I studied Ancient History as an undergraduate at the University of London. During my third year I took a Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) course at International House, London. I was ‘born and raised’ in the English Language Teaching (ELT) field, as my mother has been an ELT teacher for over 35 years and established her own language school on the island of Corfu in 1977. My family wanted me to study in the UK to receive a top-class education and, of course, to have teaching English as an option after graduating. During my last year at Royal Holloway, London, I realized there was surprisingly little to do in Greece with an Ancient History degree. I discussed this with my personal tutor and, although she thought I could pursue an academic career in Classics, I was convinced I had to have other options too. International House, London has a great reputation for Teaching English as a Foreign Language training so I undertook a part-time course during the last semester of my final year. It was a great experience as I had the opportunity to teach multicultural, multi-level and multi-abilities classes and the feedback I received was encouraging, too. I felt I had found a calling, and that’s when I started looking for Master’s degrees in Education.
The Graduate School of Education at Bristol ranked among the top in the country, so it was one of my first choices. After spending three years studying in London I wanted the opportunity to get to know another part of the country. Everyone at Bristol was very helpful and I enjoyed the plethora of resources at the library. The classes were small and thus we had a good relationship with most of our tutors. My tutor, Ms Gilpin, was very approachable. I looked up to her – she was a true teacher.
Having graduated from a top class university meant I found a job straight away after finishing my MEd TEFL. Just mentioning that you have been to the University of Bristol ‘upgrades’ your CV. I started working at the Macmillan ELT offices in Oxford. My job involved content and copy-editing of ELT books produced by Macmillan ELT for the Greek market. I was later transferred to their offices in Greece and became a project manager in 2002.
A year after I became a project manager for Macmillan ELT Greece and moved to the second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki, two colleagues and I decided to open our own company. Concentrating on what we did best – namely, editing, project management, education and marketing – we created hyphen, a company that offered services to ELT publishers and language schools. Our first clients were Macmillan, of course, but we also worked for Pearson ELT and other well-known publishing houses. My expertise in ELT formed the ELT Management Department, which involved the organization of language schools, syllabus and course design and teacher training all around Greece. In 2006, although hyphen was at its peak, I decided to withdraw and sold my shares to the other co-owners, as I decided to move and have a family in a much quieter and less stressful environment.
I moved back to my hometown, Corfu, and started work in the family language school. I took over the business in August 2011 and I am proud to say it’s been going from strength to strength. Having a double role as a manager and educator means you need to cater for the needs of the business (finances, marketing, managing of staff) as well as ensuring that all students receive the best education. Sometimes you need to choose whether certain projects (which are educationally sound) are financially viable and you often sacrifice profit. It also means being a role model for your students and teachers, handling different personalities (staff, parents, students) and always being the first to try out innovative ideas and projects so as to inspire the rest of the team. Although running a business is time-consuming, I still teach 17-20 hours a week. I feel it’s of utmost importance for a director of studies to be active in the classroom, otherwise they won’t be able to make the right decisions for their students and school on a number of matters (such as course books, projects and methodology).
One of the dreams I have had since I was a student at Bristol is to establish a summer school in Corfu catering for international students during the summer months. Corfu is a popular destination, rich in history and culture, so I think it’s the perfect place to combine holidays and studies. I have worked on this initiative since 2006 and, in 2011, Andrioti School welcomed our first international students. This in an ongoing effort and I must stay I’m optimistic after our bookings for 2013. Our services now include Modern Greek as a foreign language, which has also proven popular with visiting students. Considering our experience in language teaching and my career in teacher training, our next aim is to provide teacher training courses, first based around the Cambridge Teacher Knowledge Test and, later, perhaps offering full Cambridge accredited courses.
I think I have established myself in the Greek world of English as a Foreign Language. I have tried all worlds of English Language Training. I have worked in publishing for a big international publisher; been a teacher, a teacher trainer and curricula designer; and run a language school. Bristol has equipped me well.