Be ready to risk making mistakes (part 1/4)
Why did you decide to teach English to people whose first language is not English?
Communication with those around me has been a driving force in my life from my childhood on. When I was only six or seven years old, one of my uncles married a young Hispanic woman who had two children close to my age. They would often speak Spanish, and I wanted to join in their conversation–but couldn’t!! Never had I heard any other language spoken except English up to that point in my life. I remember trying my hardest to wrap my tongue around their “gibberish” every opportunity I had, all because communicating with those around me was vital to me.
What do you like the most about teaching English?
From that early childhood experience I determined to study not only foreign languages whenever possible, but the mechanics and intricacies of English as well. I even taught American students English grammar. What a challenge to try to get these young students as excited about their own language as I was! I had no idea that God was preparing me for something beyond my wildest dreams during those years. I was just having fun communicating—in German, Spanish, English, or whatever!
How did you become a part of ministry called “Serving Slovakia”?
In 2007, when New Heights Church here in Vancouver partnered with the CCE to bring English teams to Martin, I was asked to be one of the lead teachers on the team. To help prepare for this teaching opportunity, I tutored ESL students at a nearby community college and, once again, I was intrigued with the challenge of helping these people from all over the globe to learn a new language. And doing so brought such pleasure—I was hooked!
What kinds of challenges does teaching English in Slovakia have?
Teaching English as a Foreign Language offers many challenges. To teach a new language to beginning EFL students, they must learn to be vulnerable—to risk making mistakes. I remember how anxious and nervous my first adult beginner class in Martin was. To help them relax, I encouraged them to teach me a few simple words in their own language. They were soon laughing at the funny sounds coming out of my mouth as I tried to say words like zmrzlina or d’akujem! As they learned that I would not embarrass them or laugh at them, a trust relationship emerged in that classroom that resulted in relationships that I carry with me to this day.