LOI English Teachers: Mark Zuniga
The ones who choose to explore the world, travelling and living in different places, are often passionate about new cultures and experiences. Some of the LOI English teachers are like that, like Mark Zuniga – the LOI English teacher with whom I spoke this week.
Mark is from Southern California, but is currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after living in Chile and Mexico. He told me that, while he was living in L.A., he often sought out multicultural experiences and activities. While living in California, Mark worked for STAR Education, a non-profit organization which provides grant-funded Art, Science and Ecology education to children in low income public schools.
In 2007 Mark began working for a firm located in Santiago, Chile, which enabled him to gain professional experience in other Latin American cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. These experiences, in addition to living in Santiago, Chile, further immersed him in the region and solidified his decision to reside in Argentina. He is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning at the University of Buenos Aires.
Mark is used to having students from many different countries, like Brazil, Russia, Japan, Italy and China. He also has the same opinion as others LOI English teachers when it comes to common issues to those who are learning English: pronunciation difficulties, which depend on one’s native language, do present common patterns and mistakes. However, he mentioned it would be unfair to approach English learners from the same culture as a homogeneous group, instead of unique individuals.
He also mentioned that he has an interactive teaching approach. He stressed that he believes that a key component to learning any language is being able to feel comfortable and at ease. That is why he told me that he sees his sessions as conversation classes with an easygoing environment where he works with the students the way that best suits them, taking in consideration their interests, learning style, and strengths/weaknesses. He added that he knows “first hand” how challenging it is to learn a new language, based on his experience learning Spanish.
He recommends listening to news podcasts, talk programs, and music to reinforce the classes, but he did not feel comfortable giving more general advice to anyone who is learning English, because of his vision that every student must be seen as an individual. According to him, each person has different challenges and/or goals and presents a unique situation that he enjoys helping with.