I sure hope so! That’s my goal!

Since I arrived in Quebec City over 30 years ago, I have taught ESL in a variety of contexts: day camps, private adults classes, the public school system, the private school system, vocation training, tutoring, business classes… and one thing I learned is that people don’t want to just learn English.

They want three things:

  1. Connection

They want to be seen and heard. They want to be appreciated for who they are and where they are in their language learning experience.  They don’t want to be seen as just another face in the crowd of students, or another employee seriously in need of English classes to do their jobs better. I see them gradually opening up as I let them know that I am a real person, just like them. 

When we connect through authenticity, I am always touched to see their true selves shine out of their eyes. That precious connection creates a space in which they feel safe and trust; they feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes because they know we’re working together to build their skills.   

Each student I teach is so different, and so the idea that one-lesson-fits-all is just out of the question. In fact, one course outline for their presumed level is inconceivable as well.

2. Creativity

My students are unique beings with amazing combinations of personality, learning styles and social habits. I love talking with them and drawing them out to discover their incredible potential. They want to be seen as an individual with personal needs. Each student I teach is so different, and so the idea that one-lesson-fits-all is just out of the question. In fact, one course outline for their presumed level is inconceivable as well. So though we may begin with a conventional set of language objectives, the way we get there is always different.

Their backgrounds – be it family, social, academic, professional, personal are all so diverse. I honour and respect that. I’m curious and love to hear about them! Their points of view and their challenges push me to become a better teacher and coach. It’s always exciting for me to discover the key that will let the doorway to learning swing open!

3. Coaching

If it weren’t for my two years teaching adults in the business context, I never would have realized my passion for language and my desire to see people fulfilling their potential could come together in the same job: coach. In fact, it’s surprising I didn’t, since the two of them concern learning, and I love learning. I am a permanent student and voracious reader!

I realized that ESL students in the business context enjoyed and even thrived on the opportunity to discover new perspectives on their own life, jobs and development. As they opened up and talked about their daily activities at the office, I often found myself in the position of a coach, helping them explore solutions, identify strategies and consider new tools.

And the other question: am I an English teacher or a coach? Both! I am an English teacher who coaches my students for greater personal and professional development.

Not only did I enjoy those conversations, but I realized I had a real talent to connect to them, gain their trust and share my communication skills to provide insight and ideas to support their professional development.  

Disruptive English classes? Yes, why not? Disruptive in the sense of non-conventional, out-of-the-box, original, different…

And the other question: am I an English teacher or a coach? Both! I am an English teacher who coaches my students for greater personal and professional development. The premise in ESL classes; the practice is dialoguing about daily challenges and solutions. Not only do my students become more confident and competent speakers, but they also learn lots about themselves and their jobs. The end result is empowering, encouraging and inspiring – both for them and myself!

If you’re looking for an English teacher with a difference, look no further! Contact me at clairemariaford@gmail.com or 418-563-5941. Let’s talk!

Until then, keep learning! – Claire :o)

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