Tutor interviews…Meet Simon!

 In Tutor interviews

Q) Hi Simon – welcome to Friendly Teachers! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A) Thank you!

Hello everybody, my name’s Simon and I’m from the UK. I was born in Scotland, but I grew up in England and have an English accent (I really like Scottish accents, but I don’t have one!). I love travelling, hiking, rock climbing, scuba diving, snowboarding, playing the piano, learning languages, playing chess, and many other things! I’ve done a lot of travelling and have lived in the UK, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan. Right now I’m staying in Bangkok, Thailand.

Simon on Mt Fuji

Q) Wow, it sounds as if you have lived an interesting life so far! Where in England are you from? and how are you enjoying Bangkok?

A) I’m from Yorkshire, which is in the north of England. My home town is called Leeds, which has a famous university and lots of great shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. Unfortunately it doesn’t have anywhere to go snowboarding, so I’ve spent lots of time living in places like Canada and Japan instead!

I’ve only been in Thailand for a short time, but Bangkok’s been great so far, especially all the cheap and delicious Thai food! But to be honest it’s a little too hot for a Yorkshireman like me – and there’s definitely nowhere to go snowboarding here!

Q) On your tutor profile you mention that you lived in Japan for 4 years, how was life over there?

A) Life in Japan was fun, interesting, and challenging. I loved that even though I was working full time in the city, on my days off I could easily jump on a train to the mountains go snowboarding or hiking, and then be back in town in time to meet friends at an izakaya for drinks!

Of course, moving to a country with a completely different culture to my own and where I had a major language barrier was also sometimes challenging. Even after four years in Japan, my Japanese is still at a much lower level than I think it should be! I also realised how closely language and culture are related – essentially, language is culture. These experiences of trying to learn Japanese (and Chinese, which I am also now studying) help me to be a better English teacher, I know how frustrating studying languages can be, and I know how important it is to understand the culture (not just the grammar!) if you want to speak naturally.

Simon in Whistler

Q) Your profile also says that you have visited more than 60 countries so far! That is incredible! Where was most memorable and why?

A) It’s hard to pick just one! I would say that my time in Canada was very memorable as I was working as a snowboard instructor, and being up in the mountains every day was fantastic. Helping people to learn how to snowboard was really rewarding – just like helping people to learn English is!

I also have some very powerful memories from my time in Japan, as I was there during the 2011 disaster and in the aftermath became involved with a volunteer project in Tohoku – the area of northern Japan that was hit by the tsunami. Although the disaster was truly awful, and memorable for the wrong reasons, the volunteering involved working with many great people from Tohoku, from other areas of Japan, and from all over the world. Working with them all and seeing the spirit of the people there are things I will never forget.

Simon volunteering in JapanQ) You are a very popular online ESL teacher, why do you think this is?

A) Thank you! The main thing about my lessons is that the student should find the time fun and interesting, while also being productive and useful for improving their English. The beauty of one-to-one language lessons is that the lesson can be adapted for the individual needs of each student – for example, some students want very strict correction for their spoken grammar, while others might need some extra focus on pronunciation.

My students learn by having real conversations about topics which are relevant and interesting for them, with a focus on helping them to achieve their individual English language goals. As I mentioned above, I think learning about the culture is also very important when learning a language, and this is a big part of my lessons. The lessons will always be fun, but they will also always be productive.

Q) Your students also seem to love the lesson review that you send after class…

A) Yes, after every lesson I send my students a comprehensive write-up of the lesson including new vocabulary, example sentences, and grammar & pronunciation tips. Skype lessons are a great way to practice speaking English, but in order to improve I think it’s important for students to have this written record of the new words and phrases they have learned so that they can review the lesson and retain the new information.

Q) Thanks for your time Simon, we all really appreciate it! Do you have a quick message for your students?

A) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because that’s how we learn and improve!

Book a lesson with Simon today for just 1000JPY! Click here for more information!

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