Bonjour! / Hello! / Tere!

These are the three languages I speak, think and dream in every single day! I am an Estonian living and teaching English in the French speaking part of Switzerland.

I started teaching when I was 20. In fact, being a poor student I was simply looking for a job that would pay some of my bills when quite by accident I found myself in front of a group of Estonian adults eager to learn the language I myself was still learning. Little did I know then that this first nerve-wrecking lesson would be a beginning of a long journey. And even less did I know that teaching would actually turn out to be my greatest learning experience ever.

I have been teaching for thirteen years now. I have been a teacher-clown in a playgroup, I have helped business people to brush up on their English before an exam, I have struggled with teenagers, conducted lessons using a method called Callan. For the last five years I have been teaching English to future graphic designers in the local art school. Being a small school I am the only English teacher in the house, a reality which offers great freedom and the opportunity to follow my students’ progress throughout the three-year training. However, being on my own, can get a bit lonely at times. So let this blog be the space where I can express my thoughts, my ideas, my doubts. But most importantly, let this blog be a new possibility for growth and learning!



11 thoughts on “About

    • Hi Ken,
      and thank you so much for stopping by! I have been toying with the idea of my own teaching blog for a good while now … hopefully, I’ll get down to saying more than just introducing myself soon!

  1. Hi Sirja,

    I loved your post about the 4 episodes- stories from your life illustrating the idea of motivation in learning – ad I’ve taken the liberty of quoting you in a talk I’m giving in Barcelona this weekend
    I’ll be directing people to your excellent blog as well, of course.
    Keep up the posting!
    Tom Spain from allatc

  2. Thank you for your beautiful comment on my post about working with “difficult students” on the iTDi.blog. Because of that I not only got to have my work validated by you in such a nice way, but also and more importantly got to discover your great blog. I’m looking forward to reading more from you – Best, Chuck Sandy

    • Hello Chuck, the pleasure is all mine! i honestly LOVED that post of yours, and I feel it changed somethig in me. Nothing is more powerful than things that truly get under your skin.
      Happy to see your thoughts here.

  3. Hi Sirja,

    I stumbled upon your blog today and eagerly read most of your posts. I found myself relating with much of what you said as I am also in a situation where I am faced with very multi-level classes and am in a school where I am the only ESL teacher so I have felt alone in my struggles. I am a new, young teacher and am responsible for developing a program from scratch but have been given much freedom and support by my administration. Support in the way that I am being trusted to do what is best for the program, not support in the form of collaboration. I think that I am probably in a similar position as you in your early years and am wondering if you have any advice for someone in starting out. I work with middle school and high school students where integrated skills are the focus. I am in the process of choosing course books, looking for assessment methods and establishing a program format. I have been reading many blogs in the hopes of finding someone who has walked through this and come through it successfully and yours is the first one that has really resonated with me.

    Any advice you have for me would be greatly appreciated!

    If you would prefer communicating via email that’s great too!

    Thanks so much!

    Debbie Mackenzie

  4. Hi Sirja

    Just writing to say hello and let you know having attended your workshop yesterday, I was able to pick up one or two things to help with teaching multi-levelled classes.

    Like you, I work in a similar situation, for a Hochschule in Zurich where I teach HFW (Höhere Fachmann Witchcraft) Betriebswirtschafter undergraduates. The learners are taking a three-year (six semesters) business administration course and with English as one of their subjects into which they are duly thrown! So like you, in any one class, I too experience A2- C1 levels.

    To make matters worse, there are set textbooks for the classes at two levels, so during the lessons, which last 180 mins (x4 45 mins) I teach two groups from two different textbooks. Of course, I do lots of group teaching, too, eg, teaching skills, and systems!

    To make matters even worse! At the end of their studies they are expected to sit an external exam, the BEC Vantage (and Higher for the more advanced).

    I’d be happy to exchange ideas with you!

    What’s more, I’ve got a wordpress account too and have been meaning to start up a blog, but can’t seem to get my head around it! Any tips?

    Keith Rossborough

    • Hi Keith,
      thanks for popping in here! And a big thank you for attending the talk as well!
      As I mentioned in the talk I am eager to share and learn from others in order to grow. Managing mixed level classes is such a challenge that all ideas and reflexions coming from fellow teachers are extremely welcome. So it would be great if you started a blog to share your experience.
      Plus, I’m sure you’ll experience the blog magic once you get truly involved.

      What I’d suggest is … come up with a good name, write an about page to give some background and introduce yourself as well. If people know who’s behind the blog, they will be more likely to become your readers.
      In order to get readers, start following other blogs and leaving comments – this way other teachers can find their way to yours!
      And do tag your posts!

      And here’s one of my own personal pieces of advice – the simpler and cleaner the webpage, the easier to follow. I tend to leave blogs with too many flashy adverts and colorful categories quickly. It gives me a headache and too much work to figure out what’s going on 🙂

      If you are looking for blogs to discover, have a look at Vicky’s blog: http://vickyloras.wordpress.com
      On the left-hand bar she’s got links to loads of great blogs!

      I hope this was useful.
      Let me know when your blogs ready!

      • Hi Sirja

        I’ve taken your advice and have put a blog together! – krossborough@wordpress.com

        However, I seem to be having problems with the ‘home’ page. It lists many links, etc which I don’t want on the page (scroll down) and can’t seem to get rid of them! Any advice on how to delete this unnecessary info! As you will see, I’ve been very busy with the content of my blog, but lack the technical skills in order to build it properly!

        Any help would be welcomed!

        Hope all it well at your end!


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