Getting creative in the classroom: English through lived experience

Jila is a seasoned educator, arriving at CCI-LEX with over two decades of experience teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in her home country of Iran. Coming from a culture where women are often limited in how they can express themselves, Jila turned to teaching as a way to get creative. In her own words, she “feels like an actress” in the classroom, incorporating singing, dancing, drawing, and other creative avenues to engage students and “break the walls of fear and facing something that is very unfamiliar”. Her goal is to imbue her students with the courage to learn a new language by using fresh and unorthodox methods of learning and “making intangible things tangible”.

As a non-native English speaker who has also experienced the hurdles of immigration, Jila knows first-hand the challenges her students have been through and the difficulties they continue to face. She takes these themes and strategically incorporates them into her teaching, tapping into her students’ stresses, motivations, and previous life experiences as a way to connect with them. There is nothing like a topic close to the heart to get students talking and practicing their English!

Recently, Jila has been teaching a summer Reading Booster class for Low Beginners which is designed to improve students’ reading abilities. She feels fortunate to have discovered CCI-LEX and have the opportunity to feel like a teacher again. She is in the process of getting recertified as an ESL teacher in Canada – teaching ESL is her passion, and something she hopes to continue doing for the rest of her life. Recognizing how difficult her journey has been, Jila leaves off with the following advice for students: “Be brave, and don’t let your fears put you down!”