This week we spoke with Global Village Calgary’s English for Business teacher, Tony.
If you’ve ever spent time on our campus, you’ve likely noticed Tony. He’s the best dressed of all of us, a true picture of poise and professionalism – qualities that are necessary in the business world.
Between classes, Tony can often be found in the computer lab, helping students with their work résumés. He’s our go-to expert on how to find job opportunities in the city, build a portfolio and prepare for a job interview.
Tony has been the business instructor here for over six years, but he got his start as an educator working in the public school system in Vancouver, teaching history, economics and social studies.
He made the move to Calgary in 2014 and has been a dedicated part of the Global Village family ever since.
How is English for Business different from General English classes?
English for Business focuses on exploring those topics you need specifically at work. We look at how to write a report, do a presentation, ask difficult questions, and pronounce things clearly and correctly. Every topic we look at is designed to make students better communicators in the work place in English.
English for Business is similar to general English classes in that we explore all the skills: grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, speaking and so on. I always try to make it realistic so the students are using real examples and practicing real situations.
What do you love most about teaching?
I like giving practical advice. I have quite a bit of life experience and as such I enjoy giving students suggestions on what they should consider doing in certain situations. I don’t like to preach, but rather act as a guide, using my experience to relate.
I like teaching the higher levels. I find that they have high levels and high needs. They have a lot of questions. They like conversations and are curious and motivated.
What advice do you always give students?
I like to tell new students to practice English through an activity they enjoy, such as a TV show or a type of music that they like, and to try to find meaning that way.
Eventually, formal study gets boring. Even for the best students this is true. You can never become an expert or a fluent English speaker if you don’t have that enjoyment of the process.
For those students still making their minds up, I’d say learn about local culture before you come.
Whether you’re coming to Calgary or going somewhere else, it doesn’t really matter – you should try to find information about the local culture. Things like what’s expected and how people behave in different situations. That stuff is so important to making sure your trip or time here goes smoothly.
And if you’re already in Calgary and thinking about attending Global Village, I’d suggest you work as hard as you can and ask a lot of questions. The more questions the better.
What should students know about you as a teacher?
There’s no such thing as a stupid question. It doesn’t have to be related to English, necessarily. Asking a question and getting my answer, or having a little conversation, is great speaking practice. So to me any question is ‘on topic’ and worth asking.
What would the students be surprised to find out about you?
That I’m a very shy person.
I’m a teacher – I present all day and it doesn’t seem like something a shy person would do or could do.
It’s funny, but introverts make some of the best teachers because public speaking is a skill like any other. You can learn it.
I chose teaching because it was something that wasn’t easy or natural for me to do. It seems like a crazy decision to have made, but I’m glad I did because now I’m more balanced as a person.
How would you describe the atmosphere at Global Village?
In one word, friendly!
It’s a very accommodating place. There’s a lot of support here for students who have questions or concerns. We give students all the good advice we can if concerns come up.
What makes Global Village a good place for students to study English?
I think it’s easy for students to build relationships here. I know there are other programs in the city, but they’re not as good for students meeting with friends from all over the world.
I’ve noticed that students keep in touch with people through social media like Facebook and WhatsApp, even after they’ve graduated. This can be useful for future jobs. These are people who will one day work in multinational companies, which will lead to speaking English with each other.
I think Global Village is a uniquely social place for students. You can learn English grammar from any school, textbook or online. What you need when you go to a school is that social benefit.
What makes Global Village a good place to work?
I have a lot of creative freedom to design my class. I can design it to be however I want. And I do exactly that. I’ve learned so many skills through that process. I also love my co-workers and my managers.
Those are probably the most important things when choosing a workplace. Having the creative freedom and liking your co-workers.
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?
I like to read. I really love writing as well.
I actually have my own side business, where I write business English or business documents using technical writing skills. But I actually like fiction writing and reading fiction the most. That is what I miss the most about all the free time I used to have in my younger days.
On the weekends I do a lot of housework, fixing things. I just bought a house and there’s always something that needs to be fixed!
Aside from the necessities, what’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
Hockey. It occupies a huge part of my life when I’m not at work.
Even if I don’t have time to sit down and watch games anymore, I’m always reading about it, or listening to games on the radio as I do other things.
I played hockey all my life, so it’s an important part of me.
Have you ever lived abroad?
Yes, I used to live in Italy. When I first moved there I couldn’t even count to ten. I found that if I practiced idiomatic language and focused on pronunciation, I could become a basically fluent speaker, but I always had a weakness in vocabulary in Italian.
My vocabulary was always limited, so even though my pronunciation was quite good, people would think I was a local, but not a very educated one.
What are some advantages of living in Calgary?
We’re close to the mountains. It’s also a very up-and-coming city. We have so many young people in Calgary, especially young families. Calgary is the economic centre of Canada.
It’s a very important city in Canada in the business and career sense too, so it’s fun to teach business English here. Right next door we have the Bow Tower, where dozens of multinational oil companies do business. It’s always been an exciting city and it’s growing all the time.
What is one place every student should visit while they’re in Calgary?
In Calgary you should definitely rent a boat and float down the Bow river in the summer time. You see most of the city as you float along, and it’s one of the cleanest rivers in the world. It’s a relaxing thing to do and super fun. I’ve always been the happiest by the river.
Outside of Calgary, I’d say you should check out Drumheller. In many ways, Drumheller and the Badlands are just as impressive as the mountains. Drumheller is smaller and you can visit it in a day. The dinosaur museum there is one of the best nature and natural history museums in the world.
If you’re interested in taking an English for Business class, please check out our website for dates and information. You can find full details here.
Tony looks forward to welcoming you into his classroom!