- Martina Bell, teacher -
I help creative English teachers who are looking for interesting content - such as yoga - to make their classes more interesting and who prefer teaching English in a context that shapes their students' understanding of English and their understanding of themselves, rather than through boring, isolated grammar drills.
Yoga is instructed through the art of "cuing", i.e. verbal instruction. Usually, the yoga teacher cues the action of a certain yoga pose and the participants follow the cues by performing the actions to get into the pose. For everybody to practice the pose correctly, the teacher requires a very precise repertoire of vocabulary which is why yoga provides the perfect context for rich and transformative language learning.
I believe learning a new language is the heart of personal transformation. Or to put it differently, by studying English through Yoga, students will not only transform their English, but also learn about an ancient practice that might transform their well-being, confidence and understanding of themselves.
I graduated from my first Yoga Teacher Training in 2007. I had no idea how exciting the next eight years were going to be: I taught in almost every Yoga studio in Vancouver; collaborated with many non-profit organizations on programs for women new to Vancouver and from different cultural backgrounds and ESL schools and agencies who offer programs and events for students of English as a Second Language; I have worked with clinical therapists to help students recover from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These programs were federally funded cross-cultural mental health programs; and I have also been hired by the Crisis Center for Suicide Prevention to develop and pilot a program on active mindfulness practices in primary schools.
Most of my students in these programs had little to no experience with Yoga, so I got to see what benefits even just one Yoga class can make to their well-being and mood! Nobody ever complained about my classes being too difficult or too hard to understand. This was because I adapt the practice of Hatha Yoga so that it was culturally and linguistically sensitive to the needs of students who are learning a language. This is also the most exciting part of my work.
I haven't always been a Yoga teacher. For many years, I worked as a freelance translator and high school teacher for English in the UK. I have moved my life to a new country four times, experienced culture-shock and homesickness and gone through the ups and downs of cross-cultural adaptation four times. I have also learned three languages from scratch and know how important it is to learn a language in context.
Now, I teach French Immersion in a primary school in Surrey, near Vancouver, BC. It fills my heart with joy knowing that my resources have found their way into English lessons in over 23 countries. I want to make sure that teachers have interesting content and context for their teaching. This is why I continue to grow ESL Yoga.