Jake Young - ESL Teacher and Lesson Content Developer

czech republic website Dec 07, 2018

Jake Young is an inspirational teacherpreneur who had to learn many technical skills to launch his website Fluentize. His advice? Stop thinking and start doing. There's not a person in the world who built something from thinking - they built it from doing.  Business is the result of action and every action you take is worth taking.


  1. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day for an interview.  Can you tell us where you teach and how long have you been teaching?

I'm from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA but I've been living and teaching ESL for 7 and a half years in Prague, Czech Republic. I received my TEFL certification from TLH in Prague in 2010. I started off teaching a variety of different lessons for language schools in Prague. I then shifted to develop my own private practice for one-on-one / small group lessons for both teenagers and adults. Now I mostly teach private lessons for students at small and big companies in Prague.

  1. Can you describe a typical day?

A typical day consists of working on and developing lesson content for my resource website Fluentize www.fluentize.com for other ESL teachers, as well as teaching private English lessons at companies around Prague. I have a variety of other tasks I attend to daily for the management and maintenance of my website.

  1. What do you do in your spare time to relax?  

My biggest passion at the time is music - listening to, discovering, and mixing new music, especially in the hip-hop genre. I also enjoy learning new languages, spending time with my girlfriend and friends, travelling, running, and skateboarding.

  1. You took on the tremendous task of starting a website called Fluentize. Can you talk a bit about it?

Throughout my years teaching English to teenagers and adults, I found myself using short, real-world videos quite often in my lessons. It all started a few years ago with my student who was really interested in the topic of 3D printing. I went online and browsed for material related to this topic. I found a great video about 3D printing and made some questions and other vocabulary activities for the video. The lesson turned out great and the student was so excited about the lesson. So I then turned around and did the same lesson plan with more students. I continued doing this, browsing YouTube to find a range of different news clips, short cinematic videos, product commercials, TV series, movies, or other relevant video topics as lesson content for my students.

I found that using video for lesson material was very effective for language development and I could see how much my students enjoyed working with videos during the lessons. It started to snowball - a typical routine for lesson preparation consisted of making a few preview activities, questions, vocabulary, and grammar exercises all based on a video topic and content. I was adapting the activities to fit the level of my students, and doing this in almost every lesson, every day. With time, I realized that I had to find a way to share what I've made with other ESL teachers around the world. Slowly, Fluentize was in the making. The name 'Fluentize' represents a methodology of making your teenage and adult students fluent in English using lesson plans based on real-world videos. I've found through my experience that methodology has brought meaning, value, practicality, and inspiration in my students' journey to becoming fluent in English.

I still use these lesson plans regularly with my students, and I've had so many laughs with my students and they've led to such great discussions. I also love how much I learn about my students through some of the topics - so many personal stories have come from the video topics and questions in the lesson plans. All in all, using video as a resource in English language lessons is fun for both the teacher and students and gives the students a great opportunity to interact with real-world English.

  1. Where can teachers and students find your lesson plans?

Teachers can find the lesson plans at www.fluentize.com  There is some free content on the website and then there are single credits and credit packages available at a great value.

  1. Do you have any plans for other websites or resources?

As of right now I'm completely focused on the development of Fluentize. I am also a beginner blogger writing about some topics in the EFL industry.

  1. How do you promote or market your website?

Right now I'm focused on connecting and building relationships with other English teachers, bloggers and innovators in the ESL industry, as well as member groups on social media and TEFL schools. I also like to meet teachers in person to discuss their experience teaching English and learn more about their needs.

  1. Do you do everything yourself or do you hire people with specific skills to help you?

I definitely don't do everything alone - there's a lot of people who have contributed to the development of Fluentize and there are many different gears to make it work. My business partner and friend Andy Soell is my lead web application developer who helps make Veslio run smoothly. I also have an amazing private small business coach Jamie Monk (https://www.arrowsmallbusiness.guru) who coaches me through a variety of challenges in the business. I also get a lot of help from freelancers for design work and other technical tasks on www.Fiverr.com.  I also listen to my favourite podcast www.Fizzle.co for creative entrepreneurs. My girlfriend helps me through the emotional ride of it all and gives great professional input into my project since she is also an experienced language teacher.

  1. Where can we find you on social media?

People can find me personally on Facebook    www.facebook.com/jake.young.7355 and https://www.facebook.com/FluentizeLessons/  

  1. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?

I believe that one of the best things about being a teacher is building interpersonal relationships with students. Learning how to build and maintain these relationships has definitely helped me with my teacherpreneur projects and it's of great value to me. Teaching English as a foreign language and making lesson plans has also helped me build so many useful life skills and personal qualities which I need for my other projects  - creativity, empathy, communication, leadership, organization, project management, and ability to inspire.

  1. What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur? 

Immersing myself in the online world. Before Fluentize, I wasn't a computer guy at all and I lacked a lot of design and technical skills. But in order to make Fluentize happen, I had to learn these things and learn how to use Wordpress, Photoshop, InDesign, Mailchimp, Excel, and also do a range of other technical tasks and graphic design work.

  1. I talk to many teachers about their fear or doubt in trying something new or "putting themselves out there".  What advice would you give to these teachers?

The absolute best advice I can give - stop thinking and start doing. There's not a person in the world who built something from thinking - they built it from doing. Ideas don't mean anything without execution. All it takes to get your dream in motion is to start working on one small thing at a time, no matter what that thing is. And even though that one small task may seem minuscule, it means everything. Go talk to someone about your idea. Research online. Ask questions. Write your ideas down. Go buy something you think could be a good tool to help get your project or idea going. When you do these things, it leads to the next thing you have to do - and then your project will gain momentum with each completed task. Slowly with time, it starts to come together, but you have to go for it. Business is the result of action and every action you take is worth taking - even if you did it wrong or you lost money on it. Keep in mind that a business is a never-ending marathon and that you're in a perpetual rollercoaster of emotion.

13. Is there anything that you would like to add?

I would just like to encourage anyone who needs help or has questions about teaching English or their teacherpreneur project to feel free to contact me at any time. I'd be glad to talk to you and help you in any way I can. You can reach me at [email protected] or [email protected]

Thanks so much for inspiring us!

Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started?  Here are some ways:

1. Read more than 85+ inspiring teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog

2. Download The Essential Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit - 50 pages packed with information to get you started as a teacherpreneur at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca 

3. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur

4. Download The Social Media Make-over Checklist for Teacherpreneurs at www.teacherpreneur.ca

5. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group  https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976

6. Set up a private coaching call with me  https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pages/book-a-coaching-session-with-me

Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.

Twitter     https://twitter.com/teacherpreneur2

LinkedIn   https://ca.linkedin.com/in/patricepalmer1

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/teacherpreneur2

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/teacherpreneur2/


About Me

My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP.  I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer.  I spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong and have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs. I now work as a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; coaching teacherpreneurs, travelling at any time of the year and applying the science of positive psychology to all my work (www.patricepalmer.ca)  Contact me at [email protected]

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