A little about me…
Over 25 years ago, I decided to become an English teacher. Why? At the time I was interested in exploring the world. I figured that, because I enjoy working with people, I could teach English, my mother-tongue. At the time, I couldn’t have imagined that more than a quarter-century later I would still be so enthusiastic about my work.
I was born, and spent my first 30 years, in the United States, but have been living in Germany since 1997. As a teacher, I use structured, compelling activities that prepare learners for the types of situations they are likely to encounter in the real-world.
- Founder and owner of Onolingo English Training, Walluf Germany (2012 – present)
- Teacher of English as a Second or Foreign Language, self-employed (1997 – 2012)
- San Diego State University, TESOL certificate (1996 – 1997)
- University of Utah, Bachelor’s degree, Psychology (1983 – 1988)
I was born on the east coast of the United States, near Boston, in 1963. When I was growing up, my family moved a lot, so when I’m asked where I come from, I’m afraid that I don’t have a simple answer. My parents and grandparents come from a small town in the state of Iowa, practically in the middle of the United States. While never having actually lived in Iowa, I did spend every summer of my youth there.
In 1977, at the age of 13, I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah with my mother and step-father. I subsequently spent the next 17 years there, graduating from the University of Utah in 1988 with a bachelors degree in Psychology.
For the next 10 years or so I managed a sales team, but in 1996 I decided to change the direction of my career and enrolled at San Diego State University, where in 1997 I earned a certificate as a Teacher of English as a Second or Foreign Language (TESOL). I then boarded a plane for Germany to begin, what I thought would be, a year of living abroad.
It’s going on 25 years now that I’ve been in Germany, and in that time I have had the pleasure of working with more than 2000 students whose ages have ranged from 5 to 85 years old.
In 2012, I founded Smart Flower Language School, near Frankfurt Germany, with the aim of providing quality, learner-focused language development, with an emphasis on helping non-native speakers of English use the language naturally, effectively, and with greater confidence.
In 2013 I began using Moodle, which is an online learning management system. I’ve always been interested in technology, and Moodle is a fantastic piece of software. One of the first ideas that I had in how to use it was to adapt the paper-based, language-level assessment test that I had written 15 years earlier to run online, making it far more efficient to determine which course would be appropriate for new students. Since then, I have discovered myriad ways to challenge students with interactive, self-paced online lessons, quizzes, and so on. But, as much as I enjoy creating on- and offline materials to help my students develop their language abilities, the part of my work that I love most is being in the classroom.
Life changed considerably in March of 2020, due to COVID-19, when it became impossible to be together with learners in the same room. Moving to an online classroom was not particularly difficult, as I had taught lessons online prior to the pandemic, but mainly with just one or two students at a time. So, working with larger groups online did involve learning new skills, as well as adapting tried-and-true classroom methods to an online environment.
One of the things that became clear to me is that there are advantages of learning online over and above the obvious convenience, and ease of access. Many learners, who may be reluctant to speak up in a traditional classroom apparently feel more confident doing so online. So, it has come as a bit of a surprise to me that an online learning environment can be so student focused.
In September 2021, I launched a new website, Fresh Lemonade, that offers English learners a curated selection of classic books.
In February 2022, Smart Flower Language School was renamed Onolingo English training.