Broňa, do you still remember the first English lesson you taught? Who were your students? What was it like for you?
I still remember my first lesson at our grammar school (Gymnázium Elgartova), where I was for the first time “a real teacher”. The first thing I did was to ask a student to move closer because she was sitting alone on the other side of the class than all the others. And she said “no”. I still remember how everybody was looking at me and at her and waiting what would happen. So, I said “please”. She said “no” again (she told me that she loved that place). I felt very unprepared for that kind of situations from my university studies. But there was a happy ending, in the end she moved and we had a nice relationship for the rest of my teaching (at least, I hope that was the case).
You come across as a very optimistic and upbeat person. What inspires you to be happy? Are you ever down or exhausted? What do you do to recharge your batteries?
I am a very happy and lucky person. I have amazing friends, family and students. I have a dream job (helping people falling in love with English). I guess, it would be kind of hard not to be happy. But, of course, I sometimes feel tired too. I like going running, reading a great book or meeting my friends in the pub .
We know you as „an excited English teacher who helps people to fall in love with English“. However, you haven´t always been one …
As I student I deeply hated school, it was a place of torture, lacking any fun, freedom and cooperation. I did not want to stay there a minute longer than I had to. In a way this was great because I know exactly what kind of teacher I do not want to be. When I started teaching, I was not sure how to behave in front of the students in the class and so I decided that I would try to be the kind of teacher I would enjoy studying with.
Many of the T-shirts you wear in the videos also spell out your positive outlook in life (Mr. Happy, Life is good, an image of a dog with a baseball hat just to name a few). Are they custom made? If you could design your own line of T-shirts, what would they look like?
Oh, thank you! No, they are just ordinary T-shirts. I am actually thinking about having a few of them made. They will probably have these sentences on them: Don’t forget to stay awesome and dream big!, Every day is a good day to have a good day :), I am not smiling because I am happy, I am happy because I am smiling, Life is too short for boring English lessons :)
The world we live in surrounds us with English like never before. The Internet offers countless materials including films, songs, articles, educational videos in and about English. Clever application loaded with English grammar and vocabulary are at our fingertips. Yet, many people struggle to achieve their language goals. They feel like they just can´t do it. Why do you think it is so?
Well, that is a hard question. I do not believe there is an easy answer to it (and the last thing I want to do is to pretend that I have one). Everybody is different and everybody needs something else but above all, I believe you need to find your “passion”, the right motivation. If you really want to learn a language and you work hard on it, there is nothing that could stop you. There is no magic trick or a shortcut. Love it and do it every day and you will be just fine.
How would you comment on the following reasons people give to explain why they can´t learn English: I don´t have time, I am too old, I don´t have talent for languages, I don´t have an ear for music and therefore can´t catch the accent etc.
They are the all-time favourites. If you decide that you cannot learn a language, you are right. If you decide that you can, you are right too. I don’t believe in excuses, I believe in actions and that actions express priorities more than anything else.
Apart from teaching you also offer language coaching. How exactly did this concept come along? What is your experience with this approach?
You know what they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I had a lot of great students that I was teaching every week on Skype when I lived in England. But then I decided to come back to the Czech Republic and teach again at the secondary school and so was sure I would not have time to teach as many private lessons as before. I could have chosen just some of the students and let the others go but that felt so bad (because as I said I have simply amazing students). Therefore, I came with the idea of Language Coaching. I imagine it works like in sport. I give people a training plan, advice and support but I do not train with them. We meet once a month on Skype and there we discuss their progress, we look at what they have done so far, I answer all their questions, we plan how to continue and we also practice some speaking or grammar (whatever is important at the moment). We also have a “buzer lístek”. They have to write what they do for English every single day. If they do it, they put there a green colour for a given day and activity. If they do not do it, they make the box red. I check that and comment on it. It is a great way to stay motivated and know that you are not on your own.
You are probably the most popular English teacher in the Czech Republic (and possibly beyond). Your video „Naučte se konečně opravdu anglicky“ is the most viewed video on Seduo.cz. What is next? Are there any new projects you are working on or dreams you would like to fulfill?
I am quite sure there are many more popular teachers, but thank you for your kind compliment. And yes, of course, there are many more things I hope to achieve. The biggest one is to meet God one day and not being ashamed of my life. But before that, I would like to create a (board) game for practising speaking, write a book about learning English, have an audiobook and most of all be happy.
Thanks a lot for the answers .