Laura Edwards joined us in the autumn last year and jumped right into things. She represented ELTA-Rhine at the Inter-ELTA Members’ Day in November and is now on our Events Team. We interviewed her for the newsletter.

Tell us a little about your background. How did you get into teaching and how long have you been doing this?
Growing up in the middle of Ireland, my world felt very small. At school, I abandoned Sciences and Business subjects for languages, art, history and geography, things that connected me to other places and as soon as I could, I set off to explore the world. After numerous adventures, I found myself waiting tables in Chicago, having a minor existential crisis. Some career coaching from a friend’s mom led to a job at a primary school north of Chicago teaching computer skills to kids aged 4 to 10. To my surprise, I loved working in the school environment – my lasting memory of that time is laughter. When wanderlust struck again, I left and travelled for a year from Mexico to Chile. By then, teaching was my goal and I often supplemented my travel fund giving Spanish or English lessons to fellow backpackers en route. When the cash eventually ran out, I returned to Ireland, got my TEFL certificate and moved to northern Spain to teach teenagers. I‘d another fantastic experience there and by the time I reached Germany a few years later, education was my passion. I ended up dropping anchor in Düsseldorf and have been working here for 15 years now.
What classes or courses do you teach and do you have any favourites?
These days I mostly teach Business English of some sort to third-level students. I love the structure of university teaching, and my favourite course at the moment is English for E-commerce. I’m a fan of project-based learning and assessment and teaching at university gives me the opportunity to try a lot of new things out.
When I’m not teaching, I work in test development and have been involved in projects designing and developing digital language tests that are used worldwide
What would you say to someone who was thinking about going into teaching in Germany?
The freelance element shocked me initially, having always been employed by schools wherever I was. Now I’m so glad that this way of working was basically thrust upon me, as it has made my life so much richer. You develop great creativity and adaptability, as well as entrepreneurial skills. It has led me to have a ‘why not!’ attitude to work, it’s made me braver and more open to new ideas and projects. To be a freelance teacher in Germany really means 100 different things all rolled into one. It offers challenges, risks, highs and lows, but it definitely is never boring.
What do you do for fun?
My answer will hardly surprise you – travelling. We spend the Christmas break in Ireland and summer holidays in Croatia, and when I one day finally put down my board marker for the last time, I will escape to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, my favourite place in the world, to live out my days on the side of a volcano.
Come visit me anytime!