OISE is often lucky enough to host scholars for months at a time. Over this period the scholars make exceptional progress towards their personalised goal. Eagre to track this journey, we interviewed Anna Aleksandrova at the London school who is staying with us until late December. What motivated Anna to set aside so much of her time for this life-changing transformation?
I met Anna for lunch in London. She was initially quite shy as, having just started her extended study, her English was not yet at an advanced level. However, Anna drew on her confidence and practiced, which was more than enough for us to have an enlightening conversation over our steaming jacket potatoes. “What English cuisine should I eat?” she asked, making my mind race for an appropriate answer, as “English” and “cuisine” are words that don’t often meet and aren’t really sure what to do with each other.
I tentatively suggested pie. As we ate, I asked Anna a bit more about her background. She grew up in the Magadan region before moving to Moscow in 2007 to study Law. Both her and her husband are employed as lawyers in the capital, marrying after meeting in high school. Anna is from a big family (and she tells me of her English Bulldog Mickey with particular fondness) and has plans to have children in the near future - but first she wants to make sure her career is as secure as it could be.
Although currently employed in a lucrative position, Anna makes it clear that she needs to have a thorough fluency in business English in order to reach the next level of her aspirations. She wants to work for a larger international consultancy where speaking the world language is essential. Anna is a studious person; she reads law all the time to stay at the cutting edge of her profession, but this extra transformative skill would be invaluable for her future.
English was taught as a mandatory subject as school, but Anna makes clear that the education was lacklustre. In her next attempt to learn, she took evening classes but the teachers were underperforming in her eyes, illustrating their points in a casual and flippant manner and going little further than illustrating correct sentence structure. “The teacher here knows more about English,” Anna assures me, “but he still speaks very fast for me.”
This is the most difficult obstacle for Anna - spoken English. Her written technique is notably more advanced, and she is confident with her innate presentation skills, being used to addressing groups as part of her job. Anna no longer wants to be intimated by fast speakers, and I suggest adding Tutorial™ sessions to her current Quartorial™ course in order to centre in on this particular difficulty, though her programme will address this in time.
After the evening classes failed to live up to Anna’s high expectations, she moved to private tuition. She enlisted the aid of a tutor five days a week, yet was again frustrated by the format of the education. The tutor was often disengaged with her requirements and would actively take over her learning by leaning over and taking her pencil off her. Homework assignments struck were much too simple - Anna knows she is more capable than learning at the rate of ten new words per day.
After researching her options, Anna chose OISE as the conduit for her language transformation. She likes the fact that she can alter the terms of the course, adding and detracting weeks and one-to-one sessions depending on her requirements. She describes her group as interesting and friendly, with some kind gentlemanly participants, yet also notes that she’s not yet confident enough to interject over some of the more aggressive voices in the session. Yet this is the first part of a six month demanding journey of rapid progress, where we expect to see Anna thrive and achieve her aspirations.
We will meet with Anna twice more through the year to witness her development.
Written by Sam Kearns, Community Manager.