Rebecca, tell us a little bit about yourself:
Originally from Massachusetts, I grew up in the Deep South, which I believe gave me a deep appreciation for contrast. And at a very young age, my love of traveling and people who were different from me was born. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s degree in TESOL from the University of Colorado. I am currently applying to several doctoral programs in hopes of obtaining a PhD in Linguistics, specializing in Psycholinguistics. I am an avid yoga practitioner, wild about nutrition, and I have a very small hand-dyed silk business.I hope one day to study with the Shibori masters in Japan — bucket list!
What drew you to teaching and to teaching English, specifically?
I have always been drawn to internationals who were living and working here in the States. While in undergraduate school, I worked for an Italian and his wife who defected from North Korea. She would take me to the Korean restaurant, which keep in mind we were in the Deep South and this was the 90’s — way before Hallyu! I was in awe of different cultures, food, and customs. I seriously vowed at this point that I would work however I could to broaden my understanding of the world and its peoples, and I would work tirelessly to welcome others to the US.
I noticed you’ve taught abroad and here based in the States. Could you tell us about your experiences teaching abroad? (your general experience, any culture shock, how it has made you a better teacher, etc!)
Many years ago while traveling in Spain, I fell in love with a Spanish gypsy, named Koko. I was bound and determined to stay forever, so I got a TEFL certificate. I taught in Spain briefly and then circumstance brought me to Mexico. My intent was to stay two weeks — I sort of thought Mexico was not very exotic since it was so close to the US. However, I ended up teaching throughout the country for over five years in a variety of capacities. At many points back then, and even sometimes now, I feel closer to that culture than my own. I fell in love with the indigenous peoples of Mexico, the art, the land, and their joy for living. Life is always what happens when you’re making other plans.
What do you enjoy most about teaching Advanced English?
My passion is the human capacity for communication, all types but specifically, language. It is absolutely fascinating to me that a baby at 6 months can recognize all of the sounds made in its native language, as well as distinguish all the sounds of human utterance. No matter how much I learn in the field, I crave more. Teaching advanced English allows me to engage in continued self-growth in my own language. Additionally, I am a strong proponent of the productive skills, so teaching discourse patterns across academic disciplines or professional business communications, is something I’m super enthusiastic about!
Do you have any favorite, go-to methods of teaching that you find crucial to your students’ success?
My go-to method is a simple 3-Step process:
What advice to you have for people who are looking to improve their English?
Somewhere in my training, I remember learning that you ‘cannot teach someone a language, only how to use it’; this being said, I encourage anyone trying to learn a language to get super contextual with it — read the back of a cereal box and then look at an academic journal — listen to the news and then read a text between friends. Language looks completely different in specific contexts, and if you want to learn ‘how to use it,’ you must be aware of this.
What do you most want to do now that Covid restrictions are being (somewhat, for the vaccinated) lifted?
That's easy: GO!