ELTABBer of the Month: The Best Bits!

Yes, teaching actually can be a fun profession!

There’s one major thing which sets ELT teachers apart from the crowd and that is their experience. Everyone I speak to at ELTABB events has a story to tell and they are more than willing to share!

One teacher who had retired from IT, moved to Berlin to pursue his love of learning German. There, he got into teaching to support his passion. Another moved to Berlin after studying TEFL. She started making videos for an online school, built up her network and created a booming company teaching business English.

Through each individual story comes a wealth of wisdom, a treasure chest of tried and tested teaching ideas. Together with a bundle of inspiring experiences just waiting to be divulged. ELTABB members have intriguing stories which need sharing and this is what started the ELTABBer of the month interview.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve conducted a grand total of 25 interviews with 25 very different teachers. Each interview was made up of questions submitted by curious ELTABB members and then subsequently edited and published by me. The feedback I’ve received has been heart-warming.  I’m so glad you have enjoyed reading the interviews as much as I have enjoyed conducting them.

For this article, I decided to bring together a selection of quotes from the interviews and put them under the themes: teaching tips, teaching experiences, ELTABB and then my favourites.

Teaching Tips:

“In a language classroom I have observed that learners bring their own perceptions that stem from their language and culture into a foreign language classroom. That is why I think it is necessary to communicate this interconnected relationship between language and culture to our learners. And to take it into consideration when teaching.” Tihana Romanic

“Contrary to the saying, practice makes permanent, not perfect! This is why our students need to be using their limited time at home and in the classroom effectively and not training bad habits.” Mike Budden

“Have your food shopping delivered.” (time management tip) Edwina Moorehouse

“I am always my students’ ‘cheerleader’, so to speak, encouraging and celebrating their small victories.” Sarah Brown

“Getting students to slow down and employ silence strategically, getting them to become interested in the sounds of words, to enjoy the power of intonation and emphasis. Getting them to realise they have a palette of sound rather than just a text to memorise.” (on teaching students to use their voice) Carol McGuigan

“Including a personal element and some kind of relevant story helps to appeal to the emotions of your audience. This can really help – even with business students and content – as long as you bring your key points back to the business messages, whatever they may be.” (on giving presentations) Phoebe Blackburn

“I think it’s a great tool (not a necessity) to know aspects of the students L1. It’s like an insider perspective that can give clues and understanding into the challenges of the students.” Sarah Brown

“My prediction? If we want to survive in this industry, we will need to offer something that AI does not.” Evan Frendo

“I think a great trainer is curious about teaching and learning and always has something about their teaching practice that they are working on improving.” Theresa Gorman

Teaching Experiences:

“My business experience in the UK was definitely helpful in terms of overcoming intercultural obstacles. For example, building up trust through small talk, working on first-name terms and the paradox of being self-effacing yet at the same time not too modest!” Chris Chandler

“Only after taking part in a business plan competition, did I begin to think it could actually work.” (about setting up a school) Justin Ehresman

“What I liked a lot was that they (young learners) easily get excited about activities like creating a picture with drawings and stickers and later on writing a text about it in English. The results are usually great and rewarding!” Sabrina Bechler

“My linguistics background has definitely helped me become extremely observant of learners’ linguistic patterns (speech, pronunciation, errors, etc.) as well as their non-verbal body language, which is important to be aware of.” Breanna Alexander

“I wished I had known what a challenge classroom management can be and had learned more about it.” (on what she wished she’d known when she started teaching) Annette Stemmerich

“Helping pioneer teaching via video-conferencing in a European telecom project in the early 80s was great fun. The technology has changed from needing a floor full of technicians to today’s using a Skype application on our laptops.” (on her favourite job in ELT) Kathy Jähnig

“I like to introduce specific intercultural critical incidents and use this as a basis for discussion. What happened, why did it happen and what could have been done to prevent it? Equally important, given the incident has happened, what can be done to rectify the situation, if anything.” (on intercultural training) Leo Waters

“I was lucky enough to work on the island itself, inside a small shopping centre. My classroom had the luxury of …  a window! That opened!” (on teaching conditions in Hong Kong) Edwina Moorehouse

“When teaching Business English, it’s been very useful to have first-hand experience of how misunderstandings can creep in. Or of how using the wrong tone can upset a meeting or a relationship.” (on how his previous career helped his teaching career) Robert Nisbet

“In a different country, learning 10 minutes before an EMI class started that one of the participants was the last Minister of Education.” (on memorable teaching moments) Nick Munby

“One was a professor on my TESOL course. When I told him that my student did not like following the lesson plan, he said ‘Paul, who is paying your wages?’” (on who has influenced him) Paul Hewitson

“The competition among the ESL trainers was a shocker. I was not used to being asked why I was teaching English. It took me a while to realize how to deal with it, but it only helped me find my strengths.” (on differences in the field in Germany and Ukraine) Galina Khinchuk


(I’ve left these anonymous to give a general overview of what people said about ELTABB.)

”I like the fact that ELTABB strives to create a sense of community. The revival of the regular Stammtisch is a great example.”

“I wanted to network with other trainers, take part in workshops and find out about more professional development.”

“If you get around and socialise at events and people know who you are, it opens up doors to help find work, share materials or have a network of people you can ask for teaching tips when you need it.”

“For freelance teachers, things can be quite lonely sometimes, especially if you wanted to discuss, get suggestions or feedback on ideas for new things etc.” (on the benefits of joining ELTABB)

“I’d definitely recommend it for any teacher at any stage of their teaching. There is always so much to share and learn from each other.” (on the mentoring programme)

“It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve got to know a great bunch of people” (on being on the board)

“For me this turnover of committee members and the willingness of people to come forward and volunteer has been the sign of a healthy organisation.”

“When I was approached at the AGM about shadowing the Events coordinator, it felt like the perfect way of getting to know how a teacher association works. I love designing our event posters, which has made me think about layout and brought creativity to my days.”

My Favourite Quotes

“In fact, I have learned 27 languages in a variety of formats. 7 have stuck.” Justin Ehresman

“I really like Irish Pubs, so that’s why we often have our Stammtisch there.” (on why she revived the Stammtisch) Sabrina Bechler

“When I was a teenager, I started listening to the British Forces Broadcasting Service in the area where I grew up. I fell in love with a DJ, Alan Banks, and we listened to his late night show “night flight” for years.” (on her reason for learning English) Annette Stemmerich

“Every adult is a kid at heart and nothing is more motivating while learning a language than relaxing, enjoying what you are doing and having fun.” (on the similarities between teaching adults and kids) Dorothy Sommer

“I am delighted and astounded! This is the most momentous thing that has happened to me since I won bronze medal in a swimming competition when I was 14!” (on being nominated for ELTABBer of the month) Paul Hewitson

If you would like to read the full interviews, go to http://www.eltabb.com/category/blog/

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you who played a part in these interviews. Whether you were interviewed, submitted a question or wrote to me saying how much you liked reading them. Or simply enjoyed reading them over your morning coffee!

Mandy Welfare

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