Karin Heuert Galvão

A new year brings a new interview with a teacher based in a new country: Brazil. Read on to find out about how the professional development and networking opportunities put on by BESIG got Karin to join! Also, Karin is an avid blogger and talks about why she set up her own blog.


Bio: I was born and raised in a small town in the countryside of Paraná, Brazil and after spending a year in California as an exchange student, I moved to São Paulo where I now live with my husband and son. I’m a teacher, a mom and an entrepreneur. I love writing and have a blog where I express my ideas, thoughts, and wishes.  https://www.karinblogsabout.com/


How did you first hear about BESIG?

I first heard about BESIG from Rob Howard, a colleague and dear friend. Once I became a member of IATEFL, I immediately became a member of Learning Technologies SIG (LTSIG). You might be thinking “Why is she saying that?” The answer is quite simple – I was not acquainted with BESIG and didn’t know any of the members. Once I got to know the members and saw that they had fabulous webinars, a newsletter and a conference, I said: “Sign me up!”


How do you like to make your lessons fun and engaging?

I’m not so sure my lessons are fun and engaging – because how can one define ‘fun’ or ‘engaging’? What is ‘fun’ to me might not be to you. But I believe my students ‘have fun’ and ‘feel engaged’ with my lessons because they keep coming back for more. I strongly believe that once you understand your students’ needs and you don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, things just flow.  So, in my case, I tend to work with very strong and opinionated professionals; this is why there are a lot of discussions about relevant topics and real-life situations. My students expect case studies and a lot of critical thinking opportunities, so in order to make a lesson fun and engaging, I take this very seriously and I try to keep up to date with the latest in business in the world.


In your opinion, why is it so important for teachers to have good relationships with their students?

Would you travel with someone you don’t trust? Probably not. The journey is taken together, so the Number One priority is to establish rapport and trust between teacher and students. I consider myself a very down-to-earth kind of person. I understand my students’ routines and lives and this way I can assure a good relationship with them. And again, I might sound a bit repetitive, but I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not, and this way my students feel more comfortable to be themselves around me, their true selves, independent of their political, religious and personal views on the world, because they know there won’t be any judgement on that.


How can you encourage teachers to form meaningful relationships with their students? 

Firstly, don’t pretend to care; a person can smell “fake care” from miles away. People want to feel safe and that they can trust you.  This is basic human behavior. Time and time again, I see teachers oversharing on social media about their students’ development, their students’ classes, etc. I, on the other hand, try to be much more private. Your relationship with your students only concerns you, nobody else. So try to get to know your student, the real person standing in front of you, and I’m sure you’ll be surprised. Don’t underestimate the value of a simple question, such as “How have you been?”, or “How’s work?”


As a Life & Executive Coach, you work on particular skills with your clients. Are any of these elements transferable to business English training?

Definitely. Sir John Whitmore, in his book “Coaching for Performance” says that “…you need to see people’s potential, not their past performance.” We, as teachers, tend to focus too much on past results, which consequently will induce fear in our students. Fear can certainly be a motivator, but it also prevents creativity and self-responsibility. Emotional Intelligence is key to development.  It is considered twice as important as cognitive ability (Daniel Goleman), so why not work on that in class as well?

I work with real goals and I truly believe that when you understand the human being you’re working with you are certainly going to achieve better results. In summary, through talking about the present, focusing on the future and working on emotional intelligence, language learning is possible. We must stop concentrating our efforts on developing language skills and steer our attention to developing people.


What advice would you give someone looking to make the leap from teacher to business owner?

I believe there is a three-step process: Ponder, Plan and Proceed.

1) Ponder upon your wish to become a business owner.  Ask yourself questions such as: “It is really for me?”, “What does being a business owner mean to me?”.  Most business people didn’t take the time to go over these questions before they moved forward (myself included); however, I’m sure that most of them would tell you the same – take the time to think.

2) Plan your strategies, your budget, your team, etc. Most entrepreneurs take for granted the planning moments and they fail to achieve breakthrough results. After you’re done and you’re sure, write down the dates on which you wish to accomplish these tasks. A dream is just a dream, a dream with a deadline is a plan.

3) Proceed with your plans, but revisit steps 1 and 2 whenever necessary. Keep a positive attitude and your feet very close to the ground – I can’t stress this enough.


Why did you recently decide to start blogging?

I’ve been blogging for a few years now, but recently I decided to set up my own blog, so I can write about any topic, not only ELT-related. I have always felt that I wanted to share my experiences, my thoughts and points of view, and that I would be contributing more by connecting with people on a more personal level. Blogging has allowed me to do that.

Sure, I have written some controversial pieces, but you know what? I feel great knowing that I would not change a word in those posts and that I still stand by what I wrote, because that’s my true self and I’m OK with it.


To sum up, blogging is an opportunity I give myself to contribute with other professionals, and to contribute to myself, because these are the very few moments I have in my life to connect with my thoughts and reflect upon my life as a professional, and more importantly, as a human being.


Have you made a New Year’s Resolution yet? Why not make it your New Year’s resolution to do a Meet a Member interview yourself? Send an email to Mandy at [email protected] to get more details!


Questions by Mandy Welfare

Editing by Mike Canning

January 4th 2020

MEET A MEMBER is available to IATEFL BESIG members and non-members alike but only features our current members. Another reason to join us and “BE with BESIG.”