From medical professional to top English Trainer
At inlingua Malta we are fortunate enough to have a highly experienced teaching faculty, with many of our teachers having worked with us for literally decades. But most of our trainers also gained experience working in diverse disciplines before they became teachers of English.
Our trainer Joe has been teaching English at inlingua for over ten years. Before joining the inlingua family he worked as a clinical therapist. I met with Joe to discuss how his experience as a therapist has influenced his work as a teacher, and started to find out why his students keep asking to come back to him year after year.
“In a way I always was a teacher. You see, there three key elements involved in being a clinical practitioner. You treat patients, you do research, and then you teach others based on the findings of your research. The same principles apply to teaching English as to teaching anything else”.
“Amongst other things part of my previous life was spent going in to the psychology of teaching and learning- it’s very important to differentiate between the learning styles, it’s not one size fits all – when you have a number of people in the class you have to find out what makes them tick, what their learning styles are”.
“To me it was always important to see the student as a whole. Each student has their own story, their own motivations, concerns and baggage. I always lent a listening ear and find that this philosophy should really be adapted across all forms of academic education”.
“I believe that as language teachers we are also therapists” claims Joe, as he makes reference to Maslow’s humanistic theory of learning, “human beings tend to come down heavily on those who make mistakes- but we learn languages through our mistakes. Teachers need to have unconditional positive regard for their students, alongside empathy for their learning processes”. “Studies show that, as a teacher, if you are positive about someone’s learning outcome they’re far more likely to succeed than if you are not, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, people do as you expect them to- so remaining positive is essential!”
“A teacher has to find out what already exists in a student’s mind and then engage, combine and develop. Teaching needs to be personalized- there has to be something in it for the student!” “All students come with motivation to achieve the end result- to speak good English, but the most important thing is that they remain motivated through the process of actually achieving this goal”.
Joe practices what he preaches. He is currently in the process of learning Spanish, and he already speaks German as well as Arabic, which he perfected while working on a mission for the World Health Organization of the UN in Kuwait; treating patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following the Iraqi invasion in 1991. He also spent three years as a practitioner in Jordan.
Joe’s ability to connect with his students has meant that his classes are in high demand- his talents and experience shine through especially when he delivers intensive one to one programmes- honing in on the needs and motivations of the student to achieve truly remarkable results.
Quizzed on what makes Malta such a good place to learn English, Joe was in little doubt: “Malta allows students to combine fun with an academic aim. Our Island has ten months of good weather each year, and it’s been proven that in a sunny climate people are more outgoing, friendlier, and there’s more of a social life too!” “With our traditionally high standards of English teaching, Malta lets students combine a fun holiday with effective learning- killing two birds with one stone!”