In this episode of Aussie English I interview Adriana from English With Adriana, and she tells us how to speak English confidently.
AE 344 – Interview With English With Adriana:
How To Speak English Confidently
G’day guys. What’s going on? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today, I have another interview episode for you, and it’s an interview episode with a fellow Melbournian, a fellow Australian, called Adriana. Adriana grew up here in Melbourne in Australia. She’ll talk a bit more about that, but she’s moved to Europe since, and she’s living in Croatia. She’s also an English teacher, and she runs the websites EnglishTeacherAdriana.com and UsingEnglishTP.com. So today, we chat about her experiences of growing up in Australia and then moving to Europe, moving to Croatia. We also chat about her learning the language Croatian as a second language and what that was like. And then, we also get into English teaching with a specific emphasis on how to build confidence when speaking English. So, how to speak confidently as someone who’s learning English as a second language. Anyway, guys without any further ado let’s get into today’s episode and hear from Adriana. Let’s go.
Pete: Welcome to this podcast, Adrianna. Thank you so much for joining me today on Aussie English. So, we’ve known each other for a little while. I think I was stalking you on Instagram. That was probably how we first met. I think I probably message you and said, “Please help me do something with Aussie English!
Adriana: Hi Pete! Thank you for having me here, but I must confess I think I stopped you as well, because I found some really… yeah, you had cool images of Four and Twenty Pies and Australian movies. And I was like, “Another Aussie out there!”
Pete: Then it could be, it could be. But I think, yeah, that’s it. Anyway, so we met online, and are obviously both Australians teaching English, and obviously have that in common. Man, I wanted to get you on the podcast, I guess, to just tell me about where you’re from, where you’re living, tell me about what you’re doing, and just, yeah, have at it.
Adriana: Of all my name’s Adriana. I’m assuming that you and everybody else knows that. So, I ran the website EnglishTeachAdriana.com. There I make resources for ESL learners, mainly intermediate to advanced learners, helping them with common topics, which many ESL learners have problems with. There you can find lessons on grammar, phrasal verbs, vocabulary, tips, confidence is also a big part of my focus, and fluency. I’m very active on Instagram, (I) love stories. And, I am new to podcasts and very interested to hear from you, and from your viewers, a little bit more about the Aussie podcast.
Pete: Brilliant, brilliant. So, can you tell me a bit then about where you grew up and where you’re living now?
Adriana: Well, I’m from Melbourne. (I) Grew up in Melbourne and I moved to Croatia about seven years ago.
Pete: As you do.
Adriana: Yes, but it’s almost eight years now. So, eight years. Wow, ok. And… I’m shocked myself. (I) Came here, liked the lifestyle, and I began teaching about five years into being here, (I) got married, and at the moment I’m still in Croatia.
Pete: That’s crazy. So, what are the biggest things… What are the biggest differences between the two countries? Because, you know, it’s pretty rare for me to meet anyone from Australia who has moved to Croatia, and lives there now, and has lived there for eight years. That’s a long time.
Adriana: I think the main difference is language. I know it’s very simple, but language is a big issue that I do struggle with, that I’m working and getting a lot better, and I’m very proud of my efforts. Also weather. I don’t know… oh, have you ever seen snow Pete?
Pete: Yes once. Well, a couple of times, but it’s not something I see regularly.
Adriana: Ah, and where did you see snow?
Pete: I think it would have been Mount Bulla, and it snowed once where I used to grow up, when I was growing up in the Dandenong Ranges, in the mountains there, it snowed once. I remember we came outside and were just like, “WHAT?!”.
Adriana: But I saw it also snowed recently in Lorne (town on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria) a few days ago.
Pete: I didn’t hear that. That’s crazy. I must be out of the loop.
Adriana: I saw that because me and my husband actually travelled to Australia a month ago now. And we’d gone down, for those of you who don’t know, down The Great Ocean Road, and Lorne is actually on The Great Ocean Road. And we were at the, what are they called… She Oak Falls, and apparently there it had snowed. I’m like, “WOW.
Pete: That’s insane. I would… Yeah that’d be amazing to see the snow down at Lorne. Is it like that in Croatia, though? Is it cold and snows a lot?
Adriana: Yeah, one common question. It snows a lot in winter. It can get to -20/-21 degrees in January. And, a lot of people ask me here, like, “oh, wow, Australia! It’s always hot. You’re used to the sun!”. And, like, yeah, but we also have snow!
Pete: A little bit. Yeah that’s it. If you go looking for it you’ll find it. So, had you seen it before you went to Croatia, the snow here?
Adriana: Yes, I’d been to Mount Hotham, and actually part of high school, had gone skiing on Mount Hotham, and Mount Macedon, and in Dandenong. Yeah.
Pete: Brilliant. And so, what do you miss most from Australia apart from Vegemite?
Adriana: Tim Tams. Did you stock on them while you were here? Are you a fan?
Pete: Yeah. So, did you take any back recently?
Adriana: Well, I have an addiction and it’s chocolate. So, I’m an addict, and my mother being the kind person she is, she made a massive reserve of Kit Kats. So, these sea salt and caramel Kit Kats and Tim Tams. So, half our luggage was clothes and the remainder was chocolate.
Pete: Did they inspect it while you’re going through the airport, and they were like, “What?”?
Adriana: It is like a drug for me. I’m not smuggling anything.
Pete: Yeah, I’m just opening a business. Jesus!
Adriana: No! Me and my husband, we’re very… he likes the White Coat Tim Tams and I love the Double Coat Tim Tams. So, when we’re… and then my mother packed up this Dark Coat, and we’re just like, “Oh…it’s not White and it’s not Double Coat.”
Pete: So, are there any left?
Adriana: No no. It’s demolished. It’s all gone.
Pete: So, how long did it take to get used to the cold weather in Croatia?
Adriana: I don’t think one can adapt to -20 degrees. For me… Actually, the cold weather is okay. It’s not about the cold weather, but then once it snows… So, it never snows in Croatia if it’s below… If it’s minus. So, it’s -5C it won’t snow. It will snow if it’s 0 or 1 degrees. But, then if it snows, and let’s say there’s 10 to 20 centimetres of snow, and then it rains, and then it gets to -20C, and then it becomes icy. So, it’s a struggle out walking in the snow.
Pete: Far out! I would have no idea. I would be in such… I guess it’s not culture shock, it’d be climate shock. If I came and had to experience that I would just not know what to do.
Adriana: The beautiful thing about humans is that we are adaptable creatures So, I’m sure…
Pete: And so, how did you end up teaching English in Croatia as well? So, did you start that in Australia?
Adriana: Well, in Australia I do… I completed my studies, university education, at La Trobe university. Do you know about La Trobe?
Pete: Oh, yeah, absolutely, yep.
Adriana: And I did my masters of international business there. But then, I also completed my CELTA from Cambridge… well, at RMIT University in Melbourne. On Swanston Street I think it is.
Pete: Oh wow, yeah that’s right near here.
Adriana: Oh, you’re aware of it. And then, I come from a teaching background. I’ve always liked… I played tennis as a kid, and I enjoyed working with children, working with people, interacting with people. Then, when I moved to Croatia, I did work for a little bit in companies, but working in a company and… it can be challenging, and work culture is very different in Croatia in comparison to Australia. Work ethic’s a little bit different as well, and commitment to work. Unfortunately, I was left without a job. And then, I had my CELTA degree, and my sister came from Australia, she’s like, “You’ve always been good at teaching. Why didn’t you use that CELTA degree?”. So, (I) began teaching one-on-one with children, with adults, with business professionals. (I) love working with children. They can be fun and so simple. And with adults. And then, I began one-to-one. Then, I started teaching online. Then, I started creating YouTube videos, Instagram videos, and here I am today talking to you.
Pete: Far out. Well you’ve got quite a following. So, I was really impressed, and I couldn’t believe the amount of effort that you were putting into your videos and everything on the YouTube channel and on Instagram blew me away, because I’m so sort of… I think I’m partially casual but also kind of lazy, and that’s probably why I just like, “Ah, I’m just going to walk down the street and put the camera up and make a video.” But, I love the different… you know, there’s just so many different ways to be able to teach English, and I guess, appeal to different people and different, you know, communities and cultures and stuff. So, it’s brilliant.
Adriana: I think everybody has their own style. Say, for example, at times I don’t feel comfortable recording myself on the street. I like doing it on Insta Stories, but living in Zagreb and why I contacted you, I miss home. Eight years have now, and I look at your stories and I’m like, “Oh! Look at those Victorian houses” or “There’s a centre” or “He’s in North Melbourne. Oh, he’s in Docklands. Oh, it’s Four And Twenty Pies!”
Pete: It’s like Where’s Wally.
Adriana: Yeah, it really is like Where’s Wally. I think, it depends, everyone has their own style, and everybody can… I find myself in your style somehow. It hits close to home.
Pete: Oh, thank you. It’s funny, it’s just one of those things, I guess you just have to kind of own it right. Just get out there and do what you enjoy doing and you eventually get a crowd of people who like you for you and just keep you know clicking the like button and share button and keeping you going. Well, those of you watching make sure to like our stuff. Please share the video, guys. Share the love. So, can you talk a bit about confidence and how you help students build confidence, ’cause that’s something that my listeners, I definitely know, often asked questions about. What do I do to improve my speaking? How can I be a more confident speaker? How can I build confidence? If students come to you with those kinds of questions, what are some key points that you would tend to make or suggest that they try to do?
Adriana: Well, I like to relate it to my own personal experience, because we are… you and me, we’re both teachers, but we’re also human. So, we also have to communicate and interact with people. Like, you know, before we started this episode, I was nervous. I’m like, “Pete, what do I say? Pete, what do I do?” I’m a native English speaker! And I’m still nervous.
Pete: She was crapping, guys, she was crapping herself, but she’s doing great.
Adriana: And, I think the people… I always tell my students, look, it’s part of being human. If you’re talking about a topic that you don’t show up or that you’re not aware about… I don’t know everything. And maybe my vocabulary is fantastic in one area. But you have to develop a coping mechanism to be able to adapt to different situations. If maybe you don’t even need to talk about that topic, but there are systems, and if you do think in advance you can somehow avoid just be lost for words or left speechless. Also.
Pete: Oh, I was just going to say I think you’re definitely right. Because it’s one of those things even… yeah, in my daily life I think the moment that I got to the point where I was comfortable saying, “I don’t know” or asking, “What does that mean?” or… That put me past the point of now caring, about worrying, about freaking out. And it’s kind of like just play the role of the ignorant person and you can’t lose because people will keep talking, they keep… they’ll explain the things, you know. When was the last time anyone said, “I can’t be bothered telling you”? You know, no one ever says that.
Adriana: You may get rejected, and maybe you may find somebody on the street that won’t help you or if you ask a question, but, you know, if you just stop then you’re not going to go anywhere. Like, you just have to keep going.
Pete: And with those kinds of people it says more about them and their personality and their day. They’ve probably had a bad day. You know, it says nothing… They don’t know you so you can’t… Don’t ever take that kind of stuff personally, right? Like, it’s no reflection upon you or your English or… It’s just… It’s an external thing.
Adriana: Yeah, and I think you have to look at the end goal. Say, you asked me before maybe a difference between living in Croatia and Australia. I moved here eight years ago. I knew some Croatian, because I do come from a Croatian background, but it was nowhere near fluent. (I) couldn’t understand the news, (I) couldn’t read a book in Croatian, and also different topics. It was just, you know, being… a lot of my students have problems. Maybe they have a university education abroad and they can speak about, say, finance or politics in their native language like I could have done in… yeah, like I can do in English. I couldn’t do that in Croatian. And then, you know, try doing daily tasks in Croatian. I always tell my students think of me living in a foreign country. When I first got here, I always had a pen and paper, and I’m like, I asked questions. I said, “Sorry, I don’t understand. Could you please write it down for me.” or, say, they also have this thing in the Croatian language, like, they declinate names. So, my name’s Adriana. I’m going… In Croatian, you’d say, “I’d go with Adrian-on”, or “I’m on this street”. And, it’s so confusing if you’re looking at Google Maps for these places and the words there. I’m like, “Can you just tell me?”. So, I think that, you know, don’t be afraid to ask questions. And, also write it down and it will get better. You will feel a little bit silly at times. Maybe you’re ignorant, but in the long term, I’m still here after eight years and I can speak fluently now.
Pete: It’s exactly it, right? And it’s it always reminds me… And this seems to be a recurring pattern an explanation with jujitsu, the martial art that I do. Every time I roll, we call it “rolling” when we fight. Every time I roll with my instructor who’s a black belt, like, you know, he’s been doing it for probably 15 years now, and I get to the point where I’m like,”Far out! I’m never going to be as good as you. I feel hopeless. I’m so useless. I screw up everything.” And he’ll say, “Mate, I’ve made the same error more times than you’ve ever even tried to do this. So, just don’t even worry. You know, like, I didn’t wake up here. I put the hard yards in and, you know, made as many mistakes as possible.” And that’s the ironic thing, the more mistakes you make the faster you’ll actually get to the point of, you know, advancement, higher advancement, in whatever field it is. So, it’s definitely a good point to make.
Adriana: Exactly. But, sport! I love sport. It’s something that I love. How.
Pete: It would have been the same with tennis, right? Like, when you were playing tennis the answer would be well go do a thousand serves and you’ll eventually get a good serve, you know, happening. It’ll eventually be a lot better than it currently is, but complaining about it won’t improve it.
Adriana: Look, so I grew up playing tennis from a young age, and I love sport. You know, you’re not happy when your coach tells you you have to be saving a thousand serves every week to get that perfect serve with that spin so that it kicks. And then… but, you just have to do that, and you have to remain dedicated and committed and get angry.
Pete: Yeah, exactly.
Adriana: Get angry when it’s not working. And even bash your racket and curse everybody. But I think… when you’re practicing jujitsu how… are you always positive? Like, I get the impression that you’re a positive person, but.
Pete: You just have to… It breeds that kind of positivity. And I think it’s the same with anything that when people get to that high level, they same with English, anyone listening to this who can understand what we’re saying has obviously pushed through those initial stages, and is the kind of person who’s willing to fight hard and be positive, and keep going going going. So I think it’s just that endeavours like this tend to attract people who are pretty positive and hardworking and that’s another point, that it’s easy to always be like, “Oh, only talented people get there.”, but it’s a lot harder to realise, I guess, that it’s actually hard work that will kick the crap out of talent 10 times out of 10. So, that’s the good thing. Everyone’s always like, “I’m not talented enough to learn English fluency. I’m not talented enough to become, you know, Roger Federer.” And it’s like, look, you don’t have to be talented, just work harder than all those guys who are talented, because hard work will trump talent every time. And that’s what you’ve got endless amounts of. Just keep throwing hard work at it. Keep, you know, listening to 100 hours of English every month, and just push push push push push.
Adriana: It’s true. I had to… Interesting, when I look back at then… There was these two, let’s say “teachers”. One was a teacher and one was a carriage. He was my 9th/10th grade teacher, a year 9/year 10 teacher, homeroom teacher. And he… I remember, he would always tell us so… Maybe… Have you explain to viewers what is year 9 and year 10?
Pete: No no, but we could discuss that of you want. Definitely.
Adriana: But maybe, I’ll tell you. I remember this teacher he said, “Organisation is the key to success and happiness”. I never understood what the bloke was on about. Now, I understand. And my tennis coach also, “Perfect practice makes perfect”. PPPs. And these two quotes, or… they really stuck in my mind. And, whenever I’m in doubt, be that in Croatian, be that anything that I do. If it’s running. I started running recently. Be that, I don’t know, going for a walk, or cooking something, making the best meal. Just think, “Ok. I have to be organised and I have to practice, but not just any sort of practice, perfect practice.”
Pete: That’s crazy. So, I guess, one thing I wanted to ask you is, there are probably quite a few listeners here who feel that they’re not at the fluent level yet, and have potentially moved to Australia and are trying to learn Australian English. When you did effectively the inverse of that and went from Australia to Croatia, how did you go about learning Croatian? Because, I also imagine that there is much much much fewer resources or much less resources, if I want to use the correct grammar, for Croatian than there is for English. So, what is it like when you suddenly move to this country that you want to learn the language for, you don’t speak it fluently yet? What are the… some things that you would suggest doing that would sort of fast track or speed up that process of learning the language to fluency?
Adriana: This isn’t an easy answer, but I’ll my example, what I did. So, I migrated here eight years ago. It is eight years ago. And I got here to our own country. I knew some people. Great. I live in this country now. That, like I said before, I could understand and speak some Croatian, but I turned on the TV and, like, what are they saying? You have to understand with… well, what I tell my students or anyone watching at the moment, with any language, say, people tend to ask me, “British English, American English…?” First of all, what about Australian English? It’s fantastic.
Pete: That’s when the New Zealanders are going to be like, “What about us!?”
Adriana: Ah, sorry Kiwis out there, and Canadians.
Pete: South Africans.
Adriana: South Africans. But my point is, same with the Croatian language, so you have various dialects. I live… not to get so technical, but if you’re from the east of Croatia you’ll be using different words, if you’re living in the south of Croatia, if you’re living… using different words, grammar. And if you are about a hundred K’s from… kilometres away from us Zagreb, I can’t understand you. Let me put it like that.
Pete: Really? Far out!
Adriana: Yeah, because they have a combination of Slovenian and Hungarian with Croatian. So, what I did was I understood that okay because my parents are originally from Bosnia, Croats from Bosnia, and then, with that I had more… my dialect was more for this region. So, (I) got here and I enrolled in a language school. That’s the first step that I took. I was writing my Master’s thesis, and I was at home. I wasn’t talking to anybody. This was a problem. But then, I also had another problem at the language school. At the language school it was at the faculty of philosophy. And yeah, faculty philosophy. I’m just trying to translate. And then, at this faculty there were heaps of foreigners. So, there were Norwegians, there were Americans or Canadians, people from China, from Taiwan. It was a great environment to be in, but because I really had a knowledge of Croatian, my Croatian comprehension, understanding were at a high level, but my grammar wasn’t… it wasn’t at a high level.
Pete: That’s always the case with all of us!
Adriana: But then I had the problem that when we’d be going out for drinks or going to museums or just communicating, all the communication would be in English. And then I’m like, “This isn’t helping me”. So, we’re communicating. We’re doing this. I’m going to a language school, but I’m using English in my spare time and making friends in English. And being the stubborn person I, and I was hoping that I get perfect practice makes perfect, like, I am going to go start the Zumba class. I’m going to do Croatian folk dancing, I’m going to join a book club. And I started doing all of these things. Don’t ask me why, I’m just… I just knew that I need to make local friends and communicate in the local dialect, understand… also understand the culture, because what we were learning at school, again, wasn’t what I understood, what I saw in my everyday life. So, I’d had issues with my teacher saying, “But, I don’t see that on the streets”. You’re teaching me standard Croatian but it’s not used there. I also make this the aware to my students that, you know, if you’re going to move to Melbourne. Melbourne, we use some words, some phrases that could be different to those in Brisbane and in Perth. And maybe my accent isn’t… I don’t have such strong accent compared to somebody living up in Darwin or Central Australia, because of our surroundings, and surroundings is key.
Pete: Yep. It’s so crazy. I recently… yesterday, I had an interview with Lorena from Go Study Australia, and she was saying exactly the same thing where she’ll meet students who are having difficulties and sometimes it’s that they’ve studied like crazy at a school, but they haven’t had a job, or they haven’t socialised outside, or they have mingled too much with their own crowd that speak their native language. And it’s kind of like, you need to hit all these bases of: study is one thing, socialising is another thing, and then potentially, working’s another thing. And, it’s almost like it is the same language used in each of those regions, but they tend to be used in different ways, and you kind of need to learn all of them to get a real solid understanding of English. So, I think you definitely hit the nail on the head there. So, with online learning, and getting into that, what sort of tips would you have for students who may potentially be living in Australia and hitting all these three bases, but want to supplement a little bit, do a little bit extra by using online resources, or who may be learning, you know, elsewhere in the world, like over in Europe or in Asia somewhere and want to use online resources, what… First of all, what can you tell us about your resources, and how they’re awesome, and what would you suggest students look for when they’re online looking for really good resources? And how should they use them?
Adriana: I think it really… first of all, it depends on the student. So, for those listening at the moment, clearly define why you’re learning English. I know this may sound very simple, but it’s very important. For me, in my Croatian learning journey, it was to be able to communicate, to be able to do business here, to be able to go for coffee and to have a decent conversation on, I don’t know, Donald Trump, if you want to talk about Donald Trump, or in making coffee, or that there’s nail polish to but. (It) doesn’t matter what it is, understand why you’re learning English. Then, look for a program that will help you. And why do I say program or something that is consistent? Because this will help you so that you can… if you understand why and if you find some program that matches your “why”, and remains consistent, consistency is key, because you do small things every day it will improve. You may not see it at that very moment, but in time it will get better. But, also find something you like. Think about what you enjoyed doing in your native language. Is it maybe painting your nails? Something simple like that. Is it reading? Is it looking up the latest gadget? Is looking for recipes on YouTube? Anything you like to do. Think about this, and try to find somebody or some form of community that you can communicate with people about your interests, your passion, because this is what you’re going to be talking about in English and you need to supplement, ok, structured learning with your hobbies. And then that structured learning… you’ll be more… you’ll notice the difficulties you’re having in those hobbies, communicating, then you’ll understand the logic to that, to those courses or programs. I need that grammar tense to really tell that person that. So, always understand “why”. Work through it. And “why” is the most important, I think.
Pete: That’s such a good point to make. And it’s almost… it’s beyond just language learning. I think, that’s the same. I have to keep asking myself that, “Why am I doing Aussie English?” or “Why am I going to the gym? Why am I, you know, wanting to learn French?”. And I have to keep trying to sort of have that ultimate destination that you can see, but then have those short term goals or those short term sort of milestones that you can reach on the way to that that “why”. So yeah, man, I think that was a brilliant sort of point to make and potentially finish up on. So, where can all the people listening at the moment find more about you and, you know, learn more about your course, sign up for the Instagram. Make your plugs.
Adriana: First of all, thank you. Thank you very much for having me here.
Pete: It’s my absolute pleasure.
Adriana: If you would like to continue learning with me or find out more about my training programs, I do suggest my Web site, www.EnglishTeacherAdriana.com . There, you’ll find all the resources you need to get started today and more details about my training programs, which you are more than welcome to join.
Pete: Brilliant. Awesome. Well, I guess, we’ll leave it there. Thank you so much Adriana for joining us. See you later.
Adriana: Thank you, Pete.
Pete: See you guys.
So, I hope you enjoy that episode, guys. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Adrianna from EnglishTeacherAdriana.com , and UsingEnglishTP.com . If you guys want lessons with Adriana, she teaches. So, you can always get in contact with her and ask her if she’s got any space to give private lessons. So, she’s another one of those teachers who is obviously Australian and can help you learn Australian English if that’s what you’re after. All of the links will be below, guys. So, if you want to go visit her web sites, if you want to see her on Facebook, on Instagram, or on YouTube, the links will be below. A few housekeeping things before we finish up, guys. Remember, if you want to support the Aussie English, and you want to keep helping me do what I do, creating English content to help you improve your Aussie English, then feel free to sign up to be a patron via the Aussie English Patreon page where you can donate anything from $1/month to support Aussie English. If you want to support Aussie English as well whilst also improving your English, you can in a role in the Aussie English Classroom. This is an online classroom where you get four lessons every month. So you get weekly lessons, and these go with the expression episodes on the podcast. And they’re specially designed to really reinforce everything that you hear and learn in every expression episodes. So, we go through exercises for speaking, listening, writing, and reading. You get a lesson PDF transcript that’s between 30 and 40 pages long. You get an MP3 with that, obviously. We then have vocab tables and glossaries. We have the listening comprehension exercises for the lesson. There’s a phrasal verb exercise and MP3 for you to practice wherever you want, on your phone. So, I always love emphasising the use of phrasal verbs, and we always go over these in every single class. There’s Aussie slang exercises. I also love going a bit deeper into the pronunciation and connected speech exercises that I bring up in each episode. And there’s a grammar exercise for all of you grammar nerds as well. So, remember you can sign up if you go to the Aussie English Classroom on the website. There’ll be a link connected below. It’s $1 for the first month guys. Just one dollar. You can cancel at any time. Although, I know that you’re going to want to continue because it is a great resource for learning Australian English. Anyway, guys, I’ve chatted too much. I’ve rabbited on a heap. I hope you enjoy today’s episode and I’ll chat to you soon. All the best.