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ESL Professional: Ralf Messmann

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Ralf Messmann
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Ralf Breheny  
Hello, I am Reif. Reif is a nickname for Ralph, speak "Ray-f". I am a trainer for learners of English. Being a learner of several languages myself and growing up in two different countries (Ireland and Germany) has equipped me with an avid interest in second language acquisition.

Ever since I've moved to Leipzig in October 2001, I've worked as an English teacher for english-team.com, the University of Leipzig and other schools. Apart from teaching, I also work as a translator. I would like to consider myself as more of a trainer, a moderator or a conversationalist. Learning a language does not only take time, you also need to know how to learn. And this is exactly what I want to help people achieve.

If you are interested in my life, then read on. Thank you for taking the time!

I was born in the west of Germany as the offspring of an Irish mother and a German father. The place called Wuppertal, a city famed for its suspended mono-rail, has probably no other sight worth talking about. But maybe I'm not paying homage to this widely unrecognized place. However, it can at least pride itself on its sole prodigal son Friedrich Engels, who, due to the course of events since the end of the cold war, never found true recognition anywhere west of Beijing.

I left the valley of the Wupper at the age of 7 to join my mother moving to the fair aul' city of Dublin. The Irish capital is not only a well of beauty "where the girls are so pretty" (Molly Malone, Irish Traditional), but also the place of my up-bringing. Here I was told how to speak English in a most idiosyncratic way, and, less importantly, how to sing like a bird kept in a cage for too long. Managing to graduate from secondary school — one year senior of all my class-mates — I then devoted my talent and enthusiasm to the insurance trade. This short-lived but rather unhappy work-marriage eventually had to give way to what I consider my calling: working with language.

In the late nineties I proceeded to do a teacher's program at the University of Limerick. Since it holds a deathbed of many a stabbed person, every honorable Irish citizen reiterates "stab city" when the word "Limerick" is pronounced. Abroad it is more rather recognised as the godfather of all Limericks, those well-known five lined stanzas. Unsurprisingly, it was here where I found my liking for literature and linguistics. Studying German Literature and Linguistics provided me with ample opportunity to indulge in my newly found passion.

The first year after my graduation, I gained my first spurs teaching under-graduate German students. Not completely content with my first teaching experience, I retreated to the impetuous underworld of Dublin's pubs and bars, "selling decent pints to decent people". After another year of this indispensable life-experience, I felt the winds of change blowing me to Leipzig, as the rock-band Scorpions would call it.

Today I enjoy living and working in this old trade city. By demonstrating peacfully against the old communist regime, the people of Leipzig have given rise to freedom and democracy in the former GDR. And I must say that it is a truly peaceful, serene and ever changing place indeed.

Please listen to my song Play with me! (mp3, 1,7MB)

You can meet me here:
Ralf from Ireland / How to Become an English Teacher


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