Alberto González is an experienced ESL teacher, translator, and the author of Spanish for English Speakers. Read how Alberto used his expertise and skills as a native speaker of Spanish to write his first book.
Alberto, can you start off by telling us where you teach?
Sure, I teach in an international language institute called Berlitz Languages in the United States. Also, I have tutored in colleges and have provided freelance services to college and high school students.
How long have you been teaching?
Can you describe a typical teaching day?
There are a variety of courses offered, from a couple of hours per week to a full time week, 6-month long, full course. Taking the full course as an example, students go through an assessment/placement test to determine their level of proficiency. When the course start, the first thing I do is to keep assessing the students in terms of aptitude and attitude, to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses managing the new language (listening, speaking, ability to follow newly introduced material, etc.), as well as their willingness, enthusiasm and approach, this way being able to tailor the course in a more efficient and productive way.
Before starting a new class, I review the previously covered material and lay out the course of action for that present day, keeping in mind to reinforce the topics or language areas with which the students need more help. Diverse activities are performed in order to develop the different language skills. At the end of the day, I write a summary of what was done and covered in class, and again, write notes about the performance to keep tracking their strengths and weaknesses.
What do you do in your spare time to relax?
I am usually reading or writing something. Also, music is my life, as a listener and a player.
I also spend time working on a volunteer/missionary project that I am developing. This project serves as a language bridge between missionaries or poverty-alleviation groups and the poor communities. People can find out more at http://2worlds-languages.webs. com/missionary-project
What is your biggest challenge as a teacher?
My teaching experience is with small group settings or individualized classes. Different students have different abilities and personalities, of course. As opposed to big groups, where there is a more standard way of teaching due to not having enough time to work with one student at a time, being able to adapt the material and the approach for individual/small settings every time could be a challenging task.
You took on the tremendous task of writing a book. How did you come up with the idea for your book “Spanish for English Speakers”?
Throughout my experience in language education, as an instructor and also as a tutor for college and high school students, I had observed many students struggling with the Spanish grammar (more complicated than the English counterpart, by the way). Language institutes are more focused on conversational skills, so the grammar is normally a secondary thing. But, surprisingly, I have found that many students want to learn the “why” and the “how it works”, and that is “grammar”. In high schools and colleges, the language approach is the opposite, mostly grammar and very little conversation, but the big class setting, the heavy course load in their programs, and the little opportunity to get individualized help, makes it difficult for them to master the grammar.
As a result, I found myself always creating supporting documents by individual topics and providing them to students during learning sessions, depending on their particular needs. After some years, I realized that I already had enough material in writing, so the idea of putting it all together came up: if I add missing topics to complete a full course material, expand the existing ones, arrange them in a logical order, and connect them, I will have created a book; with material that has been useful and tested by students.
I also decided to complete the work adding my own hints, advices and comments that I normally share with students in class, based on their common reactions and questions as English speakers approaching the Spanish language. In addition to help students with the essential grammar involved in a full international Spanish course, this book is a good teacher’s guide for freelance Spanish teachers. The order in which the material is presented is the result of years teaching it and fine-tuning an efficient and logical flow.
How long did it take you to write your book?
It is hard for me to say, because I had been writing the material little by little, as needed, through the years, as I mentioned before. When I finally decided to create a book with the materials I had, it was a few additional months to complete it.
Will the second book take less time because of the lessons learned from writing the first book?
Yes. I had to learn many aspects about the book industry, like publishers, ISBN, copyright, sales channels, book trim, covers, and more while creating my first one. Knowing that now will make it easier to publish a few new educational books that I have in mind. Plus, the second one will be about the English language, so the topics and the order will be similar.
Where can teachers and students purchase your book?
It is available in two stores:
It can also be seen and accessed on my website http://2worlds-languages.webs.com/
or my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SpanishforEnglishSpeakers
Unfortunately in our field, there has been discrimination against "non-native" speakers of English. What advice would you give to non-native speakers of English who would like to use their skills to become teacherpreneurs?
First of all, in any English-speaking country, always keep improving your English proficiency, not only the oral fluency, but also its grammar, which is the backbone, structure, mechanism of any language. The higher your English proficiency, the better you can teach your own language, for two reasons: if you are teaching your language in English to English speakers, you can explain the material better. If you are teaching your language in your language to English speakers, you can compare both languages better and understand your students’ struggles better, therefore delivering a more efficient learning session. This is the case in institutions that are dedicated to the conversational aspect, and you are required to avoid using the student’s language (English) and deliver the class in the language being taught (your language) only. Additionally, it would make you more valuable to teach English to non-native speakers.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
Being involved in the educational field, in any way, is a very fulfilling, rewarding, and enriching experience, in addition to the very important fact that you are directly contributing to the overall education of others. If you feel a calling and are considering or pursuing to do so, I encourage you to keep going with it. Just find your best match as there are many different ways to be part of the educational community: school, college or institute teachers, one-on-one, small or big group settings, children or adult students, professional or volunteer; in any case, you have the power to greatly influence others in a very positive way. I am sure you will not regret it, and many people will be grateful.
Thank you so much Alberto. All the best.
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 teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. Check out my Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca
3. If you are a TESL Ontario member, watch a free recording of my webinar Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://tutela.ca/GroupFiles?organicgroup=8594&cat=518
4. Sign up for my 4 week online course with iTDi.pro - Teacher to Teacherpreneur http://itdi.pro/itdihome/teacherpreneur.php
5. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
6. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
7. 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!
Who am I?
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., TESL and I reside in Canada. I have 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer including 7 amazing years in Hong Kong. I have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as ESP, EAP, Business English, and language programs for new immigrants in Canada. I'm now a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing courses, blogging, sharing teaching materials, instructional coaching for new teachers and coaching teacherpreneurs. Having a flexible schedule allows me to conduct short-term training around the world at any time of the year.
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