B1 Dialog #66 Talking to the native teacher of English
Today I’m going to have a little conversation with my old English teacher and a good friend Andrew. We will discuss important learning English points which will help you to learn English more effectively.
Learn English with a native speaker: https://www.verbling.com/teachers/andrewinecuador
Talking to the native American teacher
Rinat: Hi Andrew!
Andrew: Hi Rinat! How are you today?
Rinat: I am good, my friend. Good to see you!
Andrew: Good to see you too.
Rinat: You are a native American currently living in Ecuador right?
Andrew: Yes, that’s correct. I’m from the United States and I’m living in Ecuador, South America.
Rinat: How long have you been teaching English now?
Andrew: I have been teaching English for approximately 14 years.
Rinat: 14 year! It’s been a pretty long time. How many students do you have from Russia. It’s pretty interesting for us, for Russian people, you know.
Andrew: I have approximately 3 or 4 active students, but I have had in total in Verbling 10 or 12 different students from Russia.
Rinat: What country are the most of your students from?
Andrew: The majority of my students are from in this order: Spain, Brazil and China. But Chinese includes Hong Kong, Taiwan or people that are native speakers of Chinese and live in the United States. Those are the three most popular places I suppose.
Rinat: I see. What do you think is the best moment to start learning English with a native speaker?
Andrew: Well. Just like anything with your own language. The best time is the day you were born! 😀😀 “The sooner the better” is an expression in English. The sooner you can start with a native speaker the better it is. More likely you will be able to speak native English if you start very early.
Rinat: Is the level of English important for you when you teach people? Have you ever had students who were zero in English? Just a beginner.
Andrew: Yes I have! And you can teach! It’s more difficult for a teacher and may be for a student if you don’t know the original language of the student, but in reality it’s better, because it forces the student to use a new language! It’s more difficult in the beginning, but it’s better for the student.
Rinat: How do you deal with not self-motivated students? Do you push them to study or just refuse to teach them?
Andrew: That’s a very good question. Generally at my internet classes my students are self-motivated, because they are paying for the class. They don’t want to lose their money. But even so there are some students that prepare for the classes better than others. So I try to explain to them the benefits of preparation and practising English in addition to the class. I try to motivate them. I tell them about experiences sometimes. But really it depends on the students. If they are motivated, they will learn very fast. Sometimes I appeal to the cost of the class and tell them it will be less expensive if they prepare! 😀😀
Rinat: How many adult students do you have? What is the major age of your students?
Andrew: The best majority of my students are adults ranging from 22-23 all away to 65 or 70 years old. I would say most of them are 40 or 50 and they tend to be professional. They need English for the job. There are a few that propose traveling or they want to live in the United States or go to school. There are a lot of students
who do that, but the majority is for business reasons and they need it for their job.
Rinat: What do you think is the best way to start learning English?
Andrew: The most important thing is practice. There are two things that in my opinion are essential. One is talking. And another one related to talking is reading, but reading with your voice, reading out loud. But there is no replacement for practising. If you really want to speak well you have to practice speaking.
Rinat: I remember myself at school. I didn’t pay attention to English at all. Actually it’s a pretty common thing for schoolers, because children just don’t want to study anything. I am saying this in common of course. Not everyone. Do you believe that children succeed in learning more than adult people?
Andrew: Absolutely! They do. I’ve read a report, they did a scientific study about language acquisition or language learning. They discovered that children have a better capacity for a new language, because their brains are a lot more flexible before the age of ten. They can learn as many as 5 or 6 languages at the same time and use all of them like a native, without the accent. So the sooner the better. They discovered that when you are more than 20 years old, it’s progressively more difficult to learn a new language. Especially if you only speak one language.
Rinat: Yeah of course. It’s much more simple to learn a new foregn language if you know at least one already. For example, if you know English, it’s going to be much easier for you to learn German. Speaking of learning grammar. Do you think it’s possible to start speaking English without learning grammar at all?
Andrew: Absolutely. It is possible. There is an English language school in Europe. Their philosophy is to not teach grammar, but only teach spoken English and practise. And it has its place. I agree with it. But I think that you have to teach the grammar so people understand how to use the language. For a young child you don’t necessarily need to teach grammar. But for an adult, for them to understand how to speak, I think partially teaching grammar is essential to understand what you are trying to do in a new language.
Rinat: Yeah. A very interesting point. Thank you.
Being in the country definitely helps. When you are in the environment among the native speakers. This is one more thing about learning grammar. When you learn English in Russia, it’s better for you to learn at least the basics of grammar to understand the structure of the language. If you are in an English speaking country, you can just keep practising speaking and you will succeed in learning. At least you will start speaking this language.
Andrew: It’s true. But even so it’s helpful to learn grammar. If you know the basic structure of grammar and you confront a new word, you know how to use this word, because you know the grammatical structure. That’s why grammar is important. If you know the grammar, the grammar stays the same. And when you are confronting new words or new expressions, you know how to use them grammatically correctly. That’s why grammar is important.
Rinat: That’s true really. How much do you think depends on the teacher and on the student?
Andrew: I think it’s 60% and 40%. 60% is a responsibility of the student and 40% the teacher. The teacher is important. But the most important thing is that the student is practises, studies and prepares for the class and does his part. If you only take class and don’t do anything in addition to the class, it will be difficult to improve your level of English. It’s possible, but it’ll be slow. That’s why a student himself really needs to make an effort to practise, practise, practise to progress.
Rinat: Yeah it’s so true my friend. Usually, advanced students are less successful in learning than beginners. Why do you think it is so?
Andrew: I don’t know if it’s true. I think the perception is that it’s true. It’s because when you are beginning and don’t know anything, you learn “hi, how are you?”, “what is your name?”, “I am from Russia”. And it’s easy to see the progress, because you go from 3 or 4 words from your vocabulary to a hundred words in your vocabulary in a few days. And when you are at an advanced level of English, there is less to learn. And what you are learning is very advanced English. So it’s more difficult to see the progress and to feel the progress, if you speak at a more
advanced level. I think there is still progress, but it’s more difficult to deserve the progress, because the person already speaks at a good level of English. So I think it’s a misconception (заблуждение) sometimes.
Rinat: What do you think about studying by textbooks? It’s a well known fact that studying by textbooks can be boring sometimes. Do you use textbooks in your classes?
Andrew: Yes I do. I use textbooks if I have a student that specifically needs to take the IELTS or TOEFL test or something like that. If they are preparing and they are willing to study 3 or 4 classes a week, I will use a textbook. Because it’s a very organised way to progressively teach them English. I will usually only do it with students that are willing to study. If a student prepares and participates actively in the class and I don’t have to push them, I will use a book. But if they don’t like to study normally I would not suggest a book, because a book requires studying. Your progress will be a lot faster. The books are designed to help you to do well in the tests. So the books are specifically for the tests. It’s the best way to teach for the tests. So yes I do use a book. And usually with intermediate to advanced students.
Rinat: If you have some good book in mind right now, could you tell us about it?
Andrew: One of the best books you can find is a book by Cambridge University. “The Cambridge testing and preparation” is one of the best. Especially for the IELTS and for the TOEFL tests. Those I am recommending. In fact I have one of the Cambridge books or two of them in digital format, because they recognise leaders in language instructions. Together with a book and a teacher is a fantastic way to prepare for an English test.
Rinat: Do you think is it a big deal when people speak with a strong accent? As a native speaker, do you like hearing a foreign accent? Are bad accents and bad pronunciation the same?
Andrew: No, they are two different things. You can be a native speaker of English and have bad pronunciation 😀. So it’s a different subject. Really for me an accent is not really a problem unless it’s a very strong accent. Everybody has an accent.
People from England have one accent and people from the United States. In New York city there are four completely different accents. So it’s not the question if you have an accent. The most important thing is to be understandable. If you are understandable then it’s the key to communication. If people can’t understand you, then the accent can be a problem . If you are understandable, I don’t worry about the accent with my students. Because if I am teaching them English I am teaching them my accent. So anyway they will have an accent. So the idea is to be understandable. That’s the point.
Rinat: Yeah, I remember in our classes back in the days you told me about that movie Rocky Balboa with Silvester Stalone and his bad English. 😀
Andrew: Yes it’s a very definite New York style accent. It’s actually in Filadelfia, but very close to New York. It’s a very strong accent, but it’s 100% English.
Rinat: Your English is very understandable, despite you are an american.
Andrew: I make a special effort to speak slower with my students. I can speak very fast if I want to. So I make a special effort to speak slower, because it’s important for the students to understand their teacher. If the don’t understand him, it’s impossible to learn.
Rinat: Yes of course. So Andrew, in the end of our awesome talking I would like you to tell us a little bit about verbling.com
Andrew: Ok! Verbling is an interesting platform for learning English. Because they don’t have a specific program for teaching. They allow teachers freedom to teach in their style and their way. So students can benefit from their particular abilities and skills. Most other online English places where you learn English have a specific program. On verbling no. They let teachers decide what to teach and it’s good for the student, because you have individual attention.
And really one-on-one classes are the best, because a teacher can focus on what your particular necessities are.
On verbling I do only one-on-one classes. The classes on verbling are dependent on the price of the teacher. My prices are 16$ dollars if you buy a package of 5 or 10 hours at a time. And 20$ an hour for just one session (one hour). They do also have a possibility of demonstration class. So the first class with a teacher can be a 30 minutes class and it’s always 6$. So you can find a different teacher to find what you like. It’s only 6$ to meet the teacher.
I am always looking to add more students to my classes, because most students tend to take classe from one or two months or 3 or 4 months. They reach their objective and then they continue for example if they prepare for the TOEFL test or they need to take a test for their job. So I always have openings for new students.
But Verbling has more than 100 teachers who teach English. So there are always possibilities to find other teachers.
Rinat: We have a big time difference with Ecuador. It’s an 8 hours difference. What is the best time for you to have lessons?
Andrew: The best time for me would be afternoon or evening for people in Russia. My morning or my early afternoon. If students want to have classes at 10, 11 or 12 pm. It’s ideal for me because it’s early afternoon. In the morning for people in Russia is difficult, because your morning it’s when I am usually going to bed.
Rinar: Yes, it can be a problem this time difference.
Andrew: Yeah but there are other teachers in Verbling. Some of them are from England or another part of Europe. There are teachers that are available in the morning for Russian students.
Rinat: So thank you my friend very much for this awesome talk. It was amazing and pretty interesting for our listeners. I hope so! So thank you Andrew once again and have a nice day!
Andrew: Alright! It was a nice chart with you Rinat! Have a great day!