You might be wondering what on earth an Australian is doing on the other side of the world, working at a PPC company that consists almost solely of Czechs. It’s a pretty good question — one I get a lot. I like to quote Kafka: “Prague never lets you go. This dear little mother has sharp claws.” I feel privileged to be working for PPC Bee, and I adore my work.
First and foremost, I’m an English teacher. This means having weekly lessons with almost everyone working there. Most of them are one-on-one classes where I personalize our hour together to fit the needs of whoever I teach. This means my work varies wildly.
With some people, we focus sharpening their emails. We cooperate to make them impactful, professional and memorable. With Lubo, for example, a business developer, we drill his elevator pitch and dig deep into the vivid sort of vocabulary that will get people both excited and inspired about such a great product. Other times, we’ll take an email in Czech and translate it to English. This is a time-consuming, tedious task and is the equivalent of “eating your vegetables.” But it’s incredibly useful; It forces people to think about sentence structure in English, and learn the myriad of linking words that make the language flow smoothly. It teaches too, the time and place for formal expressions, versus informal, friendly ones.
I don’t always go easy on people during the lessons. I want to push them because I know what they are capable of. It doesn’t always have to be a relaxing chat. Sometimes I will shout, slam the table to make a point, or scream with excitement when I see genuine progress. I will berate them for not studying their notes, or doing homework.
I love my job. I find it thrilling, and helping others to improve is what makes my life meaningful. I am a passionate person, and in some sense I demand that from others. I cannot stand people who are restrained, bland and unable to feel the enthusiasm that comes from learning. With others, we focus on the conversation. It’s a lost art, in a sense, and people at PPC Bee reali the value in being able to sustain a coherent chat, armed with a toolbox full of words with which they can express what they really mean, rather than having to use inferior alternatives. But teaching isn’t the only thing I do.
I joke sometimes that I work as a therapist. Every joke has a grain of truth to it, though. People can often be stressed by either work or personal circumstances; they may be distracted, unfocused, or a little grumpy. It’s days like these I take a more tactful approach. I try to make them laugh, and if they feel comfortable, discuss their problems. I don’t just see my role as teaching English, I want to have a positive impact on their day, and mood too. Apart from teaching and some casual psychotherapy, I also edit documents from time-to-time. This may mean going through the script of a tutorial on how to use PPC Bee and tweaking the language. It can also mean practicing pronunciation of, particularly difficult words. Try saying “tough, through, thorough” ten times fast.
I want to give people the confidence to speak without fear, and that comes through a lot of practice. It’s why at the start of every lesson we review, and why at the end of every lesson, we review again. I will also look at blog posts, and websites, not just to correct grammar, but to spice up the language and make it interesting. I find joy when people make breakthroughs. When they use an idiom or advanced verb in the right way, and their face lights up when they realised what they did. I live for that.
I love how welcomed I have felt by everyone who works at PPC Bee, Hanka especially. Since the beginning of our cooperation, she has gone the extra mile to make sure I have everything that I need and more. When times were difficult, and I didn’t have enough work, she got more students for me. On top of that, she’s probably one of the best, most conscientious students I’ve ever had. Her meticulous style, and attention to detail make her the ideal person to lead PPC Bee, and I’m thrilled to play a role in the company. What I appreciate about all my colleagues at PPC Bee is the genuine desire they have to improve themselves and get better at English. Without this desire, all the lessons in the world won’t do any good. You can’t learn something you think you already know, which is why the humility and willingness to learn from everyone here is heartwarming. I am certain that PPC Bee is heading in the right direction. They are a group of tight-knit hard-working people who are working together to achieve the same goals, and I am sure they will be successful in their pursuit and expansion.
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