Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ryan Lee's teaching & learning

photo: Ryan Lee, NYLC ESL instructor
Ryan Lee, one of NYLC's senior teachers, uses a teaching style that is popular among students.

When Ryan Lee received his Bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2008, he was ready to head overseas and immerse himself in a different culture. Having taken some Spanish classes in college, he chose Ecuador and signed up to volunteer for one year teaching English in its capital city of Quito with World Teach, a nonprofit NGO started by a group of students from Harvard University. During this stint abroad, he lived with a local family, taught EFL to high school students, and boosted his Spanish skills significantly.

He learned a lot in Ecuador; he received valuable training in classroom techniques and developed his own teaching style. Now as one of New York Language Center’s senior teachers, he has gained a healthy reputation for conducting interactive classes that focus on challenging students’ communicative skills. He’s known for bringing in props & paraphernalia, as well as playing background music during some activities. Sounds like a lot of fun and games, and students enjoy them, but Ryan also understands the importance of patience and hard work in language learning.

“It takes time, like most things,” he says. “There’s always something to learn.”

photo: Ryan Lee, NYLC ESL instructor
Ryan interacting with students after class.
The need for patience in learning definitely hits home for Ryan, who has been playing guitar for 20 years and says he still has a lot of work to do to reach the level of excellence he's after. When he’s not in the classroom or prepping for classes, he's probably busy practicing with his band, Man Well Good Speed, of which he’s also the lead singer. In addition, he also writes some of their songs and takes care of concert bookings and marketing.

His concerts at local establishments, which are well-advertised around school, are often hangout venues afterhours for students and teachers alike. Ryan enjoys meeting students and connecting with people, which in fact is the reason he likes working in the ESL classroom. So having students in the audience during his performances seems like a natural extension of his work at school as much as it is evidence of his sociable personality. He brings a rich and diverse background into the NYLC classroom, which his students appreciate: from his Midwestern roots--born and raised in Aurora, Illinois, right outside Chicago--to his experience overseas to his current life in New York. 

written by Joe Yu, ESL instructor

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