As part of our Meet The Intrepid English Teachers series, today’s interview is with the first teacher to join me on the Intrepid English team. During our chat, we discuss Gemma’s experience of teaching English in Taiwan, her love of languages, and what she likes most about teaching English.
Hi Gemma! Thank for joining me today. Maybe you could start by introducing yourself.
Hi everyone! I’m Gemma and I live in the beautiful city of Edinburgh! I was born here in Scotland’s capital, but I grew up in the highlands of Scotland in a little town called Nairn. It’s on the coast and has one of the loveliest beaches in the country. I came back to Edinburgh to study a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Studies at the University of Edinburgh and then spent a year teaching English in Taiwan. I keep coming back to Edinburgh so I’m very happy to call it ‘home’. I love it here!
You can speak a few languages, can’t you?
I have always been fascinated with languages and have studied them academically…but also just for fun! For example, I studied French when I was at school and Mandarin when I went to university. At the moment I’m studying Danish because I visited Copenhagen a few years ago and knew I would go back there often because I enjoyed it so much. I thought it would be wonderful to learn Danish so that I could communicate with the Danes in their own language, and learn more about their culture that way. Scandinavian crime dramas are very popular in the UK right now, so learning Danish also means that I can watch some of my favourite tv shows in their original language!
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching English?
When I’m not teaching or studying, I like to do lots of walking. I particularly enjoy long-distance hiking. I pack everything I need in my backpack; tent; sleeping bag; food, etc. and go for an adventure that lasts a few days…or sometimes a few weeks! It’s wonderful to exercise in nature and to appreciate the peace and quiet it brings. So far, I’ve hiked parts of the Pacific Crest Trail in the United States, the route to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, the King’s Trail in Sweden and the West Highland Way here in Scotland.
What advice would you like to give to our English learners?
Often, I think students feel a little embarrassed about their speaking skills because they worry that they will make a mistake. Try not to worry about making mistakes because that’s what your teacher is there for. In fact, mistakes are great! When we make a mistake, it means we learn something new and hopefully, we avoid that mistake next time. Your teacher is always very happy to help you and will send you detailed feedback with all the corrections from the lesson. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or advanced learner, mistakes happen to everyone! For example, I once watched a friend of mine walk into a dumpling shop in Taiwan and try to order some lunch. His Mandarin was very advanced and he knew the correct word to use…but his tones were wrong. He thought he was saying ‘I’d like some dumplings’…but what he was actually saying was, ‘I’d like some sleep!’ Don’t worry – pronunciation mistakes happen to the best of us!
I know how rewarding and frustrating learning a language can be. That’s why I love teaching! It’s fantastic when I can help my students master a tricky grammar point, or pronounce a difficult word, or learn a new phrase that makes them sound like a native.
I hope to see you in the classroom, community forum or blog comments soon J Feel free to say ‘hi’ any time!
If you have any questions for me, you can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Gemma on her Intrepid English Teacher profile page.
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