Sabine is building her career from a love of languages

 Sabine Lang is building a career from a love of languages

Faced with decreasing demand for her freelance translating, Cambridge-based Sabine Lang searched for an alternative way to share her love of languages and the answer was to teach English.

Languages have always been a big part of German-born Lang’s life. She speaks English, German, Portuguese, Spanish and French.

“Globalisation and the digital era have increasingly automated translation services and lowered fees, reducing my potential to earn as a translator.  I love languages and I needed to reset my career. I was casually browsing for options and came across the Wintec TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) course, so I applied.”

What happened next was a surprise to Lang who hadn’t thought about the potential for her to teach English or that she would be learning another language.

“I speak five languages so I thought I would give it a go. I had an interview and I was told my linguistic background was perfect. From day one, I realised I should have done this a long time ago.”

To help students understand what it’s like to learn a new language, Wintec TESOL students learn another language. For Lang it was Korean, a new language and a new alphabet.

“Now I really know how hard it must be for people who learn English and learn to read and write a new alphabet,” she admits.

“The languages I know are connected. Spanish, Portuguese and French are Latin-based, and English is Germanic. So, learning English for a German isn’t that hard and learning languages that are connected is not that hard, but learning Korean was a challenge,” she laughs.

With one semester under her belt, Lang now holds a Wintec Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages(TESOL) and has her sights set on the Graduate Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages which will enable her to teach in an English language  school, and in schools as an English Language Assistant.

With New Zealand’s borders closed for the short-term Lang says now is a still a great time to study and get qualified as there is demand for English language teachers.

There is potential to teach existing migrants and the spouses of people on a work visa (who haven’t had to sit a language test to work here) and existing and future refugees who need to learn English once the borders open again. Then there are tertiary students who start their journey preparing their academic English as students.

“You have such an impact on people’s lives,” says Lang.

“I get an amazing kick to be able to teach people and improve their opportunity to progress their careers. I recently taught a Swiss chef who came to New Zealand to improve his English, now he is looking to upgrade his future international job opportunities! His employer approached me saying ‘I have this guy here, his English is not great, would you help him?’ I hadn’t started my course then, now he can communicate easily, and he has grown in confidence.”

Lang loves the way individuals develop a personality as they get more familiar with the nuances of a language.

“I have my German personality, but I grew up in Peru so when I speak in Spanish my family tells me I communicate differently. It’s important to keep your ties to your home country, you can add to that, but you don’t want to lose that side of yourself. We talked about how you learn a language and develop a personality in class. We studied that, it’s really interesting.”

“I started in February this year as a full-time student which is full on,” she says.

“I’m finding it challenging having a family and doing full time study, but I am getting better at juggling commitments. When things happen on the home front when you are focussing on theory, it can zap you out of that mind-space. Finding that balance is hard. I passed semester one so I now have a certificate to teach English. In semester two, I will study the diploma and I’m quite excited about the course coming up because it’s curriculum design for me that is a crucial part of it. I really want this extra bit added to my qualification.”

Next year she will have graduated and can start teaching.

“I hope to find employment in a language school or wherever language courses are offered. If that becomes difficult due to the current pandemic situation, I can apply to do a post-graduate teaching degree at University. It would qualify me as an English, German, French language teacher at high school but adult English teaching is really what I want to do.”

In the meantime, she is trying to get the best from this year and using the time to broaden her chances.

“I know I need to make the most of this study to maximise my chances. I don’t have a huge number of options right now; this qualification maximises my abilities while adding new career prospects.”

Find out more about studying TESOL and other education options at Wintec.

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