Nattinee and Nan

Those of us who lucky enough to travel, work or study outside of our home countries see the world through a broader lens. The mind expands as it is exposed to a new language, culture, customs and cuisine. I have seen my own understanding challenged and broadened through years of work and study in Guatemala, Rwanda and most recently, Thailand. My work with B-Speak! has brought me into contact with even more people from places I have yet to set foot in. This cultural exchange is what makes B-Speak! so special and such a perfect match for a globetrotter like me.

But time abroad can also create nostalgia and a deeper appreciation for wherever you call home. Though I’m currently on the other side of the world, I often find myself thinking about my home state of Virginia. Thus, you can imagine my delight when I learned that I’d be coaching two students studying in Virginia at William and Mary’s Mason School of Business. What was even more unbelievable about the pairing was that both women are Thai. I’d be teaching them from their home country while they were both in mine.

Because Thailand is 11-12 hours ahead of of Virginia, depending on daylight savings time, we coordinated our online lessons so that it would be evening for them—after their classes—and early morning for me. Both of my students, Jittinun (Nan) and Nattinee were thrilled to have a coach who had spent years in Thailand and could recognize and understand their unique and specific challenges with the English language and American culture. We’d spend our class time discussing strategies for overcoming these challenges and ways to use their own culture and context to their advantage. My number one objective as their teacher and coach is to help them realize their potential and become more confident. Confidence comes before anything else.

Besides grammar and pronunciation practice, writing feedback, role-play scenarios, interview prep and presentation practice, I’d also tell them what was going on in Thailand or show them a picture of the spicy curry I’d had for dinner the night before. In return, they’d tell me about how the seasons were changing in Virginia and about their shock at how gigantic American restaurant portion sizes are. All three of us have become friends, and to my delight, I was recently able to meet Nattinee (in person) in my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. Now I’m back in Thailand and am hoping to meet Nan in Bangkok before she finishes her summer internship and returns to William and Mary. Stay tuned!

From Nattinee and Nan:

“B-Speak! helped me get through the first year of my MBA program. For me, Ellie is more than a speaking coach, she is my friend!! She not only fixed my accent and grammar but also helped me with the culture shock. She made me feel that I’m not alone. She made me feel more confident and comfortable when I had to do the presentations by helping me practice and encouraging me with helpful tips.”

Nattinee

“When I first came to the US, I had less confidence to speak English. Then, I decided to take an online English course through B-Speak. Here, I met Ellie who lives in Thailand and is familiar with Thai culture and our accent. This is one of the things I like best about B-Speak—they try to match students to a coach who will be effective and identify where students should focus. Additionally, Ellie became one of my international best friends. She is a good listener and advisor. I told her what was going on at school and she recommended how to deal with American culture. I have learned so many things from her. Now I am in Thailand and looking forward to meet her face-to-face.

 In my view, B-Speak is not only a place that can help you improve your English, but also a place that you can find a true friend. 

 Thank you W&M! 

Thank you B-Speak!

Thank you, Ellie! I love you!

—Nan