Have you felt confused about what to say in the beginning of a conversation? Have you ever felt lost in a conversation? Today on Uncensored English two native English speakers talk to each other for the very first time! Anna the Australian English teacher joins me and we speak to each other for the very first time live on the podcast.
*** Transcript ***
Hey Anna! How's a going?
Hello, Hello Keiran! Nice to meet you finally.
Yeah it's good to meet you. So what's the weather over there like?
(laughter) Well, it's probably not much for you, but for me it's very cold. It's just gotten down to zero and it's starting to go under.
Okay, and where exactly are you?
Oh, I'm in Germany, sorry. Um but so I am originally from Australia, as you can probably hear from my accent. Yes I am living in Germany, living and working in Germany for a bit over a year now.
Okay, great, and what have you been doing?
Mostly teaching, actually. I kind of have two lives, so I work as a teacher and a translator on one side, but on the other side I work as a musician, as an opera singer.
Oh great, that's awesome.
Yeah. What about you? Like where are you located?
I'm in Montreal, Montreal Canada.
And I used to have two lives, I used to be as cool as you, I don't anymore. Um I used to be teaching ... well I would say teaching full time ... and then doing stand-up comedy.
Yeah, but actually I was teaching and I was doing stand-up comedy, and then I was podcasting and, unfortunately how it is in Montreal, is that it's not very good to make a living doing comedy.
So the teaching was going great. The podcasting, I didn't put too much energy into it up until recently, but it was stably growing.
So I decided to put the comedy on pause for a little bit, and now, I've dropped by double life I guess.
(laughter) That's amazing. How does it work being a stand-up comedian? What's the business like? I don't really know anything about it.
Oh (laughter) So it's not that different from being an opera singer then I'm sure.
Right, there's a lot of performing for free in the beginning ...
I was doing it for about 2 years. And I can't say like seriously, like if I was doing it seriously for 2 years I would be trying to go up and perform every night. And I didn't do it that much. I feel until you've reached a certain level, or you've made the right connection, you're going to perform for free.
And that sometimes involves driving 6 hours to perform for 6 minutes and getting no money.
Yeah. Do you have auditions as well? Because one of the things we have to do is you know, drive across the country, or to catch a train across the country to just do these auditions for like, you know, 2 minutes, sing, leave, and then find out in a few weeks.
Uh Not really, like we don't do auditions so much as we do open mics.
Open Mic is basically you and a bunch of amateurs, or they also have pro comics who are working on new material. So obviously they don't want to do new material in front of like an audience that's paid like a good amount of money right? Because that might back-fire.
That's our audition.
Okay well there you go. And so how long ago was it that you kind of put that on hold?
I put it on hold in the beginning of November. Yeah, it's going to be like that until maybe April, May, May, June, put it on hold.
Oh okay. All right. That's not that big of a break, that's all right.
Yeah, it's not big of a break but I think it's one of those things where you need to put in the time to get better, and I don't know, you're never getting younger so I don't think you should delay your passions for too long you know?
(laughter) That's a really good point. And that's actually, I actually used to work in the corporate world. I used to work in project management and marketing, and this kind of stuff. And actually, what you just said is exactly why I changed paths completely and ended up studying music, halfway through my twenties.
That's great. That's awesome.
It takes a lot of courage to do that because these are jobs that are paying you money right?
[crosstalk 00:04:07] these are gambles, like these are ... so that's awesome.
I like to say that every year I've gotten poorer, but happier.
(laughter) Ah that's funny.
(laughter) So there you go, I don't know if I'm getting happier because of my age or because of those decisions but ...
Right. Well, I mean you're pursuing your passion. That takes courage, I think that's great.
So, how did you start teaching? How did you get into teaching?
Yeah, actually it, I mean technically I've always been a helper ... I guess you would say ... or a leader maybe is a better word for it. I've always been the kind of person who likes taking charge and you know, I learn very quickly. So even at school, really, I was always that brat who put her hand up right at the beginning of class and already knew all of the answers, and so I kind of always kind of helped other students in that way.
But I didn't really start teaching until I was at University and then I would start kind of helping people with writing essays, especially foreign language students maybe, who needed that extra help editing things. I'd also tutored in Spanish, because I was learning Spanish at University. And um when I finished my degree, I got my certification, my TESOL certification. And then I kind of always done it kind of casually, but then since moving to Germany, it then kind of became a bit more of a full-time thing in order to kind of tie me over between my old life and my new life I guess you would say.
Okay, and so you're teaching in Germany in what way?
Uh just, with this kind of stuff, with I talking on Skype, just online.
Okay, so you're not teaching in schools.
No, so there's very ... it kind of, oh sorry you don't mean a public school you mean like a private school?
Well, any kind of school, like are you, you're purely teaching online at the moment?
At the moment, yeah. So I have done in person classes, mainly through corporate agencies. So still one on one, but you know, actually going out to the businesses and sitting down with executives and talking things through. Um of course because of my performance background, I also love helping people on things like giving presentations, and how to use their voice ... and I think you also do some work with accents, which makes sense now that I know about your kind of, other life. (laughter) ... But yeah, you know, it's kind of that kind of thing helping people be confident and ...
... feel a bit more maybe, relaxed while also improving.
Right. Yeah, and you're voice is such an important tool.
Yeah, I think you're right. You know I never thought that stand-up ... comedy, whatever I kind of came into teaching ... because usually it's, you're very onto like the politically incorrect end of the spectrum right? But it is, it's a lot of, part of fitting in I think is just learning to accept that you're not perfect and you grow more confident as you keep trying and you keep doing things.
True, but also probably the stand-up, I'm guessing you do stuff with word play at some, like a few points?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you're right
I think, I think you know in my experience all the good language teachers, be they you know in English or Spanish or German, you know, the ones who really have that passion, and who really can have fun with a language? Who, you know, it's not just about rules, rules, rules, but actually about like how can we make this something more exciting?
Right, yeah and that's one thing I was curious about whether you taught in schools because I've taught ... I've been teaching since I was 16, I started as a swim instructor for about 8 years.
Oh! I used to be a personal trainer! There you go.
There you go! Yeah. We just have this track record of being in the position of, you know ... these are, you have to get concrete results for the people who are coming to your classes right? Like this is, if you don't they just choose someone else ... and that's why I was curious because I didn't like schools. I didn't like language schools, I thought they were ineffective. And in a language school, the students kind of get the short end of the stick. They get tested, they get put in a class, and that's their teacher, that's their curriculum, they don't have a choice.
And that's the pace at which they learn.
Exactly. And they're stuck at that like, speed. And if you are the most advanced student in that class, that sucks. And if you're the lowest student in the class that sucks right?
Online it's amazing, like first of all, if you don't like your teacher then, just "Bye, bye, I'll find someone else."
Yeah "It was nice meeting you, see you later."
Yeah and the curriculum is, it's always malleable, you can always change it the way you want right?
Yeah exactly. I mean I'm, as you can imagine, I'm also learning German at the moment to keep expanding my skills here, and I pick up grammar rules very quickly, I mean I think a lot of English teachers, when you go to, like familiarity with how other people learn languages, sometimes you get to know what works for you as well, very quickly. And for me I found that in group classes that I've tried, yeah it's so frustrating because, sometimes they'll be explaining something they explained yesterday, and I'm like "But I understood it when you explained it yesterday" ...
Right, right. And then, yeah and then ...
And then on the flip-side you can see other people struggling and you're like, I don't know, like there's no solution in a group class, in that situation.
No its, and in a group class usually the teacher is teaching, like this is how the teacher will teach the subject, either you get it or you don't. Like they haven't prepared, most teachers don't prepare 5 ways to teach ... because there's different types of learners right? And that doesn't ...
Yeah, so that's another good point.
So Anna, what's your ... I'm curious more about you as a person ... what's your family life like? Like do you come from a big family, a small family?
Yeah. I come from a bit of a, it's strange, I guess a modern family you would say. (laughter) So quite small, in some respects. I have a lot of cousins, because my mother was one of five children, so there's quite a lot of cousins and aunts and uncles. But in terms of my immediate family, I have two half brothers.
So my mother married quite young, she had my two brothers in her first marriage. Then they got divorced, and much, much later she met my father and had me.
That's interesting. So what's your relationship like with your half brothers?
I kind of think of it more like uncles, because they were 16, sorry they were 15 and 16 when I was born. So they're quite a bit older, so I think they've always been kind of an older presence, maybe not so much like brothers in a traditional sense. We didn't really grow up together for example. But we get along great ... is the short answer ... my whole family is terrific, I'm very lucky in that respect.
Right. I'd imagine there would be more tension like if you were born very close to them, because I ... like I just know in my family, I have three sisters ...
... three sisters, who are your sisters, like you're immediate sisters, like you're always going to have friction.
But I imagine if my father and my mother married someone else and then had more kids, then I imagine the friction with like a step brother ...
Would be more
... who was the same age would be way worse.
You know like, that's, you're your mother's kids, but that kid is your step father's kid ...
... I imagine that would just ... maybe I'm wrong but ...
Yeah, I mean I was quite lucky in that like, my first few years like as a toddler, my brothers were kind of in their late teens. And so to them, I was just a bunch of fun. Like they just loved like playing games with me and like playing, like throwing balls, and kind of I guess babysitting for my mom a bit, and so it was really, I think it worked out really well. And then, if course like my brother, my younger older brother (laughter) was the first to give me a beer, for example, when I was 13. (laughter) He gave me my first beer, he was in his late twenties and, you know, so it's kind of been quite a fun relationship really. And they're all musicians as well, actually.
That's cool so that's where you get your, I guess you're artistic side
Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah, and what about, so you said you had three sisters, are they all older or?
No. I have one older sister, and then I have two younger sisters. And yeah, I mean like I said, he had a lot of friction growing up. We ...
Oh, Okay. Are you all very close in age or?
My oldest sister is I think 2 or 3 years older than me. Yeah I never know my sister's ages. (laughter)
My younger sisters are ...
There's so much friction, you never remembered they're birthdays
Yeah maybe because I haven't remembering their birthdays and buying them presents or something. My younger sisters are, I don't know, 2 and 5 years younger than me I think? Yeah, we're spread out, but I mean it's a lot of bodies in the house and we grew up in a one TV household, so I think that itself creates a lot of problems back in the day.
Oh that wasn't so uncommon though, back when you were growing up I imagine.
No, but, I mean today it doesn't matter because first of all, we don't really use TV anymore, and then second of all everyone has their own thing. But ...
Mm-hmm (affirmative) Yeah true.
I mean I didn't want to watch whatever show they were watching you know. It's kind of like a 3 against 1 thing, like "Oh, let's watch the show that appealing to them or me." You know, I would always lose out because it just, the majority wins on those right?
Yeah. Well I suppose like you know, on the plus side, I mean it's a kind of a hashtag first world problem (laughter)
Yeah, yeah what a terrible life I had right?
Especially when I think about the stories my mom told me about her growing up because she was, as I said, 1 of 5, but she had 4 brothers. So she was the only girl with 4 brothers. And of course, back when she was growing up, that meant she had to do all of the work.
You know, she had to help with all of the washing and the cleaning and the cooking, and that was her responsibility and the boys could just go play.
Yeah, I think I kind of got that, I mean it's, I kind of got that side of the deal in the sense that ... like my father I think is a very modern man. He washes the dishes, he cooks too, he at least ...
Yeah so does mine.
But, when there's a family event, my family's a little odd in that, basically my father and I are the only males in our family so my mother has 3 sisters, and one of her sisters has 4 daughters ...
Oh my gosh, Okay.
... her husband is divorced and dead. So we have a family thing it's like me and my father and then a whole bunch of women.
Yeah, not a lot of Y chromosomes floating around I guess.
No but then that makes me a very special like, everyone's always like "Oh Keiran! The boy of the family!" And my sisters are like, "It's not fair, he gets treated special" you know?
Well I mean, the good thing is that my mom, being the only girl, she was the only one who got her own room.
So that was the benefit.
That was the only benefit, according to her, was that she got her own room.
Yeah, she gets a little privacy right.
All right well Anna, it was great talking to you, but we gotta wrap this one up.
Thanks so much for coming on the podcast, this was a great conversation I would like to have you on again.
Yeah, awesome I would love that.
Lovely to meet you.
Yeah it was great meeting you too, Bye bye!