Greetings from Romania! My name is Erika Albinson and I currently teach English as an Additional Language in the elementary school at the American International School of Bucharest.
I was born in California, USA to an American father and English mother. We moved soon after my 4th birthday, back to England and the British school system. Just as I finished my secondary school education, we moved back to the States, but this time to the beautiful green mountain state of Vermont on the east coast. I attended the University of Vermont, studying Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and working my way down the windy medical path. I didn’t get too far. When I was in my mid-twenties, a friend opened my eyes to the world of ESL (English as a second language) and I was hooked! I already considered myself a citizen of the world, and in this profession I could bring a skill to other countries and other cultures, and learn so much in the process.
I graduated with a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in 2008 and taught at the elementary and middle school level in Vermont. This was extremely valuable training because there was a high refugee population from Africa, Bhutan, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Balkans, many of the students without any English or even prior literacy in their home language. It was very challenging, but ultimately very rewarding. I continue to keep in contact with some of those students.
I taught at a private language school in Thailand for two years, mixed age classes at the elementary, middle and high school level. I also taught several individual and small group adult classes. Thailand was a wonderful experience – the culture is so incredibly rich and so different from my own. I was able to study the language to the intermediate level and this helped me form friendships and try to understand Thai life.
Now I am teaching English at an International School in Bucharest, Romania. The main difference compared to Thailand being that these students are learning English in an immersion setting. In Thailand, I was teaching English as a foreign language. The students were exposed to the language for an hour a day, not enough to build any kind of fluency. Here, they must do everything in school in English: math, science, art, social studies and even social discussions. The expectations and demand on the students is much higher and for me, the results are much greater.