistakes Are Positive Things
I have now taught English as a Foreign Language for 25 years. And I am confident that every lesson I have taught has contained a myriad of mistakes. From my students, of course. But also inadvertent mistakes by myself. Spelling errors, a mispronunciation with syllable stress, a poorly worded explanation as I could not remember what the word meant (only for a moment or two). But these mistakes are all part of being human. We are not robots, we aspire to but never reach perfection. Mistakes make us human. I would quickly rectify my mistakes and would not hide away from them. If a student pointed out I had accidentally spelled a word wrong (government / environment were always my Achilles heel…n before m please!) I would say, ‘Excellent, well done, you found the deliberate mistake today’ and then go on to say it just shows that
‘Mistakes are normal, to be expected and nothing we need to be ashamed of.’
If I could not think of the correct way to explain a word, or Heaven forbid, I was presented with a word that I was unsure of the meaning of, for example ‘disestablishmentarianism’ I would not try and bluff out some contrived definition. I would say,
‘One moment, let me check in the dictionary. Because that’s what dictionaries are for. To help us out when we don’t know a word. Because, contrary to popular belief, I don’t know EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. in the English language.’
I have taught students who were so afraid of making mistakes when speaking, that they clammed up entirely and hardly said a word in their first class with me. Despite my best efforts to elicit responses, to encourage and create a friendly, unintimidating atmosphere, they were sometimes just completely overawed. At the end of the class I would ask to talk to them and explain about the ‘importance of making mistakes.’ Sometimes I had to console a student who had broken down in tears. But I always pointed out that
‘If you don’t make mistakes, there is no need for you to be here. You would be speaking perfectly and in no need of English lessons. Mistakes are natural, normal and we all make them. But when you make a mistake, it is my job to identify and help you correct it – and to help you become aware of the mistake, so you learn and hopefully eliminate it. I can’t guarantee you won’t make the mistake again, but eventually the mistake will disappear.’
Then the student would have a light bulb moment and realise what I said made sense. They would depart with a happy ‘Thank you for teach me (sic)‘
Mistakes Are Positives – Not Negatives
Why are mistakes positives?
Mistakes are essential for students to learn and develop. They learn from other students when they mistakes and their class mates will help correct the mistakes they make. It is a mutual benefit.
Students are not stupid. There is a feeling sometimes that because a student is a low level in an English language class, they are not that bright. I have had brilliant business leaders, scientists, engineers, lawyers, doctors etc, all with a lower level in English. Making mistakes in their normal everyday working life is something they are not expect to do. Helping them feel empowered to make mistakes in language learning is liberating.
Making mistakes leads to learning and self improvement. Every time a student makes a mistake, self-corrects, or is assisted in correcting their error, it is another step in the language learning journey. Making mistakes and finding the correct answer helps embed new language, grammar points, pronunciation etc, in their short term and then long term memory
Making mistakes can be memorable and fun! When I first learned Indonesian, I remember talking to a street food vendor. I asked her for a cup of tea, without sugar. I said, ‘Satu cangkir teh, tampa gila.’ instead of ‘Satu cangkir teh, tampa gula.’Gila means crazy and gula means sugar. She laughed, I laughed and I immediately learned the difference between gila and gula and I didn’t make that mistake again.
Mistakes create empathy through shared experience. We have all been there, making mistakes as we learn language, a new skill, a musical instrument, a new job. But then again, so have the people around us. No one steps into the language classroom, the new office, or picks up the guitar or violin or plays the piano for the first time without making mistakes. Mistakes ground us, but also connect us to our peers. In turn, as we develop and improve, we can show empathy for those who learn after us.
So, go ahead, make mistakes (but if you are an English language teacher, a music teacher, a dance teacher or any kind of teacher, preparation is the key to reducing mistakes.) But be honest and human about it. Your students will respect you much more if you are honest about mistakes, that you make them and that you are not perfect. No student expects their teacher to be perfect. Instead, they expect dedication, commitment, respect, understanding, empathy, honesty, kindness, integrity, knowledge, patience, trust and to finish every class having learned something.
And if they feel comfortable to make mistakes during each class, not because they were intent on making mistakes, more that they were accidental or through misunderstanding, they will feel able to grow, learn and develop with you.
And you will earn a lot of respect for enabling and nurturing them to do so.
Hello, here we are. April already. Where has the year gone? We are at the 95th day of the year. how do I know?
Well, since 1st January, I have been writing an original poem every day and sharing them via my Instagram and Twitter accounts ( @apoemaday2021 )
I have posted new poems every day for 90 days in January, February and March….and am already on the 5th day of April. It is quite a challenge to come up with a new idea, write a poem that is fresh and interesting.
Each month has a different theme;
January – Lockdown, Longing and Memories
February – Places, People and the Spaces in Between
March – Wishes, Dreams, Hopes and Time
Every 3 months I will be self-publishing a book. Volume 1 is out now and contains over 100 poems (90 days, but some have more than 1 poem…) with a few guest poet collaborations.
The poetry collection is available both in paperback and in Kindle eBook download.
If you are in the UK the price is £10 which includes free UK delivery. The Kindle book is £2.99
All proceeds from the sales of A Poem A Day 2021 – Volume 1 will be donated to Make A Wish UK, a charity that granted my daughter Milla a wish in 2012. We spent a week in Florida visiting the Disneyland theme parks and Milla received VIP treatment. Sadly Milla, who was severely disabled with cerebral palsy, passed away in 2012. But I promised her I would continue to support and fundraise fro charities that helped Milla and us.
To learn more about the wonderful work that Make A Wish does visit,
To learn more about the wonderful work Make A Wish does
So many languages to choose from…why bother with English?
What is the point of learning English anyway?
When the internet is no longer the exclusive domain of the English speaker, every language and script is catered for. English is less relevant as a medium of communication than it was say 10 years ago. No one really needs to learn the language. Even the most inept speakers of English can request emails and documents sent to them and pass them through Google translate or a similar translation medium. Language schools in the UK are pretty much a rarity these days. The school I worked for for over 18 years sadly closed its doors in large part due to the COVID pandemic, but there has been a steady and inexorable decline in overseas students taking up residential English language courses. More and more individuals and companies are looking to access online learning. It is generally much cheaper, allows the employee or individual to stay in their country, to study at a time convenient to them and to reduce the impact of time away from the company or family. Win win. For many people perhaps, learning English is now a secondary concern.
But is that really true? No, absolutely not. While there has been an evident and increasing shift from face to face class based / residential language courses to classes conducted over Zoom and Teams, the demand for learning English is still very much there. The sectors of society who are looking for improvements in their English ability are drawn from different backgrounds, namely:
Students looking to go abroad to study in the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or even countries that use English as the medium of communication in tertiary education such as Malaysia and Singapore.
Professionals in industries such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary science. There has been a steady uptake of individuals looking to work in overseas medical placements and requiring an official qualification in English, for example IELTS or OET.
Company employees. It is true that many new employees are recruited not only for the experience, qualifications, suitability and potential in a particular job, but also for their proficiency in a second language, most typically English. But there is a large section of employees who lack the English skills they need to (i) perform their job to a required standard (perhaps new clients who speak English, a change in company communication policy demanding all communication needs to be in English.) or (ii) require a higher level of English and better confidence in order to secure a promotion or to move jobs
Young learners – children and teenagers. Many parents recognize the advantage a good level of English can give their children as they progress through life and look to secure rewarding and fulfilling careers. Additional English language tuition at an early age is highly recommended for rapid progress and language development.
Older learners – Nowadays more and more people are able to travel in their retirement, or indeed due to being more economically mobile and having a substantial disposable income that allows for travel to different parts of the world. Retirees, business managers and their families – they are increasingly turning to language courses for ‘essential / survival’ English when they are abroad. As much as taking their passport and sunglasses with them, they feel better equipped with English at the ready. And this is true of travel not just to native English speaking countries. English remains the language of tourism and travel. You don’t hear announcements in Chinese, Japanese or Mongolian on a London train station concourse.
So, why bother with English?
English has not gone away. It has not disappeared in the global pandemic. It is still present and persistent in so many facets of international life. One thing is for sure. The demand for English is still high, even though the way lessons are being accessed has changed from the physical to the virtual. Once this pandemic has subsided and people are more able to travel for business and pleasure, for study and employment, English will be as essential as it always has been.
Isn’t it time you did something to improve your own English language ability?
If you or someone you know would like to improve their English, please get in touch. With 24 years of English teaching experience, I can help you reach your goal in English.