Erica first considered working in the ESL field when she was doing her teaching practicum at John Taylor Collegiate in 2009. “I volunteered in a Grade 12 English classroom to work with some international students who needed some more individual attention. I remember enjoying those periods so much, and I was fascinated by realizing the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the English language that I hadn’t thought much about before.”

After completing her B.Ed. in 2010, Erica moved overseas to teach at Yang Guang Qing School of Beijing, a Manitoba-affiliated high school. After a few years in China and Japan and a year teaching junior high in rural Manitoba, her career shifted toward working with adults. She now works as a full-time instructor in the English Language Program at the University of Winnipeg.

What is important to you as a teacher?

“Personal relationships and respect are important. Not just between myself and the students, but between them. I want them to remember than language is about communicating, and communicating is at the centre of building relationships.”

What are your goals as a teacher?

“Ensuring that I’m always creating ways to make sure that my students’ needs are being met and that they feel challenged.”

What is a moment you had with a class that inspired you?

“About a year and a half ago, I had a student in my class who became like the “father figure” of our classroom. He was a mature guy, and his wife was also in the class. He really went out of his way to encourage the students who felt shy and anxious, and he was always the most enthusiastic about everything we tried in the class. But he had to leave suddenly due to a visa issue. When he told the class, we all cried together for a long time. The class wanted to do something for him and worked hard to prepare a birthday potluck party for him since he had to leave before his actual birthday. I still remember that day very clearly – there were a lot of tears, but a lot of laughter. It wasn’t just a class; it was a family.”

What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?

“I was always fascinated by the backstage elements of television/movie production, and I like writing, so I’d probably want to work as a writer for a TV show or in some support-staff role.”