ValerieWhat did you do on the 4th of October 2004?

You don’t remember? I do! It was my first day in New Zealand.

I came here for my PD (professional development). I taught English in Vladivostok and thought it would be a good opportunity for me to advance my English. Guess what? It wasn’t good; it turned out to be great!

I first heard about Languages International School from my friend in Vladivostok. She brought me to a seminar about studying in New Zealand. This is  how I met Larissa, a lovely Russian manager, who was so passionate about the school that I was totally convinced to come.

On the first day all students took a few tests and were divided into groups according to our learning needs and abilities. I had people from all over the world in my group! We have become really good friends. Two weeks later, my friends from Germany, Sweden and Switzerland and I rented a car and went for a long weekend drive up north; it was super!

I did a few different courses over four months: Certificate in English for 12 weeks and Certificate in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) for 4 weeks. We also learnt a few things about “Kiwi” English (Kiwiana), which was introductory information about the country, its culture, people and language.  Students developed and practiced skills in four different areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

During our General English course we had opportunities to discuss topics with other students when working in small groups as well as individually with our teacher. We also read a wide range of texts, answered questions and talked about what we had learnt from a particular text. I needed some extra help with my writing, so I wrote short reports and essays during my class and also after school. My teacher was very nice and she checked all my work  (though it was some extra work for her as well)!

TESOL course was intensive. We had seminars on English language teaching, methodology, language and skill development, and observed qualified native speaker teachers. We also taught four tutor-observed peer teaching sessions, gave a seminar on the website and wrote a profile of an English language learner. All these gave me a deeper understanding as to what difficulties a language learner might have.

There was an awesome library on the second floor. Students spent a lot of time there! Besides usual stuff (like books and magazines) I worked on my grammar, spelling and listening skills using variety of programmes on library computers. I watched DVDs there too. And if you need any help or advice, there are always a few teachers there who can help you out! All you need to do is to ask.

Teachers were very nice and kind. They know that we come to the school to learn the language and sometimes we don’t know some words. They are very patient and will always help you! Well, if there is something you are not quite sure, Larissa will listen to your worries and will tell you what to do; she is the best person to ask for an advice. We still meet up for a coffee sometimes.

This is the best place to learn the language! If you don’t believe me – come and check it out yourself!


Written by Valerie Tkacheva. Valerie is a Languages International alumna and has just completed her Graduate Diploma in Primary Teaching.