Helle Parnell


Experience with languages

She left England for Graz in the January of 2009 in a car full of teabags, cats and determination to master the German language. The mastering is a work in progress but improvement has been remarkable. Therefore, when it comes to learning a foreign language, she is not only talking from her teaching but also from her personal learning experience.

These experiences combined have shown her that in order to be able to speak a foreign language, one must do just that to practice – speak. Without doubt, in the process of learning a foreign language, speaking is the most important skill to master. It is by far the most difficult as well.


 

Learning a foreign language

This is where her belief in the power of practising speaking comes from. When she first arrived in Graz, she started teaching herself German with the help of two textbooks – one for grammar and one for vocabulary. She soon realised that she could leave the vocabulary book to collect dust on her bookshelf, as she had the opportunity to just go out and talk to people and learn new words from the native speakers themselves. She continued with grammar practice for a while longer because, while it is clear that speaking practice helps you become more fluent in a foreign language, grammar helps with confidence.

All of this combined, what brought her German to her current level was the constant repetition of acquired structures and vocabulary. To repeat, over and over again, is the key to learning and improving in a foreign language.


 

Educational background

Having completed her Bachelor of Arts studies in the English Language and Literature in 2005, she worked as a Teaching Assistant for a year and then enrolled in the Graduate Teacher Training Programme through a college not far from Birmingham, the second largest city in England.

After successful completion, she became a fully certified Secondary School Teacher of English and English Literature and got a job as a teacher of English in a college near Coventry, England. What followed were a few turbulent years of trying to get a bunch of 11-16 year olds to listen to her quote Shakespeare..


 

Teaching experience

She stayed on working in the college until December 2008 when it came to handing in her notice for the move to Austria.

It was here in Graz, where she first started teaching adults at the prestigious language school, Berlitz.  With this position came the realisation that teaching adults is where she is truly in her element.

She worked at Berlitz from 2010 to 2015 and had the opportunity to teach at various companies in and around Graz, as well as many private students. The experience from Berlitz combined with her personal know-how, background and love of English and teaching is what has now evolved into her own company, ELS.