Gabi Tutor Interview
- Q. Hi Gabi! Can you start out by quickly introducing yourself?
A. Hi! Nice to meet you, I'm Gabi. I've been a tutor here on Cafetalk since 2015. It started out as just a way to earn money while I was studying abroad, and ended up being a long term job that I don't think I'll ever leave. Other than that, I also work as a teacher in the university of Guanajuato, Mexico. And about me, I consider myself pretty simple, bubbly and motivated person, although a bit disorganized !
- Q. Tell us a bit about where you’re from - according to your profile you are originally from the French-speaking part of Canada. Can you tell us about the town you grew up in?
A. My hometown is called Sherbrooke, most of you have probably never heard of it. It's not that small (according to Quebec standards), but it doesn't really have any tourist attractions, so it's not really in traveling guide books! The most interesting part about it, is that it's a melting pot of cultures. Most people speak French as a first language, like my family and I. However, there is also a part of the town which is English-speaking, which is where I studied for my bachelor's. Added to that, there are tons of immigrants coming from all over the world, whose first language is either Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Japanese, or others. From a very young age, I was in contact with all these different languages, and being monolingual just seemed to absurd to me, I wanted to be able to speak different languages, just like them.
- Q. Right now you are living in Mexico. What’s your life here in Mexico like?
A. That's right, I live in Mexico, in the center of the country. This means I am nowhere near the beach, in case you wanted to ask! Most people have a very limited idea of Mexico, being either beaches and parties, or drug cartels and danger. Well where I live, there is neither of these things. It's just a normal city, where I live my daily boring routine like anyone else.
I live in the beautiful city of Guanajuato (look it up, it's gorgeous), and I'm currently working here as a French teacher at university level. My students are between 16 and 60 years old, and I have pretty small groups (15 people). I came here for a language assistant program 3 years ago, and then I fell in love with the city, the university and the students, so I decided to stay. Also, I did not miss the cold winters, let's be honest!
Mexico is not too far from Quebec, so I do manage to go home at least once a year, and my family and friends have come to visit me here as well. It's also great to live in a technological era, where I can be in a different country but still talk to them and see their faces everyday, I don't miss them as much!
- Q. What are you usually up to when you’re not teaching on Cafetalk? What are your hobbies and interests?
A. Mostly, working at university ! Sadly, I don't have as much time as I used to to pursue hobbies, but I'm taking advantage of being young and full of energy to work and save up. During the holidays, however, I have more time, and I like to travel and discover natural places. Hiking up a mountain, walking in the woods or skipping through a river are a few of my favorite things. When I'm busy, I like to go to the movies or see a play, or just stay home and watch movies. I really like movies and series.
- Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about your professional background? What got you into teaching, and what motivated you to keep pursuing this career?
A. Wow that's a tough one. Briefly said, I studied languages in university for the sole reason that it was the only degree that allowed me to study abroad in two different countries. Getting into it though, I got really passionate about it, and opportunities started opening which lead me to where I am now. I didn't make a conscious choice to teach, it just happened. I started by tutoring at university, then when I moved to Germany, I was worried about the money since I couldn't work there with my student visa, so I began on Cafetalk. I started to really like it and get better and more organized. Then this opportunity came up to go teach in Mexico, and I've always loved the country, so I thought why not? A year later, at the end of my contract, they asked me if I wanted to stay and I said yes! Here we are now, 3 years later, and every year, I make the conscious decision to keep going for another.
- Q. You mention in your profile that you are also an actress, which helped you achieve a standard French accent. How else has your acting career influenced how you teach?
A. A lot. I firmly believe that everyone should be involved in acting at some point in their lives, because it helps with so many different aspects of life. First of all, it helped me be more confident and not be afraid to speak in front of an audience. Second, voice and posture technique. It's important to learn how to speak loudly without hurting your voice, and how to stay standing all day comfortably. Third and finally, studying performing arts was a great way for me to learn about myself, my own limits, my stress coping methods, my emotions, etc. On a personal level, it has been life changing.
I guess it also influences my teaching since I'm not afraid to look ridiculous to mime a word a student doesn't understand!
- Q. Has helped studying a foreign language yourself define the way you teach?
A. 100%. I started "teaching" in university, simply by being a tutor for students who were struggling in my own class. I had no idea what I was doing, so I just tried to explain things the way I had understood them, and it worked. Me having gone through the same learning process as them was my way to connect with them and help them. I could easily put myself in their shoes, because I had been there a few months before.
Up to this day, I try to be in constant learning, in order not to lose that student perspective on things. I've had great, good and not so good teachers, and I use their example to try and be one of the great ones (to at least one student!)
- Q. A lot of students are probably curious about the atmosphere in your lessons. What can a student imagine a lesson with you to be like? What’s your “lesson style”?
A. My lessons are very laid back and easy going, not stressful at all. I like to chat and get to know the students. As you can see from my lesson offers, I prefer working from cultural material of interest for the student. I myself cannot learn if I don't like what I'm reading or watching, so I believe a lot of people feel the same way. By using material that you choose personally, you can get excited to practice your language skills! And then, even better, you get to talk about it with a person who likes it too! That's my way of doing lessons.
- Q. Since you offer a variety of lessons, is there any lesson you can recommend in particular? Or can you give a quick overview which lesson might be good for which type of student?
A. Well the variety comes from the variety of language, of course. First of all, pick which language you want. Then, if you're a beginner, pick the beginner lesson. If you are able to hold a simple conversation, you can go for either the beginner lesson (I adapt it to your needs) or an input oriented lesson. Those are either with watching TV, listening to music or reading. They all work the same way, you pick a material you're interested in, or you ask for suggestions from me, you watch/listen/read it by yourself beforehand and then we discuss it during the lesson.
- Q. Finally, would you like to leave a message for your current and future students?
A. Learning a language should be fun, and all about communication. If you want to learn in a relaxed setting where you're more concentrating on getting your ideas across than getting the perfect grammar, then come with me! - - don't take this the wrong way, I will correct your grammar if you make a mistake, but it won't stop you from expressing yourself!