Teacher success stories: interview with Erica Olah

The interview was conducted by Andrew Davison, founder of Learn English Budapest and Learn English Prague, both of which have been included in the Hall of Fame for their commitment to give equal employment opportunities to both native and non-native English teachers. You can read the interview with the founder of Learn English Budapest here. Erica’s bio can be found below the interview.

Under Creative Commons from: https://flic.kr/p/fCGPcr Changes mine
Under Creative Commons from: https://flic.kr/p/fCGPcr Changes mine
  1. How long have you been an English teacher and how did you start?

I have been teaching English for more than 20 years now. Originally I was an elementary school teacher. Once I was asked by a company to teach the management and the employees on an evening course and then I realized that adults are for me. Right at the beginning the feedback from my students was so positive that it encouraged me to further develop my skills.

  1. Why did you want to become a teacher of English?

For two reasons I think. On the one hand because teaching is my hobby, yes I am really lucky, and I love the language. On the other hand because being a self-employed teacher gives me the freedom to manage my own time and meet lots of different people.

  1. How easy has it been to find private students?

At the beginning it was much easier because there were few teachers in the market. There were some years when it was enough to put an advertisement out in the village where I live and my whole year got scheduled in advance in a week or so. In general like every business I have had my ups and downs but it never discouraged me.

  1. How have language schools treated you as a non-native teacher? Do they take you as seriously as native teacher?

I do believe that the teacher’s expertise is the most important so I do not care about schools which discriminate teachers by their birth. For example, I have never been able to get a summer job in Spain. Their loss! J At the beginning and unfortunately for quite a long time I felt that nativeness is the pre-requisite of being a good English teaching professional but now I am confident about the usefulness I do.

  1. Do you think students treat you differently because you are a non-native teacher?

No I don’t. If I felt that I would get rid of them.

  1. How do you react to people that have the opinion that native speakers make better English teachers than non-natives?

I simply tell them that the choice is theirs but in my opinion in many ways  I am as good as a native teacher. I have gone through what they are going through now and in a lot of respects I can help them pass their exams more quickly. Anyway, I have had students who chose to learn with me after a native teacher. Not every native teacher is qualified as we all know.

erica olahErica is an experienced teacher, MA graduated in English language and literature at ELTE University Budapest. She holds the CELTA, the QTS to secondary schools in the UK. She has also been an oral examiner at state accredited exams for ten years.

She’s taught teenagers and adults in Hungary and in the UK and is currently working for Learn English Budapest, which recently opened up in Prague. She’s taught the Prime Minister’s Office and in several banks in Budapest.

She’s a great animal lover and volunteers to translate for charities. She likes dancing, travelling,reading running, learning languages and getting to know different cultures and gastronomy.

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