Valentina Ambrogio — professional English to Italian Translator, Localiser and Subtitler

The Unique Pro Series ft. Judit Bartos of Dutch of Course

UNIQUE-Judit

The Unique Pro Series ft. Judit Bartos of Dutch of Course

Posted by Valentina Ambrogio in Interviews, The Unique Pro Series 18 Nov 2015

I am very excited to introduce this week’s guest: Judit Bartos. Judit and I (e)met on Polyvore, an online fashion/creativity platform, and have been in touch for years through Facebook  – the wonders of social media! We finally met in real life last September during my holiday in Amsterdam. She is not a translator or an interpreter, but she works with foreign languages just like us. She is a language teacher! Her strong passion for her job really shows in this interview, so… what are you waiting for? Enjoy the read :)

Introduce yourself, but focus more on your personal than your professional life.

Hello, my name is Judit. I was born in Hungary (Budapest) and moved with my parents and sister to The Netherlands when I was six. I’m a dreamer, a dancer, a language tutor and a learner. I love to travel and take pictures. I enjoy cooking and baking for my loved ones and I love to make people smile. Oh, and I am passionate about teaching and tutoring!

I have had the pleasure to meet you in person and I could see you are a very calm person and, as you say, a bit shy. Nonetheless, you put your face out there in front of a screen or a class almost every day. How did you overcome your shyness? Has your work helped you in this?

Thank you for the compliment. It’s nice to hear I look calm. I am not sure if I am shy. I can be like a cat sometimes, I love to observe and watch people interact. When I feel at ease (it takes some time for me to ‘blend in’), or when I feel I have something I would like to ask or say, I will speak up! :-)
When I read my school report cards, I noticed the word ‘shy’ was mentioned repeatedly. I believe shyness is a temporary emotion that everybody can experience. I think it is often confused with character. I feel I am not a shy person, really. I can feel shy sometimes, but that’s only temporary. When I was working as a professional dancer, I had a stage, there was make-up and bright lights, but I felt empowered, not shy at all. Even though I knew there were hundreds of people in the room watching us perform. When I started working as a teacher, I also had an audience, but it was in a classroom, in broad daylight, there was no music and everybody was watching my every move and listening to what I was saying. I feel comfortable around children, I don’t feel shy around them, but when an adult is in the room I feel the shyness sometimes. To answer your question, yes, I am certain my job as a teacher has helped me overcome my fear of public speaking, because I have been teaching for twenty years now I have been able to practice speaking in front of many people many times. I feel confident when I am teaching, because I know what I am talking about and my lessons are well prepared. But I guess if I was asked to give a speech at a party somewhere or if I was put on the spot, then my shyness would appear immediately!

You teach both in-company/in-person and Skype courses. I guess it is easier to connect with people who can actually see you. How do you manage to make your personality come through when you teach Skype lessons?

Interesting question. Yes, I do believe it is easier to connect with people when we’re in the same room. But I’ve noticed we also connect online via Skype (as long as we can see each other and the audio is good, of course). Regarding my personality… When I teach I always try to make the lesson about my student and his or her personal goals and try to tune into their character. What is their learning style? How do they approach challenges with learning Dutch in every day situations? Basically I listen, I observe and I ask many questions. For me, especially with private lessons, it is very important to cater to the specific needs of the student. Of course I hope I manage to do so with every student.

Is the screen between you and the student a major hindrance, or have you found a way to pull down that virtual wall?

I sometimes forget that there are two screens between the student and me. Online teaching feels comfortable to me because I have been teaching via Skype for a while now. I always do my best to make the student feel at ease, and I think that, since we are both in a comfortable environment, we don’t really feel the virtual wall. It’s personal too, I think. Some people prefer learning online via Skype, some of my students only want to have their lessons in person.

Which are your unique professional features as a language teacher?

Well, that’s hard to say, maybe my students could give you a better answer? The teachers that stood out for me were the ones who I looked up to because of their presence. They were usually funny, strong, not strict, and they really listened to their students and talked with them, not to them. I really enjoyed observing those teachers and going to their classes. Also, there was a nice vibe in the classroom, filled with trust and lots of interaction. That’s why I do my best to create that kind of atmosphere in my classes. For me, learning should be and can be fun, therefore I am always focused on making lessons fun and ‘light’. I also feel that if you approach educational challenges with humour, it will feel less heavy to learn new (and sometimes difficult) things. Finally, I hope that my students don’t feel pressured into doing everything perfect. It is okay to make mistakes, really, and I tell them that. I notice that it makes them feel more at ease. It’s amazing how hard people (children and adults) can be so hard on themselves. I feel it’s also my job to tell them they are doing well, they are improving day by day and that they should be proud of the steps they have taken and are taking now.

Do you reckon your students and your colleagues can perceive the real Judit by following Dutch of Course on Facebook and Twitter, for instance?

Hannah and Andrew (holding a mango)

Hannah and Andrew (holding a mango)

I hope so! I hope they see me, Judit, not a teacher who is called Judit. A while ago I had my last lesson with two lovely children I had been teaching in-house. I had been teaching these siblings for almost two years and after my last class with Andrew and Hannah they surprised me with lovely presents: a little book they made together with drawings and lovely words about me, a huge bouquet of flowers and… a mango. I told them I love to eat mango and I usually brought a bag of dried mango to share with them. I don’t think many teachers receive a mango during their last class 😉 It was heart-warming and I feel the mango was given to Judit, the one who likes to joke around, listen to their stories and eat dry mango together, not just teacher Judit.
You can probably get to know me better if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, because of my style, and the pictures and topics I post.

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Their thank you card

Showing your true colours and being yourself as a marketing tool. Do you agree? Do you think it is ultimately a game-changing factor, or do you find irrelevant?

For me it is impossible not to show my true colours. I feel it’s important to stay true to who I am. If you’re being fake or putting on an act (and I have seen teachers do that) you will probably make it harder for yourself to teach. Students react to you, to what you have to say and how you react to them. They are critical. If you put on a show, in my opinion, it’s impossible to connect with someone. I may not have the very best marketing skills, but I connect with people, by staying real, genuine. That, for me, is the best marketing tool. People remember how you make them feel, not what you say or do.

Let’s conclude with some simple questions:
Do you feel professionally unique?
I feel everybody is unique. I have done some research and I couldn’t find a language tutor who works with children, adults, in person and in groups and also offers in-company training and Skype lessons. I am versatile, for sure.
Are you happy with your life/job balance right now?
Yes, I am happy with where I am now. I started my company 3 years ago and I am proud and happy to be an owner and teacher. After all these years, I still love doing what I do. It’s wonderful to meet many different people from all over the world, talking with them and learning from them, of course!
Is there anything you would like to do or plan to do to stand out more?
I would love to meet people who could help me improve my marketing skills! It would be lovely to exchange ideas together and learn from them. And I would love to teach abroad. So if there are international companies abroad looking for great Dutch lessons for employees who are moving to The Netherlands…

THE UNIQUE ID

juditBio: Judit Bartos loves to help and motivate people who are serious about mastering Dutch. She started teaching at elementary schools 19 years ago, and also taught Dutch at several schools in Amsterdam and Utrecht. In 2004 she founded her first company Les op Maat, which offers private lessons for children, teenagers and adults. Currently she is teaching expats (individually, in groups and in-company training). Her teaching style has been described as creative, fun and well-structured.
Website: Dutch of Course (www.dutchofcourse.nl)
Blog: no, but I do have a wonderful Facebook page. Feel free to have a look!
Book(s) you are currently reading: A moveable feast by Ernest Hemmingway and Wisdom of the ages by Dr. Wayne Dyer.
Book(s) you recommend: The power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
In my spare time I like to: watch a good movie, explore, bake, cook, sing, travel, take pictures and read
Share a song: I have to choose a Michael Jackson song, Man in The Mirror (written by Siedah Garet)

Thank you so much, Judit, for this. Meeting you IRL was one of the highlights of my stay in Amsterdam. I hope people realise what a wonderful person you are, just like I did. I am honoured to have met you and I hope we will meet again soon.

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  • Judit November 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm / Reply

    Thank you Valentina, for this interview! It was a pleasure meeting you and Alessandro and I hope to meet up with you again. You know that you’re Always welcome in Amsterdam!

    Tot ziens, xo j

    • Valentina Ambrogio November 18, 2015 at 2:54 pm / Reply

      Thank you, again, for the lovely time we spent together in Amsterdam and for the fantastic time we shared online for this interview :)

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