BridgeEnglish teacher Colleen Luckett worked in the corporate world before switching her career to the teaching field. She taught abroad in Japan for several years, before returning to Denver to begin working at BridgeEnglish in Denver. Read about her journey!
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got into the field of teaching English?
I graduated from Colorado State University with a B.A. in Liberal Arts, with a focus on public relations and marketing communications. For many years after college, I concentrated on my career in “Corporate America.” Teaching English was something I thought I could never do, so I just put it out of my mind.
Then, just months before my 40th birthday, my job situation changed, and it struck me really hard: it was now or never! I decided it was time to push myself outside my comfort zone. So, in 2013, I sold everything and moved to Japan to teach English for a year. Well, I loved it so much, one year turned into almost four, and I had an absolutely amazing experience traveling all over Japan, meeting wonderful people, and making life-long friends.
When I decided to return to Denver in the spring of 2017, I really wanted to continue teaching English, because I felt like I was finally serving my life purpose as a teacher. I took the Cambridge CELTA teacher certification course at Bridge and, lucky for me, shortly after there was an open teaching position there. Now, I couldn’t be happier!
Where are most of your English students at Bridge from and what levels do you teach?
My students are from all over the world! They are from Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Thailand, Japan, Africa, China, to name a few. I’ve taught almost all levels, plus the Business English classes, and I’m the head teacher for the Live & Learn au pair courses on Saturdays, as well.
How would you sum up your personal teaching philosophy?
When you learn another language, a whole new, fascinating world can open up to you. So, I feel that my main job is to support you in changing your life with English.
What tips do you have for beginner students who may be intimidated about learning English?
Show up every day, leave your cell phone in your bag, participate in class, and do your homework, and you will see quick improvement. Learning a new language successfully is about focus, dedication, and using it every day. Just know that others are going through the same thing with you, and everyone is there to learn. And somewhere in there, try to have some fun with it. You’re doing something brave. Be proud of yourself!
What can students do outside of class to improve their English language skills?
I’m a big fan of the saying, “use it or lose it” when it comes to language learning. In other words, mingle with people from other countries and don’t just hide out with your own country-people, speaking your own language. You can’t improve if you never use English in your daily life. Watching a movie in English is passive. But having a conversation in English is active, and you will improve much more rapidly.
What is the biggest obstacle for most people to learning English, and how can they overcome that?
I think English learners might feel embarrassed if they make mistakes. But the more mistakes you make, the more you can learn from them and then correct them. You have to have the courage and participate. And again, your classmates are right there with you, going through the same thing. You can support each other!
Another obstacle may be lack of motivation to study and do homework outside of class. But your teacher can’t do everything for you! It’s a partnership. You must put in the time outside of class, too.
What do you like best about teaching English as a second language (ESL)?
Everyone has a story. My favorite thing is meeting so many fantastic people from around the world, breaking down language and culture barriers, and learning a lot from my students about their own cultures and countries. I love that I can “travel” outside the U.S. without even leaving the classroom!
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?
There are so many fun things to do in Denver! (Read about Denver activities for English students here.) I’m a member of the Colorado History Museum, the Denver Art Museum, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and I love visiting those places often. I’m a Colorado girl, so I also enjoy getting outside in nature for hiking, biking, etc. I go out to concerts or dancing sometimes. Traveling is high on my list – even if it’s just a road trip to our mountain hot springs or something. Or I enjoy just lazing around my place watching Netflix or reading a good book. Overall, I just love staying active and meeting friends and new people. It helps keep me young.
Are you thinking of studying English at Bridge in Denver, Colorado? Get to know another teacher with her own interesting story and perspective: Tereza, from Prague!