During my English training sessions, every now and then people ask me the same question. How did you become an English teacher? Well, usually a person makes a decision, goes to university etc.. O.K. that’s the easy way. In my case it kind of went in a bit different direction… but as they say at the police precinct let’s start from the beginning.
1. An unusual English trainer.
O.K. so how it all began… long ago there was a channel called cartoon network. So as I was quite often alone at home I would spend countless hours watching different cartoon characters interacting with each other in a language that I kind of didn’t understand. Fast forward to the year 1994 my parents discovered with the help of a relative who happened to be an English teacher that I can actually speak English. To make it clear those were not any single out of the context words, no at the age of I was already communicating in English.
Of course, at that time I had no idea about the grammar structures that I was using at that time nor the punctuation. Furthermore, not until I started primary school did I learn what real English training is. My pronunciation was extremely American due to the voice actors who provided the voices for the characters of my first English teachers, just to name a few Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, Shaggy and Scooby, Dexter & Deedee, the Centurions and so on…
What I was not aware at that time were two things. One was the level of focus that I achieved while watching these cartoons. I loved animated films and comic books therefore images fascinated me completely. I started connecting the images displayed with the words uttered. And so, the long road to comprehension began. Please note that at that point I was nowhere near teaching. I was just a very young user of the language.
Qunatum jump to the university times. So here I am. My first year of studies… again. Moving to the relevant part I started working as a tutor for adults. Preparing adults like my boxing coach for his summer job abroad and preparing crazy teenagers for their A-levels.This was fun back then, but I never thought that I will become a teacher someday. I did quite a few translation and consecutive interpreting gigs though. During my 4th year I started working part-time as an export sales specialist. Occasionally, I would also provide translation and interpreting services during, technical trainings for installers and technicians.
3. Germany, Hamm, Export and Sales.
And then it happened. 2011 about 7 days after the graduation I packed my heavy-duty suitcase and flew out to Germany. I landed in Dortmund and about 4 hours later I was already making my first calls on behalf of my new employer in the small city of Hamm. Yes, this is what happens to graduates of Linguistics and other language related majors. We sometimes end up doing interesting office jobs that simply require language skills. Now I do understand that everything I’ve mentioned so far doesn’t have too much to do with English training but please be patient we are getting there.
I know, I know. Export and sales have not too much in common with English training. Hey, what can I say, it was a living. Apart from that I learned a lot of interesting things about sales, purchasing, planning, logistics. It might seem funny but when you work in an SME (Small and medium Enterprise) you can compare it to a micro matrix organization.
In a certain way you have your own batch of responsibilities and tasks but due to the limited number of employees you quite often end-up supporting the warehouse team or negotiating with suppliers. You actually do everything that is necessary to support the team. After about 1,5 year the decision was made to relocate with the company to Lübeck about 1,5 year later I moved to my then girlfriend and now wife to Mülheim an der Ruhr.
3. Good morning Mülheim!
This was the point that we agreed with my future wife that it’s the right time to start something of mine own and six months later I joined the ranks of self-employed entrepreneurs of Germany. Now this will not be a story of some extreme entrepreneurial success. Nope, I tried my luck as a translator and interpreter. Unfortunately the market was not perfect for non-native interpreters. But my plan B was to become an English trainer.
Fortunately for me at that time, I did reach out to the language schools and training companies. I am still cooperating with some of them today.
Now while cooperating with managers, specialists, technicians, engineers, accountants, finance and IT specialists I learned some cool things. I quite often admit that I’m just any English teacher but the knowledge and wisdom that my course participants have is simply priceless. During this time I’ve learned how hard working the German people really are (at least some of them) and how important it is to stay human while communicating with them. My students taught me what it really means to be a leader, a manager and an employee. They showed me the importance of respect, seniority and appreciation. I must admit. I was lucky when it comes to my students.
4. Still an unusual English trainer.
Regarding the English training itself I also needed to learn how to combine fantastic discussions with truly valuable lesson content. With such fantastic conversation partners, it was quite easy to get lost in the talking. Today we maintain a clear structure for our lessons always focusing on the main target of our training sessions.Well if you managed to get here now you know a little bit more about me.
Thanks for reading and see you in training!