Both my wife and I are teachers with experience in state and private education in the UK and in France. Working as Smalltalk Language Services, York, we enjoy meeting new clients and the challenges they bring.
- Which subject(s) do you teach?
We teach English as a foreign language and French. Mark also gives acoustic guitar lessons (finger-picking or simple accompaniment) suitable for learners with little or no musical education and does short to medium French to English translations. An example is the website of a local French museum ((concealed information) This is also mentioned below.
- Tell me about your qualifications.
- an Open University BA in Theology and General Arts
- a PGCE in Secondary Religious Studies,
- a Trinity London TESOL certificate (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Our qualifications in French go back to "A" levels, and we used the French language on a daily basis for 11 years. Mark had to prepare and deliver twice-weekly addresses and spoke at an international conference in Evian on Lake Geneva. We watched television exclusively in French and mixed much more with French people than with expatriate English speakers, all of which contributed to a high level of language acquisition.
- How much do you charge?
Our charges vary from £12 per hour to £20 per hour depending on the age of the student and the nature of the training. All prices are open to negotiation, and substantial discounts are given in certain circumstances such as long-term commitment.
Where groups are concerned (up to 5 persons), the session charge is increased by only £5 per person, making this a very economical option for language acquisition. For example, three learners at a basic rate of £17 per hour would pay only £9 per hour each (£17+£5+£5)Ã·3=£9. This would be reduced even more for longer-term courses.
A 40-minute Skype lesson is £10 with reductions for long-term commitment. This is a useful option for those who cannot find a suitable tutor in their locality.
- Where do you teach?
We teach both in our own home and at students' homes providing that there is an adult on the premises in the case of under-18s.
Where a return journey of more than 3 miles is involved, there is a charge per extra mile. I am also happy to meet older students at a neutral venue such as a cafÃ©. We used to run a successful monthly English CafÃ© in the centre of CompiÃ¨gne with some colleagues, and found this a stimulating environment in which to work.
We do not usually travel beyond the York outer ring road for private tuition, but would consider travelling further for assignments of at least half a day.
- When are you available?
As well as giving private tuition in English and French, Mark works freelance and on call, so his timetable varies from week to week. It helps if students can be flexible, but these other commitments rarely impinge on evening and weekend sessions. We also offer intensive training for a minimum of a half day. There are special rates both for this very effective option and for long term bookings.
In normal circumstances we do not work after 7pm.
- Which ages and levels do you teach?
Our experience and qualifications fit us for teaching students from to any adult age. Two rewarding parts of our work have been to see average school scores increase by as much as 30% as students have grown in confidence in one-to-one or small group lessons, and to observe the remarkable progress made by managers in their 50s who have not studied a foreign language since their school days.
- Which qualifications do you prepare your students for?
French to GCSE and 'A' level; English for Cambridge ESOL exams and IELTS.
- Describe your arrangements for online tutoring.
For online or English or French telephone tutoring we usually use Skype with or without webcam. For clients who use Apple products, Facetime is an option.
- Do you have a personal message for students?
Our basic message, speaking as a language learners ourselves, is to keep on through the highs and the lows. Although there is no magic to language acquisition, we believe that creating the right atmosphere and building confidence makes a huge difference to individual success. Mark has been learning Spanish for several years, mainly for pleasure, and is about to start with Polish. See the article "Memorable Mistakes" to understand the kind of atmosphere we like to learn and teach in.
- What kind of experience do you have?
We taught in state and private education for many years in Durham, South Tyneside, Leeds and North Yorkshire before moving to France, where we worked for 11 years mainly as English language trainers for a French organisation. Our clients included Yves St Laurent, FabergÃ©, Continental, Aventis, Yoplait, Trelleborg, Chanel, VW and many other companies.
Since returning to England in 2008 we have mainly been working with private students and as a freelance business English language trainer with corporate clients. We also worked together for 18 months with Middlesbrough Adult Education Service teaching English to immigrants and asylum seekers. As well as this, Mark takes on short-term appointments (up to six weeks) at Melton College (general English) and for several years worked freelance with York Associates (corporate clients). YA clients included personnel from SociÃ©tÃ© GÃ©nÃ©rale (French bank), Henkel (Germany), Zurich Insurance and Statoil (Norway).
Since 2012 we have also hosted students from China and Japan on short-term courses at the University of York and we often have friends visit from France. This year alone (2013) we have had six visits from France, two from China, two from Japan and one from Italy, the latter also having 5 hours per day intensive English for three weeks.
We have also worked with young people in a voluntary capacity since the 1960s, including Scouts, Sunday School and church youth groups, running weekly activities and going on camps, house parties and weekend excursions.
- Do you have an up-to-date DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service, formerly CRB) Certificate?
Yes, our work in adult education requires separate CRB checks.
- Where and with whom did you train?
Mark has an Open University degree and studied for my PGCE at the Durham University School of Education. He prepared his TESOL certificate at Middlesbrough College. His high level of practical written and spoken French comes both from having studied the language to 'A' level and having lived and worked for 11 years in France, during which timeheworked voluntarily with a young people's group, spoke regularly in public, including at a national conference, and prepared regular reports and bulletins.
Pam is a fully qualified and experienced primary teacher, but has been teaching English to adults since 1998. Although fluent in French, she teaches only English.
- Do you belong to any professional organisations?
As we no longer work in state or adult education, our membership of IfL (Institute for Learning) has lapsed.
- Tell me about some of your current students.
Since returning from France in summer 2008, I have tutored or trained students of over 30 nationalities in EFL, and keep in contact with several of them by email and Facebook. These have been a mixture of individuals in private lessons, groups in a local language school and corporate clients with a York training organisation.
The most multinational group I have had recently consisted of German, Kazak, Polish, Italian, Chinese, Taiwanese, Egyptian, Japanese, Libyan and Spanish students. Corporate clients come from all over Europe and sometimes beyond; they work for multinational companies, local authorities and trades unions.
Mark: The most unusual assignment I have had (2010) was to give intensive French lessons to a Chinese student preparing to continue her studies in Luxemburg. These classes started in York and continued via Skype once the person concerned had moved to the continent.
At present we tutor several Korean students one-to-one, some of whom are doing high-level research at York University. In addition to paid teaching work, we volunteer in the weekly International CafÃ© where students from all over the world meet to practise their English and to make friends.
We recently start a French Circle providing an informal occasion for people to practise speaking the language. This is open to all levels, the objective being that the strong help the weak. We usually meet the first Thursday of the month in York Explore Central Library, but please check before turning up.
• BA Theology and General Arts
• PGCE Secondary RS, Trinity London TESOL
It was a pleasure to meet Mark and his family in their house. They were very friendly and made me feel at home from the start. Practising English with Mark is very easy and he quickly restored my self-confidence. He is always very patient and understanding, and has great interpersonal skills which engage his students. I moved back to my home country a while ago, but we still keep in touch and have lessons regularly with Skype and it really works. I wish I had had similar teachers in my past.
Answer to a client review email asking for feedback on teaching style and content. The "letter" referred to contains a summary of the main points covered in the previous lesson with examples of common usage.
Thank you for the lesson and letter which is very useful for me.
I think that current lesson style is ok for me. I want to tell you that I'm enjoying your lesson very much as it is.
Extract from thank you card:
I really enjoyed my stay with you which actually makes the whole experience of â€¦ studying in York unique â€¦ Pam, you chatted with me about the characteristics â€¦ of British people â€¦ . I could have a taste of different kinds of traditional British food. I'm glad that I could spend my birthday with you and got my birthday present. I'll miss you and York very much â€¦
A thank you card:
I don't know how to thank you for your kindness and tutoring. It was a great pleasure to meet you. I'll miss you and your tea.
I always wish you a healthy and happy life.
Another thank you card:
Dear Mark and Pam,
I just wanted to say a big "thank you" for making me feel so welcome. I was really relax at home so I could enjoy studying and talking â€¦ also you took me and Yumiko to Whitby. It was really nice and I had a good time with you.
Thank you for delicious foods and sweets â€¦ You spoke slowly so it was easy to understand and you taught things I didn't undestand to me so I'm happy.
Thanks once again.
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