Nina Hanakova was 11 years old when Václav Havel became the President of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989. The Velvet Revolution brought with it uncertainty and hope. For Nina, it demonstrated that real change could be achieved no matter how unlikely it seemed. Nina later traveled the world by herself as a very young woman. She learned to become worldly and speak several languages through her adventures and misadventures.
Nina has taught English as a career in the Czech Republic for many years now. In the beginning, she carried heavy coursebooks to business offices and schools on trams and buses rain or shine. She worked hard to keep her students engaged and interested. The work was hard and sometimes unrewarding.
One day, she came to a turning point in her career. She took a risk and changed the whole structure of her lessons. She did away with the heavy coursebooks and started offering experiential lessons. Students were cooking together speaking English, they were dancing together speaking English, they were presenting grammar lessons they had prepared themselves. They met in Nina’s home and later, classrooms she created.
Nina opened her own successful business “English Without Books” or “Nina English” with group courses, Skype lessons and one on one classes. This was something brand new and well-received by the women of Brno, Czech Republic. After years of teaching, it was possible to use the challenges of her early career to create a new way to learn English that was better for her and her students.
Nina’s story is like an important pattern in English language learning. Initially, Nina had to use books and travel to reach her students. When she stopped using these training tools conversation became her text and her students gladly came to her home during their own time to practice and learn. Now Nina has only students dedicated to learning and lessons are more comfortable and fun for her and the women she teaches.
Allowing the Benefits of Mistakes
Books and grammar are essential to gain a basic understanding of English, but language is like a muscle, and becomes stronger with use. Conversation is an excellent method for English practice and study. It gives us real life experience, better learning opportunities and high quality feedback. But we have to be willing to make mistakes, learn to correct ourselves and take responsibility for our own education.