My name is Vlad, I am 33 years old and I come from Novosibirsk. In August 2009 I was studying English (and also having a lot of fun) in the wonderful city of Auckland in New Zealand. The school (Languages International) is located very nicely – it sits in the heart of downtown Auckland on Princess Street. Frankly, when I was making a decision on where to go (there was a choice of UK, Ireland, Malta, Australia and NZ), I chose New Zealand – and have never regretted it! I can go on and on about Auckland so you’d better come and see it yourselves!

It’s my experience at school what I would like to share with you. It so happened that with my not so perfect English I was placed into an Intermediate class, where Nick was the teacher in the morning. I am a university lecturer myself and know a few things about teaching methods, techniques and styles. And I was so pleasantly surprised with an amazing experience I had with every teacher here – my first one Nick was very easy to communicate with, so able to “reach out” to everyone, relaxed but at the same time, had such an elegant presentation of the material and a variety of techniques, training exercises, role plays, etc etc. Everyone in our class just adored Nick’s teaching, and one student from Japan even said she had a dream about him 🙂 . My afternoon teacher Scott was terrific as well: well educated, sensible and erudite, he struck me as a kind of sophisticated thinker. Right at the beginning, after the 1st lesson he recommended that I should put the bar up (i.e. go to a higher level) – which I was quite surprised with – but eventually it turned out that Scott was absolutely right! For the Options class I chose “Conversation” with James. And yet another brilliant teacher – cheerful, fun-loving, good-natured and is always ready to tell a story and to listen to the others… Three weeks have just zipped away! And on the 4th week I was transferred (despite my reluctance!) to the Upper Intermediate class. The morning class was taught by Christine. Her teaching, too, was a special one – she is from South Africa and is extremely articulate, with a very clear, “crisp” pronunciation. That was pretty amazing because most New Zealanders pronounce the words very softly. The classic example for me was the word “next”: when my host mother said that she and her husband were flying to Australia “nikst weekend”, I didn’t quite understand what she meant and thought there might be some special weekend they needed to attend. And then there were “tin” (ten),”bri:d”(bread) and so on… Christine has also taught us to “squash” i.e. to glue the words together so that they would sound like they do in real speech – a very useful skill, because outside the school you can’t expect people to articulate every word for you – and then “what’yagonnado?” And then there was Jeremy who was my last teacher here – very friendly, talkative, and as my female classmates said, “very cute”. His interactive communication style got everyone involved in the conversation so that even during our 5-minute breaks we could not stop talking. The class was great but … the time has run out!

I would also like to praise the admin people who look after the students during their stay at the school. The lovely girls at reception Charlene and Melizza who listen to the students from morning to evening are always there with a smile; always ready to help. (Gosh my Russian is getting worse and worse) I cannot say enough about my “native advisor” Larissa who explained everything, showed me around, recommended stuff to me, and always had time to listen and talk. In short, “respect and esteem” like we say at home.

Frankly, my experience here has been “larger than sea”. Or rather, the ocean. It’s the Pacific I am talking about – beautiful and incredibly attractive, especially for such an inland person as myself. And it is the warm, sharp, humid, brisk, clean, fresh ocean breeze that I will be missing so much… Ah!

Please say a huge hello from me to Brian the cat – what would I do without him!