Oct 8

Inspirational ELT #8 | Nicola's story

I'm really excited to include Nicola Harwood's story here, because it's such a great one - an inspiring one - and I had a (small) hand in it because she's an alumni of my VoiCE programme
If you're thinking that there might be more to your life than being an employee in a school, this might give you an idea of what's possible. I hope you enjoy it.
Jo Gakonga

Nicola's story - from teacher to edpreneur

I think I’ve finally found my voice! It’s taken me until I’m in my mid-50s but I’ve just launched my own website, I’m teaching using my own audio and video materials, and people are actually enjoying my musings.

It took me a while to get here though! I’ve been in the EFL industry for over 30 years, enjoying the highs and lows of teaching and training. A big high for me was the decade I spent at IH London where I was surrounded by such inspirational colleagues who generously shared their expertise and shaped me as a trainer. However, I was a very little fish in a very big pond and it took a sabbatical in South America for me to find the beginnings of my voice – maybe the mutterings of what could be.

Fast forward four years, and after a very formative stint running CELTAs in South America I was encouraged to leave my training comfort zone and teach a couple of very high level teachers. As they were both holders of the Delta, and one already a CELTA trainer, the quivering voices in my head came up with excuses. What could I possibly teach them? What books could I use? I was struck dumb!
But – little by little, the voices in my head got louder and a running commentary started to make itself heard. Write your own stories, teach them high level lexis in context, what’s to lose? I gave it a go and miraculously they loved it and it was easier to pitch to their level than use course books that they were probably using already with their own high level students.


Those two very entrepreneurial students came up with the idea of spreading the word – my words in fact, and pushed me on to start an online speaking lexical club. In awe of the level of the teachers who signed up, I fumbled for words at the start but they came back for more tales and eagerly awaited my latest ramblings. Before I knew it, my voice had been shaped into a task-based, lexical-focused course.

The pandemic coincided with a move to a new country where the lockdown was heavily enforced and the opportunity to vent or rave in recorded stories became a much needed outlet for me. I branched out from the speaking club and started a Lexical Sprint where my voice reached over 50 teachers via WhatsApp.

Then I struck gold when I did Jo Gakonga’s find your video voice course and she showed me how to put images to my recordings. Thanks to her encouragement and guidance, I set up my brand new website and now my voice has found a new portal.

I’ve got a healthy dose of stage fright as I look ahead but I’m really thrilled to be setting sail in my Lexicalship to uncharted waters. Everyone is welcome aboard for the adventure!


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What Lexicalship offers..

Lesson series

..and a video overview of one of Nicola's courses

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Do you have an ELT story that you'd like to share? 

just drop me a line to jo.gakonga@elt-training.com
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