Teacher Feature # 7

Name: Kasia Franica Image

Nationality: Polish

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been a teacher for 6 years, but I started giving private lessons even before that, probably 9 years ago.

What are you teaching? EFL/ESL

I teach EFL at various levels in a primary school as well as a secondary school. Additionally, I work for two language schools and do regular classes plus Business English classes from time to time.

What certifications do you have?

I have a BA as well as an MA in English.

How did you get into teaching English?

I think I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to be since I was a kid, especially after my uncle started teaching me the language while he was doing his MA in English. In secondary school I had no second thoughts about the profile I was going to choose and continued my education at university. During my 3rd year, I had to do an internship at school. When I was finished with it, the headmaster offered me a full-time job for the next two years during which I’d be filling in for a pregnant teacher. I took the job with no hesitation and that’s how it all began.

Where are you currently working? Country, school, companies, etc.

I work in Racibórz, Poland. I teach in a school that consists of a primary, a middle and a secondary school and sometimes I find myself teaching all possible levels between the ages of 7 and 18. On top of that I work for two language schools which sometimes send me out to companies to teach but I don’t work directly for those companies.

What kind of contract are you working under?

I’m working under a one-year contract that is renewed every September. There are a few levels of promotion within the school system in Poland and now I’m on the second level (‘a contracted teacher’). If I manage to pass the exam and reach the next one I will get a tenure for life but will still have one more level to reach.

How long have you been working there?

I have been working for four years now in that particular school.

Where else have you worked?

I worked in a middle school in Poznan, Poland. Then I moved to Racibórz and have worked for the same three schools since.

Where do you prefer teaching English?

It’s difficult to say. I think I prefer language schools because most often you get to teach adults who simply want to learn and don’t feel the pressure of state exams that they have to pass. I don’t feel the pressure of those exams either so in effect we can focus on more practical skills during our lessons.

What do you love about teaching English?

I love the fact that English might actually be the most useful thing that you can pass on to your students. They may or may not use the knowledge they acquire in other lessons, but they will surely have to use English one day. Whenever I get a more advanced group I really enjoy having discussions with them and recommending books and films to them which we can later talk about. It’s like creating an English-speaking bubble for yourself.

What are the advantages to teaching for you?

You get the opportunity to use the language all the time and if you have so many different levels as I do, you really have to make use of all your knowledge at all times. It’s a great exercise for your memory.You have the opportunity to meet a lot of new people and talk to them about various topics and very often I find myself learning a lot of things from such conversations as well.

What are the disadvantages to teaching for you?

In state schools you do get stuck with one course book for a few years and it sometimes can get extremely tedious to go through the same exercises for the fifth time.

In Poland being a teacher in general is not the best career option possible. It’s very much underpaid so you have to look for additional part-time jobs in language schools and it all just takes a lot of time. Also, students treat English as another subject they have to learn just to pass their state exams. It’s difficult for them to understand it’s more of a skill than a set of rules they can memorize.

Do you do another job?

I don’t simply because teaching takes up a lot of my time.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Kasia for sharing her English teaching experiences with us. You should all go over and check out her You Tube channel about books called Katie O’Books http://www.youtube.com/user/katieobook?feature=watch. There she does book reviews, book hauls, tags, and talks about all kinds of bookish stuff.

Teacher Feature #6

Name: Jasmin Henke          Foto

Nationality: German

How long have you been teaching?        

I have been teaching since 2009.

What are you teaching? EFL/ESL?    

I teach EFL, Geography and Music at a Secondary School .

What certifications do you have?    

I have a Bachelor of Arts in English, Master of Education and the Second State Examination (2. Staatsexamen).

How did you get into teaching English?    

When I decided to study teaching I originally wanted to be a Maths teacher but the courses were all full and my second choice was English. In hindsight, the best choice I could have made. At the beginning of my studies I felt really dumb because I never had advanced English in school but after living in South Africa for a few months I really learned to love the language and picked up lots of language skills.

Where are you currently working? country, school, companies, etc.            

I am currently working in Göttingen, Germany, at a Realschule.

What kind of contract are you working under?              

I’m still working as a “Beamter” (working for the state) on a probationary basis which is over when you’ve worked as a full teacher for 3 years after finishing your 2. Staatsexamen. I have till the end of October and then I’ll hopefully get a contract as a “Beamter” with tenure for life.

How long have you been working there?          

I’ve been at this school for almost 3 years now. 

Where else have you worked?             

I worked as a teacher in the South African townships for 4 months in 2006 as a volunteer. Then I worked at a Hauptschule from 2009 to 2010.

What do you love about teaching English?     

 I love the language and I love giving my students the opportunity to learn it too and for it to help them in the future. In our global economy it is a must to find a good job. A lot of my students have grown up bilingual and it’s great to see them learn a third language. 

 

What are the advantages to teaching for you?                

I’d have to say that the best part of it is to see the kids learn something from your lessons. To see them take something home and use it later on. I love to think that I can somehow help them with their future and be a little part of their lives. It’s great to meet so many different people and it really never gets boring.

What are the disadvantages to teaching for you?          

The biggest disadvantage are all the new rules we get from the Department of Education. They are just not fitting for the situation we deal with at school. 

Do you do another job?                      

Since I’m working full-time, there’s no time to do another job. And since I’m working for the state of Lower Saxony I wouldn’t be allowed to anyway.

I would like to give an enormous thank you to Jasmin for sharing her rich teaching experience in Germany with us.  You should all check out Jasmin’s You Tube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBookJazz for she is an excellent booktuber.  She does book reviews, book hauls, tags and book discussions on Young Adult books and Fiction novels; not to mention she does them all in English. 😀

Teacher Feature #2

stephanieName: Stephanie Thomas

Nationality: French-American

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching in France since 1996, though not always to the same public.

What are you teaching? EFL/ESL

I’m teaching EFL to middle school students. Having done both, I have to say I’ve always been a bit dubious about the EFL/ESL distinction.  English as a foreign language is meant to be for people living outside of English speaking countries, and English as a second language for those living in a country in which primarily English is spoken (think teaching little French kids in Normandy VS teaching Mexican laborers in California–just an example)I think the ESL/EFL distinction is artificial and our focus as teachers has a lot more to do with the WHO and the WHY. Who are we teahing and why do they need to learn English? Do they know why (think those little French kids again) ?

What certifications do you have? 

Besides a Master’s degree, I have a *TEFL certificate and a *CAPES.

How did you get into teaching English?

Unlike a lot of people, teaching English was my first choice. Of course, back in college, I thought I’d be teaching literature and writing to native speakers! Never mind. Girl meets boy and they move to France. Girl gets job teaching English. And likes it.

Where are you working? country, school, companies, etc.

I’m working in a French middle school, in the private system.

What kind of contract are you working under?

I have a permanent contract. It’s so permanent that we call ourselves “lifers,” except in this case, I can decide to leave the “prison” through the front door while I still have some dignity left.

How long have you been working there?

I started in September 2012!

Where else have you worked?

I worked for a couple of training companies offering mostly business English courses, from 1996 to 2008. Afterwards, I set up on my own for a few years–it was financially rewarding, but I missed having colleagues and someone else to call up late payers.

Where do you prefer teaching English?

My favorite courses were small groups in companies, probably for the social aspect as much as anything. I also liked intensive one-on-one courses–just a week with a good set of really precise objectives. That was fun.

What do you love about teaching English?

In my current position, the students can be really endearing, and their breakthrough moments are really special. When a kid gets up in front of the class to talk about his last vacation, and he’s red as a beet and stutters through it–it’s very satisfying to see him smiling at the end, proud. It takes a lot of hard work to get even some of the students to that point!

What are the advantages to teaching for you?

Teaching in companies allowed me to more or less set my schedule, particularly with individual students. I never had to worry much about missing a day, as we could always reschedule. This flexibility was really important to me as my family grew (and grew…). In the school system, I like having a set salary and lots of time off with my kids.

What are the disadvantages to teaching for you?

Again, corporate language training was much different from school teaching. I loved teaching adults, but I think being privy to certain personal information about my adult students (they tended to share freely) made the job challenging in ways I wasn’t equipped to handle. I don’t mean to be enigmatic, but it was largely these “intimacy” issues that drove me out of corporate training. In my school, I also have access to information about my students, but I think it helps me understand them better and teach more effectively. Sometimes it’s just plain depressing, though.

Do you like teaching English?  Why?

I like it most days. I can think of things I’d rather be doing, but they don’t pay for plane tickets. I like to think I’m making a difference to some of these students, igniting an interest or uncovering a talent.

Do you do another job?

I’m a devoted wife and mother of 4 awesome kids; these are the things, I hope, I’ll be remembered for. That… and my irregular verbs rap. It rocks.

*TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.  TEFL is one of the certificates required to teach English abroad.

*CAPES stands for Certificat d’Aptitude au Professorat de l’Enseignement du Second Degré.  This French diploma is needed to become a civil servant teacher in middle and high school.

Big thank you to Stephanie for sharing a bit of her teaching experience with us.