Meet the New Head of the British Council Teaching Center, Tbilisi

Since 2012, the British Council Georgia’s teaching center in Tbilisi has provided English language courses for the Georgian public, with classes encompassing students of different ages starting from the very young to adult, while also focusing on providing professional training for English language teachers. Using student-centered methodology, the British Council recognizes that every individual has different styles and preferences, different experiences and learning skills. As such, they give their teachers the opportunity and freedom to experiment with innovative approaches in the classroom.

We had a chance to meet with Stephen Shelley, newly appointed Teaching Center Manager at the British Council Tbilisi office to find out more about the Center.

How did you end up in Georgia?

I worked for the British Council for 10 years in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Portugal. When an opportunity came up to go to Georgia, I was really very happy because it was the very first place abroad that I’d wanted to come to 15 years ago as a teacher, but I didn’t get the chance back then. So it’s great to have the opportunity to come back in this role! I fell in love with Georgia as soon as I got here; it’s a really nice place, everybody’s welcoming and the food is great! Three of my favourite things are rugby, hiking in the mountains and wine, and Georgia is the perfect place for all of them.

Can you tell us what’s happening at the Teaching Center at the moment?

It’s the start of the academic year when we enrol new students, always a busy and exciting time. We are trialing a new placement test that you can take online and afterwards come to speak to one of our teachers. They’ll tell you your level and how to improve your English. This year we’ve got some new teachers from Australia and England, as well as all our great Georgian ones. As for our courses, we offer lessons to kids aged 7 and up; we also run our usual courses for adults whether interested in General or Business English, and international exam preparation courses like IELTS, FCE and CAE. We strongly believe that the most important thing for our students learning English is that they speak with confidence, so our main focus with the courses is definitely speaking and fluency.

Are you planning any changes this year?

There are always changes… new materials, new techniques, new ideas. That’s why we have so much training for teachers. We have training sessions twice a month, where we all come together and share our ideas about what we’ve read about or what we’ve seen online, to make sure that the experience the students get is constantly improving. We then regularly observe teachers to help them put all these ideas into practice! All of this helps ensure we maintain our position as the world experts in English teaching and learning.

Tell us about your participation in European Day of Languages

It started with an initiative from the EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture) which is a collaboration between the British Council, Goethe Institute, French Institute and the Dante Alighieri Society. It’s a celebration of all the different languages spoken in Europe. This year, we’re sending some of our teachers along, so kids can go and get a free lesson with a British Council teacher. We’re planning demonstration lessons to show what our lessons are like and how they can help a student get more confident with the language. It is on 25th September.

British Council is very involved in cultural promotion

Art is a big part of what we do. To give you the most recent example, our art team with the Georgian Art Palace organized a competition for young professionals as part of the Shakespeare and Rustaveli Meet in Georgia project. The winner of the competition was Natia Khanishvili who received a free English Language development course at our Teaching Center from October.

Nino Gugunishvili

15 September 2016 18:32