Teaching in Paris and Berlin

Usually when I teach, I know where to go. Either to a quiet coffee shop of my client's choice, someone's office, or one of Washington, D.C.'s unique sights. My familiarity with the museums, cultural sites, restaurants, and streets of my city make it easy to turn Washington into a huge classroom. As a teacher, I love using what my city has to offer for experiential lessons. I simply adore the spontaneity of city life intertwined with the familiarity of a city you know well and call home. Having said that, this summer I had to the opportunity to teach some of my Skype clients in their hometowns.

Teaching in an unfamiliar city has its unique perks and challenges. I love how as a teacher you have to use even more of your creativity to create engaging experiences. As a city dweller, I often work on instincts honed by years of experiences in many different metropolitan areas of the world. As a teacher, I love to combine my creativity, intuition, and know-how. Having taught people hailing from almost every non-English speaking corner of the world, I am very experienced but still love to operate in a very instinctual and intuitive manner. 
Teaching in a new city allows me to apply that mix of spontaneity and years of methodological expertise. It’s truly fantastic to adapt to new spaces, just as wonderful as customizing lessons for my clients who are all unique. My instincts and extensive experience served me well as I was teaching in Paris and Berlin—utilizing the distinct character of those cities for my lessons.

For example, you find yourself walking around Paris or Berlin with your client for a conversation session. What better way to teach vocabulary than a city walking tour allowing you to catch a glimpse of a café terrace through the leaves of a beautiful birch tree, an unusual piece of modern architecture, a unique art museum, the odd flower lining the trail in a city park. Smell the whiff of French coffee. Taste Turkish-German food in Berlin. All while talking about these tangible experiences engaging your senses on multiple levels. The storefronts along the Champs-Elysée and Berlin's many neighborhoods filled with unique little boutiques and coffee shops can all be turned into lesson material.

The visual array presenting itself to the senses appeals to the learner and teacher alike. How wonderful that teaching does not have to take place in a classroom, does not have to follow a lesson plan but can, instead, reflect the uniqueness of each student and the world itself. Here, the world can truly be our oyster—only waiting to be explored to broaden our horizons as teachers and students alike. And what you learn with pleasure, you never forget!

Marike Korn