Eltabber of the month: Galina (Halyna) Khinchuk

July 7, 2018

Xing Profile: https://www.xing.com/profile/Halyna_Khinchuk

Contact: kh.galina@gmail.com

1. Do you have any tips for new or future parents who are also freelance?

This is really a tricky one. What I learnt about parenting is that there are no rights or wrongs. There’s only what is ‘right’ and ‘good’ for your family and your child. That’s why there is no universal recipe for new or future parents.

For me, the first baby experience was back in Ukraine with full support from both my parents and my in-laws. I devoted all my time to the baby for about a year. I spent loads of time on reading and learning nursery rhymes and lullabies, early development activities etc. I think being a parent and a freelancer has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, freelancing gives you flexibility to choose the amount of hours to work and the time. On the other hand, you have to find the clients to match your schedule requirements, which might be not that easy. And let’s not go into detail with the financial disadvantages – no paid vacation, insurance, taxes…

2. How is teaching EFL different in Germany to Ukraine?

I would say it’s more similar than different. Globalisation is everywhere and Ukraine is not lagging behind in the world of teaching methodology. I know a lot of teachers in my home city who are as obsessed with professional development as a typical Eltabber. The demand for English has been growing for years in Ukraine. The main difference, I would say, is that although it’s not the worst paid job in Ukraine, it is usually underpaid. The roots of the problem lie deep in our economic situation and people’s attitude to services. The other striking difference is that in Germany, especially in Berlin, the number of native speaking English trainers is mind blowing. In Ukraine there might be 1-2 NESTs (non-native speaker teachers) for a 100 non-NESTs.

3. What has surprised you most about teaching in Germany?

The competition among the ESL trainers was a shocker. I had no idea how competitive the market was and how many NESTs are there in Berlin. As I have already mentioned when answering the previous question, I was not used to being asked why I was teaching English. It took me a while to realize how to deal with it, but it only helped me find my strengths.

4. As a speaker of five languages, what’s your experience of interference between the languages which you know and use?

A great question! First of all, as you probably all know, learning every next foreign language is getting easier and easier, especially if they are from the same language family. You can already relate and refer to the grammar and vocabulary you learnt (English-German-French). But of course, the brain tends to puzzle you sometimes, that’s why I might forget the word in all the languages I speak, or mix up the grammatical structures, or start doubting if it’s the right pronunciation/grammar/collocation.

5. As an expert language learner, do you have any tips on staying motivated through the ups, downs and plateaus of learning a language?

Well, I have to confess that I am not that talented at learning languages. I think my main strength is that I simply enjoy the learning process (that is my motivation). I also consider, that it is extremely important to like the language you are learning. I was fond of French without a particular reason. I needed that language neither for my job, nor for travelling (not that much I mean), but I kept learning it for years. On the other hand, I used to hate the German language. I didn’t like how it sounded (at least to Ukrainian/Russian speakers). It took me a long while to learn to like the language after we moved to Germany. And as soon as I found a way to appreciate the language, the learning process got easier and faster.

I would like to add that without speaking the language you lose fluency very soon. German almost completely forced my French out. I continue to understand, but almost can’t speak. As if the French ‘files’ were replaced by the German ones.

6. What is your favorite activity or game to use in lessons?

I used to teach in a very traditional way. Having started teaching in Berlin, I tried to experiment a little more and I started using more games. I used a lot of ideas from Justin’s blog. https://languagelion.wordpress.com/ My recent favorite is Grammar Auction. I took the Idea from the book ETpedia. Basically, you can use it with any level and any grammar point. Come up with 10 sentences, some of which should have errors. Learners (either individually or in groups) have to bid and buy the sentences. For the right sentences I award 2 points, for the sentences with mistakes I award 1 point if they are able to correct it

7. As a trainer, what are your three favorite books or articles on language teaching? Why?

As I have just mentioned, I like Justin Ehresman’s blog, because there are plenty ideas of classroom games and communicative activities. My other beloved book is Evan Frendo’s How To Teach Business English. It was extremely helpful for the FTBE preparation and I can’t thank enough Evan and Mandy for our FTBE group. It has changed not only my teaching style but also my approach to teaching and my clients.

I also really appreciate how TEFL Equity Advocates boosted my confidence when I first faced the struggle as a non-NEST. I was excited to learn about ELF, English as a Lingua Franca, from Marek Kiczkowiak. I have already done the free online course on teaching pronunciation (http://teflequityadvocates.com/) and am looking forward to do the course ‘English teacher’s advanced guide to pronunciation teaching’ that I booked a while ago.

8. Learners and CELTA-trained teachers sometimes have clashing expectations about what language teaching should look like. Our learners may have what we consider outdated ideas based on the educational culture they were raised in. Any insight on navigating this?

I constantly face this problem. Moreover, as I have just confessed, I came to Berlin with somewhat outdated teaching methods. But I like change and always welcome them. As for the learners, I try to persuade them of the efficiency of communicative approach and my classroom management by giving them reasons and bringing some fun to the classroom. Sometimes, I try to start with a more traditional teacher fronted approach and steadily transform the course into a learner-centered one. It doesn’t always work, but we can’t make everyone happy.

9. You recently took part in an FTBE course, how was it useful for your teaching practice?

It has been an amazing journey with amazing colleagues and great tutors. I learnt so much and it definitely changed my teaching for the better. It gave my scattered knowledge a structure. I still have a long way to go to make my lessons more focused and tailored, I am a thousand miles away from mastering needs analysis and syllabus design, but at least I know which way to go. FTBE also helped me to get better jobs, because I knew exactly what to offer my clients.

10. Who would you like to nominate as Eltabber of the month and what question would you like to ask them?

I would like to nominate Sarah Brown as the next Eltabber of the month. She has been an amazingly active member of ELTABB since she joined a year ago. We took part in an FTBE course together and we are in the events team. Her personality lights every event she attends. I would like her to share her great idea for giving feedback/homework/revision by recording a short message.

Edited by Mandy Welfare