My English Story
To be honest, looking back at my life I never thought that English would have had such a profound impact on me and my life. I would have to say it is the one constant in my ever changing life. It has opened doors and made it possible to achieve my wildest dreams.
My story with English begins as a small child. In one of my easiest memories I remember laying in my bed at night trying to count backwards from 10 to 1 in English. And it felt like such an achievement when I finally mastered it. As a child, English also gave me access to a bigger world. Through watching the BBC I got access to stories that weren’t there yet in my life. For example, I can vividly recall watching the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in English during the Christmas period, being enchanted by the snowy landscapes and then going outside playing in the same snow.
As a teen I was rather solitary and had difficulty finding a spot on this earth. At times I felt alone in the world, but English showed me I wasn’t really alone. Through English music and especially the lyrics in certain English songs my teenagers identity was moulded and took shape. It made me feel understood and not alone.
Still, English wasn’t done with my life. As a young adult I lived in a time where the internet emerged, which made it possible to connect to anyone around the world. English here gave me the ability to chat to people and make friends from around the world. Living in Brussels at that time also gave me the opportunity to create friendships and relationships with other young people from different countries living in Belgium. Again, like when I was a child, English gave me new stories to add to my life. Reading Harry Potter in English and not in Dutch ment I didn’t have to wait so long for a translation. It also meant I could enjoy the richness of the language in the story and read the stories like they were truly meant to be read. The same is true for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the rings movie adaptation. As a 20-something year old I will never forget going to the cinema and watching it on the big screen in all its glory while eating nachos with cheese and jalapenos with some amazing company.
But the story isn’t over yet. When I felt I was stuck in a dead end job and I didn’t really know what to do with my life English opened a door which I never knew existed. Through a chance encounter of my mom, who was a librarian, with some random person visiting the library my life took a whole new direction. She told me of this person and of how her son became an English teacher travelling the world. She said; ‘your English isn’t so bad, maybe this is something you could do.’ And this little seed started to grow and I decided to give it a go and try. I flew to Barcelona and learned how to become an English teacher. I must say Barcelona is incredible. I had been there a few times before and after, but having the opportunity to live and study there was just extraordinary.
The story keeps on getting better and better. After Barcelona came Indonesia. I managed to find my first teaching job there and I was off on the biggest adventure of my life. I flew half across the world to a country I had never been to and a culture I had no understanding of. Still, it felt tremendously exciting and I managed to celebrate my 30th birthday somewhere in a bar in Indonesia (but that’s a story for some other time). And this adventure hasn’t stopped yet. It brought me to parts of the world I had only heard about. After Indonesia there was Vietnam, then there was Tunisia, followed by Myanmar, the next one was Colombia and now 15 years later I’m in Czech republic. The stories I could tell about those years…
Still, English wasn’t done with me yet. Even though I thought I had seen it all, English had another profound impact on my life.It created the right conditions to meet the love of my life and my wonderful wife. Without English we would never have met or had the opportunity to communicate to one another. And the story of how a Belgian boy met a Czech girl in Myanmar is truly a special and mystical story.
Still we’re not done folks. English still had a few tricks up its sleeve for me. Because, English made me a father, twice. If it weren’t for English I would never have met my wife and I would never have had these truly magical creatures, my 2 amazing daughters.
And still till today English keeps not only changing my life, but also countless others. As an English teacher I have been part of so many other stories and some many other lives. Through English I changed the lives of 3.5 year old children in Indonesia and Vietnam. I opened up a world full of new possibilities for teenagers in Myanmar. I have helped Tunisian adults shape their country and democracy through access in English. I helped Colombians achieve their dreams by getting the job they wanted so badly. I helped other teens and adults, with one of the biggest changes in their lives, immigrate or study in a different country by giving them the language and skills to pass IELTS or some Cambridge exam. Through English I have shaped so many lives, opened so many doors, made so many dreams come through. And being right there with all those students, those amazing human beings still warms my heart today. And honestly, I couldn’t dream of a more amazing job.
Then, Teacher Training happened, which was like an upgrade to my dream. Through TEFL Teacher Training I got to shape hundreds of future English teachers, who will go off in the world and create a story of their own. Hopefully, this ripple effect will be felt across the whole world. What’s more, through my Teacher Training Workshops, I have also been able to give Primary and Secondary English teachers some refreshing insides on how to better teach children and teenagers by making the classes a lot more fun and engaging.Through the power of Zoom and the internet, I even managed to help future Physics teachers in Indonesia with shaping their views on teaching towards a more engaging student centred way. By paying it forward I am again one small puzzle piece in countless lives who are shaping the world with their own English story.
For these reasons, and many more I don’t have the time to write down, English has and always will have a special place in my heart. And I can’t wait to see what more English has to offer me.
So, now you know my English story. What’s yours?