Are you an English teacher? Would you like to improve your own English skills? Let’s do it together this summer!
Registration for the summer online course for English teachers is now closed.
- Do you feel that your own English isn’t getting any better or even slowly deteriorating as you teach your A1-B1students?
- Would you like to improve a specific aspect of your English, such as idioms, listening comprehension or speaking fluency?
- Would you like to express yourself more eloquently, using advanced vocabulary which, right now, you only know passively?
- Have you lost the passion for English which you had when you decided to become a teacher?
- Do you keep telling yourself you should have more contact with English but then you never really find the time for it?
Of course, you do.
All English teachers feel like that.
It’s perfectly natural that your English stagnates or even gets worse.
People often expect language teachers to be perfect at the language they teach but whoever has mastered a language to an advanced level knows that it is just not possible.
You cannot keep the same high level in a language unless you keep practising it intensively. And by that I don't mean explaining the difference between past tenses for the umpteenth time.
You could easily keep up if you spent a few hours a week practising your advanced English and learning new vocab. But teachers don't have time to work on their own English skills. Directors of schools and language schools rarely ever give teachers space for that because they are snowed under with administrative work and lesson preparation.
As a result, teachers' active vocabulary and language output gradually decrease a tiny bit every year.
It is a completely natural process and nothing to be ashamed of.
“If you don't use your foreign language or you
don't do something that stimulates you to constantly improve your
current level, it will necessarily downgrade”
a well-known polyglot who speaks 11 languages
But it is definitely something you can change this summer.
Who am I? 🙂
First, let me introduce myself. I am Lydia, an interpreter and language mentor from Slovakia.
Trust me, I know my stuff about learning languages and improving in them even at advanced levels. Why? I've been learning English for 11 years. And when I say "have been learning", I really mean a continuous process with just a few minor breaks.
Besides English, I can now use 6 other languages fluently: German, Polish, Spanish, French, Esperanto and Russian. I also know the basics of the Slovak Sign Language. I have learnt all of these languages on my own , not by going abroad or to some language course.
C1 - C2
C1 - C2
B1 - B2
B1 - B2
A2 - B1
Language levels are informative only – according to my judgement. For me, the most important thing is that all of these learned languages (with the exception of the Slovak Sign Language) I can speak fluently in everyday communication - I can easily speak with native Germans or Poles, read any book written in Esperanto, watch any Spanish movie without subtitles, etc.
This is how I speak all my foreign languages right now:
As for the English language, I work with it professionally as an interpreter. I have interpreted at dozens of conferences, lectures, presentations, business meetings and even for a few high-ranking political meetings.
People often think I must have spent some time abroad, but the only English-speaking country I have ever been to is the United Kingdom, for a total of 9 days of my life, on three separate visits. I have never attended an English course abroad, nor did I ever go to a language camp for children in Slovakia or anything of that type. I have achieved my level of English through my own work.
Polyglots learn languages in a different way
When people find out that I can speak 10 languages (including Slovak and Czech), they often say it’s very unusual. But in fact, it isn’t 🙂
I have met hundreds of people like me at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin. It is fascinating to meet people in their early twenties who can have a fluent conversation in a bunch of languages, often from very different language families.
I studied their methods and ways to learn languages and I came to the conclusion that all these polyglots have a few things in common. I call these the 4 pillars of learning a language:
FUN: Learning a language must be enjoyable
Otherwise, it won't be half as effective. The first thing polyglots do before starting to learn a new language is to find the right methods and resources - things they think they’ll like using and won't find boring.
QUANTITY: A lot of language exposure is required
There is no miraculous way to learn a language overnight. You need hours of input (listening and reading) and output (speaking and, if you like, writing). That takes time. Repeated exposure to the most frequent words will make sure the language sticks.
FREQUENCY: Learn a bit (almost) every day
It's not very effective to spend 5 hours a week learning a language if all those hours are on a Sunday. It is much better to work with the language every day, even if it is just for 10 minutes.
SYSTEM: Learning systematically is much more effective
Whether you're using one book or a combination of various resources, having a system to how you learn will ensure that you don’t give up after a few days. It’s easiest if you set goals for yourself for a certain period of time and make yourself accountable.
I believe that these four pillars are the difference between polyglots who can teach themselves one language after another, and other students of languages who often struggle with even one language for many years.
I’ve learned that effective language learning happens when we expose ourselves to any given language intensively for a given period of time in a fun, systematic way.
And this is exactly what I have been doing with all theforeign languages I am learning. I’ve learnt each in a different way, using different methods, but I have always adhered to the four pillars.
It may sound like a lot of work, but the good news is you don’t have to do it for a very long time. That’s actually the whole trick – if you spend a shorter period of time (several weeks) focusing on the language and learning it more frequently, your progress in it will be much faster and noticeable than if you took it slowly. I believe this is what’s behind the slow progress of most students who attend language courses or learn languages at school.
How can you apply the four pillars to improve your English?
Whatever area it is that you would like to improve in English (e.g. speaking, active vocabulary, idioms, listening comprehension, etc.), all you need to do is to work on that particular area intensively for a limited period of time.
I assure you that if you do that, if you concentrate on two or three language skills by exposing yourself to heaps of language (i. e. lots of texts to read, numerous podcasts to listen to, many hours spent speaking, lots of grammar exercises for a particular grammar issue, etc.), you will experience a great improvement in as short a time as a couple of weeks. And that feeling of growth is the most rewarding thing! That’s what will motivate you to continue learning.
The summer holidays sound like the perfect time for a teacher to work on their own professional development, don’t you think? 🙂
I can help you with that.
What is “In The Same Boat”?
In The Same Boat is the name of a whole new program for English teachers who aren’t English native speakers. It is meant to help them use the summer holidays for their own development and to improve their own active English skills.
The whole program will run online so it doesn’t matter where you live. All you need is an internet connection.
As the name suggests, teachers are actually in the same boat as their students -- we are all learners of the language forever, and we need to improve continually. We’re also going to do this together, rowing together to get our boat to the destination we’re aiming for. You’ll see how much easier this is compared to individual learning.
Is this an advanced English course?
Not at all! I am not going to teach you English, nor tell you exactly what you should learn. You know that better than anyone else.
My role as your language mentor will be to tell you about methods for learning English on your own. These are methods frequently used by polyglots (people who speak more than 5 languages). I’m sure you’re familiar with many of them, and you probably use some of them in your teaching.
But I’m also sure I’ll introduce you to a few completely new methods and resources which you’ve never heard of before. I have collected quite a rich collection of them in my 15 years of learning 8 foreign languages and I’ll gladly share my best practices and resources with you.
For instance, I’ll show you how you can:
- read the latest issue of The Economist (and dozens of other magazines) on your phone or computer for free (and legally!)
- listen to hundreds of interesting recordings in English about topics that personally interest you, using just your phone
- get new vocabulary to stick in your long-term memory, either by writing it in hand or by using an app (forget about simple word lists in a notebook – they don't really work)
- work with any book on English vocabulary (idioms, phrasal verbs, collocations, Business English etc.) in the most effective way
As a participant of the online course, you will gain access to my videos (in English) where I explain these methods in detail. If you have any questions or doubts about them, you can ask me any time.
The course will take two months, starting July 4th and ending September 4th. There will be four main steps that we will take together:
State your current learning priorities
Your first task will be to analyze your own English learning skills and decide what you want to concentrate on this summer. I don’t think learners should always work on all language skills at once. I find it much more effective to pick the few areas in which you feel the weakest or which are of most interest to you, and to give them your full attention. You can work on the other skills in another learning project later on.
You can decide to improve your active speaking skills, your listening comprehension, your pronunciation, your grammar, your active use of idioms or phrasal verbs, etc. Or you can choose a specific type of English, such as Business English or Legal English, and work on that this summer, using books and oher material.
Set your SMART goals
When you decide on what you want to improve this summer, you’ll set SMART goals for yourself. This means that your goals will be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Don’t worry, I’ll help you with that 🙂
Pick the best methods and resources
Afterwards, you’ll watch videos in which I will show you dozens of ways how to achieve your goals in any priority area (listening, writing, grammar, idioms, Business English, Legal English, etc.), and we’ll also have a few webinars (online meetings, like on Skype) where you’ll be able to ask me any additional questions and clarify anything that wasn’t quite clear.
Let’s learn English: each for him/herself, but all in the same boat
Having created a plan for your English learning, you will work on it every day in small steps. It doesn't have to take up much time, but regularity is the key here. You will see how your comprehension / vocabulary / speaking / whatever you set as a goal for yourself improves every week when you put in a few hours of practising. In the videos, you'll also learn how to use that time of the day which you would normally waste, in a very effective way.
One of the most amazing things about this language mentoring program is the power of community. I am opening this program for dozens of English teachers from Slovakia (and possibly other countries) so that you won’t be in this by yourself. There will be dozens of other teachers who also want to work on themselves and improve. Can you imagine how much more motivating that is when you learn something together in a community? We’ll all be in the same boat, together, rowing simultaneously, and pulling for each other.
What is more, the community will hold you accountable. We will all share our progress in our English learning in a way which enables all other members of the program to see what you have done and how well you’e sticking to your plan. And which day you might have missed. We will all make sure that all of us stick to our plans and don’t give up.
And when I say we, I mean me included 🙂 I’m now actively working on my Russian and Esperanto, but I’m also going to work a bit on my English together with you. There’s an amazing book of English idioms which I haven’t gone through completely yet. I can’t wait to do that together with all of you 🙂
How will the community work online?
We will have our own Facebook group in which you’ll be able to share any resources that you find useful, any problems that you have with a given method, a resource, or with your learning in general. You’ll have a chance to share your woes and joys on this amazing journey of reviving our passion for the English language. You’ll get to make new friends online whom you can later meet in real life, like at ELT conferences.
I will actively take part in the group discussions, together with my team of assistants. We will make sure all your questions are answered and that your motivation level stays up for the whole summer.
In addition to all this, we’ll have a few competitions to kindle a spark of rivalry among you and to get the most out of you. This will lead to even more ardent English learning and better results at the end of the program.
Why you should definitely join this program:
- You can finally improve your own English in a pleasant way by doing exactly WHAT you like and need, exactly WHEN you like and HOW you like it.
- You will learn about a lot of new methods and ways to learn English in a fun way. Whether you love working with books, or you prefer using websites, or you’re an app person, I assure you you’ll find dozens of interesting ways to improve your English in a way you’ll enjoy.
- You’ll have an online community of other English teachers who are in a similar situation to yours. They struggle with the same problems and they need to be in touch with English just like you. We all do. You’ll be able to hear their tips on learning English and you can share your best practises with them. They will hold you accountable so that you don’t give up before the end of August.
- For one summer, you’ll change roles - you’ll become a language learner. You won’t have a teacher, but you’ll remind yourself what it is like to be on the learning side. This will give you a lot of useful insights into what your students are going through and as a result, I’m sure it will enrich you as an English teacher too.
- If you like the idea of language mentoring, you can easily integrate some of the features of this approach into your own lessons. You’ll get to see for yourself how effective it is. Mentoring students as opposed to teaching them is a lot easier, much less demanding for the teacher, and, I believe, more effective in the end. It is totally up to you whether you try it out with your students or not.
- This is the first project of this type not only in Slovakia but, to my knowledge, also in the world. Never before have English teachers from a given country joined together to work on their own English skills in this way -- not by attending a language course, but by taking the learning into their own hands.
- The summer holidays are the best period for teachers to invest time into their own personal development. Don’t put it off another year. You’ll never “have the time” to work on your English. You simply need to create it. And July and August 2016 sound just great for this, don’t they ? 🙂 (If you’re planning to go on a holiday, don’t worry and read the FAQs below.)
Language mentoring works amazingly
I have already tested language mentoring with two groups of 100 students of languages at Comenius University in Bratislava. With the second group, they worked on improving their skills in 13 different languages, 8 of which I don't even speak (Croatian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, and Portuguese). We met once a week to discuss our learning progress.
It was fascinating to watch the students fall in love with their languages anew and to learn English and other languages with such a passion. Learning the language changed from a must to a hobby. But what was best thing about it is how much the program helped them improve in their respective languages in just two months. This is what they said at the end:
I improved my English more in the last two months than in the last two years! Lots of activities which I am using even now are a great relaxation for me and that gives me even more motivation to do them. Given how much I enjoy these activities, I often spend much more time with them than I originally planned. Progress is clearly visible even after such a short time.
This is exactly what we were missing at the university. I’ve always wanted learn English but I didn’t know how. This program gave my education a whole new perspective. I understand spoken English much better now and I see a huge improvement in my vocabulary as well.
I feel a strong improvement in my speaking and comprehension. I am not afraid to communicate with native speakers and I don’t use filler words. I can express myself more eloquently, quickly, and using the new vocabulary which I learnt from watching series and reading articles. The Anki app is my new best friend for life 🙂
Not sure if it’s a good value for money?
You still haven’t heard the best thing about this program: I’m absolutely sure that this will work for anyone who is truly determined to improve their English level by learning in a way which you choose for yourself, based on your needs and possibilities. Therefore, I'm offering a 100% money back guarantee
The program starts on July 4th and ends on September 4th. If by July 31st you find out that the program does not work for you for whatever reason, all you need to do is send me an email and you will receive a full refund. No questions asked. You have my word.
Why am I so sure that this works?
Because I have already tested the idea with these 200 students at Comenius University in two 2-month-long programs. And I've seen the results. And I was not the only one who noticed them. This is what one of the teachers at the Spanish Department said at the end of the mentoring program:
Some of the students who took part in the language mentoring program had their final exams today and I can tell you that we, the teachers, have really seen the difference. The students from the program achieved a huge improvement in their Spanish. My colleagues didn't understand how that was possible in just two months, but I knew it was because they had attended your program. I would gladly make ALL our students take part in it in the future because it really works. Thank you, Lydia.
And this is what the students themselves have said at the end of the language mentoring program:
I can tell you honestly that your mentoring program is one of the best things that could possibly happen to me. It works for me 100%. I think it must work for anyone who wants to move their language level a few notches up.
You are really the first person ever to finally give me an answer to my question: How to learn languages? So far, others have just given me small hints at how to do it, but you came with a whole system of amazing ideas. When I listened to your initical lecture, I was asking myself: How come I've never come up with this by myself? I am really, really happy with the language mentoring program and you can't imagine how grateful I am that you are helping us like this. You are giving us hope that it is possible to learn a language well, and you yourself are the best proof.
You've caused a revolution at the faculty! Using effective time-management methods that you recommended to us, I can now use lots of passive time, such as when taking a bus. The system that you've introduced -- first realizing what I need to improve and why, has brought real results and not just an "attempt" at improving my language skills.
I think that your language learning system is very original, encouraging and motivating. The choice of the resources and the methods which we truly enjoy is revolutionary and as a result, we are all more than willing to spend much more time with the language. I have nothing but praise for your language mentoring system. It's amazing that whenever I stumble upon a problem in my language learning, you already have a solution, or, more probably, you won't even let me fall into the problem because you'll warn us about possible pitfalls in advance.
I'm not exaggarating when I say I love the mentoring program. I love using the "dead time" of the day because I like things to be done effectively and practically. I listen to podcasts when travelling, running, cooking and when on the train, I even manage to knit besides listening 🙂 I like that we have our SMART goals, that you have it all thought through, that it is based on a logical system. It is awesome! And it works! Not just for learning languages, also for other activities such as doing sports or learning other things.
I truly appreciate your system of learning languages. It is the best way how to get even the laziest of us to improve their language skills, because it is them who decides when, what and how.
The mentoring program works amazingly for me. I feel much better at German thanks to it and I finally do things which I've always wanted to do but never found the time for them. The lack of time is always the main problem -- we all have busy agendas but if you want, you can always find a few time spots for the language. It can all sum up to as much as an hour a day. I think that anyone should try it who feels that they need to work on their language skills but they keep putting it off for later when they "have more time" -- which is never. Now is the time to start. Your language mentoring showed me how.
If you haven't tried it, you have no idea 🙂 I've managed to overcome my fear of speaking, I have gained lots of active vocabulary and I finally use the language actively.
- I want to participate but I will be on holiday for two weeks
That’s perfectly understandable. Every participant of the program will be able to take a holiday, which means that you simply go on your holiday with your family whenever that is and you continue with us once you come back. Whether you decide to do something with English while you’re on your holiday is totally up to you. No pressure. Some people want to go on holiday in order to relax and do nothing. Others prefer to use the free time to do something meaningful. That’s your own business.
If you know you’ll be away from home for more than 2 weeks, it is up to you whether you want to take part in our program or not. You may not achieve wonders in one month, but the program will still give you a lot of value, and you can always use the know-how and the system later on by yourself.
- How will I be able to practise speaking if I don't know any native speakers?
In the videos that you’ll get with the course, you will learn about several different ways how you can practise speaking whether you live in a city or in the countryside. Some of your interraction can be done online if that suits you, but that’s not necessary. We will also use our community to practise speaking together. If you truly wish to improve your speaking skills, I'm sure we'll find the right method for you 🙂
- Is learning material included in the price of the online course?
Yes, absolutely. 95% of the methods and resources which I will tell you about are available for free. Having an internet connection is the only prerequisite. The methods which I use for language learning aren't some paid programs, but, mostly, they are ways how to use the vast material on the Internet in a simple and effective way for a systematic language learning.
- How much time will I need to spend learning English weekly?
That depends entirely on you. You will set your own goals and you will decide how much time you can allocate to English every week. I will do my best to help you use all the time possible, reaching up to an hour with English 5-6 times a week. Don't worry, that doesn't necessarily mean spending long hours with books. I will tell you about methods which you can use in the "dead time" of the day, i.e. when walking to work, when cleaning your house, when driving etc. You will be surprised at how much time you can put together using these time slots.
- What language will we communicate in?
Although the program is primarily meant for Slovak English teachers, all our communication will be in English. Don't worry if you feel like you’ve lost fluency in English in recent years. Our community will be a friendly one where noone will be judged and noone's errors will be pointed out. Instead, we will all create an encouraging environment where anyone can express themselves openly. After all, only people who want to improve their own English skills will be in the course. That means that we are all willing to learn from each other.
- How is this different from a language course?
Language mentoring is based on autonomous learning guided by an experienced autonomous language learner such as myself. No language course will ever give you a chance to work with the texts YOU find worth reading, nor will you be able to listen to the recording that YOU find interesting, nor will you ever work on a grammar point which YOU have always struggled with. Learning a language in a group has many advantages, but at the same time, you cannot always deal with truly interesting and relevant material because the group's needs are superior to your own.
In a language mentoring program, you yourself decide what you want to do and you work on it based on the four main pillars of learning a language that I’ve explained above.
This learning system is very different from classical teaching methods because it takes a different point of view. My learning system is not based on any ELT methodology, but instead on the ample practical experience of polyglots who learn languages on their own. I know hundreds of people who speak several languages fluently, and I assure you it's not because they've got some magical talent. I myself have learnt 7 languages to a B2+ level, 5 of those in the last 9 years, while having a perfectly normal life with many hobbies and free time. I'm going to tell you exactly how I did it and you can do the same with English, or any other language you decide to learn later on. I'll present you with more than 30 methods and you can pick the ones which suit you. And then you’ll do them on a regular basis according to your learning plan.
Wouldn't it be worth looking at how all the polyglots learn languages so effectively and how these methods can be used in your own teaching as well?
- I like the idea but...
- A) ... I don't have time this summer.
And which summer will you have time to improve your English? 🙂
We are all caught up in our duties and we never really have much time for anything. The thing is, time is not something you can have, it's something that you create. It's all about priorities.
Summer is the perfect time for teachers to focus more on their own development, rather than that of their students.
- B) ... I can't afford it.
The program is not cheap, but given the value that it brings, it is a real bargain.
As opposed to any language course you may take, the In The Same Boat online program offers you much more: You will receive know-how on learning languages effectively which you can use not only for learning English but also for any other language you wish to brush up on or learn from scratch later on.
By buying this online program, you are actually signing up for a life-long "language course" which you can attend for years on end, if you like, with breaks whenever you decide to take them. Unlike the usual language course at a language school, this one doesn't end with the last lesson. This is what my students like most about our language mentoring program - they keep writing me emails that they are still actively learning even weeks after the program because they have discovered methods which they truly enjoy. Learning the language is no more a must for them, it's an enjoyable hobby. Just like English can be for you.
- C) ... I would like to do it another time.
There may not be another time for quite a long time. I would like to continue with projects like this one but I cannot guarantee I will start a similar program any time soon, nor that the price will remain as low .
- D) ... I'm not sure it’s the right thing for me.
You can always give it a try and use the money back guarantee in the first 30 days if it is not. There is no catch there and you have nothing to lose. Worst case scenario: you will have learnt about new ways of learning languages and your level of English will remain the same.