The guide (person in charge) behind it is Kenneth Beare, and he has
been doing it for long over a decade.
He has a vast experience as an educator, content creator and product
developer. In addition, he is no stranger to the personal experience of
acquiring a new language – he himself has studied German and Italian
and has become fluent in both.
So I am very happy to have him answering some questions and sharing his
experience and knowledge with us.
1. What has
inspired you to become a teacher?
I'd say that most of my inspiration came from my own language learning
experiences with German and Italian and the subsequent challenges I met
when living in Germany and Italy. The experience of becoming a fluent
speaker of another language was quite intriguing not only from a
cultural point of view, but also from what it revealed about my own
culture. I found teaching English a natural extension of my interest in
the whole process.
2. What is
the thing you love the most about creating content for About.com?
Meeting people from around the world who use the site. I've had lovely
e-mail exchanges from people all over the world living in rather exotic
places. One of the most rewarding experiences has been to create lesson
plans and other resources which are used by teachers in their
classrooms, especially when they have had difficulties finding
appropriate materials, and esl.about.com has come to their
3. A while
back you've founded Lingofeeds.com, which is quite
unique. Could you tell us more about it?
I wish I could dedicate more time to Lingofeeds.com,
but it's still very much a side-project at the moment. The main idea
behind Lingofeeds is that it strives to fill the gap of English for
Specific Purposes resources on the net. There's plenty of great
materials for general English, but a lack of really specific,
contextual learning materials. I also think that is the general
direction of the English language learning industry in general. Public
schools are providing strong basic skills, and I think many learners
are coming out of school speaking English reasonably well, but need to
improve their English in very specific areas in order to improve their
4. You have
successfully acquired German and Italian. Can you share some tips? What
were your successful actions?
I read quite a lot in both languages before moving to those countries.
I also had friends who were learning the language and we'd do our best
to use the languages to communicate on a daily basis, even though we
were all English speakers. The most important lesson I learned along
the way was that I'd always make mistakes, and that was OK. Once you
accept that you'll make mistakes, you stop worrying about it and get on
with the communication. Eventually, I lived in both Germany and Italy
and, to be perfectly honest, that's what really permitted me to become
fluent in both languages.
5. You are an
expert in English for Special Purposes (ESP). How does that differ from
studying general English?
I think the most important thing about studying / teaching English for
Specific Purposes is that it is very contextual. For the teacher, that
means letting the students teach you their business (in English, of
course) as no teacher can be an expert in the wide variety of English
for Specific Purposes settings they might be required to teach. For the
student, it means taking advantage of all the in-house materials that
are in English at their place of work, and / or really leveraging the
Internet in this day and age. Cultural awareness raising is also an
important part of the equation as many English for Specific Purposes
learners need to use their English abroad, or with colleagues from a
wide variety of cultures.
6. At which
point (if ever) should a student start concentrating on a special
branch of English?
I'm for the pragmatic approach. In other words, when a student needs a
specific flavor of English. It's really about learning the strong
collocations / vocabulary / situational and document types of a given
profession. However, I do think it's a good idea to have at least an
intermediate level of English before worrying about these things too
7. Any future
projects or developments you are working on?
Yes, I'm consulting with GlobalEnglish on building out a great new
English language learning social network called EnglishCafe which
can be found at http://englishcafe.com. I've also
begun working closely with i-to-i
(Online TEFL course) which
focuses on teacher training commonly known as TEFL (Teaching
English as a foreign language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to
Speakers of Other Languages).
finally, if you were not helping teachers and students as a content
creator and consultant for English language products, what would you be
Ideally, I would be singing opera as that's why I first learned the
languages and moved to Europe. I did spend a number of years singing
professionally, and still sing around the Portland, Oregon area, but
I'd love to be doing more!
thanks a lot for doing the interview. Your advice is priceless!
And I'll leave you with this short introduction video of Kenneth.