Marlene Paglia - ESL teacher, Writer

canada writer Feb 06, 2017

Marlene Paglia is a perfect example of a teacherpreneur with grit and determination despite receiving many rejection letters. Find out why she thinks that ‘being in the zone’ is a good barometer for knowing you’re on the right track.

Can you start off by telling us where you teach and how long you’ve been teaching?

Hi! I’m Marlene Paglia and I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language with the Toronto District School Board for over 20 years.

Can you describe a typical teaching day?

I have taught all levels from Literacy to Toefl, but at present, I teach two (2) 2½ hour multilevel classes. My teaching day begins with my first Benchmark level 3-4 class from 9:00 to 11:30. The second Benchmark level 4-5-6 class begins at noon and ends at 2:30.

What do you do in your spare time to relax?

I enjoy travelling, watching engaging movies, cooking and spending time with my family and friends.

You took the tremendous task of writing two books.  How long did it take you to finish them?

The idea for my latest text, ‘The Big Book of English Grammar Articles’ originated from my student’s need for material that specifically addressed articles – a, an, the. I combined years of experience, student needs and my love of travel with classroom materials I developed and decided to put it all together in one large resource. After developing, field-testing and tweaking, it took approximately 2 years to complete.

My first grammar text, ‘If I’m so Smart, why do I feel like an Idiom?’ was created in the same fashion. Students with PhDs, MAs, university and college degrees frequently said, ‘I am an educated person. I have a degree in so and so. Why can’t I learn these Idioms?’ Their query was the inspiration for the fun title I gave the book!

Where can teachers and students purchase your books?

‘The Big Book of English Grammar Articles’ can be purchased online as a digital e-textbook download directly from my website:

‘If I’m so Smart, why do I feel like an Idiom?’ was available in hard copy and is now in digital development.

Do you have plans for another book or are you working on any other projects at the moment?

Yes, on both counts. I am currently working on a third grammar text that will, again, incorporate student needs, field-tested classroom materials and my interests and hobbies.

How do you promote or market your resources? 

I use social media. 




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

Many things, but one stands out in my mind…I held a 2 hour workshop for ESL teachers with the Toronto District School Board on ‘how to write a book.’ It took a lot of preparation and a great deal of practice in front of a mirror so that I would feel comfortable. For me, teaching students is one thing, but presenting material to teachers is a whole other ball game. I believe that practice is truly the ‘mother-of-skill’, so numerous dry runs helped, indeed!

What skills have you gained from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?

I go to great lengths to accommodate my students’ wide-range of learning styles in the classroom – this has informed me as an author to ensure that the lessons are highly accessible and fun for both teachers and students alike.

What advice would you give to teachers who are considering writing a book?

There will be some who will tell you that you can’t or that it’s too much work. It’s just someone’s opinion. Don’t listen. If it’s something you really want, then why not? Desire, coupled with determination, perseverance, and a lot of hard work and grit will prevail. Take a break from time to time, but don’t stop. Anyone can do it, but the ones who actually do it – finish and move on!

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

There were countless days when I felt full of fear and doubt and relentlessly questioned myself. Talk to like-minded people in the industry. If something doesn’t work, find another way of doing it. Express your emotions. It’s all normal. Follow your heart. You don’t know what can/will happen and when. I received 42 rejection letters before 2 publishing houses asked for 3 sample chapters on the very same day. Don’t stop! I wouldn’t be writing this today if I decided to end my attempts at the 42nd ‘snub.’

Is there anything that you would like to add?

Yes. Athletes talk about ‘being in the zone’ when they run. I feel like this when I teach, write and network with people world-wide. It’s a good barometer for knowing you’re on the right track! Good luck! 

I like the idea of being in the zone.  I think it is also referred to as being in a state of flow.  It is a good barometer as you  say.  Thank you so much Marlene!

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

8. 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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