Interview: 10 questions for Pierre

Pierre answers your questions about his life and gives some top tips for English-learners!

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Canada, or the province of Ontario to be specific. Think of lakes, moose, beavers, and forests which turn bright yellow, orange and red in the autumn. It’s an immense country but I have seen relatively little of it!

What do you like most about teaching?

Teaching is a communicative profession, and I love that I’m meeting and communicating with new people from different countries all the time, and at the same time helping them reach their goals.

What do you do when you’re not teaching?

I have a lot of passions. I love travelling, reading the news (I’m a total news junkie), decorating my home, travelling, eating out, reading novels, studying languages, blogging, exercising and taking care of my cat!

Is teaching a job or vocation for you?

Definitely a vocation. Although I started teaching by accident, it has grown into something I love to do and think I have an innate skill for. You need empathy, altruism, and excellent listening skills to be a good teacher, and these are not things everyone possesses.

What’s difficult about the Spanish language for you?

The grammar! I’ve always found conditionals and the subjunctive to be tricky and I know I still make mistakes. Spanish people say that English is full of idiomatic expressions, but so is Spanish and it’s hard to learn and remember them. And I think if it weren’t for subtitles, I would still have difficulty understanding some Spanish movies or series.

You have studied many things – but are you qualified to teach English?

Yes! I am a very qualified teacher. Even if I think real classroom teaching experience is much more valuable than training and pieces of paper….I love that I’ve studied other things, too, namely human geography, journalism and political science. Having a broad perspective on many topics helps me design fascinating topics and classes for my students.

Can you recommend a book for your readers?

I love the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, so I would recommend “The Elephant Vanishes”, which is a collection of his short stories and so a good introduction to the writer. For lower level readers, I would recommend “The Life of Pi” (by Yann Martel) about a boy and a tiger stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” (by Mark Haddon)—about an Autistic boy tries to solve the mystery of who killed his dog. For some reason, all the books I’m recommending have animals in them! And they also involve mystery to some degree, so I’ll add Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” to the list!

Of the countries where you have taught, which one is your favourite?

Well, I guess the answer is Spain since this is the country that I’ve spent the most time in – more than 10 years now. But (thinking of Haruki Murakami!) Japan was also an incredible and eye-opening experience for me. Leaving your native country and trying to integrate into a totally different, and potentially hostile, country has a profound and character-building experience on anyone who tries it.

Where are your students from?

My students come from different parts of Spain, as well as a few in France, Taiwan, and students who currently live and study in the United Kingdom. During the summer months I teach students who are predominantly from China. 

What is your top tip for English-learners?

Be patient! Learning a language is a life-long endeavour, and you need to appreciate it as a gradual evolution of your skills.

And any other advice? 😊

Well, I think learning though your passions is always fun. Trying reading (or watching videos) about something you love, in English. That way the language becomes much more memorable, plus you’re learning about something that you love anyway! So if you love interior design, cooking, or psychology, read about it (or watch something about it) in English.

 I try to use this method in my classes – yes, it’s a real methodology!  – it’s called Content-and-Language-Integrated teaching or learning. It is the best way to learn a language I think, especially when you reach the intermediate level or higher. Try it!

Sorry, no moose in this photo!

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