I’m starting a new series on my blog called ‘Getting to Know the Teachers‘! There are so many wonderful ESL teachers out there that everybody – teachers and students alike – can learn from. Whether your teaching ESL or just beginning to learn English, these innovative teachers can show you new ways to learn. After all, life never stops handing out lessons, and we’re always learning.
First up we have Leila and Sabrah! If you’re interested in visual learning, and fun lesson plans, these girls are for you. They have a really engaging YouTube channel and social media presence. Let’s get to know them!
Love English with Leila and Sabrah is an English Language YouTube channel with a difference! We make our videos an immersive experience by putting the language into context and making the lessons as fun and interactive as possible. We want our viewers to love English as much as we do! We have lessons on grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation as well as general tips on learning strategies and British culture. We will soon be expanding into doing videos on academic English and study skills as well as Business English. We are also both very experienced English teachers with 8 years experience, (we both teach at a university), and we both have a Master’s degree. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube as ‘Love English with Leila and Sabrah’ and on Instagram @Love_English_UK.
What inspired you to start teaching English? How did you get there?
Sabrah: In my case, I started teaching when I was 19 when I did a gap year project in Ecuador. I was a volunteer teacher of English in a poor part of Ecuador’s capital city Quito. I was teaching sometimes 30 or more students in a class with very few materials, ( a blackboard and some dusty chalk), and they were all different ages sometimes from 10 to the age of 3-4)! At first, it was very challenging but I really loved working with young people and helping them with something that they could really use in the future. I then did my CELTA after doing my BA degree and I have been teaching on and off since then for 8 years.
Leila: For me, I sort of fell into teaching after completing my master’s in multi-media-journalism. I finished my MA during the recession and teaching seemed like a good option. I completed my CELTA and was lucky enough to get a job with a fantastic school where I learned a lot and even met my partner who was sent over by the Italian Navy to study English. I enjoyed teaching English and meeting different people from different parts of the world. Our Love English channel is a natural progression for Sabrah and I and means we can be more creative with our teaching to a wider audience, as well as using our media skills.
Wonderful! How long have you been teaching English?
We have both been teaching English for 7-8 years and have both taught abroad as well as in the UK.
Do you think that technology has changed since you started teaching?
Sabrah: Yes! Technology has definitely changed since we started teaching. When I first started teaching mobile phones were strictly banned from the classroom but now it would be very hard to ban them, and I think everyone can now see the benefits of them as a learning tool. I think more and more people are also using technology to help them learn English with apps, YouTube videos and Facebook forums which is great! Not everyone can afford to go and study English in a school so access to free resources is really important.
Leila: Totally agree with Sabrah! I think there is a lot more room to be creative now for teachers because of technology. When you’ve been teaching for a long time like us, it’s important to think of new ways to teach and engage your students, social media and Youtube offer that platform and can even be used in the classroom with blended learning.
Clearly, you both take advantage of technology with all your social media. What made you want to reach out to students on YouTube?
Sabrah: We both want to reach out to students on YouTube as we have a lot of experience and knowledge and we would like to share that with a wide audience and help lots of people! Being able to speak English is a vital skill for so many people all over the world, so if we can help people to do that we feel like we are doing something good with our knowledge! We also both have MA degrees in Media studies so we also had the right skills to make videos. It was all meant to be…
Leila: I think we are both quite creative people and this also offered us a way to channel that creative energy into something we know and love. We both really needed a new challenge.
What is your favourite teaching experience?
Sabrah: In my case, I believe in using drama in the classroom- so role plays etc as I think it is really useful for helping students with their confidence and their speaking. One year I organised a Christmas pantomime, ‘Aladdin’ at the school I was working at. It took the students a long time to prepare and learn the lines but the final performance was fantastic and it was such a proud moment to see my students performing and seeing how much their English had improved.
Leila: For me, some of my best teaching experiences often involve taking students out of the classroom. Encouraging them to do questionnaires and actually use language outside of the classroom. Indirect questions are a good example of this. I would often get students to go into town and use the language we had covered in class to ask people questions in a polite way. Fun things at Christmas are also good, like one year my class re-wrote Lady Gaga’s ‘Poka face’ song and performed it. We called it ‘Christmas face’ not very imaginative but the lyrics were great!
Those are great experiences! What is your teaching philosophy?
Sabrah: I personally believe that learning should be as fun and interactive as possible. The more students speak English and take pleasure in using the language in real-life contexts the better they will become. Of course, there are times when students have to study hard and spend time learning grammar etc but if they can find as many opportunities to enjoy it then I think they are more likely to have a positive experience and a better end result.
Leila: Laughter helps you learn! Ok, sometimes, like for exam classes we need to take things a bit more seriously, but if students enjoy what they are studying then it’s not hard work. We learn much more when we enjoy what we are studying. As teachers, it’s our job to engage students as best we can.
I completely agree. So, what’s next for you guys?
Sabrah: We are currently working on some videos which focus on academic English to help students who are studying in universities. We are also working on our website which will have free resources to go with the videos to help students. We would also like to make some resources to help EFL teachers such as 10 great activities for the EFL classroom etc…and we really want to get 100,000 subscribers! I think that is enough for us to be going on with for now… 😉
Leila: Eventually we’d like to make an app, but Sabrah’s right. One step at a time! 😉
I’d like to thank Sabrah and Leila for allowing me to interview them for my blog and wish you all the best with your future endeavors. Sabrah and Leila are truly fun and wonderful teachers, so you should definitely check them out. Stay tuned for more teachers’ stories!