Learn Australian English in this interview episode of Aussie English where I chat with ESL teacher Kimberley Law about teaching English, Australian bilingual families, and more!
Transcript of AE 676 - Interview: ESL Teaching & Australian Bilingual Families with Kimberley Law
G'day, you mob! And welcome to this episode of Aussie English. The number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English. So, guys, today I have an episode, an interview episode, with the lovely Kimberly Law, who is the host of the podcast Accented English Conversations and is an English teacher who has spent a lot of time overseas, abroad in places like Italy and France, teaching English to foreigners and also learning those foreign languages.
So, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to have her on the podcast to talk about her experiences, becoming an English teacher, learning foreign languages and what it's like in a family, like mine with Kel, where she's married to a Frenchman and they speak French together at home and are raising children bilingually. Anyway, guys, without any further ado, let's get into this episode. I give you Kimberly Law.
G'day, guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today I have special guest Kimberly Law. Hopefully, I can say that all good with an Australian accent, right? Hope it's fine. It's fine.
Yes, it's good.
Awesome. Well, welcome.
Thank you, I was going to say I'm used to French people saying Kimberley, but Kimberley is good. I like that.
Well, on Facebook, you have it with an accent, so I'm always like are people doing that because they're trying to hide or is that actually part of the name?
Do I need to...
I think to try and hide sometimes, it's just some privacy.
100 percent. So, man. Tell us your story because you interviewed me recently on your podcast. So, tell us about your podcast and how you ended up a teacher of English.
Yeah, I guess it came later on. I, my first degree was music, so I just wanted to be a rock star.
What aspect of music?
I was lucky. I was just explaining to someone today that I studied a bachelor of popular music, not a Bachelor of Arts. It was a bachelor of popular music.
So, just like Justin Timberlake and.
Well, in saying that I was...no, it wasn't Justin Timberlake. They call it popular music, but I was playing bass guitar and had a short haircut in a punk band when I was a teenager. So, no. I wanted to continue in that style. And yeah, I was lucky, I auditioned and I gave them CDs that we'd want it like we had won competitions and had free recording. So, yeah, it was a course to learn how to work in the recording studio, to distribute your own music. So, it was about the time of MySpace. So, we were putting up our own music and things like that.
Brilliant. And so how did that trajectory end up leading to teaching English?
Ok, so that lead to teaching English when the band fell apart and I was about 25 or 26 and I went, ok, probably time to get a real job. And at the time, you could do a one year course to become a teacher. So, I did that course and because I just wanted to travel the world and I thought, what else, you know, I tried to with the band and we travelled a little bit and I thought, ok, what, you know, could get me to travel the world?
And actually, in saying that, I thought casual teaching, but I also wanted to get into music therapy, and to become a music therapist you needed an education degree or a music degree. And I thought, well, I could have both, but then I actually love teaching. So, I never pursued music therapy.
And, so is music therapy for musicians who need therapy, or is it music used as therapy for people?
Music used as therapy for people. You know, a lot of people who have dementia, you know, you can bring up music, it can bring back so many memories for them.
I've seen those videos, they're astonishing, right? Where you'll see a man or a woman who is, you know, may be late 80s, 90s, who doesn't speak anymore because of the dementia they're suffering, and when a song is played from when they were younger, they start singing the words and you just like... It's crazy that it can unlock parts of the brain like that, that may not otherwise be able to be unlocked.
Yeah, definitely. There's so much, yeah, no, this is, yeah, you know what? I didn't learn too much about it because then teaching kicked in and I just loved my pracs. When I went to my practicals, I was like this... I really like this. So, yeah, I guess that's it. It led to teaching, but then going overseas and I got to work in Milan, Italy and Paris and I was teaching English to second language speakers and I worked in international schools and some schools I could teach students from America or teach students from the U.K. or other English speaking countries, and I actually preferred teaching second language speakers. I just found so much more fulfilment of, you know, teaching a second language to people who are new to it.
And why is that? What aspect of teaching it to ESL learners was so fulfilling?
I think it's the fact that you see so much growth. It's... I have taught standard English, but it's the same with even younger years with like kindie kids or year one kids, there's so much growth that just happens quickly and you get to see that, and I guess that's what's fulfilling about it, is to see these milestones that they make. I don't know. And it's, you know what, it's helped me become better at English, too, because they will ask questions that...Why? How do you say that? Or, you know, and you go, oh, yeah, that doesn't make sense. It has your question the language going, why do we say that?
I think, that was one of those things to me, after first learning a few foreign languages and getting those sorts of questions, you're like, quite often doesn't make sense. There's just things that we say or those patterns that we use or expressions that we used and we'er like, we don't know why we do it, we just do it, you know, and there's those exceptions to the rules, like with spelling. People ask all the time, right about English spelling, and you're like, man, I don't know. I just do it. That's just how it's done.
I know. Even a lesson yesterday, I said to the kids, somebody wrote 'a English class' and I said, well, why don't we say, oh, it's a vowel, and then I'm like, yeah, but we don't say a university. And they're like, oh, yeah. And it's like and, you know, sorry, we don't say 'an', I'm confused myself.
The problem with words that begin with 'U', right, is that it's a vowel as in the letter, but the sound is the 'Y' sound, which isn't a vowel, it's semi vowel, right? Yeah.
Yeah. So, I explained to them if it sounds like a vowel like 'an hour', you know, we put the 'an' there. So, yeah, the exceptions to the rules.
And, so how did you find where to go overseas to teach? When you finish your degree, How did you sort of find those jobs?
There was an Italian site, I don't know if they're still around, Euro Placements. And I messaged them, actually, I message them to be an au pair. And I was thinking of going directly to London because there are so many jobs in London. And I thought, along the way I thought, I'll go be an au pair on the Italian Riviera. Why not? But I was only going to do it for the summer. Then end up, I already had a job in London before I finished my teaching course and I got to Italy and I was like, wow, this place is amazing.
And I've always wanted to learn a second language, and I just thought they had a position for a teacher. I just thought, why not? And, so I contacted the place in London and said, look, I'm not going to come. I'll let you know. And I stayed in Italy. So, yeah, sort of. Yeah. It wasn't... Just sort of happened along the way.
Do you want to explain what an au pair is as well? For those who may not know.
So, an au pair is usually a girl, it can be a male now, it's somebody who goes and lives with the family and they help them. They help, it's like you become part of the family, but you help out with little jobs.
So, I was in it with a family that had two girls who always had an au pair over the summer. And I would help them, the mom just wanted me to hang out with them, take them to the beach and basically read English books to them and teach them English.
How well did that work? Because I know a big thing is that exchange of language, whether the au pairs learning the language of the people that he or she is living with or teaching generally her language, his language to the children of the people that he or she is staying with, what was that process like? Was it easy? Was it hard? Was it natural?
It was natural because these girls had been doing it since they were about three or four. So, I got them, how old were they? Nine and twelve. And they were actually quite advanced and we were, Twilight was massive at the time and we started reading the Twilight books. Remember that? I said to the mum, are you ok with the content, like, it's not...You know... and I was like "No, no, sure!" So, they were reading Twilight.
So , what's that? Vampires and werewolves, right?
Yeah. Yeah. It's not too bad. I guess, there's nothing really sexual in it. But yeah. No.
Like the older Harry Potter books where they're maybe 15, 16 years old and have that sort of, you know, those sorts of relationships, right?
Yes. It's quiet, yeah, it's a bit romanticised, but it's still, yeah. Yes. Vampires. What was it? A girl, Bella, who falls in love with a vampire, so he is immortal. They both fall in love and it's how do they end up together.
Have to go back and watch the movies now. How did you go learning Italian or did you end up going to France pretty quickly? And that was where you sort of set down your roots initially.
I spent two years in Italy, it didn't... I was pretty good, I didn't, but when I went to the school, it was easy to fall into the expat community, but I made sure in the two years I lived in Italy, all my flatmates were Italian.
I didn't live with anything. Yeah. So, I stuck to that, but my flatmate spoke really, they speak really well in English.
Damn. That's the worst kind of flatmate. It's almost worse than having expats, because they're going to be motivated to want to speak English all the time to work on their English, whereas expats are probably just ignoring you, right?
Yeah, yes, so, look, what I did, they would laugh at me. I would try out some Italian on them, and I just thought that I wouldn't have to do much work. But I did. So, I would, it's hard because as an au pair, I had to speak English the whole time.
That's what they want you to do, so you're not going to speak Italian. And then as a school teacher, you're speaking English. So, I had to do, and then I did it one week intensive course, which really helps. One week is great. And then you've just got to, you know, study yourself or try put yourself out there.
So, that's just left up to you at that point, it's all your, you know, you deal with it, you work out how to learn that after the one week, you're on your own, you'd thrown in the deep end.
But I didn't have to. I could have just said I was doing it, like, and some people did. Some teachers were like, oh, you know, I'll just, because nobody is going to provide it for you unless you want it. The schools don't provide it for you because they just want you to speak English. So, I, the family I au paired for in the summer asked me to come back the following year, and while I was there, I found a woman who would spend an hour and a half with me each morning. And, so before I spent that time with the girls, I did that for about four or five weeks, and that really helped my Italian just by having a private tutor every morning.
What did it feel like as you were... As you were improving your Italian, because, you know, I imagine, for me, I've learned French and Portuguese in Australia? So, I've never learnt it in an immersive environment where I would imagine it would make a big difference really quickly, where you would suddenly feel a lot more connected to the people around you. Did you have that experience?
Oh, definitely. I think yeah, it's, I didn't notice it so much in Italy because around that time that I was doing it full time, I met my husband, who is French. So...
That's how you ended up going to France, he smuggled you across the border, did he?
Yes. At the time I met him, I was really quite into my Italian, but then as we started to date, and then you go, oh, ok, he doesn't speak Italian. And it's like I'm going to be living in this country or my going somewhere else? So, after a while, about a year, it's like I'm going to France, and now I need to learn French.
How did that go? Was that more of a nightmare than, I guess, smooth sailing? Because you would imagine Italian might have helped you when you start learning French, it's a similar language, you know, the conjugation of verbs is gonna be similar, the root words would be similar. But also because it's similar, it can be a bit of a nightmare because that was kind of what I found with French in Portuguese.
I got French to a level where I could speak fluently, at least, you know, communicate with people who didn't speak English pretty well. But when I started learning Portuguese, I would have all these shortcuts in my head for French, from English or, you know, words that I knew I could just use in these situations, and I would try and apply the same thing in Portuguese because they're so similar, but quite often it didn't work at all. And, so I had to try and just let go of all of that. Did you have that moment with Italian and French? Did it help or did it hinder?
It actually helped because it's not the same. You know, with the conjugations, it's so similar that I could carry over what I learnt in Italian to French. The first month, though, all my French tutors thought I was Italian because I had this weird accent that's... Like, why are you saying it like that?
That's so funny because I did that with Portuguese. I was using my Spanish accent sort of thing because I was like, I don't know, it looks like Spanish. And it just came out and then it took ages to wear off.
Exactly. Because you're so used to that word in that language, so they'd be like, where are you from? And it's like, well I'm actually Australian. Why do you sound Italian? It's like, ok, so I think the moment it happened more in French because I knew, ok, I moved to France, I married this man, and now the goals change because you're like I'm married now, I'm going to, I'm probably going to have children with this person. And I don't want... ,if my husband speaks in French, I want to understand what they say.
So, add more of the, ok, I'm going to learn French. I'm here. And my husband, he would take me to parties and would not translate anything. So, I love to talk and, so he wanted to contribute, so you have to speak in French. So, it really pushed me to do it. And I think after about three or four months, I had a, somebody call me, like a person like, is that what you call them, people who... I don't know they were ringing up about something, like trying to sell me something.
I could communicate with them and said, no, you know, not interested. Thanks. Hung up. And my husband said, you don't need me anymore. I think you could do that yourself. That's such an achievement. You just go, wow.
You were just like, yeah, thanks, it's over. Cheers.
That's it. But even this funny things were, even, I think, a year later, I went to like Zara and they had a huge sale and there was makeup on a dress, and I even said to the woman, what if this makeup doesn't come out? But I said, it's not until you leave that you analyse what you just said. I said, what if I put it in the dishwasher and it doesn't come out when I should have said washing machine.
I Do that in Portuguese, I mix those two as well. Because I'm like dishwasher and washing machine and they're like the same, they use a similar sort of thing, right? Where it's like machine washer, washer washing or whatever, and you're just like, God, damn it.
She understood and she said, here, I'll put my name on it, bring the receipt back. And I was like, great, but I like, she didn't laugh at me, but I guess in her head she's like, what are you saying?
Man, if you put it in the dishwasher, there's no refund.
Yeah, that's it.
So, how did you go about learning French? Have a certain strategy, especially when living in France in an immersion environment with a husband who apparently wasn't very helpful in terms of translating, what did you do in order to learn French?
I went to, because I got a job as a school teacher and then because we got a lot of holidays, I did an intensive two weeks before I started school. Lucky for me, the school held a majority of their meetings in French. So, a lot of the things, so was like, oh, ok, I have to immerse myself. So, I had the intensive two weeks and then each school holidays, I would do another intensive few weeks.
And I found, I think, by the following school holidays after a year, I found an amazing place that you would go for four hours a day, and it was three hours and there were only a maximum of six students, and it was a long station.
Yeah. So, yeah, my spoken is far better than my, when I read or write. I like to talk, so I know that that's. Yeah.
That's the trouble, right? You get students probably all the time saying how to improve my writing? How to improve my listening? And it's always like it's just time spent on task. You know? If you want to improve your speaking, go and speak. There's no secret, you can't just get on YouTube and watch a few videos saying here are ten tips on improving speaking. It's just go out there and start doing it, you know, at the level you currently do it and aim to improve, right?
Yeah, and, you're right, like conversation exchange is great. Like, I met one girl early on, but she just dominated in English. It's hard. But I mean like, five minutes of French, and I'm like, yeah, you know what? This isn't working out, so you've got to find somewhere where it's half-half.
But yeah, doing that, going out there and going, what do I want? I didn't care too much to read or write. Like, I just wanted to communicate. So, those are the sorts of things that I did. Also we would go to my in-laws place for lunch. They don't speak English. It's like, you're going to go in there and yeah, and I was actually the second year at my school, I was really lucky, because my schools let teachers do professional development and I wrote a huge letter because, supposedly, a lot of the teachers don't apply for it, sort of like grants, so I applied and I said, look, I would love to go to the Sorbonne and do a course there because I think it's important that I could relate to the students learning a second language, even though I'm not going to use my French there, having that bond with the students and going, look, I understand where you're coming from, instead of standing up there going I don't understand where you're coming from.
Yeah. The school approved it. So, I did like 10 weeks at the Sorbonne. Six hours a week, so after school, I'd have to go to two hours in the early evening.
And for those for those who don't know, the Sorbonne is probably want the best university in France, found in Paris.
Yes. Yeah. It's one of the, I love putting it on my CV. They're just thinking like...
What would be the equivalent in America or something? It would be like Harvard or in Britain it would be Oxford, right?
Yeah, exactly. It's the equivalent of that so.
Far out. Damn.
So, I was lucky that I did a term there. But yeah.
Brilliant. So, how do you view learning a foreign language as someone who speaks English as their first language? And you could probably tie this in with being Australian. What is the journey like for someone like you or me learning a foreign language versus someone from France coming to Australia to learn English? Because from my point of view, I don't really view them as the same, right? It's not an equal, but opposite experience.
I don't know. I think, maybe works easier, I don't know if it's easier.
I guess, to explain a bit more my view is that when we do it as English speakers, it tends to be for fun. It doesn't tend to be serious. You see a lot of foreigners, you know, a lot of my students from Japan or from Brazil or from China. It's like this isn't a joke. I have to learn this language if I want to have a good career, if I want to provide for my family. Maybe I'm immigrating to a country and I have to, you know, integrate there. So, it's kind of like the stakes are high, much higher.
Whereas I find a lot of English learners, one, most English speakers probably never learn a foreign language, and those who do it's more... I'll do a little bit. It's kinda like a hobby, more so than a serious, a serious thing. Right? And, so I was wondering, did you did you notice that same kind of pattern? And yeah, what are your thoughts on that?
I agree, it's a necessity, I think, for most people because even my husband, who's a civil engineer and before he met me, he had no, you know, he didn't think that he would be in Australia, and but he had to learn English. And he actually didn't really like English. He wanted to learn, he was learning German on the side, and he was like, no, I don't want to learn English, but he had to as part of his course as an engineer.
Even if he stayed in France, he'd need to know that. So, a lot of higher degrees, yeah, they need English. And yeah, that's the difference, you're right. And I think, for Australians we don't need it, even going to Italy, like in some parts you would go to little towns and yeah, they don't speak any English and you would have to have minimal Italian, but you'd go to the big city like Milan, you know, all the young people are speaking English. You can get by.
It's a gift and a curse, right? Because you kind of go anywhere in the world as an English speaker and there's going to be someone keen to practice their English. Who's gonna be able to translate for you? Right.
Exactly. So you don't. Yeah. Even early on in those parties and my husband went translate, I'd find someone there that spoke a bit of English.
So, you know, you're right. It's a necessity for some people. So, they've already got a goal. And I'm very goal orientated. I need, if I'm going to study, like even it was hard to study Italian because sometimes I would think, why do I need it? And how many people speak it in the world? And that's me. I'm a numbers person and I'm thinking, well, am I going to use it? Am I going to live here forever? When I go back to Australia, do I need Italian? So, it's all those things because it's a lot of hard work to put into learning a certain language.
I have sort of mixed feelings about, you know, a famous polyglots online because it feels like they're almost always native English speakers, or at least the English was the first language that they learnt. And that's it's such a high level, they might as well be native speakers. And it seems like they kind of just do it for fun, as opposed to taking one language and really getting deep with it and, you know, taking it to the full, as far as they can.
So, I really, really respect those people who do end up coming to one country and just really trying to learn the language. And it must have been, it's difficult to get that motivation, though, right, isn't it? And that's why I find weed with polyglots. It's kind of like the motivation, I feel, externally. Not considering myself a polyglot, is they just want to add more languages to be able to communicate with more people, which is good, but your husband, obviously, didn't like the language, but was heavily motivated because it was so important for work. And you know, compared to you, where you may have loved the language, but it wasn't so much related to your job, but more family, children, you know, members of his family that you couldn't talk to.
But even, in the back of my head, too, I was thinking, when I come back to Australia, can I teach French, you know? So, I also needed, like, this is hard work, but can I add it to my CV? And the Sorbonne was a great reason to do that too. So, as much as it was ok, it's for family, but I was also thinking I'm working so hard, can it also be added as, you know, can it increase what I teach? So, yeah, it's hard. I think people need to realise what is their goal.
You know, some students I have they just want to study for the IELTS test. And it's like, well, how much are you going to gain from it too? It's just that one test. So, you got to look at those students that I have they don't necessarily care too much about learning about the culture of Australia. You know, it's more about I just want grammar. So, it's yeah, it depends on my students what their goals are, too, and what I teach them. If they want to immerse themselves in the country and want to understand the cultural things about that country, then yeah, it such a different thing, I think that's what we need to work out with our students. What do they want?
What's an individual base thing too and this is probably why a lot of the language classes, especially in the Western world and in Australia, for example, get pretty average results because they have a one size fits all approach to their students, right? Where it's kind of like today we're going to learn this one thing about this thing and individual students may not be motivated at all to do that, where in other circumstances they may love to watch a YouTube video or something about cars in that language.
And that would be their motivation, so it does, yeah, it comes back to trying to find the individual's motivation and what's going to keep them learning the language. How did you end up back in Australia? What made you guys decide to move from France back to Australia?
It's the way of life. Paris is beautiful. At the time we had a baby and it was, I guess, we didn't want to raise a child, not raise., I think Paris is great. I think for teenagers, maybe we will end up there one day, but for young kids, we're so lucky in Australia with, you know, the the fields that we've got, even tonight, my son is going to go play rugby. There's just so many other opportunities for kids, yeah. Paris, is you live in a tiny apartment, but I think the teenagers, they can go to all these museums and do all this really cultural things, but for little kids, we just the way of life Australia is great.
So, what are the biggest differences? Because you live in Sydney, right? How would you compare Sydney with Paris?
We can have a bigger place here.
Sydney is super expensive, though.
So is Paris, though, right?
It is. It is. So, we have kept to apartment living though, but our apartment for three or four times the size of what you would have in Paris, we were in a shoe box. We were close to the centre, but we were in a shoe box.
So, it's, I think, just having the amount of sports that we can do, that was a huge thing that my son does, swimming, my son has art classes, he has rugby. And it's what the city puts on. It's just, I think it's the climate. The climate we like here, too. We love going to the beach, you know? You know what's strange? Is I find Aussies don't have as many holidays as French people, but now I understand why the French have to leave Paris. It's not the same.
Here we go to the beach on the weekends, you go to the park. In Paris, they work, work, work, work, and then it's like, I need a holiday. We need to leave the city. It's like, it's really stressful. It's really stressful and you need to get out. And I just know as a kid growing up in Australia, you know, some years and my family wouldn't have a holiday, but just going to the beach, is you know, relaxing. It wasn't this pent-up stress, which is crazy.
Had little mini holidays, right?
Yeah, we do. You go away on the weekends and then come back to work, but if in France and Paris you need, everybody needs a break, they work long hours.
It must be difficult because I imagine Paris is sort of surrounded by just suburbs, right? You know, there's no mountains right there, there's no beach right there, there's the Seine, but like Sydney, you can drive for, what, an hour or so and you're in the mountains or, you know, you can drive for 10 minutes and you're at the Manly Beach or Bondi Beach or something. So, you can just nip down there whenever you want.
Exactly. And I even Monet has built a museum, which I know like Monet has a lot of paintings, but he's actually it's called Musée l'Orangerie and it's a museum that's built for people to come and de-stress. Then you sit there in the water lilies are there and the way it's shaped, it's meant to be a part in Paris where, you know, if it's too stressful, you go and sit there and you can relax, which is incredible.
Yeah, it's crazy. I've only been there once to Paris, actually would've been twice because we started there on a holiday when I was 16, it was a school trip. We went to Paris, then drove all the way around France for two or three weeks and then came back to Paris. But, you know, I was very, um, full on just how many many people were there, right? And yeah, it was very different from somewhere like Melbourne or at least suburban, suburban Geelong where I was growing up. It was very different.
And so you guys are about to move from Australia, tell us what's happening there.
So, we're going to move to Canada, Montreal, thought we'd give my husband has a job opportunity there, we just thought, why not take the kids? And yeah, we've heard Montreal is quite bilingual, so the kids can go to French speaking schools and we can, yeah, we can have a bit of both. Why not? Why not a new experience?
And, so what do you have to do? You decide to move overseas from Australia, how do you sort of prepare for that?
It's not, I don't even want to show you my place. All behind me, I think, everywhere.
Everything in boxes is it?
Look, the boxes have gone, thank goodness. Now, we're just trying to get rid of stuff we don't need to take. Yeah, look, it's difficult.
Have you already (?) like an apartment? Have you already organised a car, everything like that? Or do you sort of have to just wing it? You get there off the plane and you're like, let's do this.
We're really lucky. The company that hired my husband has outsourced another company to look after us. They keep emailing us, emailed us today and said, which property do you want to live in for the first month? So, yeah, so they're going to set up our bank accounts. They're going help us out for the first month and visit rentals, so that we can find a place to so they're, yeah, for the first month we just contact them and go, what do we do? So that's amazing. We're not too stressed about getting that.
And how do you go adapting to the weather? Because it's a lot colder, right?
That's what's going to, yeah, that's going to be the decider to see if we stay that long term, but I guess we're going to adapt. Look, you know what? Maybe my son will stop playing ice hockey, I love ice skating, so I'm looking forward to that. And yeah, we'll just, we'll see how we go. I'm sure they're... We'll buy all our clothing there. I don't think the clothing we buy here is going to be sufficient.
Yeah, that must be so hard when you've got to like fill up your wardrobe with a heap of new clothing, you know, because you know, what? In Australia, you'd never get below maybe 10 degrees Celsius, right? And you'd have to be on the top of a mountain where it's snowing to get that weather in Sydney. It probably gets to, what? Zero? If that, ever.
Yeah. Yeah. Maybe four last year maybe. Yeah. It's crazy, I don't know. I'm a bit freaked out, but we're going in April, so it's spring will be a bit cold when we get there, but I've heard summers are really hot, so we'll just, we'll just see.
Crazy and what you have to do to adapt to Quebecois, the French there, right? Because it's a bit different, isn't it? And the pronunciation I remember when I was in Paris, we were in some hotel and there were these women in front of me speaking to the hotel manager and they were speaking a language that I didn't understand I thought was Swedish or something, and the guy was responding to them in French, and I was like, what the hell? It turns out they were just speaking Quebecian in French. I was like, I can't understand any of it.
I think it would just be the same as what my husband had to deal with when he first came to Australia with the accent and the acronyms. He's like, what is it with everyone using acronyms?
The Quebec population too, is known for its slang, right? That it has all these different slang from France, so yeah, you're going to go through that. What it would be like to learn Australian English if you spoke American English or something.
Exactly. So, I'm going to, hopefully, I'll sign up to a French course when I arrive. And yeah. I'll hear what Quebecois French is like, but yeah, I've heard it a couple of times and it does to me sound like a different language, so I'm going to have to adapt.
Far out. And, so tell us about your podcast. How did you end up starting a podcast?
I went on maternity leave, where I should be relaxing and my brain was just like, what could I do? And, so it's been a year and a half in the making, actually. But, you know, I would do it in my spare time, so when I wanted to use my brain, I was just interviewing people and coming up with ideas. And then I just, over the last 10 years of teaching English, all the kids always asking me, I want a British accent or I want an American accent. And I'm thinking, well, there's so many British accents, which accent do you want? Is it like the Queen's English or you know, and it's like, well, hang on a second. You're barely going to speak to, you're probably going to converse with someone who is a second language speaker.
You know, when you go back to your country or if you stay, you've got so many different people to speak to. And, you know, I just feel that, you know, like with the IELTS test the conversations that are quite contrived and it's not real. And I just wanted something real. And I just thought, if I can interview people with multiple accents and just put on the episode what accent it is, people could just have a listen and learn a little bit about that culture, like the Scots, always using the word 'we', you know.
Is not to mean 'pee', right?
Exactly, so just things like that, because it's crazy because people come out, and it was the same at the Sorbonne, you know, we had these American students in our class and I'd lived there a few years, and even for them to adapt to the French that we were speaking in Paris, there was slang that we already had, and they just had their very grammar focussed French. So, it's about communicating. We can teach grammar and grammar, but then when you're in that country, can you communicate?
And I find a lot of my students were like, wow, I really struggle because we just focus so much from on grammar. So, I just thought this podcast is to show real English conversations and not to slow down for them, it's obviously aimed at intermediate level, but it's, you know, just to give something that's real. That's all I was thinking of.
So, what advice do you have for students who are in that sort of a position where they're trying to focus more on communication in their English? What should they be doing? Apart from obviously listening to your podcast and you haven't told us the name of it.
Yes, Accented. So, Accented by, I think, it's English Conversations, so you can search 'Kimberley Law'.
I would be getting conversation exchange partners or just practicing with people. And I see that a lot on the Internet, people joining Facebook groups, English speaking groups and just asking to practice speaking English with someone. But usually a conversation exchange is great because you can teach them your language and then native speakers can teach them English.
So, I think it's, give and take, I think that that way you're practicing.
It's difficult, though, right? Because, yeah, you have to kind of set out the expectations from the beginning, so that you do have a kind of strict routine of, look, we're going to do 10 minutes in English, 10 minutes in French, as opposed to just let's catch up and we'll keep just switching around the whenever you kind of need to work out that structure, right? To really get the most out of language exchanges.
That's it. You're right.
Brilliant. Well, Kimberly, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate it. So, yeah. Remind us again about the podcast and where people can find out more about it and what you do.
So, you can visit my website, which is kimslaw..., K I M S L A W, ...ofenglish.com, so kimslawofenglish.com, and Accented is the podcast.
Yes, yes. I was trying to... you know, a play on words!
I like it, that's good, that's cool.
So, yeah. Yeah. It's on pretty much everything. Apple podcast. Yeah. All that Stitcher, so yeah, you can find it from there.
And my episode with you should be out by the time this one gets published. So, definitely go and check it out, guys.
I hope so. That's it.
It'll be a race. You should beat me. I've got quite a few in the pie. I think I've got like five interviews that I have to get out, so it might be another month or two. But, yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
I'm every two weeks.
Before we end, which is the hardest English accent for you to understand?
You know what? My dad's Scottish and Scottish is pretty hard to understand.
There's going to be Glaswegian, right?
Yeah. Yeah. They always slow down for me when I visit them.
Anyway, thank you so much for coming on, Kim, I really appreciate it.
Thank you. Bye.
Thanks so much, guys, for joining me today. Kimberley, thank you so much again for coming on the podcast. It was an absolute blast to have a chat with you guys. Don't forget to check out Kim's episode with me on her podcast called Accented English Conversations. So, we have about a 20 minute conversation on there. It was great fun, but I really recommend checking out her podcast if you want to get used to all kinds of different accents from people speaking English, whether they're native speakers or they're foreign speakers of that language. So, with that guys, thanks again for joining me. And I'll see you next time. Peace!
Here's what you get when you sign up!
- Read while you listen using the Premium Podcast player.
- Understand every word in every episode.
- Download all PDF transcripts and MP3s for 600+ episodes.
- Get access to bonus member-only episodes.