Nina Weinstein received a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics/Teaching English as a Second Language from UCLA, and was a teaching fellow at Harvard University, where she field-tested her listening to real English book, “Whaddaya Say”. She’s published twenty English textbooks, and currently produces business English programs for companies such as Toyota Motor Sales.
Tell us about the first time you really felt like you helped someone learn English.
This may not have been the first time, but it sticks in my mind. When I was a teaching fellow at Harvard, I was field testing the first edition of my listening book, Whaddaya Say. My first surprise was when I gave them all of the rough draft material for what eventually became the first edition of the book, told them to learn all of it over the weekend, and they did. The second surprise was how high their listening test scores went. When you create something, you believe it will teach as it was intended, but the first time it does, it’s an amazing feeling.
Who has influenced you the most?
My professors in the TESL MA program at UCLA. It’s thirty years later, and I can still hear some of the things they taught us in my mind. I still draw on their philosophy of teaching — student centered, eclectic, creative, fun . . .
What is the first thing you would do to create an environment where motivation can thrive?
I produce English programs for private industry. I like to treat each person like he/she is the president of the company. I think each student’s ideas and goals are extremely important.
What is one of the most critical current issues affecting teachers of ESOL?
Our interconnectivity. Because of this, English is even more important than it ever was. The next frontier is teaching learners how to understand accented English. I don’t mean just British, Australian, and the accents of dialects. I mean someone from a Spanish, Chinese, Russian, etc. background speaking English. Listening comprehension is the heart of English in this connected environment.
Tell us something unexpected about you.
I wrote a novel that was nominated for a couple of American Library Association awards and voted a “Best Book” by the New York Public Libraries, and to help me get into the main character’s “voice”, I let her speak ungrammatically — No More Secrets.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger teacher self?
I think I’ve been bold, but I’d tell my younger self to be even bolder.