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I’m one of those lucky people who used their degree in their career. I have been teaching for the last 17 years, and I will continue for at least the next 50.
My parents were appalled when I told them that I wanted to get a teaching degree. My father roared, “My children must be entrepreneurs.” My mom sighed and said nothing.
Both of my parents had teaching degrees, and none of them saw any value in the education they had received. They were forced to study pedagogics, but I wanted to become a teacher. Ty my parents' delight, I became both, a teacher and an entrepreneur.
If you want to learn with me, you will find me learning alongside you, meaning we will learn with and from each other.
If you want to know why I speak English the way I do, you need to know that when I finally got my degree, my English skills were average.
I didn't realize how basic my skills were until I went to the U.S. for the first time. I seriously questioned my hearing abilities because I was picking up on only about a third of what people were saying. I was filling in the blanks by using my imagination. In response, I would often utter complete nonsense because it was less painful than admitting that all those years of higher education hadn’t turned me into the flawless English speaker I’d been longing to become.
I thought that my deal with the university in Kazakhstan was pretty straightforward: I give it 5 years of my life, and I get perfect English in return.
Five years later, I was one of the best students but still a very average English speaker, and the idea that improvement takes conscious effort was foreign to me.
That same year I became one of the best students in the language school in Dusseldorf. I aced my German exams. I did all the possible tests and scored high in all of them. Yet, my first day on campus at the University of Dusseldorf was a disaster.
Everyone spoke German to me, and I understood nothing.
This is how I realized that something is fundamentally wrong with how we learn and how we’re taught.
In the following two years, I put a lot more time and effort into improving my German skills on my own. This, in turn, dramatically improved my English too. I wrote an excellent thesis, turned down the offer to get a PhD, and went out into the world to teach and to learn.
I am passionate about the 'self-study, exploratory, practice-based approach' to learning because it allows you to master any non-trivial skill. Everyone can use it to continuously improve their English skills and pick up other new skills faster. In the last 10 years, I’ve taught myself to run like an athlete, have a healthy relationship with exercise and nutrition, give myself manicures, bake amazing sourdough bread and healthy sugar-free desserts, ride a horse, do double-unders on a jump rope, draw with pastels, and a few other things. I keep investing in all these skills, I keep learning, and I keep putting my heart and soul into everything I do.
I have obtained the perspective that the role of a teacher is not to simply teach a subject, but rather help students become confident and capable learners so that they can learn anything.
Effective learning is effortful, and I teach myself the value of effort by creating practice routines that help me turn off my autopilot and consciously build new learning habits. I don’t invest in hard skills because they are so easy to lose. Instead, I strengthen my metaskills and I design exercises that help students develop theirs. Metaskills are permanent, and once they are strong and well-developed, you will never lose them. Students who consciously improve their English skills naturally improve many other learning skills: attentiveness, concentration, critical reflection, self-regulation, self-awareness, information sourcing, etc.
If you want to learn how to teach yourself ANYTHING, if you like the idea of becoming a daring, curious learner, I’m inviting you to join me.
On this website, you will start with improving your English skills by stepping onto the path to native-like fluency. But, my friend, trust me, if you choose to put your heart and soul into the exercises that you do with me, you will learn so much more than how to improve your English skills.
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