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Teacher Feature: Rick Powell

July 22, 2022

This article is part of a series of posts highlighting our community of teachers around the world. We hope you find their stories interesting and inspiring!

Since 2003, Rick Powell has been busy traveling the world.

He’s spent time in several cities in Europe and South America before finally settling down in Mexico. To financially support his travels, Rick spent his time cooking professionally and teaching English. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he made the decision to drop his cooking job and solely focus on teaching.

Today Rick teaches online from Mexico City. He mainly teaches adults at the low-intermediate to advanced levels who are interested in improving their English for work or in preparation for a move to the United States.

Like many teachers, a typical day of teaching for Rick begins with a lot of coffee. Then he opens his computer and heads straight to Ellii and Notion to plan out his lessons for the day.

“I also look at my news channels on YouTube because many of my students are interested in US politics and culture,” said Rick. “I use videos during class.”

Classes start at 10:00 am with his last class of the day sometimes ending as late as 10:00 pm.

“There are breaks, thankfully,” said Rick. "I take lots of short walks, even around the block, so that I stay alert and fresh.”

How Rick uses the Ellii platform with students

Recently, Rick used our Supreme Court Overturns Roe V. Wade lesson in class.

“I use the That's News to Me section a lot. There have been some good conversations,” he said.

Check out Rick's text response below to learn more about why he loves Ellii and how he uses it with his students.

Overcoming challenges in and out of the classroom

Getting students to speak up in class and complete their homework outside of class have been two of Rick's biggest challenges of late.

“It has been hard getting some students to speak at any length and, since my students are all working professionals, to get them to do homework and study vocabulary on their own,” he admits.

Despite these challenges, Rick still finds teaching incredibly rewarding.

“I love it when my students recognize and benefit from their own progress after giving their first presentation or running an international meeting in English, or publishing their first article in English, or getting accepted to an American university—all of which have happened.”

His advice for aspiring teachers?

“Be fearless when teaching slang, idioms, and colloquial English," he said. "Students are very interested in sounding as native (and sometimes as hip and cool) as possible. And make them laugh!”

Want the chance to be featured in our Teacher Feature series? Visit our 20th Anniversary Giveaway blog post to tell us why you love Ellii and how you use it in your classroom.

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Comments (3)

Tara Benwell(Author)

Great tip from Rick! Laughter is so natural in an English language classroom whether it's online or in-person. I loved hearing about Rick's favorite lesson sections!

Reply to Comment

Rick P.(Teacher)

Laughing in class also provided the opportunity of teaching even more idioms, such as "in stictches," "the last laugh," "Laugh (one’s) head or as* off," and my personal favorite, the "belly laugh."

Raffaella M.(Teacher)

Thanks for the tips, Rick. It's great to hear success stories from teachers around the world. Can you expand a bit on how exactly you use the That's News to Me section on Elli during your classes to more advanced adult students, please? Do you have them read aloud? Do you use the Interactive Reading feature? Any extra input would be great. Thanks again, Raffaella (from Brazil)

Reply to Comment
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