Irina Malinina - EFL Teacher, Teacher Trainer

Irina Malinina is a bilingual multi-talented teacherpreneur.  Read Irina's interview where she honestly discusses what she had to do outside of her comfort zone as a teacherpreneur, and what drives her to be the best she can be.  

Irina, can you start off by telling us where you teach?

Currently I am a freelance teacher. I embarked on this adventure after 20 years of teaching first at university and then at language schools. 

Leaving my full-time job was a tough call for me since it looked rather precarious and dubious. But I had to bank on both my extensive experience, commitment to teaching, and, last but not least, a stroke of luck.  I mapped out the way to get to my goal. Once the guidelines were set forth, I quit.

Can you describe a typical teaching day?

I mostly teach via Skype now so a normal day would see me prepare for a morning set of classes. Then I do research, gear up for my evening lessons, and develop customized materials for my trainees.

What do you do in your spare time to relax?  

I pursue life-work balance and spend as much time as possible with my glorious teenage daughter. I am aware that stress is insidious so I try to keep up healthy life style – go to gym every other day, amble along the streets, watch the world go by, and just take things in my stride.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

Once I became a freelance teacher, I set out as a teacher trainer. I was really chomping at the bit! I was craving some new prospects, a training or workshop to share my knowledge, reflections on the mistakes I had done throughout my teaching, and the findings to assist my peers with their classes.

Last year I delivered two workshops for English teachers. The first one – Gear Up for Exams – was, first and foremost, dedicated to preparing schoolchildren for the Russia State Exam in English. It was aimed at furthering teachers’ knowledge of best practices and resources used throughout the preparation.  The second workshop – Materials Development in ELT – was predominantly about the ways we adapt and develop materials for our classes.  Simultaneously, I got a Teacher Trainer certificate from Norwich Institute for Language Education.

Currently I’m thinking over other trainings for teachers which I envisage to run in September and October. I would have come up with some compelling ideas by that time.  I also regularly arrange webinars for teachers of English. Among the ones I ran previously – ‘Teaching English in Multi-Level Teenage Class”, “Putting Vocabulary to Work”, and “Marketing for Teachers”.

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?

Remain steadfast in your commitment to teaching, improve your language proficiency vigorously, be a stickler for detail, stay curious, and just – do! The hard work pays off.  Also you should give yourself credit for all the effort that goes into making your classes as the best.

Where can people find you on social media?

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

Literally, all kinds of things! It seemed beguilingly easy in the beginning but as the project started I had to deal with lots of issues – I needed to stand out, to feel entitled to teach my peers, even though some of them are seasoned professionals. I had to confront critiques, doubts and concerns. I went to great lengths to deliver the best possible training, and yet at times I was in bits. Being resilient and able to quickly get back on track is critical for a teacherpreneur.  Also, I tend to feel awkward in new social settings so I had to overcome this anxiety.

What advice would you give to teachers who are considering becoming a teacherpreneur?

It is not only money that should drive and motivate you. As the saying goes, “it takes money to make money”. For instance, running a workshop involves various expenses, i.e. renting a venue, printing materials, even hiring a taxi to deliver the materials and equipment to the venue. Besides, having counted the number of hours spent on preparation for the workshop, you come to realise that, apparently, you are not going to become a millionaire. The whole experience is a bit energy-sapping, however, I am going to indulge in teacher training again since it is so very rewarding! Being of help to other teachers is a real fun and thrill.

In conclusion, I would like to quote Sir Alex Ferguson, who managed Manchester United football team for 27 years:

“I gradually began to realise that teaching bears has some similarities to football management. Perhaps the most important element of each activity is to inspire a group of people to perform at their very best. The best teachers are the unsung heroes and heroines of any society” (“Leading” by Sir Alex Ferguson with Michael Moritz).

Thank you so much.  I would love to work with you in the future.  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

2. If you are a TESL Ontario member, watch a recording of my webinar Teacher to Teacherpreneur

3. Check out my Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit at 

4. Sign up for my 4 week online course with - Teacher to Teacherpreneur 

5. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur

6. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group

7. Set up a private coaching call with me

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




About Me

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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