Learning English Native Speakerism Personal

How to introduce yourself as an English teacher

As someone who started studying English at the age of 8, with 2/3 languages already in the mix, I immediately perceived it as my language because I had a more consistent relationship with it and could take it with me in other contexts no matter where I was.

My family moved a lot, therefore I grew up in a variety of contexts and finding one identity to conform to was not an easy task. I went to an international school in Malaysia and that is where my journey with English began. I later moved to the U.S. for just under a year, but to this day it seems as though those were the experiences that led to me knowing English and becoming an English teacher today. That could not be farther from the truth, and I realised that well into my adulthood.

Before my big realisation, I continued to validate my knowledge and skills as an English teacher saying things like “I’m from Armenia, BUT I teach English because I used to live in Malaysia”, “BUT I attended a school in the States”, “BUT I speak English daily to my brother-in-law who is Irish”, or “BUT my grandma used to be an English teacher”, and the list goes on.

It wasn’t until I went to a conference that I spotted my own flawed narrative which gave little to no power to the main character of my life: me!

Why was I not giving myself credit for learning and studying to become an English teacher? Why did I have to distance myself from my own origin to comply with some kind of “norm” that in order to know English, you had to have come in touch with an anglophone culture, or you must have had a distant relative who spoke English to you as a child! It was paradoxical that I was trying to justify having this skill in the way that I was, and it took me several attempts at presenting myself at conferences to catch my own bias towards myself.

Flashforward to the present day:

I am totally confident about being who I am as an English teacher.

I smile when someone asks me if I’m from England or from the States. I say I am neither, I am Armenian.

I no longer feel there is a need to add anything else other than “I’m an English teacher” to anyone I meet for the first time…

…this is obviously followed by the question “where are you from?” with the anticipation of placing me in an anglophone context, and to which I answer, “I’m from Armenia, English is not the official language there, or the second language people speak”.

Most of the times, my confidence in saying that conveys the right message to my interlocutor and they begin to connect the dots. I feel that since my mindset has shifted, I can do much more for the non-native speaker category and help others make the same realisation, that is to say: a skill is not intimately tied to one’s birthplace or experience growing up in an English speaking country.

How to introduce yourself as an English teacher

I’ve created this little worksheet for you that you can use to keep your impostor syndrome on track. Please use it and share any interesting finding in the comments.

Also, please subscribe to my YouTube Page for more videos and content like this.

Learning English


If you find your students blankly staring at you while you go on and on for the sake of comprehensible input or filling those uncomfortable silences. Here are some Tips & Tricks you might find useful for your next lesson so that you can start reducing TTT.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Ask Open Ended Questions

Do you think so?

What do you think about it? How come?

Don’t ask any questions to which one might reply, “Yes, I do”, or “No, I don’t”. Give your students the right amount of opportunity to take longer and freer turns. While they are putting their thoughts together and formulating sentences, you might want to take down some notes on how they are performing and later tackle students’ weaker areas. However, please remember to engage in the conversation as naturally as possible. Not as their teacher, but as a good listener. Feedback can come later.

Get into the habit of making things more personal (make it more about them)

Tell me about your day/week/plans for the weekend

Had a bad day? What made it bad? Tell me about it

By starting conversation on a personal note, you can take time to assess accuracy and fluency issues, while learning about your students’ English proficiency. Yes, you might have the perfect lesson for teaching the Present Perfect ready to go, but if you don’t connect with your students on a deeper and personal level, your role can become interchangeable with that of any other teacher. Give your students TIME and allow for them to share their experiences, just like they would in their L1 before starting any planned activity for the day. This can also give you a lot of insight on what to teach in your next lesson.

Use Back Channeling to keep conversation going on the student’s end

Oh, Really?

You’re kidding!

Most students don’t realise how to use back channeling in the appropriate way, simply because they are not involved in authentic conversations with English speakers on a daily basis. This is your chance to both use it to reduce Teacher Talk Time AND allow them to notice this strategic tool they can use for more natural sounding conversation. Your intonation here plays an important part in keeping the conversation tone authentic. Remember you are not acting, you are engaging with your students.

Leave a comment with what works best for you to reduce Teacher Talk Time.