Interview with Diana Tower
English Language Teacher & ESL Website Creator
1. What do you like most about teaching English as a second language?
Diana Tower is the author of the website, www.helping-you-learn-english.com.
Her site is directed at people studying English as a second language. Through her site, she offers materials, techniques, and helpful advice for learning English.
In addition to running her website, Miss Tower teaches and tutors online business English courses.
She was born in Canada, but she now lives with her husband in Spain.
I like helping people understand things and gain confidence.
Currently, I am teaching business writing in an online master’s course. My students enter the “class” and always have questions about grammar and writing. It makes me feel good when they finally understand something.
2. What are some of the most common grammatical errors that you see or hear among ESL students?
There are some errors that almost ALL of my students make. Here are just a few.
1. Using “People IS” rather than “people ARE”
2. Incorrect capitalization
3. Using the present perfect tense vs the past simple tense
4. Use of “s” with verbs in the third person singular
5. The Saxon genitive
6. Using prepositions
3. You have given a lot of writing advice to ESL students. How does writing help in the acquisition of a second language?
Writing is really important, especially in the business world. If you are going to travel, you probably need to focus more on speaking and oral comprehension.
But if you are expected to email clients in Canada, write a report for your British director, or create a presentation for the Australian branch, you really do need to have strong writing skills.
Although writing is important, I believe that the most important aspects of English acquisition are speaking and listening.
4. Your ESL cafe seems like a great resource for ESL students. Tell us a little bit about it.
I put together the ESL café in late 2009, and I am really happy with the way it is developing.
My idea was simple: to provide visitors and English learners a place to actually USE their English. In the cafe, I encourage people to write journal entries, describe videos and music, make friends, create groups and become submersed in the language.
5. You moved from Canada to Spain. Did you have a difficult time learning Spanish as a second language? Can you share anything with us that you learned from that experience?
I have had a love-hate relationship with Spanish for the past six years. My first attempt at learning Spanish was at University, where I had to complete four years of it in order to graduate. I could barely understand the classes, and my marks did not prove otherwise, but I loved the classes.
My teacher was from Madrid, and she used to tell stories about Spain to help us understand the grammar. This inspired me to travel in Spain for three months. When I arrived, thinking I would be able to communicate perfectly, I was shocked to realize I would be spending the next three months in a country where I could barely understand a word anyone said.
I now live in Huelva with my Spanish husband. I am basically bilingual, but I still have days where I think I will never fully understand Spanish.
How did I get to this level of Spanish? I married a Spaniard (best way to learn), I watch TV and movies in Spanish, and I basically do everything in Spanish. Living abroad is the best way to learn a language.
6. What advice would you give English language learners who are struggling to stay motivated?
I think the most important thing to remember if you are trying to learn English is that it takes time and effort. The best way to ensure that you can study for years and years is to love what you are doing.
My best advice is to find something you enjoy doing. Watch entertaining TV shows, read funny comics, listen to podcasts on interesting topics, or just write about your day in a journal. Remember, the key to success is never giving up.
7. Tell us a little bit about the ebook that you are coming out with.
My first ebook is a simple and easy to understand guide to help beginners improve their writing skills. Rather than focusing on mistakes and structures, it encourages learners to write and expand the skills they already have.
8. Random Question: You have lived in Spain for some time now. What is your favorite Spanish dish?
I have many favorite Spanish dishes. When my husband and I go out for dinner, we usually order the same thing: Presa con patatas (steak with potatoes), pulpo (octopus), and choco frito (fried cuttlefish). I love Spanish tapas, and who doesn’t love Paella?! I guess you could say I love ALL Spanish food.
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