Interview with Alla, CSLI’s Pathway Teacher.

Where exactly are you from?

I was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but my family came to Canada when I was 2 ½. I grew up in East Vancouver.

How long have you been a teacher? At CSLI?

I have been a teacher for 9 years and a part of the CSLI family for a year and a half.

You are the pathway teacher and pathway curriculum expert. Can you please tell us about the pathway program at CSLI and its curriculum?

The Pathway Program is a really special program because it allows students to push their English skills to the next level and get a taste of what it is like to study in a first year college or university classroom. The complete Pathway Program is 3 months long and we cover different themes each month. Month A is Business and Economics, so each week we have a different topic related to those subjects. Month B is Social Psychology and Technology and Month C is Ethics, Logic, and Argumentative Writing. Every week we focus on building academic vocabulary and specific academic skills (ex: note taking, supporting ideas with examples, research, summary, essay writing). We also do a different assignment each week that allow students to practice their English while thinking critically and making connections between all of our readings and concepts. This class is a bit different from some other academic classes because the focus is really on using grammar and complex English and not on textbook grammar exercises. We also dig deeply and analyze real university readings. This is a great class for students who are thinking about studying at an English college, but the Pathway Program is also perfect for advanced students who want a challenge and more complex writing, reading, and speaking exercises. About half of my Pathways students enter post-secondary in Canada, while the other half take their advanced English skills into their work lives back home. Another important thing about this program is our Pathway partners. If you pass all 3 months of my class you can enter a variety of Canadian schools without writing an IELTS exam. You can see our Pathway wall by the laptops for more info on all our partners.

What is your favorite class to teach at CSLI and how does this class help students?

It is difficult to choose just one class. I love speaking classes because they help students improve their confidence, learn idioms, and connect with each other. I also love academic classes because they give students who want to push themselves the chance to work hard and provide students with the language skills they need to write accurately in formal contexts (work and school).

 Best Teaching Moment?

Every week I teach is full of amazing moments because I am lucky enough to have the chance to connect with students and watch them grow in their self-awareness and language fluency. That said two special moments do stand out in the mind. The first was helping a student who hated reading find a novel that he loved enough to read in 48 hours. The second came when one of my students told me she had decided to go to University to study Sociology and Political Science because of the discussions about discrimination and human rights we had in our class. I love the time I spend with my students in the classroom, but I always feel happiest when I know I have inspired my students to learn on their own and pursue their passions outside of school.

What is your favorite CSLI monthly graduation and why?

The Karaoke Grad! It is loud, but I love singing and getting the students together for the group performance. I also really enjoy the International Chef Grad because it allows students to showcase foods from their different cultures and bond by sharing a meal.

Where abroad have you taught? How long and how was your experience there?

Most of my teaching has been in Canada, but I did teach English briefly in Turkey. It was an amazing experience as the culture there is so vibrant. I have also taught in Quebec which though not abroad, is a special place because it is Canada’s French speaking province.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?

My family is in Vancouver so that is where my heart is, but I do love New York and Montreal. The nightlife and theatre scene in those cities is fantastic.

What is your favorite thing to do in Vancouver? 

Drink west coast style IPA beer or watch the sun set at the beach.


Why do you love teaching at CSLI?

The teachers and staff members at CSLI are the friendliest, kindest, and most thoughtful colleagues I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I started working at CSLI because my good friend Damian suggested that I drop off my resume there. I am lucky to say that I started with one good friend in the staff room and can now call everyone who works with me a true buddy. I have found that the students at CSLI are also unique. They are very polite, eager to learn and open-minded. With all the activities at the school and the relaxed family energy in the lounge it really feels like a community of learners.

Alla Zombie Alla's photo

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