Russian, ice cream, and Rosetta Stone.

So here I am starting again learning Russian. I always had a soft spot for this language. I learnt my first words when travelling with my parents around Soviet Union, somewhere between 1985-1988. My first sentence/phrase that I practiced with an extreme dedication was Мороженое пожалуйста (Ice cream, please). My parents gave me some pocket money and the deal was that I had to ask for what I desired the most, in the local language. Therefore Russian. Therefore ice cream.

Then apparently was this summer in Vilnius where me and my family spent a week with a Lithuanian befriended family. My parents were their pen-friends, there was no such a thing as Facebook neither email for my parents in these days. The local family had kids in similar age to mine and I remember spending entire days playing outside with them, climbing trees and do what 6 or 7 years old do. There was a group of us, some Russian kids, some Lithuanian kids and me and my brother. According to my mother, after a week I came back home speaking a mix of Polish and Russian and Lithuanian. We packed and went home but my ear in this short time got accustomed to the music of Russian and Lithuanian and since that holiday I seem to have almost no trouble to grasp what’s been said.

At the age of 8 or 9 I started proper Russian lessons at my primary school. The teacher was severe, demanding and old fashioned but she had amazing results. I enjoy my classes and learning the alphabet. Even with the political system change – it was just after abolishing communism – I continued studying Russian as the scholar system didn’t have enough trained teachers to offer now much more desired English, German, or French. On top of it we lived in the country side which resulted in no formal access to any western languages until mid ’90s and in me studying Russian till the age of 15.

Then there was a 1 year long episode of Russian lessons at university; some private conversation lessons, during which I multiplied my excuses for not completing my homework and tried to convince my teacher that all I needed was only speaking; and finally some additional attempts to study on my own. Over all not very successful.

And now, some 30 years later since my first words in Russian I am back to it. Thanks to The Akkademy where I work I received an access to Rosetta Stone (online language learning platform) with unlimited Live Tutoring Sessions for 12 months. I completed my first online lesson including vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar activities. It’s super intuitive and easy to use. I can study whenever I want and for how long I want which suits my current lifestyle. I even can set my targets and be reminded on weekly basis if I hit my goals or not.

goals RS

Yesterday I completed my 1st Live Tutoring Session with a live teacher over the RS platform. It was superb and scary at the same time, it’s like the first date if you know what I mean. I didn’t speak Russian over more than 10 year and I struggled to find my words. Funny enough I would switch to French if I couldn’t express myself. With every word I understood my excitement rose. With every word produced, my motivation increased. The teacher was very kind and accommodating. I schedule a second class for next weekend. Can’t wait.

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Studying #Russian with @rosettastone #lovingit

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I don’t have specific work objectives for Russian. I do it for myself and it feels good. It might come handy one day. You never know. It might open new opportunities and definitely will be linked to my updated travel bucket list. But that’s in the next post.

Stay tuned.

‘Be inspiring’ lunch

I will have a privilege to give a motivational speech on 8th of March in Geneva. Looking forward to it. Now the pressure is on:)

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#spoiler #coaching #speech

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End of year resolutions

It’s already December. Soon will be Christmas. Some of us will spend way to much, eat too much and indulge too much. On 1st January some of us will make promises and take New Year’s resolutions to stop or to start something that we always wanted to do.

I usually take some time to identify my goals for the next year and write them down. I follow ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ by Steven Covey. I go with Habit 2:  Begin with the end in mind. 

One of the best ways to incorporate Habit 2 into your life if to develop a Personal Mission Statement. It focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement makes you the leader of your own life. You create your own destiny and secure the future you envision.

I enjoy reading my Personal Mission Statements from previous years. It shows me how much I achieved and how my priorities have changed or shifted. Change is part of our lives. It’s up to us to decide how and when to bring this change to become who we are.

If you need support in your resolutions or want to get rid of the old habits contact me to explore what coaching can do for you.

cant can

Success bank in coaching

Success Bank is a way of keeping a track of your achievements. It helps you in maintaining stable level of self-confidence and give yourself peace of mind.

I use it myself for situations that are new and require extra mental strength and confidence. It is a record of my achievements so I know my potential, strength and value. This is some sort of evidence. This helps as well in not questioning myself if I can do what I’ve planned or not.

I keep success bank in one of my notebooks and add new achievements to it on regular basis. Perhaps you will find it useful.

Success bank can list your academic and/or professional successes and also personal ones. It is you who defines what success means to you.

success bank

 

Audiobooks

I started listening to audiobooks in 2010 due to my newly then developed talent for falling asleep after two pages of any book I’d read. Considering fact that most of the books I own have on average 500 pages that would be 250 nights per book. Mere 1,5 book a year…. I knew how important is reading for self-development and I had to come up with an alternative solution. Audible was the answer. It allowed me to listen to books when walking, working out, cleaning the house (it actually helps me to get on with it), commuting to work and traveling.

When speaking to people who never used Audible they tend to say: Nah, it’s not for me… But they’ve never tried! Here is my advice, if you feel like giving it a go, feeling like you can step out of your comfort zone, (1) get the App ( Apple Store or Play Store). I presume you will listen to books on your smartphone, but you can use the app on tablets and laptops as well.

(2)Use the free trial for a month and get a book that you will enjoy. There are over 200,000 books waiting for you. Don’t bully yourself with something like The Great War History which takes over 40 hours and you feel like you should listen to it. I did that. I slept even better! (3) Before purchasing the book in the App Shop, listen to the sample offered. It is so important to like the narrator’s voice. My favourite voice belongs to Sean Barrett. He’s excellent. If you listen to your book in the bed, please use Sleep Timer (4). You can programme the app to stop playing after 15 min, at the end of chapter and so on. Trust me, there is nothing more frustrating then going through chapters that you partially listen to while falling asleep. I’ve done that as well.

After the trial month, if you like to continue with Audible, sign up for one of their plans (5). I’ve picked 1 book monthly membership, which is enough for me. It costs £7.99 a month and you can cease your membership at anytime you wish. If I feel like, I can buy additional books. Audioble offers special deals on regular basis so you won’t spend much.

In my library I have over 100 books now: crime, comedy, biographies. My fav book so far is ‘Happiness Advantage’ by Shawn Achor. I’ve listen to it several times, great book and it’s read by the author.

Try it. You have nothing to loose. The risk is that you will love it and the Audible App will keep you awake at night. I think, while listening to Jo Nesbo criminal series about detective Harry Hole, I didn’t sleep much. I would say ‘just one more chapter’ and go to bed at 3 am after listening to 5… Highly addictive!

The only issue I’ve experienced so far is due to me moving from Ireland to France. I am currently a UK store member and if I want to use French one, I have to create myself a new account on Audible.fr. This means I will have to log out of my co.uk account every time I want to access the .fr one. The solution will be to have the same password for both to make it simple. On the bright side I will get a free trial on the .fr site!

Hope I convinced you to try Audible. Let me know, which book would you recommend me to get next. I love thrillers, biographies, comedies and positive psychology books but I’m open to your suggestions.

Vision board in coaching Generation Z

I would like to share my experience and how I changed my approach to teaching after my coaching course, and its impact on my students.

In 2017 I started using elements of coaching in my English teaching. The final project for my digital art students was a vision board and a presentation in English. They are all between 17-20 (Genertion Z).

Over the year we worked on their motivation, teamwork, EQ, resilience and attitude. This project brought everything together. They shared their dreams and motivations with the class, they didn’t concentrate on money and financial success only, but they included gratitude for their friends and family (support network), motivational quotes, their mottoes. Most of them showed a huge curiosity for the world and highlighted importance of work life-balance and their own development.

I am super proud of them and hope they are better prepared for the life.

My fav is the cartoon from a teenage boy to a man from one of the most shy students in the class. Some small mistakes in English but it’s a delight in content.

Data-dock

I am delighted to announce that Duraj Consulting is a training centre approved by Data-dock.  This will allow me to work with organisations such as OPCA and other training funding bodies in France.

In France all employers contribute 1% of their revenue to continious training of their employees. Employees gain training hours each year (up to 24 hours per year) and can accumulate them over consecutive 5 years (up to 150h). This ‘hour budget’ can be used by employee on any training they really wish and it doesn’t have to be related to thier current role in the company. Employer has to allow the time off and the employee is paid the salary.

Read more on: https://www.moncompteactivite.gouv.fr 

Me, resistance and coaching

My motto: If I don’t try, I won’t know brought me into many new things, I tried different sports, hobbies, jobs with different results but one thing in common: varied and valuable experience.

I had this dream of becoming a coach for some time from my late 20s. At the time I would tell myself I need to be over 50 to be a good coach, I need more experience and so on and so on.

Then  a perfect opportunity arrived in my early 30s and I welcomed it with open arms. I completed a Coaching Diploma with Positive Success Group in Dublin and introduced coaching practices in my teaching and lecturing.

Role of coaching in my life

I was always very curious about people and loved helping. Coaching gives me both. I strongly believe that everyone has an amazing potential, we just need to unlock it with right questions. Personally, coaching helped me when starting my new life in France, I overcame some internal resistance, clarified my boundaries between work and private life, identified my values and defined success.

Example of resistance

I heard from perhaps one too many people that I have an accent while speaking French. I had enough. My ambition was to speak French like English. People shouldn’t be able to identify my birthplace from my accent I thought. So around March 2017 I stopped my private lessons, you know, it’s a cost, I had no time and the list of excuses continued. Only thanks to coaching I realized I assumed the comments about my accent were negative where most of the time they were neutral. I was fed up as well with amount of work you need to scarify to learn a language. I started English and Russian as a child but French was in my early twenties…. not the same ear neither pronunciation. The two first come to me naturally, French is a hard work for me. Coaching was crucial to make me understand that I moved to France, I want to have a successful business, I, me, myself again want to live in this country so I better make some effort. I am impatient, after 1.5 years I wanted more results, I wanted to be able to give a speech like DeGaule but I wasn’t willing to put the work in. Hard to admit that especially when you teach others and repeat them constantly that they should learn regularly and be patient…. yes, these are my own words. As one of my values is to lead by example this was a blessing and a curse at the same time. I basically had no choice. I had to keep going. If I believe in my students why would I not believe in myself.

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#oprahwinfrey #happymonday #courage

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Marshmallow Challenge

This is one of my favorite activities when teaching English. It allows all participants to  contribute regardless their English level and it’s simply fun! It has an additional learning benefit: a deep reflection on a teamwork.  So how do I proceed?

I explain the rules first, distrubte the kit, then allow the teams to build the tower and after that we usually discuss what happened during the activity. We summarise, identify lessons learnt and highlight importance of a teamwork.  Some students are surprised, some take time to accept the challange, some straight away start building but by the end all of them seem to enjoy. It allows creativity in the class and encourages peer learning. It’s great to observe the dynamics in the groups.

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#aries #marshmallowchallange #winners

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Rules

  • Build the Tallest Freestanding Structure: The winning team is the one that has the tallest structure measured from the table top surface to the top of the marshmallow. That means the structure cannot be suspended from a higher structure, like a chair, ceiling or chandelier.
  • The Entire Marshmallow must be on top: The entire marshmallow needs to be on the top of the structure. Cutting or eating part of the marshmallow disqualifies the team.
  • Use as Much or as Little of the KitThe team can use as many or as few of the 20 spaghetti sticks, as much or as little of the string or tape. The team cannot use the paper bag as part of their structure.
  • Break up the Spaghetti, String or Tape: Teams are free to break the spaghetti, cut up the tape and string to create new structures.
  • The Challenge Lasts 18 minutesTeams cannot hold on to the structure when the time runs out. Those touching or supporting the structure at the end of the exercise will be disqualified.

mm_challenge_title

Now watch a Ted Talk

The key lessons of the Marshmallow Challenge:

  • Kids do Better than Business Students: On virtually every measure of innovation, kindergarteners create taller and more interesting structures.
  • Prototyping MattersThe reason kids do better than business school students is kids spend more time playing and prototyping. They naturally start with the marshmallow and stick in the sticks. The Business School students spend a vast amount of time planning, then executing on the plan, with almost no time to fix the design once they put the marshmallow on top.
  • The Marshmallow is a Metaphor for the Hidden Assumptions of a ProjectThe assumption in the Marshmallow Challenge is that marshmallows are light and fluffy and easily supported by the spaghetti sticks. When you actually try to build the structure, the marshmallows don’t seem so light. The lesson in the marshmallow challenge is that we need to identify the assumptions in our project – the real customer needs, the cost of the product, the duration of the service – and test them early and often. That’s the mechanism that leads to effective innovation.

team

Exams – IELTS, TOEIC, BEC Higher…

Would you like to study abroad? Do you want to have a proof of your English level for yourself or for a new employer? Do you want to change a job for an international one?

If you need to improve your general English, learn Business English, improve your English communication skills, understand cultural differences, prepare for an interview in English or/ and pass an exam I will be happy to work with you and prepare you for:

  • BEC Higher

C1 Business Higher is one of Cambridge English Qualifications. It helps you to get the practical language skills you need to work effectively at a senior level in international business. More: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams-and-tests/business-higher/

  • IELTS

IELTS is the high-stakes English test for study, migration or work. More: https://www.ielts.org/

  • TOEIC

TOEIC is an exam for academic institutions and business. Click here to watch video from TOEIC website More: https://www.ets.org/toeic

Duration:

I recommend minimum 50 hours of study time face and additional 100h of independent study time. On avarage clients take 6 months preparation course (2h per week).

I have results! Check testimonials and my bio (MENU)

Courses: in person in Annecy or via Skype /Facebook.

Contact: Duraj.ewa@gmail.com