At Global Village Calgary, quality of teaching is the key to our success in the language business, and one of the many reasons we enjoy the reputation of Best English Language School in Calgary. The teachers’ staff room is a diverse mix of teaching professionals from different backgrounds and nationalities; all of whom are accredited with a University Degree and an English Language Teaching certification that is recognized by Languages Calgary and IALC. With a staff only 20 language teaching experts, Global Village Calgary has the best teachers the city has to offer, and we’re pretty darn proud of that fact!
Say Hello to Language Teacher Abby
This week we sat down with Abby, one of our longest serving teachers, to discuss her approach in the classroom, experiences teaching English as a second language and advice for students coming to Calgary.
Where did you get your start as an English Language Teacher?
I have been teaching English for 16 years, but I got my start in Japan where I taught for 4 years. I had just finished University and was having one of those “find myself” moments. I decided to pack up my life and move to Japan. It wasn’t until my third year in Japan that I fell in love with teaching adults English as a Second Language (ESL). It all seemed to fall into place after that. I spent a month in Bangkok getting my CELTA certificate and the rest, as they say, is history.
What did you learn from your time teaching in Japan?
Those 4 years were some of the best years of my life. Not only did I fall in love with teaching English but I grew as a person. I changed my perspective on things relating to culture. I developed my morals and values and really became who I am. I changed a lot in those four years!!
The same can be said for somebody looking to learn English abroad. I have seen many students who stayed here for an extended period of time and really grew as a person while they were here. There was one young girl from Colombia who started here when she was 17. She had never lived on her own. Back in Colombia she enjoyed a privileged lifestyle where she never had to fend for herself. Over her 10 months here, I watched as she become very independent. By living with a Canadian homestay family, she was treated as a member of the family and therefore expected to be responsible for herself. She learnt how to do laundry, cook, and budget her money. When she graduated from GV Calgary, she said to me that even she had noticed a change in herself and that her time here was the best experience ever.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I actually always wanted to be a teacher. I remember I would line my stuffed animals up in front of my large chalk board and teach them the alphabet or how to do math. However, I went to school to become a travel agent and work in the hospitality/travel industry. I just knew I wanted to travel and see the world. It wasn’t until I started teaching in Japan that my original passion for teaching returned and I realized that this is what I was always meant to do.
What was your favourite subject in high school?
My favorite subject in school was English. I loved reading, writing stories and analyzing poetry. This is where I fell in love with Shakespeare, Jane Austin, the Bronte sisters. I have always wanted to write a novel. I have tired but it is not as easy as writers make it seem!
Who was your favourite teacher in University?
It wasn’t until I went back to university in 2016 to get my degree in Business Administration & Human Resources that I finally found a teacher that inspired me. Her name was Shelley. She embodied the person I wanted to be. She was successful, kind, knowledgeable, and an overall nice person. I built a special bond with her over the three years it took to get my degree. I even had her come be a guest speaker in my Listening and Note taking class, one of our English for Academic Purpose afternoon elective classes we offer at Global Village. She talked to our aspiring SAIT (one of our Pathway partners) students about what instructors and professors expect from their students. Afterwards, our students told me how informative and inspiring she was.
What is your favourite level to teach at Global Village Calgary?
I love to teach higher levels and the Cambridge B2 First test class. This may sound strange but the topics presented at the highest levels at Global Village are some of the best topics to teach. They are fun, spark imagination, and start some very interesting conversations. From the student’s perspective, the structures taught in these classes (passive, reported speech, and conditionals) are commonly used by native English speakers and are invaluable for having more complex conversations.
Although I love teaching, I also get the opportunity to create the courses taught at the school. It gives me a different perspective on what I teach and how I can help the other teachers in the classroom by providing them with new materials, ideas and topics to teach.
What should students know about you as a teacher and you as a person outside the classroom?
The teacher version of me and the private version of me are quite opposite. In the classroom I am very energetic and extroverted but outside of the classroom I am somewhat of an introvert.
What do you think makes Global Village Calgary a good place for studying English?
I have heard many students say that Global Village Calgary is like a family. I really believe this is true. Learning English in a different country than your own means living far from friends and family for an extended period of time. Being part of a close-knit group of classmates makes the experience so much better. Having a group of people that are either temporary or become lifelong friends is important. Global Village Calgary is great for this. The number of students in a classroom is smaller, which means you get to know your classmates on a more personal level. The afternoon activities organized by the school are another fantastic way to build that family or community. Being away from your “normal” life is hard, but having friends, family and a community to support you, whether you are here for 4 weeks or 4 months, is key to creating the perfect learning environment.
What are some advantages of living in Calgary?
I am originally from Saskatchewan, one province to the east of Alberta. I grew up in a farming community in the middle of prairies. Even though I liked it there (most of the time), I knew I needed to live in the city. It was a family trip to the mountains that made me fall in love with Calgary. It was where my two worlds collided. Calgary has all the benefits of a big city but also the Canadian Rocky Mountains to the west and the prairies to the east.
What do you get up to when you’re not teaching at Global Village Calgary?
After a day of being in front of the classroom I really just like to go home and relax by binging on Netflix, knitting, or reading a good book with a glass of wine.
What is your favourite thing to do in Calgary on a Sunday?
On the weekend I love exploring Calgary’s many different communities. My favourite is the neighbourhood of Inglewood. I love to window-shop and Inglewood has tons of small local shops to pop into and browse. Some of my go-to shops are:
1) “Recess” - a small stationary store that sells really unique notebooks, pens and paper,
2) “Spice Merchant” - the smell of all the spices is intoxicating
3) “Stash” - your one stop shop for knitting.
These are just a few that I make a point of visiting in Inglewood, but there are stores for every interest including fashion, antiques and housewares.
What about your favourite place outside of Calgary?
One of my favorite places to visit is Nanton. It’s a small town about an hour’s drive from Calgary. Nanton is known for its antique shops and their huge candy store with over 20 different flavours of salt water taffy. I always bring back a big bag for the teachers and my students.
What is something you’ve always wanted to do in Calgary, but haven’t done yet?
I have always wanted to visit Nose Hill Park or Fish Creek Park, but have never had the chance in the 12 years I have been here. Perhaps 2020 is the year I do both.
What’s your favourite Calgary Festival or Event?
I love watching the rodeo during the Calgary Stampede in July. You will usually find me at the head of the line leading 50 Global Village students to the opening day of the rodeo. I grew up with horses and I have never grown out of it. The animal area is my favorite place to visit, especially Manny the llama.
Finally, what advice would you give to students thinking of learning English in Calgary?
Leave your fears or reservations behind and jump right into the experience! Take every opportunity to learn, speak, listen, or read. Even if it is something as simple as an advertisement on the side of the bus, read it. Or if you hear people talking in the line-up at the bar or at the table next to you, listen and see how much you can understand.
For students thinking about learning English in Calgary, do your research on the city and everything it has to offer. Look for local interest groups that do activities you’re interested in. If you already know the area of the city you’ll be living in, look up the closest community centre and find out what’s going on there. Calgary has a number of festivals and events happening year round. Find out what is happening and join in. You never know who you will meet or the opportunities that await you.