Judith, please tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Judith, and I come from the enchanting Nordrhein Westfalen region in Germany. Teaching is for me as natural as wearing Hausschuhe or putting butter on my bread! And I believe languages are the most fascinating way to understand culture and behaviour. Therefore, I chose to become a language teacher, and I combined my academic training with travelling, so I spent semesters in France and Ecuador. What I did not expect was to find love in Ecuador and live a fairy tale away from the forests and magical scenarios of Germany, but surrounded by palm trees and with a magnificent view to the Pacific Ocean.
I have worked as a teacher in German and Ecuadorian schools, and even opened my own until we decided to raise family. I am the proud mother of twin boys, who are now my most important students, and Lingoda provided me the opportunity to continue working with the flexibility I need while interacting with students from all over the world.
What does the average day look like for you as a Lingoda teacher?
Sometimes I wake up during the night, and take a minute to check if there are available classes at Lingoda that I can commit to teach, and return to bed (my husband sometimes does not even notice). We take turns in home chores, and after we are done with the morning activities, I take my kids to a playground, or we stay at home playing. I cook regularly, so I need to take time to prepare lunch. In the afternoons, we try to go out on a daily basis. I take the boys to a stroll in the park, around the neighborhood or to the mall, where we check the pet store and buy bread. If time allows, we go to the beach or drive around the city looking for a snack.
My husband takes over the kids for dinner and shower, after which my Lingoda time starts. I check the material I need for the upcoming classes and review my notes. As my husband plays a little more with the boys and puts them to sleep, I enjoy introducing myself to old and new students. I try to take advantage of the classes, and sometimes I push it until late at night.
What is it that you like the most about the platform?
I like Lingoda because it gives me the flexibility I need to take care of my twins, while challenging me to interact with students that have different needs. As a native speaker, I transmit culture, and that motivated a few students to ask me about life, studies, food, costs, etc in Germany that fit in the varied topics Lingoda offers in its courses.
It is appealing to me that teaching international students is in the nature and essence of the platform. My life experiences match the spirit of Lingoda, which is to focus in the student, to interact with people from different backgrounds, different cultures, and unite us through language education.
What is it about learning and speaking other languages that you enjoy?
I believe language is a communication tool, in the full extent of the term, which means it is a vehicle to understand culture. In fact, I combined my academic training with travelling, always looking for ways to understand how people communicate, use their body, how much they convey with expressions and local traditions that shape our languages.
I took cooking lessons in Ecuador, which was a fantastic way to interact with locals as another student, where I had to put all my language abilities to test! I found cooking fascinating because the recipes are not followed to the detail; everybody incorporated their “individual flavours”, and some of the students where plain chaotic, but no one was predictable. For me, cooking classes was a prime approach to understanding the Ecuadorian culture around food, and how those traditions shape the way they communicate. If I had not spoken the language, I would have lost such an opportunity.
Why do you think people should learn languages?
Languages are the most important tool for an authentic and successful immersion in a different land. Furthermore, learning a foreign language improves our understanding of our own.
Through communication, we raise understanding, tolerance and human interaction. Each country develops their culture and specific lifestyles, which in turn shape the way their societies communicate and use language. By learning languages, any person will face the opportunity to share and understand the cultural background of the country they want to visit. Therefore, languages makes our experiences in a multi-cultural world easier and enjoyable.
What do you like most about the German language?
I love the fact that German is like a mysterious treasure. Many people find it fascinating but strange, too hard to speak and a little scary. That all changes when students start learning it, which is like opening the treasure chest. Certainly, German has complicated grammar rules, but it compensates with the fact that a small “tourist” German is enough to open many doors, establish informal and casual conversations, and discover that it is actually a very melodic language. Let’s just think about the most wonderful pieces of classical music… they are most written in German!
Why do you think people should visit, or even live, in a German speaking country?
Unlike others, German-speaking countries are geographically concentrated in a single area, which is central Europe. Therefore, native speakers are only located in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (disregarding groups that have settled in other latitudes). This somehow explains why German has not changed as much as other languages. There are many prejudices about the German culture, which are vanished once a person interacts with nationals from these countries. People who have visited for a long period, or lived, in German speaking countries give testimony of how knowing the language opens many doors and creates endearing and strong friendships, which as the German language, endures the test of time.
If you had any tips or advice for a language learner, what would they be?
I found out that there are many tips available for students. First, think of how babies learn their mother language, they undergo an authentic learning process.
First, not to be afraid of mistakes, learning is about trial and error.
Second, as Ecuadorians say: “loosen up your tongue”: you learn a language to communicate, so do not keep your skills for yourself.
Third, do not make a habit in translating everything; you need to think in the new language.
Fourth, look for opportunities to interact with native speakers; it is now easier as you can find videos, news, movies, songs, and even partners to listen to.