Anna is a teacher with a very creative approach. And she admits it’s not just for the benefit of her students! She gets bored herself if there’s nothing new so she keeps thinking of different activities for her classes. Outside the classroom she is a very creative person too, she sings and plays the guitar (when she has the time). If you like learning English with your favorite songs, for example, she might be just the teacher for you! If you want to start speaking English and enjoy the process of learning, she is also a perfect teacher. Read on!
OC (Online Class): Anna, why did you learn English in the first place and why did you decide to teach it?
A (Anna): I always wanted to be a teacher. I gave lesson to my toys first, then to my younger brother and his friends, I was always teaching them something. So it was a conscious dream and I only needed to choose a subject to teach. My school trip to Canada was a decisive time for me, I loved meeting people there, doing the sights, getting to know more about other country’s traditions. And that’s when I realized English was my passion. I wanted to learn it perfectly and be able to teach others. So I entered MSLU (Minsk State Linguistic University) and graduated with honors. Besides English, I learned German, French, and Spanish.
OC: And do you speak them fluently too?
A: I have almost completely forgotten French, I didn’t have a chance to practice it anywhere. I’ve been to France but very briefly. I think I could brush up my Spanish easily as I’ve been to Spain with a group of children, I had a lot of speech practice. As for German, I speak it well, I actually teach it alongside English. I’ve been to Germany many times, and this year I took some German classes to get even better at it.
OC: How do you keep improving your English?
A: It’s actually easy as I have many English-speaking friends. We visit each other or talk online. In my family, we try to speak English to each other. The kids are not always happy about that but it’s actually super useful. Besides, I watch the news in English, I watch movies, I read a lot, both books and magazines.
OC: What do you like to read?
A: I guess I love detective stories most of all. I’ve read a lot of books by Agatha Christie, by Arthur Conan Doyle. Today you can download and read almost any book in its original language. Back at university we had a subject called Analytical Reading. We read a lot of interesting books there as well. I remember reading “Three Men in a Boat”, that’s a very funny book.
OC: What kind of English teachers did you like at university?
A: We had a lot of great teachers. Those that I liked the most were the most enthusiastic, the most passionate, the most dedicated to what they do. And we had a lot of interesting subjects that deal with different aspects of a language: grammar, speaking, reading, listening, phonetics.
OC: Phonetics? What do people do in those classes?
A: Those classes can be very unusual actually. It’s all about exercises that help you learn to pronounce English sounds correctly. During the first classes you are supposed to have a little mirror in your hand, and you are taught to put your tongue into the right position, to curve your lips in the right way. Then you start learning poems and dialogues by heart, reading them with the right intonation. One funny exercise is to pronounce Russian words and phrases with an English accent. And it’s very helpful by the way, it highlights the differences between the phonetic systems of the two languages.
OC: And with your students, do you work on their pronunciation too?
A: If they need it, then of course we do. A strong accent may significantly hinder communication. But confident and distinct pronunciation, on the other hand, renders your speech fluent and much more understandable. And it’s actually easier for you to understand native speakers once you’ve mastered their pronunciation. Speaking and understanding speech are actually the most important skills in learning a language. Sadly, many schools and universities still put more emphasis on reading and writing. It’s not surprising then that many graduates can’t speak English even though they have studied it for many years.
OC: That’s true.
A: So I always try to engage my students in conversation. If we’ve read a text, we need to discuss it. If we are doing an exercise, let’s have a break and discuss this or that thought or sentence. And we can try and make use of the grammar we are studying right now. Use it in speech and not in an exercise. All conversations and games in English are very useful for learners at any level. And when you have been teaching English for many years, you can even come up with new topics or activities for classes on the spot.
OC: Super! What do you think of teaching online?
A: I think it’s a great advantage, whichever way you look at it. When the first online schools and online tutors appeared, I was just watching that and thinking this format might be restrictive in some aspects. But as technologies developed and started playing a greater role in our lives, online education became more and more popular, and for a reason. There are handy tools to facilitate the process, like our platform at Online Class. You can work with study files right there on a virtual whiteboard. Thanks to that, classes become more interesting, interactive, and efficient. And both the teacher and the student save so much time.
OC: Has English been useful for your students, do they share success stories?
A: Sure, and I’m always happy to hear from them, to learn they are getting ahead in life thanks to being able to speak English. For example, I’ve worked with some IT-guys who went on to work abroad. They keep learning English at an advanced professional level but our classes were a great start that helped them get there in the first place. Many of my students actually live abroad now, in America, in New Zealand, in other English-speaking countries. I also have experience with preparing school graduates to centralized tests. My students passed them very well and entered the universities of their dreams.
OC: Have you ever had students who didn’t really want to learn? How did you inspire them?
A: Well, adults usually have clear reasons to learn English so they are motivated enough. Teenagers and university students sometimes just need to pass an exam but don’t think of any long-term goals beyond that. So they may not try hard enough and appear to be bored. That’s where the teacher should come in with something more personalized and engaging to lure the student into learning things. For example, most teenagers have idols like actors or musicians, so we can read and watch their interviews, watch movies or music videos, and that’s bound to be interesting. It’s a great method, and you can progress in English really fast like that.
OC: It sounds great but it must be time-consuming to prepare something like that for a class instead of just bringing a textbook.
A: Sure, it may take a lot of time but I really enjoy it. I’m a curious person, I don’t just love to teach people, I also love to learn. And I love watching my students progress. I see that learning a new language and speaking it, a person becomes a little different, be it a kid or an adult. They broaden their horizons and it contributes to self-improvement. That’s what gives me the reason to do my best as a teacher of English.
If you want to learn English quickly and easily, Anna is just the teacher for you. You can contact us to learn if she is taking any new groups or students at the moment. If she is not, don’t be sad either, we have many more teachers who are equally in love with teaching English and are eager to help you learn it and speak fluently! Read all of their interviews here.