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‘I thought it would be good to help other teachers to use different techniques such as creating games for their students.’
Teaching English on social media has helped Angela to overcome her natural shyness. She is now a popular presenter on the Learn English with Cambridge YouTube channel and regularly gets thousands of views. She says her proudest moment was when one of her videos achieved more than 10,000 views in 24 hours – a record for the channel.
I live in Córdoba, in the south of Spain, where I teach in a language school. I first discovered my passion for English when I was at nursery school. English at that age in Spain is not compulsory but my mum always encouraged me to take lessons, read English books, and watch television in English.
Looking back, my parents realised how important English was and were supportive, but they never forced me to study so it came naturally. I always wanted to be a teacher since I was a child, and I loved English. So when I finished school my decision was very clear.
In my spare time I’m always looking for new things to include in videos to make them more entertaining and engaging. I find YouTube a means to an end, and when I’m in front of the camera I’m a teacher not a YouTuber!
Every year my family made an effort to save some money so I could travel to different places in the summer to learn English. When I was 16 years old, I travelled to Cambridge. It was the first time I had been on a plane and it was a little bit scary, but not too much because of my English language skills – I thought if I needed to ask something, I could do it.
Later on during my degree I did an Erasmus scholarship in Berlin where I lived for 12 months. I didn’t speak a word of German, but English was spoken there, so I knew I’d have no problem.
I always dreamed of being a teacher. I’m very hard-working and I now have a diploma and I’ve been teaching for seven years. I’ve always tried to learn lots of different styles, techniques, and dynamics, but switching from studying to the actual classroom hasn’t been easy. Here in Spain, you do teacher training for five years, but you only have a couple of months of face-to-face teaching in the physical space at the end.
When the pandemic struck last year, we started doing online lessons. It was quite a difficult transition and more of a challenge than I expected. Little by little I learned how to deal with children in online lessons.
Trying to motivate them through the webcam was a challenge, because even though children are used to screens, teaching through a screen is another thing! And the three-year-olds that I teach, it was difficult to engage them. Fortunately they are young and they adapted very quickly. They were brave wearing their masks all the time, and there was no complaining during lessons. They got used to the new routine and this made my job easier.
A-year-and-a-half ago I opened a teaching Instagram account where I followed other English teachers and started sharing content to support other teachers. I have always been quite shy to be honest, and when I first saw myself on screen I didn’t like what I saw; so it was kind of like therapy for me when I opened my social media profile.
I started to record short ‘how to’ clips and top tips on YouTube to help teachers. It really took off and from that moment many teachers wrote to me to thank me and my profile started to grow. They were asking me things like, ‘How do you do this? How can I learn to do that?’ I thought it would be good to help other teachers for free on different techniques such as creating games for their students.
I find teachers on social networks really inspiring as they share ideas and resources. I’m part of a group of teachers from different parts of Spain and from other countries and we support each other. Some of us have also met up face to face during the holidays and we do activities together, like cleaning the beach. Sometimes we organise teaching events together where other teachers can join and learn new techniques and topics.
Then in the summer I saw the call to become a presenter on the Learn English with Cambridge YouTube channel, and I thought, ‘That’s going to be impossible!’ But I also thought, ‘Why don’t I just give it a try!’
I told my boyfriend because he loves photography and he showed me how to use a camera. We turned my living room into a film set and he said, ‘Let’s record a video and we will see!’ I sent off my audition and I couldn’t believe it when I received the email; I was one of the chosen ones – I remember wondering whether this was really happening!
I told my mum and everyone said, ‘How are you going to do this?’ But I did it, and my proudest moment was making a record-breaking video on Alternatives to the word ‘very’ in English. It achieved 10,000 views in less than 24 hours, which was a record for the channel.
The whole thing is like a hobby, but it’s work of course and in my spare time I’m always looking for new things to include in videos to make them more entertaining and engaging. I find YouTube a means to an end, and when I’m in front of the camera I’m a teacher not a YouTuber!
In my spare time I’m still learning and studying English, and in the future I would like to take the C2 Proficiency exam from Cambridge. Even when I’m on holiday, I feel I have to keep reading about teaching.
My family also really inspires me. My sister and my mum support me the most. In fact, I’ve found myself in an interesting situation. I now teach my boyfriend and mum who are my students and both in the same class! They are learning English and will take an exam soon. They are very good students but do take advantage of the situation! Sometimes they ask, ‘Can you explain this to me later?’ or ‘Can we have lessons at the weekend?’ I say, ‘No, we’ll talk about this now in the classroom. There are no lessons at the weekend – the lessons stay in the classroom!’
About Angela Piédrola Ortiz
Angela is an English teacher and a presenter on the YouTube channel Learn English with Cambridge.
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