I grew up in a country with 11 national languages. Our education system requires us to graduate high school with a minimum of two languages, but most people are multilingual due to contact with other cultures in urban and economic settings.
I’ve been studying a second language since I was a child. This doesn’t mean I’m a polyglot or anything like that, but the experience has definitely taught me what it takes to reach a level of fluency required to pass high school exams, to write, read, and express myself in a second language. I’ve faced many of the difficulties that foreign language learners face as they try to move beyond intermediate level toward professional fluency.
I figured out early on what strategies worked for me and I used them when I started learning other languages. To date, I’ve studied Afrikaans, Spanish, and Portuguese to varying levels of fluency. I’ve had the opportunity to study language in a variety of settings (high school classroom, language school courses, university courses, distance learning courses, etc.) which has been invaluable to me as an English Foreign Language teacher.
I’ve taken the best of what each of these different teaching settings had to offer and used these strategies in my own teaching.
I was drawn to English teaching like most people are; I’d spent a few months in my GAP year working in Tenerife, Canary Islands where I began learning Spanish and caught the renowned travel bug. I went home to do my Social Science degree at university, but I wanted to travel afterwards. I studied Spanish and Portuguese and I earned my TEFL certification so I would be able to teach English abroad.
I’d never considered a career in English. I started working as a freelance English teacher with South Korean teenagers who had recently immigrated for extra money. The experience was extremely valuable and got me thinking about creative and personalised ways to get each individual to achieve their language goals. It made me a flexible teacher comfortable experimenting with different approaches.
This was a defining moment for me. I fell in love with my own language on a deeper level. I began to truly understand English on a structural level and to see its strengths and individualities as I had never had before.
I moved and started working at the British Council where I taught a wide range of learners studying English for a variety of reasons. I taught general and business English and tutored IELTS exam candidates with great success. I had the opportunity to experience teaching all levels from Beginner to Advanced. I particularly enjoyed helping the upper-level students take their English beyond the course books, sharing my passion for the language.
I’d found a place in English teaching where I wanted to focus: I wanted to help more advanced learners get a tighter grasp on English, to open a path to professional fluency and self-expression. I went back to freelancing and offered private tutoring. I started working with a client to proofread their report and it proved to be a wonderful experience that planted the seeds for the services I offer today.
At the same time, I worked as a freelance translator from Portuguese to English of environmental and social science reports for NGOs. I was also asked to proofread the organisations’ existing English reports. I really enjoyed this work. Getting this close to language structure, meaning, and writing craft evoked a desire to write.
I started a blog. My goal was to practise writing, hone my craft, and learn as much as possible about the world of writing and publishing. I thought about going back to school for some kind of writing qualification but I decided, having been an avid reader all my life, that everything I needed to know could be learned from literature. And so, my blog became a book blog. This is when I changed from a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants reader to reading with purpose.
I realised that with purposeful reading, there is nothing you can’t learn on your own. Self-education has become a huge part of my life. Previously, I subscribed to the idea that every new skill or subject you wanted to learn should be learned through school programs or courses. I’m not sure where I got that idea, but with the internet, we now have access to people and resources that can provide us with everything we need if we are willing to be purposeful about our own learning.
I have fallen hard for content writing and digital publication. I love blogging. Like so many other creatives, the desire to share my work and connect with others is strong. It just so happens that to connect with the largest number of people possible, it’s necessary to write in the language that most people share – English.
All of this has led me to where I am now. I’m pulling everything I’ve learned together to offer what I believe is a valuable means for non-native English language learners, writers, creatives to develop their English skills through their own writing, to take their fluency and growth into their own hands – with some guidance and support from me.