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Embassy English 18 March 2016 - by Richard Headley, Teacher, Embassy English Sydney

Embassy Teachers: Meet Richard Headley, English Teacher from Embassy Sydney


Students choose to study at Embassy English because they want to improve their English language skills with the most qualified teachers. Our diverse teaching staff is dedicated to helping students achieve their goals with fun and engaging interactive classes that help students learn English quickly and easily. We promise to give our students guaranteed outcomes, invaluable skills and amazing experiences that last a lifetime. Recently we caught up with Richard Headley, one of our English teachers at Embassy Sydney, to learn more about his passion for teaching and why Australia is great for international students. 

Embassy Sydney

How long have you been a teacher and how long have you been at Embassy?

I’ve been teaching for about 10 years and I’ve been at Embassy in total for nearly 8 years

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What did you used to do before you became a teacher?

For over 25 years I was a career corporate banker, with Citibank and JP Morgan, including managing their Transaction Banking businesses for Australia and New Zealand. After that, I was a banking consultant for a few years too, working with local and South East Asian banks. I’ve also worked as an accountant over the years in the UK and here. Interestingly, I had a 2 year stint as an accountant after a few years at Embassy, but returned to teaching as I always found straight accounting a bit too dry, and I missed teaching.

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Why did you decide to become an English teacher?

I suppose I have been always been a frustrated teacher, even when I was a banker. So when I decided to leave banking, I was looking for a change in career where my interests lay and one where I possibly could utilise my experience and skills. Also, ESL teaching afforded me some flexibility and continuity in employment as I got older.  So I did a CELTA course, got a teaching job immediately and began my teaching career.

Embassy Sydney

What do you like most about working at Embassy Sydney?

Primarily, it’s the students and my colleagues. I find teaching can be very rewarding and being with young people keeps you young in mind and spirit. We are constantly learning from our students, and often they provide the stimulus for a lesson or a different approach to a lesson. They keep us on our toes so we make sure the classes, are not only instructive, but also stimulating places for learning. I like seeing students grow as people in their own right and having fun while they are here, enjoying what Australia has to offer.

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My colleagues are a good part of why I continue to work at Embassy and over the years I have developed some firm friendships. We work shoulder to shoulder in the teachers’ room and it’s an environment not without its dramas, but I enjoy its cut and thrust and the repartee, all of which make it an interesting and challenging environment to work in. Also, we help each other out regularly and back up absent teachers when necessary, so there is a good sense of teamwork and support from the management team. We mix socially outside of work when we can, which helps to strengthen our working relationships.

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What particular skill(s) do you like to help students develop?

Above all, I think helping them to develop their confidence in using English, particularly speaking. Once students have a reasonable vocabulary, it usually builds their confidence and invariably the rest of their English begins to fall in place. I do have a soft spot for writing; it’s a skill that sometimes is not focused on enough. Successful people are usually good talkers or writers, and often both. Finally, as many of our students are still in their formative years, I like to help them where appropriate, with developing some of their life skills and provide some insights from my experiences.

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What is your proudest teaching moment?

Fortunately, there have been quite a few. But I suppose one that stands out was teaching an all Chinese IELTS class, where everyone in the class got 6.5 or better in their IELTS exam, allowing them all to enter Sydney University. They all worked hard, so the credit must go to them, but they did recognise my contribution by giving me a nice gift and taking my wife and me out to dinner.

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What advice do you give to learners?

Build your vocabulary, about 5-10 words everyday write them down in an exercise book, with the meanings and an example in a sentence, then try and to use them in and outside class as much as possible. I would also encourage them to speak English at every opportunity in and outside the classroom, making sure they get out of their comfort zone and actively look for opportunities to speak and listen to proficient English speakers.

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What advice do you give new or aspiring teachers?

Learn from and watch other more experience teachers, but be yourself and develop your own teaching style. Know your stuff and prepare your lessons well – don’t get lazy and try to wing it. Poor preparation shows up in the lessons – you will know it and so will the students.

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To learn more about learning English in exciting Sydney, Australia, contact us today! 

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