The key to academic support lies not in the programme to be delivered but in the people who have been charged with the responsibility of delivering it. Regardless of how sound that programme may be, its success is entirely dependent upon the individuals who have been selected to carry it out. At Language Link, these ‘individuals’ are referred to as academic managers and carry such job titles as Head Academic Department, Methodologists, Senior Director of Studies, Director of Studies and assistant Director of Studies.
Given the importance of selecting the right people for these positions, the question may rightfully be asked, ‘What criteria does Language Link employ when choosing its academic managers.’ Contrary to popular belief, education, degrees, and diplomas carry less weight in this decision than do a readiness, willingness AND ability to assist teachers with their academic needs and issues. Obviously being ‘ready and willing’, though commendable, is of little value without that third ingredient ‘ability’, and conversely, ‘ability’ without a desire to help is of similar i.e. little value.
At Language Link, all our academic mangers have withstood the test of time. They have not just demonstrated but proven their desire and ability to render appropriate and meaningful academic assistance to the teaching staff for whom they have been charged with helping to meet the demands of a modern TEFL classroom.
Academics aside, all academic managers employed by Language Link Russia have lived in the country for a minimum of three years and have a firm grasp of the cultural issues that will confront our new teaching staff here in the largest country on earth. Without exception, all can be counted upon to help our new teachers to understand the Russian culture, to meet the challenges presented by living in a new and unfamiliar country and to adapt to its idiosyncrasies where such exists.
Position:Director of Studies, Moscow
Educational History:BA English and Philosophy; TEFL certificate
Start date at Language Link:September 2012
International Examiner Status:Since February 2013
For the longest time, I have been interested in language; in how it is used and how it can vary, depending on the context and the meaning of the user. This interest manifested itself during my years at university, where I completed my degree in not only Engish literature, but also post-structural philosophy, which has as a focus the effect our language has on our understanding of ourselves and our place in the greater system of human interaction. It was also during this time that I started my career as an English teacher, working with students of the language in various roles. I helped foreign language speakers master the basics of grammar in order for them to successfully enter university, second language speakers to enhance the ability they already possessed so they could more easily complete university tasks, and even first language speakers who were working within the creative writing field. All of these experiences gave me first-hand understanding of the colourful varieties that exist within the system of communication generally considered English.
After my time at university, I was able to put my theoretical knowledge into practice by living in the Japanese countryside for five years, where I taught English, mainly to the junior high school children of the community, but also to adults. Additionally, I was able to become involved in the local foreign community, running training courses in teaching practices and general living as a foreigner within a culture vastly different to one's own.
It was this time in Japan that taught me a fundamental characteristic of humanity, namely that we are all, simply, people and that the differences between us are mostly of cultural construction and not due to any intrinsic conflict. The vast majority of these differences are informed and supported by our language, and the best method of overcoming these perceived differences lay in gaining a focused understanding of how language affects us. Language not only allows us to express our understanding of the world around us, but restricts or, preferably, enhances it and this, I feel, is the key to my approach to teaching English. If our ability to grasp the universe is limited by our language, then every new aspect of language, be it our own or another, improves that understanding.
After my time in Japan, I returned to my adopted country of South Africa, where I worked at a language school for two years. During this time, I was able to enhance my own teaching ability by learning about many of the more complex structure within English, and even being introduced to high level programmes such as Cambridge examinations. Because this school had students from every corner of the world, I also gained invaluable experience in dealing with multiple cultures and how to impart understanding of English to students from many different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
And now I find myself working at Language Link, Russia. I have been here since September 2012 and I consider this to be an amazing opportunity for all those interested in working in the English language teaching industry. The team here is fantastic, helpful and professional. In addition, Russia itself offers anyone a myriad of experiences that anyone would find incredible!
I would like to welcome all the new teachers coming to Russia in the next few months. I look forward to meeting you all and I hope we can get to know each other well. Great opportunities await, and I hope you are all as excited about coming as I am about meeting you!