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Faculty Profile:Matthew Lorthioir

Experience at VIU: I really enjoy my experience at VIU, and I’ve come to appreciate each culture for its unique and exciting differences. International students are all here for different reasons; to improve their job situations back home, to learn English to enrich themselves or to travel, or to come as "ambassadors" of their culture to the U.S. The Saudis in particular fall into this category with their programs through the Saudi Cultural Mission.

Diversity: VIU is definitely a diverse campus. I've come in contact with groups of people that I've never taught before. For example, Saudis, Mongolians, Thai, and people from Eastern Europe are all groups I hadn't taught before I started working at VIU. Working with these new groups of people has helped me to expand my cultural views and tolerance.

How to improve my English: Many students view English as an obstacle or hoop that they have to jump through in order to get to the next big thing. I find many students aren't very patient and feel frustrated when they don't see immediate improvement in their English. Learning a language well takes time. It is a discipline! You should not view the times you have to spend studying as painful and laborious. Rather, look for the joy in the opportunity to learn something new...even if it's something small. When students begin looking at English not as an obstacle but rather as a stepping stone or a useful tool, they will begin to see improvements in their English as they relax and learn the language simply for the sake of learning it.

Advice for ESL learners: The majority of a student's improvement will take place outside of class as he or she interacts in real time with the English-speaking world around. Simply coming to a class and speaking English for a few hours is not enough. I see many students doing their homework in class the day that it's due! Indeed, a student needs to make English his or her new identity! As Charlemagne said, "To have another language is to possess a second soul." I also heard another good quote from someone that goes something like this, "You live a new life for every language you speak." That's how students should view English. They truly do take on another identity and another life when they learn English well. How cool is that?!


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