For our second interview in the TLG Trainer Spotlight series, we sat down (virtually) with the multi-talented, English, West Country native, Catherine Kerr. We talked with her about her life as a business English trainer and health and fitness coach, the cultural differences between the UK and Italy, and her up-and-coming cookbook with a twist…
Could you describe yourself in one sentence? I am motivated - and can easily motivate others to bring out the best in them - and am also positive minded and always see the good in
Where were you born and raised? Bristol, UK, but my family is Irish.
What did you study at university? I studied Business Studies and French at Plymouth University, in the South West of England.
What are your main interests and hobbies outside work? Sport - including running, cycling, cross-fit, tennis, swimming. Skiing in winter,and scuba diving in Summer (unless I go
somewhere hot in the winter!). I also like cooking and drinking fine wines. Plus lugging my son to rugby training and rugby matches (we spoke to Catherine while she was on a mammoth
coach journey, across Italy, enroute to a national junior tournament!)
What were you doing before you became a business English trainer? I was working in marketing and also as a personal trainer and sport therapist
And why did you decide you wanted to move into an educational role? I have always taught something in some sort of capacity. I first learnt to teach tennis and swimming when I
was 17, then at 21 I became a ski instructor. I then went back to night school to study for a diploma in Personal Training and Sports Therapy, during my 30’s, so when I first got to Italy it
was a natural progression to learn how to teach English and do a TEFL qualification.
Did you do any formal training before becoming a business English trainer? A TEFL qualification.
And what made you decide to move to Italy in the first place? My sister lived here, first, and I’d always wanted to move here. Then I met my (now) husband and decided to take the plunge!
Excellent! So, how long have you been working with TLG? For 6 years.
What do you like most about the methodology the company uses to support its clients? I like the fact that it is student-centered and the flipped learning approach is extremely effective for the students’ engagement and development.
Do you believe you can teach online as effectively as you can in a physical setting? Absolutely. And I think the last 2 years through the pandemic has proven this.
You mainly work with senior managers and executives, based in Italy. What are the major cultural differences you have noticed between them and businessmen and women from your own country?
There’s a few (!):
-Brits drink tea and Italians drink coffee
-Brits start their fiscal year in April, Italians on 1st January
-Brits have an ever-shrinking lunch hour, while Italians really enjoy their lunch break and spend time on it
-The typical Brit’s wardrobe is more rough and ready; Italians are chic and elegant and match their colours
-British professional men wear short socks under their suits showing skin when they sit down, Italians wear long socks
-Brits have the notion of maintaining a 'stiff upper lip' while Italians live by the ideal of the bella figura (to dress well to make a good impression)
Have you found any common issues in terms of English language usage that your Italian students face? I think a lack of native English teachers, throughout the early education system here, means Italian students lack confidence when speaking and pronouncing certain words.
That’s an interesting take on it. If you could name one book that you would recommend your students to read, what would it be and why? Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen - a real British classic and a truly great love story. As for why, I think it’s important to read a classic in its original language and it’s also an amazing book.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? Still leading a fit and healthy lifestyle and completing a full triathlon.
Great! And, closer to the current moment, what 3 things on your bucket list would you most like to do this year? To finish my cookbook, go on a wildlife safari and master a work-related skill.
A cookbook? Do tell us more! My husband and I are both really into cooking and we love traditional Italian food. But, with my love of fitness in mind, I wanted to create healthier versions
of some of the classic Italian dishes we both enjoy. So, we decided to write a book together, with two versions of the same dish, side-by-side: he’s coming up with the original recipes and I’m adapting them, using a different set of healthier ingredients.
Wow! Sounds amazing. And very tasty indeed! We look forward to reading it and making some of those dishes soon.
Thanks, Catherine! Thank you, too! .