The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to the five below questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)

1. Who are you and what do you do in education?

Rach Photo

I am originally from Northamptonshire, where I studied Art & Design at Nene College before attending University in Manchester where I graduated with a Bachelor of Education Honours degree. I have also completed a postgraduate in Business Administration at Salford University.

Before entering into education, I worked in a number of roles in sectors as diverse as import & export, IT, banking and insurance. I was previously employed as a Business Analyst for a major combined banking and insurance services group before moving to Italy in 2005, since when I have been teaching English as a second language to private individuals, local businesses and classes organised through local community groups. In particular I have worked with quite a few businesses that needed to learn and / or improve their English language skills in order to help them obtain new business from English speaking countries. While dong this, I have been able to utilise my previous business experiences in order to teach my students about the business culture and ethos of the UK.

I have also recently started freelance writing specialising in academic articles and in my spare time I play classical violin and I am currently learning to speak Russian.

2. Describe a typical work day in your life!

I don’t have a typical day in my work, my day really depends on what time I have lessons. I am available to teach every day, seven days a week from 9am to 9pm, but not all my time ‘slots’ are always booked up. I am up at 7:30 for breakfast and walking the dogs before starting work at 9am, if I don’t have a lesson to do first thing I work on planning my lessons for the day and week ahead. Once my students start to arrive, either individually or in small groups of 2-3, it is all go for a few hours at a time. I try to grab a bite to eat when I can.

Twice a week, I run beginners and intermediate English language evening classes for local business and community groups. Each class has up to 30 students, although it is very rare that all of them turn up to each lesson, some are local shop owners who don’t close until late some days, others work shifts at the local pasta factory. I try to spice up the lessons to keep the classes interested in learning; I use movies, music and lots of other fun exercises to keep them engaged. All of my students love it when I get out the karaoke CDs. After classes finish, we sometimes go off for a coffee at one of the local bars.

After each lesson, I tend to set homework for my students to reinforce learning points from the lesson, which I post for them online, or send via email. I use Facebook to set up private groups for each class, so they have a designated space to view homework and as a platform for outside discussion. It’s also where I post the lesson content for those who were unable to attend, so they don’t miss out. So there’s usually a lot of daily ‘admin’ outside of the actual teaching. In addition, each day I am either receiving completed homework for marking, or answering queries from my students, not only on homework issues but anything that they have seen or heard in relation to learning English and want clarification on.
I fill in any time I have between work each day with personal bits and pieces, gardening, walking the dogs or visiting friends and neighbours.

3. In what way has technology in general and the net in particular changed your work?

Besides using my computer and tablet to help organise and prepare my lessons, I also use them as a teaching aid to help with the delivery of teaching material. Technology has obviously made communication between teacher and student easier and more effective; I am able to interact with my student(s) quicker which enables me to answer questions and reinforce learning points more effectively.

Technology has also enabled me to interact with my students like never before, email alone is no longer good enough for my students who are all very social aware. Facebook has become the principle point of contact between me and my students and the messenger service is an ideal chat forum. With the rise of smart phones, everyone is always connected to Facebook, so I can get information to them instantly. I think social networks like this will eventually replace texting and email as the norm for communications. I like to use Facebook to supplement my lessons and it helps to provide a variety of content, as well as a boost to engaging students. Much better than the old pen, paper and exercise book!

Social networks have also become my main source of finding prospective students, who can find me and interact with me and my existing students in real-time before deciding whether or not to start lessons with me. They can also get real input from people who are current or past students which gives them confidence in me as a teacher. I am also able to keep in contact with ex-students who I am constantly engaging with to offer support for exams or CV’s.

The internet has become a great source of free resources for language teachers and students alike, but I have also found that it is a great place to earn a living from. I have recently begun to offer English language lessons on-line via Skype or other video-conferencing services. It has enabled me to expand my reach globally to any English language learners and give me many more options to expand and increase my business base. Although technology has been a part of my life for many years, I feel that I have never used it to its full potential, so I have recently begun to explore which technologies available to me I can utilise to help me and my students.

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

I think the internet and the amount of information out there is a great challenge for education. The information needs to be filtered with care to ensure the content is appropriate and correct. People can publish anything they like these days on the internet, via social media, YouTube etc. and it is not always correct on many levels, socially, ethically, morally, as well as educationally or (for my area of expertise – English) grammatically! It concerns me that there doesn’t seem to be any form of moderation for information and I wonder what the long terms effects may be for the next generation. I am concerned that things will become too instant and too informal. A little patience and formality is good at times and it is more appropriate in some learning situations in my opinion.

5. Where can we find you online?

Facebook: facebook.com/calazzottolanglab
Twitter: @calazzotto
Blogs: theteacherabroad.blogspot.com / calazzottolanglab.blogspot.com