The first reason why I have decided to become an English teacher is that I think English is a beautiful and diverse language that can benefit everyone in this day and age.
The second reason is that English is the language of my childhood. It's my first language, my mother tongue (or shall I say my »father« tongue since my mother is Slovenian) and because of this will always be a huge part of my life and my identity.
By teaching English as an English teacher I maintain an active connection with the language, and I learn something new about it every day—a fact that I constantly remind my learners of when they feel like they’ll “never be able to learn everything”. I also don’t know all the secrets the English language has to offer because languages are living things, constantly evolving. But I truly love exploring it with my English learners.
I mostly come across individuals who want to (or even need to) improve their English skills because of work. Some of them might want to apply for a new job and need a language-level certificate, while others might want to work for foreign companies and need help preparing for their job interviews. Some of them want to be able to travel more freely without the fear of getting lost or not being able to ask for help or directions. Learning English gives them the confidence and peace of mind to set off on new adventures without feelings of self-doubt.
And some people decide to learn English “purely” for the feelings of personal satisfaction one gets from mastering something new, or for reasons of personal growth because English enables them to read more books, study more freely, listen to English podcasts or watch movies without needing subtitles.
English is an easy language because there are a million ways to express the same idea. It's the language of synonyms. If you're struggling to get your meaning across in one way? Try another way! Even with a small vocabulary, you can correctly communicate many many things if you know the simplest paths to take. Even the most complicated thoughts can be made simple to express.
There are many reasons that make English worth learning, the first one being that English truly is the language of international communication. A solid knowledge of English can open up new work opportunities on the international market (which usually provide higher salaries) and you can still work from home! A noticeable trend has also developed in Slovenia where most higher-paying positions demand good English skills, too.
And to briefly sum up the other reasons: being able to speak and understand English fluently and confidently directly impacts your communication skills. Suddenly, your interests aren’t tied down to Slovenia or the Slovenian language anymore—most foreign websites have English versions, and making travel plans becomes a hundred times easier (especially when you’re already abroad) just by knowing a few simple phrases.
English also broadens the horizons of looking up new information—articles, books, research, films, cartoons, series, lectures, etc.
You can use English practically everywhere in the developed world ☺.
Well, the biggest difference becomes apparent as soon as we open our mouths—we all have veeeery different accents. But the language we all speak is, of course, the same, and one quickly gets used to different pronunciation after spending some time interacting with different accents.
Other differences can be found in the different words and phrases that have taken root in different countries.
And the last big difference worth mentioning here is spelling. There are clear distinctions between British and American spelling.
I love English humour! I guess it’s special in its own way (and not everyone enjoys it), but British comedians can make me laugh until I cry even after long, stressful days.
A (funny) cultural difference:
I spent my childhood in the UK, but have been living in Slovenia since 2005 so I feel quite at home in both cultural contexts. One of the funny differences I notice again and again is the difference in personal space. In Slovenia, personal space is much smaller than in England, and Brits can feel very uncomfortable when a stranger stands too close to them for no apparent reason.
Many people ask me this and I tell everyone the same thing: England is so much more than just London. Of course, be a tourist in London, but also take the time to discover other parts of England. Go to Brighton and walk down the famous pier, drive to the South Downs and walk along the white cliffs made of natural chalk, rent a car and drive through the idyllic villages in the south-east of England, visit any of the hundreds of National Trust gardens (huge parks, but very different from those in Slovenia) and treat yourself to afternoon tea and crumpets. Go to Cornwall and surf on sandy beaches, or head up North and visit the Lake District.
Most of the people I meet complain about English being very difficult because of their bad experience with English at school. A bad English teacher doesn’t mean the subject is actually difficult ☺. The first thing that helps is to be relaxed! The second is to learn through active communication (with practical aims) instead of strict rules and repetitive exercises you don’t even know how to use in real life.
First, you have to learn new words.
And any good English teacher knows countless fun and relaxed ways to teach vocabulary—through games, puzzles and other activities. Then you can use these new words in a million different ways. What’s important is to use them in ways that you can connect with and to include them in your own contexts.
All this applies to language courses. But at home, you can watch films and series in English with English subtitles. It’s a great idea to keep your own little dictionary where you write new words with their pronunciation and definition (even one new word a day is enough to start with). You can stick notes with the names of things around your home, and many other things, too.
Because I am an English teacher - native speaker, I can actively help my learners with their pronunciation, especially when it comes to more challenging words that need more practice to master. It’s also great for my learners’ listening skills to learn to understand “real” English.
Learning a language consists of mastering 4 main skills, and I’ve discovered that listening comprehension is often the most neglected area. I hear the following statement much too often: “yes, I know how to speak English, but I can never understand those English people when they talk.” Talking is only one part of communication (which is the whole point of any language) and as a native speaker, I can help learners in all areas of English.
The most common problems my learners have are articles, perfect tenses, consistent use of the word IT (which everyone keeps forgetting about ☹) and using S-es where they’re needed.
The most common mistakes all occur because of the influence of Slovenian – word order, double negatives (nothing doesn’t make sense) which don’t exist in English, prepositions (discuss about, on the meeting, answer on the question, suggest to you), etc.
Another common mistake is the word CROWDY (which is an exceptionally cute word but sadly doesn’t exist).
In comparison with many other foreigners that learn English, Slovenians have great pronunciation. Most of the sounds in the Slovene language aren’t in themselves that different from sounds in English. This is a huge advantage and makes learning and speaking easier.
Apart from that, Slovenians are good at everything when they decide they want to learn ☺.
My favourite quote connected to language learning is this one: “Do you know what a foreign accent is? It's a sign of bravery.”
Author: Isabella C. Riley, English teacher.