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Interview with e-English.co.uk

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Introduction:
What would you say if you could select your own private English language coach? A professional who helps you improve your communication and business skills? You can increase your active vocabulary, learn how to negotiate and write commerical correspondence and so much more. All you need is a computer with an Internet connection and a headset. Point your browser to e-english.co.uk and register as a student looking for an English teacher. This service is free to use so you can only win. Of course this site is also an ideal place for English language teachers and trainers to find private students from all over the world. If you want to learn more about the founders of this unique online agency you should read the interview below.

Torsten:
Neil, you are offering services to English language trainers as well as people who want to practise and improve their English. Why have you created e-english?

Neil:
We started e-english after a short period of using Skype, the Internet telephone system for calling my son in the UK (we live in Belgium). This worked so well that I began to think about possible uses of Skype in education. I am a teacher and having lived and worked most of my career outside the UK I have had many colleagues who teach English as a second language. I find the idea of teachers from one side of the world teaching learners on the other side of the world really exciting and another step towards the creation of the Global Village and perhaps towards greater understanding between peoples.

Torsten:
What countries have you worked in and what subjects have you been teaching?

Neil:
In fact I have only worked in three different schools but they were in 3 different countries: Germany, UK and Belgium. I have always been a teacher of Chemistry but then I added «ICT» (Information and Communication Technology) to my teaching subjects. In my first post I taught in German and now I use German and French as well as English as these are the three working languages used in the European Schools. These are schools for the children of EU officials who of course come from all over Europe. The effect of the new member countries is already noticable in the schools as well as in other EU institutions: English is becoming the main means of communication!

Torsten:
Are there any differences in the way young people in European countries live and learn? What did you like about your jobs abroad and how did you get along with your foreign colleagues?

Neil:
In the Euroepan School system pupils study some subjects like their mother tongue, sciences and mathematics in their own language. So when I teach Chemistry all the pupils in the class have (or should have) English as their first language. Other subjects like History, Geography, Art, PE, Music and ICT are taught in mixed groups using one of the Working Languages (English, French or German) as the language of the lesson. So, in my ICT lessons I usually speak English but when I help pupils individually I also use French and German.

What has all this to do with your question? Well, of course there are generalisations we all make about people from different countries and there is no doubt some truth in them. However, when you teach pupils in mixed classes, the differences between pupils from the same language section and the similarities between pupils from different sections are what you tend to notice. This is what the European Schools are all about. The older the pupils get and the more their second and third languages improve the more they integrate with each other — a process which of course is increased by the the cross-section attractions which inevitably occur in this situation!

You also asked how I get on with my foreign colleagues. This I can answer very quickly. There are no foreigners here. We are all Europeans living in the heart of Europe!

Torsten:
I understand you are promoting e-english through Google Adwords. What other methods of promoting your site are you using?

Neil:
With an interview on English-test.net do we really need any other publicity? Of course interviews, reviews and press releases (in both TEFL journals and the general press) and partnerships form one part of the plan for increasing the use of e-english.co.uk.

We are also considering offering a number of free credits to current teachers if they recommend the site to other colleagues who then sign up and become users.

However, the best way to promote a web site is to have a really useful site which people talk about and so its use increases by word of mouth. Have we achieved that with e-english? We think that we have. Where else can you select a teacher by his methods, by reviews, by price, by experience etc? Where else can teachers contact learners from all over the world so easily and cheaply?

If you have any English grammar or vocabulary questions,
please post them on this English Grammar Forum.


Next:ESL Cafe: Interview with Maria Ortner





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