- Head of Academic Department, Language Link Russia
- BA Russian with Central and East European Area Studies; TEFL certificate; LTCL DipTESOL
- At Language Link since September 2004
- International Examiner since February 2009
Hi! I'm Zahra. I've been with the company for a VERY long time and although things haven't exactly been a walk in the park at times, I've really enjoyed the challenge of working here. After working at Language Link for a couple of years, I studied for the Trinity Licentiate Diploma TESOL, which has been invaluable for me as a teacher, teacher trainer, academic manager, and now the Head of the Academic Department.
I was born and bred in Nottingham, England, the home of the infamous Robin Hood. Having spent my whole childhood and school life there, I then moved to the north to study at the University of Durham. I am a linguist and studied Russian and Croatian for three years at university, as well as a practice year which I spent in Krasnoyarsk and Ulyanovsk studying Russian and teaching English. After finishing my degree, I did a TEFL course at Language Link in Moscow, before moving to St. Petersburg. The plan was to teach English for a year, then move back to Britain and work as a translator in London. Towards the end of my first year in St Petersburg however, my students begged me to stay and so I decided to stay a little longer. I ended up working there for seven years, including four years as the Director of Studies and one year as Senior Director of Studies.
While I was in St Petersburg, I realised translating wasn’t for me so I studied for the Trinity Licentiate Diploma TESOL which I managed to complete despite obstacles such as the British Council library closing, being run over by a mini-van, and being on a bus that caught fire on the way to Finland, to name but a few. I later also trained to be an Speaking Examiner for a large number of international exams. During my seven years in the cultural capital, I taught all the different levels from beginner to proficiency, children from the age of three to adults, exam preparation courses for IELTS, FCE, CAE, CPE, TOEFL, BEC and ILEC, and ran a number of teacher training courses and seminars on various topics as well as preparation for various TKT exams. As I could not get any more different experiences with different courses in St. Petersburg, a change of scene was in order so I moved to Moscow to be the Head of the Academic Department.
Here in Moscow, I've been keeping up with my examiner status and have trained for further international exams, which I had aimed to master while I was in St Petersburg. As part of my position, I have also managed to extend my travel experiences around Russia. Before moving to Moscow I had counted 40 towns or cities that I had visited in this fascinating country, but now having visited pretty much all of our centres I've simply lost count. I really enjoy travelling and meeting new people and love that my position allows me to travel to our centres across Russia and Kazakhstan from time to time.
I can be quite a creative person at times, and I really enjoy making games and activities for my students to do in class or for homework. I try to make them personalised so that the students can relate to them. Sometimes I even make texts or tasks for them to do with information about me. Such an approach, I find, can be really motivating for students as they see the effort their teacher has made into creating an interesting lesson, and they therefore try hard to complete the task well. Of course it takes much longer than simply following a general course book or copying interesting tasks from other resources, which I also do sometimes, but the effort really pays off when I see the enjoyment that students get from doing the tasks I created for them. One of my current teaching related passions is teacher training. I love seeing the progress teachers make in my training courses and no question is ever stupid in my book, so feel free to ask me for any help or advice – I’ll be more than happy to help you out.