Here is my interview with Nina. Inspired by how Jason R. Levine got us all together for English language teaching videos on facebook, I felt that it would be nice for fans of the page to learn more about all of us.
I had a very productive interview with Nina who answered my questions with great thought and care. She also gave me a brilliant inforgraphic which will shed light on her teaching philosophy and which enhances the look and educational integrity of the article.
ELTV is not just about showing videos. It’s about sharing our teaching values and ideas with other teachers around the world. Social media has given us the freedom and opportunity to reach out positively and constructively, and make changes where academic bureaucracies cannot or will not.
I feel that soon I’ll be following these articles up with live interviews.
Can you describe your edupreneuring brand in one sentence?
I call my EFL teaching style “English without books”
I recently found out that what I do is called “connected learning”
It´s a combination of offline and online activities, with a lot of individual coaching tailored to the student´s needs and a lot of social interaction with other students, teachers and international speakers of English. The past two years have been a blast. I´ve never been more motivated to develop and educate myself professionally.
What made you decide to work freelance and on you tube?
I decided to be a freelance English teacher 3 months after I graduated from university. I was stuck in a boring job and a friend of mine, who was expecting a baby, asked me to step in for her in several of her company courses. I had very little teaching experience as I had never wanted to become a teacher but as I wanted to leave the unfulfilling job, I said to myself: “Why not? Maybe I´ll meet someone interesting who will offer me a better job!” I thought teaching English would be temporary, I saw it as a way to network with people.
However it´s been almost 9 years now since that unfulfilling job helped me to reveal my real passion. I fell in love with EFL the very first month and I quickly discovered my passion for freelancing. I am an active freelancer, I try to support the freelancing idea wherever I go and whoever I talk to. I join workshops and think tanks for freelancers and hope one day there will be many more of us in the Czech Republic and around the world!
Youtube is another story. When my daughter was about 1 year old, I was taking a break from teaching. But I was already active on Facebook, I had my own page “EnglishBrno” and I was educating myself in social media marketing. I got inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk, my videomarketing role-model, who strongly supports freelancers. His approach to business, where videomarketing plays a big role, totally sucked me in. He says anyone with a passion for their profession can do it. We can all blog, videoblog or miniblog! So I did. And I discovered it can be a lot of fun!
Did you realise at first that you would take so well to the camera and make such a success of video-blogging and sharing on you tube?
I am still amazed at how fast one can become popular on social networks. I know it´s very important to be brief and explain things in a simple but engaging way. There is a lot of competition out there, anyone can be on Youtube or Facebook so you either win them over in the first 10 seconds or you´re done.
I found out I have a passion especially for video editing and making videos from my local courses. So whenever I feel down, producing a video always cheers me up.
What motivates you as a teacher and social media presence in ELT?
The whole world is on the internet these days. What an opportunity to help thousands of students and build your PLN (personal learning network) from the comfort of your home! I am so grateful for Youtube and Facebook! I have met many of my FB friends in person as well and some of them became my students! If JenniferESL and MrDuncan can do it, why not me?
What or who are your greatest educational influences?
What was the most enjoyable class you had ‘without books’….I loved the hair dressing video – so unique:)
That was a great one, especially because it was all organized by the students, they became the teachers and I became the student. Recently I had another great lesson – an introduction lesson with a new group of my Summer English For Women course. All I had to do was sit and listen to what the new students had to say. A 10-min activity turned into a 2-hour one. They just talked and talked and talked and all I did was note down mistakes for correction. I love it when that happens. Pure “dogme” style :).
And I mustn´t forget all the lessons where it feels more like a party… when the students forget they are “learning” because they are having so much fun. And me too!
Can you describe any ‘aha’ moments you had with students trying out your different approaches for the first time?
When I did the first set of BEFORE and AFTER recordings it was breathtaking to hear how much the students can actually progress in such a short period of time. The course takes 15 weeks and most students move up one level, some of them two levels, I´ve had a student on the course who moved almost three levels up. what a relief this actually CAN happen, after all those years with coursebooks I was demotivated by the slow improvement students were making.
How do students succeed better with your natural language acquisition methods as opposed to previous experiences with books?
Let me quote Jason West here: “We all learnt our first languages socially…from interaction, trial and error, negotiated meanings, from our parents. The reason we find it hard to do the same with our second language is because we are put into schools that teach us language academically.”
I mean – isn´t it obvious? Why would an adult want to feel like a student at school again? So skipping the coursebooks and doing whatever my clients do in their normal lives, in their own language, sounds like the best way to go. And it is successful. Students report to me, over and over, that this approach makes them fall in love with learning English because they make friends, they discover their passion for reading or sitcoms or writing, something they hadn´t known existed in them.
My goal is to show them that learning another language (or learning anything) doesn´t have to involve gap-filling exercises, school desks and boring homework. And most of all – that they can learn it all by themselves! All they need is strong motivation.
What’s your favourite part about edupreneuring ; videoing, offline adventure classes & meet-ups, blogging or networking?
I love video editing, networking both online and offline and organizing free pub nights but the most fullfilling activity is individual coaching. When I get a chance to manage someone´s dreams… Sitting down with the student and helping her figure out what her goals are and how she can reach them is the most rewarding of all. No one has ever told them (especially when it comes to female students) they can aim high. They can close their eyes, dream of how proficient they can become one day, then open them, write those dreams down and start working on them
How does Jason West’s EOT enhance your overall vision for your classes and students?
I incorporate the EOT programme into each of my courses – both group and individual courses. The EOT worksheets offer both the teacher and the student a chance to work on particular grammar and vocabulary issues and most of all – motivate the student to learn how to communicate more effectively. After you´ve done a lesson, you go and practise the language from the lesson straightaway, either online (e.g. via Skype) or offline (in a café, on the street). Students get the opportunity to speak to real people and that´s the whole point of learning a foreign language, to communicate. Or is it filling exercises in books? 😉
Have you got any exciting future ventures or ideas up your sleeve that you’d like to share with us today??
Right now me and my new friend Hanka (whom I met thanks to FB!) are planning a one-week holiday with English in Egypt. We´ll be learning on the beach, sipping cocktails and practising with the locals.
I´d love to go to London with my students/other teachers and make the students practise English in the streets, with real people. Sadly London´s extremely expensive, especially accommodation and travelling around. I´ll have to figure something out.
Another plan I have is to organize theatre workshops in cooperation with my friend/colleague Chris Barickman who does the singing lessons for me. He is a great, charismatic guy with lots of ideas. I love working with people who inspire me and project their passion for their profession and life onto my students.
To learn more about what and I how I do things, read my article “How we learn without books” and have a look around my website.