On December 15, 2011 we introduced you to one of our newest teachers, Elise Brittain. Today, we’d like to introduce you to another teacher who joined us at IEI last summer: Romy Frank. The first time I talked to Romy on the phone to set up a time for an interview, I thought I was talking with a North American who spoke English as a first language. It wasn’t until I looked at her resume in detail that I learned that she was born and raised in Germany and English was a second language for her. She had, it appeared, done a wonderful job of perfecting her English pronunciation skills. While leaning more about her experience and skills during the interview, I made it a point to pay close attention to listen for any grammar mistakes, misused vocabulary words, or anything else that proved that English was not her first language, but I could find absolutely nothing. I thought, “What a wonderful role model for other English as a second language learners.”

Romy’s road to teaching adult ESL in Nashville was an indirect one. She was studying both English and French in Germany to become a secondary school teacher and was required to study abroad for a short time. She received a scholarship at the University of Alabama and that is where she met her husband and ended up staying longer than she originally planned. She completed a Masters Degree in German Philology and then a second Masters Degree in TESOL. Her husband was set to begin his law studies at Vanderbilt University, which led Romy to look for a place to work here. We are very glad at IEI that she found us.

Romy is very informed about American politics, and loves the Daily Show with John Stewart. She has a great sense of humor and enjoys laughing with whoever she is with. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, doing crafts, watching documentaries, shopping in thrift stores, and snowboarding. She considers all the collective experiences of the past four and a half years to be her greatest accomplishment in life so far. This includes meeting her husband, completing two masters degrees, and getting her first full-time teaching job. In the process, she says, she has grown and learned so much.

In regards to her first teaching job, she says the most challenging aspect is finding ways to support all students equally, given the fact that all students are unique in personality, background, and needs. Combining these individual factors with her goal of helping them find interesting ways to connect with learning English and encouraging them to meet her half way in the process is a daily challenge. At the same time she relates that the most rewarding moments are when students express what they have learned, seeing students interested in something they didn’t care about before, and watching their English skills improve.

When asked what advice she would give students who were trying to learn English as a second language, her first response was related to motivation. She recommends keeping your future goals in mind and how learning English will help make them happen. Her second piece of advice uses a wonderful analogy to a sponge:

“For successful English learning itself, however, you have to transform into a sponge and ‘soak up’ as much English as possible – read news on an English speaking website, read the English version of your favorite book, write down or translate the lyrics of your favorite English song, watch movies and TV shows in English (if necessary with subtitles) and try to talk to as many native speakers as possible.”

Thank you Romy! We are very excited to have you teaching with us at IEI.