This is the second post in our Teacher success stories series. The first one was about Irma Horvath, who despite being a NNEST, landed a great job with the BC in Malaysia, and is now training other teachers. You can read it here.
This time we move to Italy, where Larissa set up her own flourishing teaching business. She’s a passionate blogger and you can find her blog here. So without much further ado, let’s hear how Larissa’s managed to succeed despite the odds.
Larissa: “When I was asked to write this post I felt immediately so excited at the prospect of telling my experience in the teaching language business which wasn’t easy at all. Firstly, let me introduce myself.
Name: Larissa Albano.
Even though my name sounds Russian (my mother loved Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak), I’m an Italian born and bred. Well, I spent long time in London and Swansea (Wales) but as you can see my features are typically Mediterranean.
Profession: Freelance English teacher.
I started working as an English teacher, more exactly as a language tutor, in a school of languages in Rome in 2009.
It was there where I understood that there was a discrimination between NEST and nNEST. Why? Well, discrimination lead me to be a “lying teacher” for two years. What do I mean? I had to tell my students my father was Italian but my mother was English so I was bilingual. “Students want mother tongue teachers, so if they ask where you are from you will tell them your mother is English otherwise you can look for another job”, said the director.
I have always loved teaching so I accepted her conditions but, meanwhile I was looking for another job. The one I found was even worse. Worse than lying? Yes, much worse. I was a bush-league teacher because NEST had conversation, vocabulary lessons whereas I had just to “press play” on a recorder. I had to give my students listening exercise worksheets and just press play and stop. I even had the keys of the exercises!
I couldn’t put up with that any more. I decided to go to London to study more because I thought I wasn’t good enough. Before leaving I told my students the truth about my origins. Incredible but true, no one was disappointed. They were happy they had learnt a lot with me. They were sad just because I was leaving and they were going to miss me.
Then I understood it was not my fault but just a prejudice which was controlling my working career. During my stay in London all my students contacted me because they wanted to have class with me! I couldn’t believe that! You don’t have to be a NEST to be a good teacher! A good teacher is someone who allows their students to LEARN. It doesn’t matter where you are from, your accent or if you make a mistake. Everyone can be wrong sometimes. No one is perfect. What makes a difference is the human touch you bring with you in the classroom!
When I came back from London I set up my own business in my hometown in just one room (because I couldn’t afford an expensive flat). I have made a lot of efforts to advertise my language studio, to plan my lessons, commute to Rome, teach my students, and get positive feedback from them. I think I couldn’t have been able to do all this without the support of my family who always believed in my abilities.
Now I commute just twice a week because I have a lot of students in Gaeta (my hometown), too.
I have been an ELT blogger since last year. My blog is aimed at both teachers and students. I was awarded the British Council – Teaching English Featured Blog of the month for my post about using post-it notes in the English language classes.
With my greatest honour I also became one of the British Council – Teaching English Associated Bloggers together with the highest qualified NEST teachers in the world.
To sum up, you don’t need to be a NEST to be successful. Your success as an English teacher depends on your willingness to succeed! Despite the discrimination, never give up!
Ps: By the way, I’ve just rented a flat. From September I will have my lessons there! Who knows, I might have my own school of languages in a few years ;-)”
What do you think of Larissa’s story? Please comment below 🙂
Would you like to share a success story? You can email the blog here.