We’ve already met a few Lingoda teachers called Laura. There was Laura the German teacher and content creator and Laura the English teacher who also loves to bake. Now it’s time for another English teacher named Laura, this Laura is from South Africa.
Laura, please tell us a little about yourself!
Hi there! I’m Laura, I’m from South Africa. I’m originally an art teacher, having completed my bachelors in Fine Art with major in sculpture and thereafter, I taught in the Art School at the Nelson Mandela University for a few years. I moved to Tokyo, Japan in 2015 where I taught English for 3 years. This is where my appreciation for language really developed and I fell in love with the country and culture. It also allowed me to explore my love of travel and nature around South East Asia, and tick off some bucket list items like climbing Mount Fuji, meeting real native people in Palawan, the Philippines and seeing the traditional lifestyles of the Vietnamese in some remote areas.
Interestingly, Tokyo is also where I met my husband, – small world, right? Which brings me to my current location (and exploration), Toulouse, France. Since I met him, I have been able to see parts of the rich culture and history of Europe. I love experiencing the diversity of people and places from around the world while also recognising our sameness.
What does the average day look like for you as a Lingoda teacher?
I usually have quite early morning classes that run consecutively. This means preparing the night before and reviewing the notes. I’m currently studying my Masters in Education, so depending on my study load and deadlines, I mostly like to teach quite a lot of classes. This keeps me in a good rhythm and sets a regular routine which helps me work at my best. I have a quick breakfast and then resume learning or working on assignments related to my studies.
I try to keep an active lifestyle in any form, but I always prefer the outdoors. So this could range from gym training to Tae Kwon-Do (I did it for a few years in the past), hiking, dancing or cycling activities. I’m happy to do any activity that involves being outside. Lately however, its been a bit challenging sticking to physical activities, but I always prioritise spending some quality time with my husband and family.
What is it that you like the most about the platform?
The students! It’s great meeting so many different people, with their diverse cultures and languages from around the world. Its my absolute pleasure to learn about each student and their unique story. I really value the flexibility Lingoda provides. Because my studies can often be quite demanding, it is really helpful to work during hours that are most conveniently correlated with the amount of time or effort I need to put in with the study programme. Especially that I can choose time slots in accordance with my planning around other responsibilities too. The lessons are interesting and well structured and as a teacher with Lingoda, you have the freedom to teach as you see fit.
What is it about learning and speaking other languages that you enjoy?
Connection. I’m definitely a people person, and I thrive on building deep and genuine connections through learning about others. Language is a tool that can connect people from the most opposite walks of life. Japanese is linked to such a unique culture and carries with it, a homogeneity in thinking and behaviour that I find fascinating. Whereas French is rich and expressive and quite unique in many ways. I love the richness of the language in that sometimes there is no equivalent translation to English for some words.
Another by-product of connection is empathy. There is such a sense of community among speakers who don’t use their mother tongue while conversing, at least in my experience. Non-natives speakers understand the effort/strain and sometimes embarrassment or frustration associated with the learning process, and thus display a different kind of understanding toward those in similar positions. Coming from the tempestuous history in SA, I am inclined to think that the world can always use a little more empathy.
Other than this, is it the fulfilment from expanding your capacity outside of your comfort zone and growing from it. There are these mini moments of sparks of thrill every time you feel yourself progress in your language ability. As you may tell, I’m an advocate of self-development, so I’m equally enthralled seeing others succeed, especially when I can be a part of it in some way.
Why do you think people should learn languages?
For several reasons that are beneficial to the human experience: Global citizenship, internationality, personal capacity, communication, cultural awareness, I could go on. Yes, speaking more than one language can make you a valuable asset to companies and promote multiculturalism in a professional sense; but it can also add to a broader world view, and give you a lens through which to experience worlds other than your own.
What do you like most about the English language?
It is largely the common denominator among international circles of mixed cultures. It unites.
Why do you think people should visit, or even live in an English speaking country?
Immersing oneself into a new context can bring about the most growth and discovery; and to be honest, it is arguably the best way to learn any new language, not only English.
If you had any tips or advice for a language learner, what would they be?
Bring it home. Language is the most real when it serves your own purposes, so connecting it to your context makes it relevant and important to you in a way that is more “alive” (or engaging) than learning it ‘text book’ style. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. I think that making mistakes are just as valuable as accuracy. See them as signposts that guide your progress rather than a weak area.
What words of wisdom do you have for anyone who may be thinking about taking the leap into language learning?
Language opens doors to possibilities and worlds you might never have otherwise known. Whether it’s personal or professional purposes, language not only develops your intellectual ability and skills but also expands your view of the world beyond your own lived experience and perspective. So, why not learn something new?