In today’s post we have the pleasure of introducing you to Katherina. Katherina is the Cambridge Exam Co-ordinator at BBELS. Specialising in teaching the Advanced Cambridge Exam classes Katherina also enjoys teaching the General English courses.
What do you especially enjoy about teaching the students at BBELS?
Of course the diversity of cultural backgrounds and ages makes every day an interesting experience. But what I most enjoy is getting to know my students in the classroom through the interaction that unfolds as the course progresses. In any group situation each individual contributes something important to the whole and I appreciate the opportunity of seeing how individual students develop not only academically but also as an important part of the class. The teaching is always mutual; I learn lots from students too!
What other fields did you work in before you started teaching English at BBELS? Has it helped you as a teacher?
I’ve worked in adult education now for about 15 years; 7 at BBELS, 5 in schools overseas (ESL teaching) and a couple of years in evening colleges in Sydney (mostly as a guest lecturer in herbal medicine).
As well as my ESL teaching qualifications, I completed a 4 year Diploma in Naturopathy and then worked for several years in clinics in Sydney and Byron Bay helping patients with diet, lifestyle and counselling. Although I opted for teaching in the end, this experience has taught me a lot about how to live a healthy life and how to encourage others to move forward in a positive way. The skills I learnt as a practitioner have been very useful as a teacher.
As the Cambridge coordinator what advice would you give a student who wants to enter the Cambridge courses at BBELS?
The exam preparation courses are intensive courses run over a 10-12 week period and you need an overall grade of 60% to pass. So these courses require a high level of dedication (yes homework!) and commitment both in terms of class attendance (minimum 90%) and classroom participation. But if you think it’s for you, it’s well worth the effort.
When you arrive, you’ll do a placement test to determine which level exam course (FCE, CAE or CPE) is a realistic choice for you.
Ideally if you choose an exam course, you have a clear goal and are prepared to work towards it. Your Cambridge teacher is here to help you prepare for the exam to the best of your ability.
Be prepared for homework assignments, weekly tests and class presentations. You should plan on putting aside several hours of home study a week outside class time. Your progress will be monitored on an ongoing basis and your teacher will work with you to maximise your strengths and improve any weaknesses.
But you can also be prepared for a bit of fun too. That’s one of the benefits of studying within the the relaxed and friendly environment of BBELS!
What are some things you’d recommend students do while they are here in the Byron Bay Region?
There are so many things to try and the school activities programme will certainly give you loads of great ideas. We fill the school day with lots of productive work but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy what this region offers. My personal favourite is sunrise at any of Byron’s beaches or the Lighthouse if you can make it up there in time, followed by a morning swim (you might see dolphins!) and a breakfast barbecue with friends. Or go to the Byron Farmers’ Market to meet some of the locals and enjoy the beautiful fresh food grown in and around Byron. Take the opportunity to experience and enjoy the stunning natural environment we are blessed with here.