Name: Cynthia T. Luna
How long have you been teaching?
I started teaching formally in September 2012. Once started, I realized that I have been teaching in one way or another all my life.
What are you teaching?
I teach mainly Business English to young international undergraduates from all over the world. In February, I also started teaching Communication Skills to the same students in their second semester.
What certifications do you have?
I have an M.Sc. in Communications (Public Relations) and a Bachelor’s degree in French language and literature. I also have a professional interest in the written word, as well as an interest in the personal growth that takes place when you realize that you are no longer translating from your mother tongue into a new language, you are actually thinking in it! (I’m also in the process of learning German–the language of my new home.)
How did you get into teaching English?
Rather by chance. I needed to find a way to return to Switzerland for personal reasons and stumbled upon an ad for a part-time English teacher. One thing led to another.
Where are you currently working? What kind of contract are you working under? How long have you been working there?
SBS-Swiss Business School in Kloten-Zurich hired me to teach English to first-year undergraduates as a Freelance Instructor. It’s part of their academic credo to have instructors with real-world experience impart their experience and knowledge to young people. The idea is that instructors keep their day job, while teaching one or two two-hour classes per week. Contracts are up for renewal right before the beginning of each semester. I’ve been with SBS since September 2012 and just started teaching Spring semester courses in February 2013.
Where else have you worked?
I have traveled quite a bit around the United States. When I lived in Washington, D.C., I worked for a few advocacy organizations where I provided publicity and PR support for initiatives that were important to me. After a few years, I also moved to the island of Maui (Hawaii) where I headed up communications for a community media television station that launched several interesting initiatives involving building community support and adopting social media tactics. Just prior to moving to Switzerland, I was part owner and general manager of a start-up restaurant–what an experience!
Where do you prefer teaching English?
Wherever and whenever lively conversation takes place.
What do you love about teaching English?
English has become the lingua franca for so many, I have noticed. Add to the fact that American media — so widely exported — has over decades managed to cultivate a wide and varied audience. I am amazed to hear that a Swiss girl who lived in the Philippines loves Twilight, and of course, don’t forget the South American fellow who grew up in Europe who absolutely loves Star Wars. And who doesn’t know that Mr. Bond likes his martini shaken, not stirred?
What are the advantages to teaching for you?
Still being connected to what’s going on in the world around you. It’s also a great exercise towards learning and remembering what ultimately motivates people to do things. I am constantly looking for ways to keep lesson materials fresh and engaging to encourage conversation in the classroom. I wasn’t a fan of the top-down, one-way communications lesson model when I was a student, and I’m even less of a fan now, as an instructor. The students seem to respond and learn better from a two-way model.
What are the disadvantages to teaching for you?
Teaching is so important, yet the pay doesn’t really entice some of the world’s most talented and knowledgeable people to carve out some time from their lives to share their wisdom with our youth. The pay makes one wonder why as a society we seem to value the profession so little.
Do you like teaching English? Why?
I love teaching English, and I’m so thankful to have such an intimate and varied relationship with the language. There is a precise word for so many things. I love how English has historically drawn from Latin, Saxon and Greek influences, and continues to draw from other cultures today. I love being able to tell a native French speaker, for example, that we share words with them.
Do you do another job?
Yes. I also freelance as a communications/PR consultant and write articles and blog posts for small publications and small and medium-sized businesses. I’m always on the hunt for new challenges.
I want to give a very big thank you to Cynthia for sharing her rich experience as an English Language teacher. You should check out Cynthia’s blog over at http://www.livingincyn.com. There you’ll find interesting posts that Cynthia writes about food, culture, writing, and of course living life to the fullest in Switzerland.