Published with the kind approval from The Expat Magazine
The Angie Gisler English Language Centre hit Switzerland by storm in 2014 when the young South African entrepreneur saw a huge missing segment of English language education in Switzerland. Her extensive career working as a teacher around the world and pure love for what she does has allowed her to tailor-make undoubtedly one of the best English language centers in Switzerland.
The Expat Magazine spent a day with Ms. G to find out exactly who she is and what she does that is making her centre so reputable and what her plans are for the future. Many ex-pats end up in Switzerland for either work or love, but Angie had both. Prior to making Switzerland home, she lived and worked abroad running English schools, cutting her teeth in some of the leading schools in South Korea, the USA and Russia. During her journey she found the love of her life and married her Swiss husband, landing her in Switzerland with a fierce determination to make something of her own.
“As the years went on and my passport filled with stamps, my passion for teaching English developed, too. I had been working in international schools for over six years and always had it in the back of my mind to open my own language centre. Through¬out my experience I saw gaps in curricula, integral missing components that I believed needed to be used as language acquisition tools. Through this I pulled together my experience, techniques and knowledge into one concept and kick-started the Angie Gisler English Language Centre,” explains Angie.
The Language Centre’s foundations are cemented in three main pillars: enthusiasm, pa¬tience and humour, creativity and flexibility.
“For enthusiasm, I believe in the power of each and every learner from child to adult. In my mind each learner has an English door, my job is to unlock that door and lay down the founda¬tions of strong language skills.
“Patience and humour go hand in hand for me. It is essential in my classes that I slow down and take time with ev¬ery learner. As with every language, you can get a little lost in translation and before you know it we find ourselves in a game of charades with a lot of laughter.
“It’s integral for me to be available and flexible for my students. Whether that is a 5 am refresher les¬son before an exam or a custom designed intensive course prepping students for their first integration into an English school. No stone is left unturned when it comes to creativity, we do everything from cooking classes to science experiments,” she says as she walks through the farmer’s market selecting ingredients for her next lesson based on food vocabulary.
Switzerland attracts citizens from all over the world, hence the demand for English. The Angie Gisler English Language Centre offers English to a range of markets, from native English speakers to second or third + language learners, covering all ages and levels, from beginner to expert. Angie explains, “I have a lot of bi/tri-lingual families that have their children in local/international schools and it’s my job to ensure they keep up with the international standards. Howev¬er I’m now seeing a lot of Swiss families wanting to get a head start with English, which has also given me a greater connec¬tion to the Swiss culture.”
There is no doubt you will be seeing and hearing about Ms. G in the future. This driven and tenacious entrepreneur who has just completed her Post Graduate in Education, has a solid plan to be accommodating to not only Switzerland but also non-English speaking nations across the globe. Next year she is extending her services to different cantons, moving online with video tutoring and Skype lessons, as well as providing high end fly-in-fly-out English programs.
What was the pinnacle moment for you to be an educator?
Funnily enough my dream was always to be creative in a suit and I got my BA in International Marketing. After my boss asked me to pump up her Pilates ball and feed her cats, I realized I was in the wrong industry. From there I got my TEFL diploma and took the plunge into teaching in South Korea, the rest is history really.
Why is your approach with young learners so successful?
I use a combination of play techniques to develop language skills in young learners. I am a firm believer in ‘active learning’, wherein the children are fully involved in the learning process. Teach¬ing through play not only engages the children, but also teaches them import¬ant social skills. Most of the time the children don’t even know they are learn¬ing, until the time comes to show their knowledge. This, for me, is the moment of magic, to see a 4-year-old sound out words and realise that they can read!
What is the most memorable experience from teaching all over the world?
It must be in my first teaching job when, every morning like clockwork, with the force of a tidal wave, the door burst open and a tsunami of 5-year-olds poured into my classroom! “Hi Miss Angie teacher!” they shouted, rushing past my desk and howling with laughter as they bombarded around the room - I loved connecting with the students.
You mentioned your classes are tailored to special preferences, what is the most unusual request?
Whatever English you need I will make it happen. I even once designed an en¬tire language course on ‘English pillow talk’. Sounds silly, but things like this can be important to people and that’s what makes my centre extremely open and different to others.
What have been your struggles in starting up your business, particularly in Switzerland?
To say the least, if you can start a com¬pany here you can do it anywhere in the world. It has been a crazy ride full of blood, sweat and tears but that ride has been full of very important life lessons – there is no success like failure and no failure like success, we live and learn.
What advice can you give other young entrepreneurs wanting to kick-start in Switzerland?
My mantra is drive, determination, dili¬gence and desire. If you knock on a door and no one is opening, break a window, make a fire and find a way to get in.
FIND OUT MORE ON MS. G AT
PHOTO CREDITS: ANDREA MOHRMANN