This week I talk with Vivien Leung who is in the process of launching her exciting new independent online ESL business … with a difference. She provides Neurolanguage coaching sessions for her clients.
Listen to find out what Neurolanguage coaching is and how it benefits ESL students.
You can reach out to Vivien Leung through her website at https://vivienleung.com
You can learn more about the Neurolanguage coaching certification course at https://www.languagecoachingcertification.com
[00:00:16.955] – Paul
Hello and welcome to the BabelTEQ podcast, where we talk about tips and tools for teacherpreneurs.
[00:00:23.915] – Paul
My name is Paul Sallaway and this evening I have with me a guest, Vivien Leung. Did I pronounce that … ?
[00:00:33.435] – Vivien
[00:00:33.435] – Paul
OK. Lucky guess. And Vivien is just getting started with a new business of her own in the independent online ESL space. And she’s also offering her services with a unique twist, which I really wanted to talk to her about, and that’s why I brought her on the show. So hello, Vivian, thanks for being a guest on the BabelTEQ podcast.
[00:01:02.365] – Vivien
Hello, Paul, thank you so much for having me.
[00:01:05.845] – Paul
So can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and where you’re from, where you are now and your experience with independent ESL teaching specifically?
[00:01:15.775] – Vivien
OK, so I was born in Hong Kong, but then I moved to England when I was three and I grew up there. I am currently living in Valencia, Spain, and I currently work for a Chinese company called Palfish. And even though I work for a company the way that system works is very similar to being an independent ESL teacher. On the system I have to market myself. I have to post moments. I have to really try to attract new students.
[00:01:55.105] – Vivien
Most of the learners are between the age of three and 10. And apart from teaching with this company, I also teach some private classes and I advertise my classes on a Spanish website and on my own website.
[00:02:12.345] – Paul
Great, OK. And the thing that I was most intrigued about and why I reached out to you was because you’re offering, as part of your language training something called Neurolanguage Coaching. So I think maybe a lot of people are not familiar with what that is. So could you explain it a little to us in simple terms. Neurolanguage Coaching.
[00:02:40.945] – Vivien
Neurolanguage Coaching blends three aspects, together. We blend coaching, some principles of neuroscience and language learning together.
[00:02:52.915] – Vivien
And regarding the neuroscience part, it’s all about being aware of your own emotions and presenting language in a brain friendly way and making a very positive environment for the learner. And the coaching part is really about taking a less directive approach when teaching and allowing the the client of the Coachee to choose and decide how they learn. And then I will provide and personalize the session for them.
[00:03:30.415] – Paul
I see. So it’s really looking into the science of how our brains react to learning and maybe how people react to being put into challenging or stressful situations. Is that accurate?
[00:03:49.945] – Vivien
[00:03:51.235] – Vivien
It’s about seeing how the learner reacts to different kinds of activities and how they react to how grammar is presented in certain ways and creating classes that are brain friendly.
[00:04:13.195] – Paul
Sometimes when we’re in a classroom, we might be very nervous or we might be maybe too excited. And sometimes that blocks us and we can’t absorb new information that way.
[00:04:28.585] – Paul
Right. Yeah, when I was doing some research before before this interview, I discovered a new word, Xenoglossophobia.
[00:04:40.015] – Paul
So if there are any Scrabble fans out there, on a triple word score, that’s a definite game changer. Xenoglossophobia, which is the fear of learning new languages. And I guess a lot of people do suffer from this. Right? I’ve had this experience with teaching students here in Japan where, for example, I might be in a kind of a cold classroom. I’ve got like three layers of clothing on. And my student’s got beads of sweat running down their forehead just because they’re feeling stressed out.
[00:05:15.295] – Paul
So, yeah. Do you have any, inside tips that you can share with us for dealing with people who experience maybe that kind of reaction to learning languages?
[00:05:26.785] – Vivien
And so Neurolanguage Coaching also talks about eliminating some bad memories that we might have had in the past.
[00:05:36.985] – Vivien
For example, if their parents told them off for getting a bad mark in their English test or their teacher telling them that they will never learn English and never be able to speak another language. I think we have to go back to those memories and we have to help the coachee or the client deal with those memories. After having those experiences, we never really think about them again, do we. And so it’s important for us to help the coachee think about, oh, how would you have liked the teacher to have dealt with it?
[00:06:23.905] – Vivien
How would you have acted differently? And if you were the teacher, what would you have done? And it’s all about going back to those memories and dealing with them.
[00:06:38.605] – Paul
We talked a little bit before this interview about the fact that Vivien’s very well traveled. And you’ve lived and taught in many places around the globe, South America for a while. And of course, now Europe and you were in China and South East Asia before that. Do you think do you think that some cultures have more of this kind of … I’ll use the word again … Xenoglossophobia? Do you think that some cultures maybe have more of this?
[00:07:10.285] – Paul
Because I’m thinking about like cultures where there’s a lot of pressure from parents and teachers to get academic achievement. You know, the “Tiger Mother Syndrome”. Have you noticed any, cultural influences that maybe, you know, lead to people having these mental barriers more than others?
[00:07:37.765] – Vivien
Absolutely. And especially in Asian cultures.
[00:07:42.265] – Vivien
I’m sure you’re aware living in Japan as well, that there are so many parents who are obsessed with their children getting not only ninety eight out of 100, but 100 out of 100 and anything less is unacceptable.
[00:07:59.995] – Vivien
And it’s really quite terrifying for the students.
[00:08:06.085] – Vivien
I mean, in China, after every test that they have they put all the exam marks in the school hallway for everyone to see so everyone can see who’s number one and everyone can see who’s … last.
[00:08:25.345] – Paul
[00:08:31.505] – Vivien
Yeah, no pressure.
[00:08:31.975] – Paul
So. All right, so you’ve recently started independent teaching, well you’ve been working with Palfish, you said for a while. But recently you’ve been working on launching your own website and getting your own marketing program together. Would you like to tell us a little bit about that? What you’ve done so far?
[00:08:59.425] – Vivien
OK, so I have recently launched my website and I hired a web designer of Facebook and a friend of mine did the logo. I have just also translated it into Chinese, so I have it in two languages now. I have it in English and Chinese, because I would like to market it to Spanish clients and also students or clients in China. I have linked it with Alipay through Stripe so that Chinese clients can pay me. And in about two weeks I will be speaking to an online brand expert, so that I can define my brand a little bit better and I can understand how I can present myself online. She is also a photographer, so she’ll be taking some professional pictures of me, too.
[00:10:06.315] – Paul
Yeah, that always helps. Yes.
[00:10:08.315] – Vivien
[00:10:09.215] – Paul
There’s a big difference between the iPhone selfie and getting someone who knows what they’re doing with a camera. Do you have contacts in China? You spent some time there. Do you have contacts in China that are that are helping you build your business this way?
[00:10:30.285] – Vivien
I had a colleague, an old colleague of mine translate the website for me. I also have some old students on WeChat, which is like our equivalent of WhatsApp. And I plan to use WeChat to market myself. WeChat works almost like Facebook. You post a lot of pictures and videos. I might also think about finding someone to help me make some small posts in Chinese to help me market the website as well.
[00:11:14.395] – Paul
What about like the actual platform, the video communication platform? Have you have you made any decisions about that? What you’re going to use?
[00:11:23.805] – Vivien
Do you mean do you mean on TikTok? On their TikTok?
[00:11:28.545] – Paul
No, I mean to actually do your lessons. Zhumu or VOOV or one of those other local ones, because as far as I know, Zoom can be a bit problematic in China these days. So. Yeah. So there are a lot of different options. I’m just wondering if you’ve done any, research into any of those options.
[00:11:53.925] – Vivien
I was going to Zoom. I don’t know, I think the situation in China is always changing. Before Skype was blocked and then now it’s available again. And so I think what I have to do is just I’ll have to do my research and I’ll have to see what is available at the time.
[00:12:19.075] – Vivien
And I think probably Zoom or Skype at the moment.
[00:12:24.925] – Paul
Fair enough. Yeah, I like Zoom. So what do you think has been the most challenging thing for you so far on this?
[00:12:38.155] – Paul
For example, did you have trouble deciding on your niche or is this something that you knew pretty much from the get-go that you wanted to do this, Neurolanguage approach to what you’re doing?
[00:12:53.695] – Vivien
I find that the more I get into making my own website and making my own brand, I kind of slowly figure out more niches that I can market myself to.
[00:13:12.625] – Vivien
For example, at the moment I’m also teaching a small group of Spanish born Chinese students.
[00:13:18.985] – Paul
Let me get my head around that sentence for a minute. Spanish born Chinese students? OK!
[00:13:26.685] – Vivien
Yes, absolutely. They act like Spanish kids, but they are completely bilingual and amazing. But I can speak Spanish and Chinese, which would be very helpful when I speak to them, because sometimes I have a student who knows a little bit of Spanish, a little bit of Chinese and a little bit of English, and it’s very difficult for him sometimes.
[00:13:59.395] – Vivien
And so, yes. Back to your question. Yes, I find myself figuring out little by little.
[00:14:15.355] – Paul
There’s always new challenges every day with something like this, I’m sure. Yeah. And I noticed on your website that you do French as well. Is that right?
[00:14:26.305] – Vivien
I do. My degree was in French and Spanish.
[00:14:29.695] – Paul
[00:14:31.975] – Vivien
With Neurolanguage Coaching, I can coach people who want to speak English, French, Spanish or Chinese.
[00:14:38.995] – Paul
OK, so you got four of the big languages in the world covered right there. So I don’t think you’re going to be short of students.
[00:14:45.535] – Vivien
[00:14:49.645] – Paul
How did you find out about Neurolanguage coaching? Because I’d never heard of it I before I bumped into you on Facebook. So, how did you hear about that in the beginning?
[00:15:04.405] – Vivien
Before I did the course, I was already very interested in coaching. I was looking into life coaching courses and just one day, actually, it was a coincidence, really, I was thinking, well, I wonder if there is a concept like language coaching. So then I started Googling and it was the first thing that came up. It was the first website that came up.
[00:15:38.575] – Vivien
It was Neurolanguage coaching. And from there, I just started sending them emails, asked more questions, and then before I knew it, I did the course.
[00:15:48.785] – Paul
And there’s a lady Rachel Paling. That’s how you say her name, I think. She runs the course, doesn’t she. So pioneered the course. Have you met her? Do you know her personally?
[00:16:03.755] – Vivien
Yes. She taught me it was her who who did the course and when I did it.
[00:16:13.665] – Vivien
And she is amazing. She is very, very interesting and I learned so much with her on the course. I would recommend the course to anybody.
[00:16:28.125] – Paul
How long is the course? What does it entail, the course?
[00:16:32.475] – Vivien
From memory? It includes how we have to structure the Neurolanguage coaching sessions, and it also includes how our brain reacts to our limbic system, which is how our emotional system, how emotions work and also how to get your coachee into the ideal learning state.
[00:17:10.315] – Vivien
What else? Things that you can’t do as a coach. For example, in coaching, we can’t, GIVE advice. I can’t TELL you what to do unless you really don’t know, then I have to ask you, oh, is it OK if I give you a suggestion … for example?
[00:17:42.085] – Paul
I read some research a while back that said that when people are in a good mood, when people are happy and relaxed, that their brains actually work more efficiently. You’re actually much smarter when you’re in a good mood, when you’re when you’re happy and relaxed. So I think that getting your students relaxed and happy is probably a big benefit for them and getting them to learn language, and acquire language a lot faster.
[00:18:15.915] – Vivien
Yeah, absolutely. It is such an important aspect in language learning after doing the course I … well, I completely agree with you. When you are stressed and when you are angry or when you have negative emotions, I don’t really think you absorb anything. You can’t really absorb new information when you feel attacked.
[00:18:46.455] – Paul
Right. You’ve got that “fight or flight reaction” going on in you in your lizard brain, and at that point your brain’s not ready to take on board any new information.
[00:19:01.215] – Paul
So is this concept of Neurolanguage coaching something that applies to people of all ages, all backgrounds, all language abilities?
[00:19:12.165] – Vivien
Yes, I think so. It does apply to anyone. I personally haven’t coached any teenagers or children. But I do know that Rachel has coached teenagers before and perhaps teenagers who are getting ready to change to a bilingual school or an international school. It’s very important for them.
[00:19:42.525] – Vivien
Perhaps they have to learn English in a very short time and they’re very nervous.
[00:19:48.885] – Paul
And so just to change course a little bit, so what what motivated you to start your own business? You said, you’re working with Palfish. So what motivated you to step outside the Palfish zone?
[00:20:09.775] – Vivien
I’ve been working with Palfish for about two years now and it’s been great. The flexibility has been fantastic.
[00:20:18.285] – Vivien
But all of these Chinese or big online companies like DaDa, GoGo Kid, VIP Kid. I feel like a lot of them just don’t value their teachers. A couple of months back, Palfish changee their points and payment system, which is like an instant pay cut. They just decided to pay us less for no reason. And I didn’t it like that. And I thought that well maybe I could do this myself.
[00:20:57.705] – Vivien
I can get my own students from China and maybe I don’t need this this medium.
[00:21:06.175] – Paul
Yeah. So, yes, I think a lot of people in the online ESL industry probably can relate to those comments. I think that, you know, a lot of schools have been cutting back on benefits and opportunities over the last 12 months or so. Definitely.
[00:21:30.355] – Paul
All right, and so tell us about Spain. So you’re in Valencia. I imagine that’s pretty nice place to set up camp. And you must be enjoying yourself there. Can you tell us a little about what that’s like?
[00:21:51.115] – Vivien
Absolutely. Valencia is wonderful. It’s not too big. Not too small. It’s a very flat city. So I can cycle around, everywhere. And we have very pleasant weather all year round. It never really gets too cold. It rarely goes below zero at any time. And we don’t we don’t get too many tourists either. It’s it’s really, really nice. I’m very close to the beach as well.
[00:22:32.445] – Paul
It doesn’t have like a big local ESL industry there? There’s not a lot of local schools?
[00:22:40.885] – Vivien
There are! There are a lot of English academies, actually.
[00:22:51.845] – Paul
How are they doing with the lockdown situation and the pandemic?
[00:22:57.225] – Vivien
I think many of them have tried to go online right. However, it has been very difficult to balance online classes with classes in person. I have a colleague who teaches for an academy and she has had to change to online classes completely, and she has a lot of technical issues from home, maybe the system that she’s using can never play any audio. She always tells me that she always has problems with the program that she’s using. And I’ve also seen a lot of academies close, after quarantine.
[00:23:48.175] – Paul
Yeah. So I guess a lot of these types of places are reworking their business model, which in the past maybe they, they did a lot of good classes and online group classes can be a bit more difficult, I guess. There’s a whole different dynamic there.
[00:24:09.695] – Paul
How about with what you’re doing? Are you going to be focusing more on group classes or individual one-to-one classes, you think?
[00:24:20.875] – Vivien
I think I am going to focus on one to one classes, for now. I think it’s easier to control and it’s easier to manage at the moment. Most clients want one to one classes at the moment, I think. In group classes, it just gets a little bit more complicated. Because there are so many of them, maybe one of them has connection issues. I think one to one for sure at the moment.
[00:24:55.525] – Paul
And I think you can probably provide that sort of coaching support a lot better if it’s in a one to one environment, can’t you? You can speak, a lot more openly and manage and customize your class delivery a lot better when it’s one to one than in the group.
[00:25:16.945] – Vivien
[00:25:20.755] – Paul
Well, do you have any advice? Your one piece of advice that you’d like to to offer anyone listening who’s maybe inspired by what you’re doing wants to break out and go online and start their own business? Do you have any words of advice for them?
[00:25:47.265] – Vivien
I would say … definitely try to get some students from China. I think sometimes when when a lot of us try to go independent, we think China seems very far away or it seems very closed off sometimes. You know, there are a lot more issues that we have to think about, like the Great Firewall and whether or not our website can even show up in China.
[00:26:19.265] – Vivien
But I think there are millions and millions of kids in China, and I think there is just a massive market there. I think we should definitely think about it.
[00:26:31.895] – Paul
Yeah. And it’s a growing market. For sure. There are a lot of opportunities there. If you do manage to get through all the hurdles. The technical hurdles and everything else.
[00:26:44.075] – Paul
All right. Well, so how can people get in touch with you, Vivien? So if anyone wants to learn more about yourself or Neurolanguage coaching, what should they do?
[00:26:55.745] – Vivien
They can contact me through my website… vivienleung dot com.
[00:27:03.065] – Paul
OK. And are you on any social media?
[00:27:06.425] – Vivien
Yes. Facebook as well. Vivian Leung. Facebook page. I think those two are the main two at the moment. I’m still working on the other.
[00:27:19.505] – Paul
[00:27:19.745] – Vivien
Social media would work. WeChat? Yeah, I’m currently making a QR code on my website so that they can scan me.
[00:27:30.995] – Paul
Good tip, everyone. Get that QR code up there..
[00:27:34.065] – Vivien
[00:27:35.375] – Paul
All right. Well, we might wrap that up then. So thank you, Vivien, for making time to talk to us about what you’re doing and telling us all about Neurolanguage coaching. That was pretty interesting. So thank you.
[00:27:49.205] – Vivien
[00:27:50.255] – Paul
All right. So until next time, remember, if you want to hear more podcast interviews such as this one, you can go to BabelTEQ dot com. That’s b-a-b-e-l-t-e-q dot com, where you’ll find podcasts and a lot of blog articles with tips and tools for teacherpreneurs.
[00:28:11.975] – Paul
So until next time, stay safe. Bye for now. Bye-bye.
The author of this post lives in Japan with his wife and family. He has taught English part-time (online and off) for more than a decade. He is passionate about WordPress consulting, online marketing and using the power of the internet to help people achieve their dreams.
He thinks that until you’ve tried sashimi tuna with wasabi, soy sauce, hot sake and a cold beer chaser, you just haven’t lived.