We’re excited to introduce you to one of our language coaches, Julianna! Some members of our community already know her from class, but we wanted to give everyone the chance to get to know her better and to learn about the work our coaches do, as well as the teaching philosophies that guide them. Read on to meet Julianna!
Let's start with the basics! Tell us a little about yourself- where are you from? Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I grew up in Stockholm but moved to Linköping for university after high school. I studied English and political science for two years before I transferred to Willamette University in Salem, Oregon as an exchange student. After my semester at Willamette, I decided to take a break from my studies. I moved back to Stockholm and started working full time as a recruiter at a non-profit organisation. One of my responsibilities was to educate new employees on the organisation’s mission.
This is where I discovered my love for teaching. When I went back to school in to finish my BA in English, I also started working part-time as a language coach for SFP. I love my job and will continue working for SFP as I begin my masters degree.
When did you start coaching with the SFP team? Is this something you originally imagined yourself doing?
I started in January 2020. I always knew that I wanted to work with something that had a good impact on society, but didn’t know that I would work as a language coach specifically!
What's your favorite part of being a language coach?
Seeing my students gain confidence in their ability to use a new language!
Tell us a little about your day to day as a coach. How do you prepare for your classes? Are there any special techniques you've learned for teaching language that you really depend on?
Preparing for the very first class is the hardest because I don’t know my students yet. Once the teaching has started, I pay attention to the participants’ needs and plan my classes around that. Normally, I take notes after each class to help plan the next one. I think it’s very important to keep in mind what energy I bring to the class as a coach. I always try to be enthusiastic and engaging!
Things are a little different now that we aren't teaching classes in person. How has the switch to online classes affected you and your students? Do you have any classes that have gone back to in-person instruction?
The transition was really smooth! In the beginning, I missed having a whiteboard at hand, but I use the chat function to share words and phrases with the group. I also found that there was less natural small talk among my students, but this only meant that I had to lead the small talk myself. Next week, I’ll return to teaching one group in-person!
What do you see as being the primary needs of your students? In teaching different levels, have you seen commonalities in the needs and struggles of students?
Most, if not all, of my students, already use English for efficient communication in their workplace, but they want to learn Swedish to better access Swedish culture. They want to learn about different dialects, how to order fika, and read a Swedish newspaper. The struggles differ on an individual level, but the pronunciation of Å, Ä, Ö can be tricky!
Are there any special tips and tricks for learning another language you'd like to share with everyone?
Don’t be intimidated by grammar rules! I like to simplify my lessons by cutting back on terminology and when my students are faced with grammatical problems, I try to help them to reason their way to an answer that makes sense to them. This can be done by comparing different examples and making generalizations.
It also helps to pay attention to how people actually use the language when they interact with one another, and expose yourself to different varieties of the language. The knowledge that people have about their language goes far beyond what can be described in a grammar book. That’s why the best way to really understand a new language is through exposure!
Tell us why everyone should learn Swedish when living in Sweden!
It can expand your worldview! With a new language that is structurally different from your first language, comes a new framework for how you experience the world around you and how you express meaning.
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