Case Studies: Teachers
Language Taught: Russian
Years of teaching experience: 5+
The three things that my students can expect from me are logical and organized lesson materials, a preparedness to answer any questions, and my talent for identifying their language strengths and weaknesses
Hi Vitaliy! Thank you for speaking with us today!
Thanks for inviting me!
Why don’t you start by telling us about you, your background, and your teaching career prior to working with Language Trainers?
Certainly! My name is Vitaliy, and I teach Russian, Italian, and French. I chose to become a teacher because of my passion for foreign languages and cultures, as well as my desire to share my knowledge about languages and cultures with other people who have an interest in learning more about them. My first experience with foreign languages started during the Soviet era, when I lived in Ukraine. I was born into a Russian-speaking family, and so Russian was the first language that I became acquainted with. Later, in second grade of elementary school, I began learning Ukrainian; as a general rule, everyone who lived in the 15 republics had to learn the official language of their republic, in addition to Russian. A bit later, I began learning English, and it wasn’t long after that I realized that languages and literature were my strength. Thus, I continued to learn other foreign languages during high school and college, namely Italian, French, and German, after I immigrated to the United States and attained the highest possible grades on all my assignments and exams. I decided I wanted to make foreign languages my career after pursuing a master’s program in translation at the Institute for Applied Linguistics at Kent State University. After graduating, I completed a number of freelance translation assignments, but my desire to share my knowledge of languages with others never left me. So, on top of my translation and proofreading assignments, I started teaching and began accepting tutoring assignments.
And that is when you found Language Trainers. It’s great to have someone on our roster with such varied linguistic and cultural experience. Do you have a favorite thing about working with the company?
I first started teaching with Language Trainers in 2016, when I tutored a student who needed to learn Business Italian. I was immediately thrilled by the ability and willingness of the course coordinators to help me find and adapt the right teaching tools, so that the student would find them useful and feel enthused to continue learning. This was such a pleasant surprise that I have since continued my collaboration with Language Trainers and gladly accepted numerous other assignments, which were not just interesting and inspiring in their own right, but also allowed me to grow professionally and personally. So, I would say my favorite things about working with Language Trainers are the flexibility of the timetable, ease of communication, and the encouragement to have regular discussions with the course coordinators about the best way to fulfill a student’s learning goals. For example, the course coordinators I have worked with have always done a fantastic job of listening and being considerate to both my students and myself. Also, Language Trainers is always willing to go that extra mile by answering my questions and helping me to secure suitable teaching materials, such as online textbooks, audio files, and other resources that I can review at my convenience and decide if they are suitable for my student.
It sounds like you really put in a lot of effort with your students. What else can they expect from you as their teacher? And what do you look for in a student?
The three things that my students can expect from me are logical and organized lesson materials, a preparedness to answer any questions and my talent for identifying their language strengths and weaknesses. I always prepare the lesson materials in advance, after carefully considering how the student absorbed the presented concepts in previous lessons. After all, teaching without a clear lesson plan is a road to failure. In addition to this, a truly good teacher must always be able to answer any questions that a student might bring up or at least point him/her in the right direction. For example, if a student asks about how a certain grammatical concept works or the context in which a certain conversational phrase is used, the teacher should always know the answer. Last, but not least, it’s absolutely essential for a teacher to evaluate the student’s performance and identify his/her areas of strength and areas of weakness. This is so both teacher and student can revisit the areas with which the student has had difficulties, to clarify the concepts that the student has a hard time understanding, so that the student can move forward and utilize those concepts properly. Meanwhile, the first and the foremost thing that I look for in a student is the their motivation to learn. Even if the student is struggling with certain concepts during the course, if I see that a student wants to learn and is willing to put his/her best effort into their studies, then I know I can help them to achieve their goals. Typically, I see this right away. I realize that some languages like Russian can be very difficult to master, but if the student is motivated and finds a way to enjoy and have fun while learning, then it’s easier to work with that student.
Do you have a moment from your time teaching with Language Trainers that you think of fondly?
It has always been pleasant and enjoyable, but my most memorable experience comes from my most recent teaching assignment. When we were about halfway through the course, the COVID-19 struck in my state. Suddenly, I felt like this assignment was something precious; something that kept my mind focused on the positive side of life. I was very thankful to my course coordinator, as well as my student, for their flexibility to ensure we could continue lessons via Skype. I felt such positive emotions as a result. I feel so grateful the company helped the lessons to continue, so I could focus my mind on the future and something else besides the difficulties of the pandemic.
Why should students enroll in a language course with Language Trainers?
Language Trainers provides such a range of useful and interactive tools and materials to instructors, ensuring they can encourage students to learn at their own pace. For example, for all of my teaching assignments, even after I developed a lesson plan for a student, I paid very close attention to determine how quickly or slowly the student absorbed newly presented information. Then, by using the right tools and materials recommended by Language Trainers, I could adjust the pace of the course as needed. This in turn helped my students to stay motivated and confident throughout the learning process.
And last of all, do you have some interesting facts you like to teach your students about the languages you teach? Would you mind sharing one or two with us?
I like to teach useful expressions. One of the most popular expressions among my Russian students is, unsurprisingly, “Вы говорите по-русски замечательно,” which translates as “Your Russian is excellent!” It’s a rather long-expression and contains words with many syllables (the second word has 4 syllables, and the last word has 5), and it’s both fun and challenging to learn.
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