An Interview with Jenny Field, CEO of the English Language Room. How to practise English!
The English Language Room is a UK-based company with a niche specialisation in teaching English over Skype. Currently the company has students, mainly from Europe, Russia, China, and Japan. Jenny Field, a native English speaker, and the founder CEO of the company, has 28 years of language teaching experience. Earlier she used to teach German to native English speakers. Due to the decline in the interest of British students in studying German, she decided to teach English to non-native speakers. Initially she wanted to teach face-to-face in a small group locally. However, due to the availability of free video conference call facilities over the Internet, she chose to help students practise English over Skype all over the world.
When I interviewed her over Skype, she was working from her home office located in Bridport, Dorset, UK. She openly discussed her opinion regarding the challenges in one-to-one online teaching with various types of students from different parts of the world. “The enjoyment of speaking a foreign language and meeting other people sparked my interest in language generally,” Jenny tells me as the reason for her love for language.
According to her experience, one-to-one teaching is very different compared to the management of a class where interactivity within the group is the style. One-to-one is more intense and one has to have quite a few structured topics planned ahead that would help to focus the student’s attention. Only focusing on conversation during the class can cause the student to lose interest. Another difference is that with online students you are working towards their individual goal alongside them and you can focus on their interests alone.
For the international students, there are different mother tongue specific difficulties. For example, Japanese students find it difficult to pronounce “r” and “l” and the students without articles in their mother tongue have difficulty in the correct use of articles. Most of the students are adult and have professions that have nothing to do with language. Consequently, very often they encounter things they have never heard before.
Basically, two types of students are enrolled in her courses. Professionals, who want to practise English constantly for their job, enrol for a long time. The next group is younger students preparing for IELTS, who enrol in only one or two courses. Occasionally, there is a third type who just want to brush up their English by taking one or two courses.
For the students, these courses mean commitment, as they must do quite a lot of work before and after the lesson. They need to have an objective and purpose even if they are just learning to go on holiday. Before enrolling it is nice to think what they will get out of it at the end, advises Jenny to prospective students.
By English language student, Manohar