I've been in the ESL (English as a Second Language) industry for roughly 7 years. (If memory serves me right I started when I was 24, but it could have been earlier than that.) I worked as an online tutor for a Korean company for a little over two years and then landed a job in a Japanese language school after that. Sometime later, thankfully, I came across Cafetalk. (It's a great site, and even if you decide not to join me in sessions, I encourage you to check out the other tutors because they're really qualified and competent and friendly to boot. I hope you find your match or at least meet as many people as you can because it's a fun, fulfilling way to enhance your communication skills.)
I've lived in the Philippines all my life. I don't consider myself a native speaker. (I feel the need to mention this because, when I worked at a call center many years ago, I personally encountered Filipinos who thought that way, and maybe still do.) I was raised as a bilingual and I grew up reading the books of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, and Edgar Allan Poe (in English, of course. These British mysteries and great American tales of macabre, along with, not least of all, the Gothic magnum opus of this Irish master, need to be read in their original form whenever one has the means, opportunity, and ability to do so). As a little kid, I was an avid fan of Nancy Drew (ah, the teen super sleuth with titian blonde hair).
I took Philosophy at the university. (No, it is nearly impossible to study Philosophy in Tagalog or any other Filipino dialect. You can try, but I reckon your brain will bleed out of your ears trying to make sense of Heidegger and Baudrillard and all those lovely brainiacs. ;-P Most books are in English and we relied heavily upon English translations of German and French texts. -- I'm sharing this little morsel of information to illustrate the necessity of thinking in English.)
Nowadays I don't have much time to read or enjoy hobbies but hey, that's life, yes? Maybe someday I can read all the books on my shelves.
I am a word geek. I love words. Kookie words and phrases amuse me.
Here are answers to a few questions people have asked me over the years:
[Why don't you have a Filipino accent?]
That's probably one of the perks of being a Manila native.
Most educated Filipinos have neutral accents when they speak English. Some even try to sound American or are trained to develop a standard American accent. (Oh, yes, that American twang... they prefer it in the BPO industry.)
In particular, I was exposed to a great deal of media in English. This was a significant factor in my acquisition of the language. As a child, I grew up with American cartoons like Garfield & Friends, Eek! the Cat, and The Simpsons, as well as Canadian TV shows like The Littlest Hobo and The Swiss Family Robinson. Later as a teenager, I watched the likes of Forever Knight and La Femme Nikita (both Canadian, yes) and became hooked on American fare like the X-Files.
Listening helps more than we realize. Being exposed to media conditions our mind and lets us immerse ourselves in different stimuli.
[Do you use subtitles when you watch TV shows or movies?]
No. Unless it's a Harry Potter flick, in which case I'd really want to know all the names of the curses, spells, characters, magical artifacts, and potions (Fancy some Felix Felicis, anyone? Of course, you get these names & spellings from the books, but I certainly can't remember everything when I watch the film adaptations. I read the books five years ago.)
Or an episode of Supernatural, since it helps to know how to spell "Samhain" or "Kitsune" (Kaylee!Or perhaps when the audio's bad. I must admit my sense of hearing is a tad impaired. (Probably because my headset speaker setting is at maximum all the time.)
[Can I hire you as a tutor outside of CafeTalk?]
Oh no, no, no. Please don't ask me this. The answer is a definite no. Let's show a little loyalty and gratitude, shall we?
[Can you talk like a native speaker if I want you to speak faster?*]
I can usually adjust the rate of my speech according to the student's level of proficiency (slower for beginners, normal for others) but if you prefer a native speaker's speech rate & pace (I'm actually not sure what the student meant by this exactly*), I highly recommend looking at the many qualified native speakers in the CafeTalk roster. As I said, I don't consider myself a native speaker. I'm a bilingual. If you wish to do listening exercises, I can read at a faster pace for you to practice your skills. However, my normal speech rate is the way it is, I'm afraid. I only speak faster if I get excited or emotional in some other sort of way. Most of the time, I prefer to speak calmly. It helps me keep my head clear.
[Do you offer writing classes?]
I'm so sorry I can't accommodate your needs. However, I have no business teaching anyone how to write. Don't get me wrong, I love writing, it inflames the heart and breathes life into deadened corners of the soul, quiets one's turbulent mind, strengthens the spirit. I do not do it well but I do love it, and know enough about myself to maintain I would not know how to teach it. There is an English saying, "those who cannot do, teach" and inversely, "those who do, often cannot teach" -- this is often rather pejorative, yes, but I'd like to put a positive spin to it -- Perhaps only the best and the brightest can do both. Alas, I am not among these.
(Also, I have no right to teach writing when I have no time for my own. Such a situation would be unjust and frustrating--Needless frustration may distract me from my responsibilities. I need to keep my mind clear enough to focus on my duties.)
[What are your best courses?]
I honestly can't say "I'm good at this and that, and so and so." Self-promotion doesn't become me. I fumble and handle it awkwardly. I suppose more charismatic people can pull it off. I can tell you about what others have told me. I've received some positive feedback on the English for Business Meetings course. A lot of people seem to enjoy it. It's practical and I try to make it challenging and realistic.
Most of the conversation classes are based on articles or video reports. Students are also free to choose topics (e.g. ones they're interested in specifically)
Anyway, that's about it (I'll update this if and when something new happens). Thank you for dropping by and please do enjoy your stay here at CafeTalk. Open your minds and hearts and bask in all and everything you can learn. =^.^=