Category Archives: Business

Support for the Swiss Federal English Exam of the Direktionassistenten/-innen Course

Via @vickyloras

Vicky Loras's Blog

Are you considering taking the Swiss Federal English Exam of the Direktionassistenten/innen Course (Berufsprüfung Direktionsassistent/-innen)?

The Loras Network is here to assist you, with a lot of helpful material we have either created ourselves, or have in the form of Past Papers.

capture.PNG

We provide full support in:

– Presentation Planning & Practice – Speaking Part 1

– Text Comprehension + Q & A Section – Speaking Part 2

– Correspondence for Writing Section

– Grammar for all levels

– Extra Vocabulary & Idiom Practice

We have successfully been supporting the needs for the Swiss Federal English Exam of the Direktionassistenten/innen Course (Berufsprüfung Direktionsassistent/-innen).

Please feel free to arrange a meeting with us in order to discuss your needs and determine your level of support.

Thank you,

Eugenia and Vicky Loras

View original post

Reading and Restaurants: A Long Story of Learning for @iTDipro

Vicky Loras's Blog

George Loras - my dad! George Loras – my dad!

Here is my post for the Special Issue of Outside Influences for iTDipro. I hope you enjoy this story!

When I remember myself as a little child, I always remember a rather quirky child that disliked pink, princesses and fairy tales, and toys – instead, I love reading, as I could read from a very young age. I was also an absolute klutz when it came to anything graceful, like ballet. I disliked being in big crowds.

I loved another thing along with reading: listening to “real” stories.

I was and I am very fortunate to have someone in my life who taught me that I was not weird, and he taught me so much more. He has nothing to do with ELT. Most of his working life was spent in restaurants, in gruelling schedules, either as waiter, chef, owner, or all three together. He…

View original post 360 more words

Feat No 27: Honored by a student

Today we had the honor, beyond the great pleasure to welcome one of our students to The Loras Network, not as a student but as an observer.

One of our students chose to visit our school, our business, our family as part of her opportunity to observe several professions. This opportunity is given to all students attending the Swiss public secondary schools at the age of 15. It is an opportunity to go behind the scenes in some professions or sectors of interest and get a better feeling of what is involved.

We had the honor not only to have been chosen by our student, but to do what we love doing; tell her why we love it! All the reasons that we love every single aspect of the Loras Network and its past and present. The maturity with which she was absorbing our chapters was also due to the maturity that we now have, emotional and professional, when telling that story.

We had the honor to show her our professional environment as experienced by us and how it affects our daily life, at work and at home.

We were even lucky to have had this visit on a Wednesday! Why? Well, Wednesday happens to be our special lunch date at our favourite restaurant in the building of our offices. We are proud and grateful that we can now have proper lunch breaks after 20 years of a really long but graceful (and sometimes not so graceful) journey. We were honored to share our lunch break with her. It was as if we were having a lunch break with every single student that has honored us by being our student!

What a great day!

Thank you!
Eugenia Loras
Ευγενία Λώρα
niamh1

niamh2

niamh3

Feat No 26

I found it very difficult to find a title for this feat. Then again, the word “Feat” covers it.

I happened to read both of the following today and felt strongly that they apply to my life. I would like to take this opportunity and share them with you.

The first:

“In motherhood, one quite literally becomes a vessel—a role that often continues postpartum. The young family takes precedence, and ambition takes a back seat; a mother can become the net around her loved ones, their needs veiling her own. It is the natural exile of domestic life.”

This is an extract from an interview entitled “The Invisible Woman”, A conversation with Björk by Jessica Hopper on January 21, 2015 on Pitchfork (www.pitchfork.com – For the whole interview,  http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/9582-the-invisible-woman-a-conversation-with-bjork/). I noticed this on Twitter via @MarianSteiner . 

The second:

“Hire women who have paused their career to have children. Just watch how talented and hungry they are” : . This was also found on Twitter via @Davos .

Thank you.

 

The Loras Workshops

The Loras Workshops.

Feat No 25: Allow me to be proud…

Please allow me to be proud:

When Maggie who is now almost ten and Nicholas who is five have been growing up with smiles on their faces while successfully progressing in their language learning. All twenty four previous feats have helped us and now in a more experienced and natural mode, we continue on those familiar to us paths. We still stick to each of us using their own language as introduced in Feat No 1 and we maintain and fully use our investments as explained in Feat No 2. Maggie and Nicholas’ relationship has proven to be one of the strongest factors of development (in every way) as noticed in Feat No 3. We are constantly providing them both with more and more Greek language support just like we promised in Feats No 4 and No 15. They are still speaking to each other in English as predicted in Feat No 6 but with the addition of German language interaction with each other when playing games they have learnt here in Switzerland either at school or through everyday experiences (like when they play supermarket with the stands and products of this country’s brands – very special).

Allow me to be proud:

When both Maggie and Nicholas play a vital role in The Loras Network. When I was supposed to have a solo presentation during the 2nd Loras Workshop this year and they inspired me the evening before to do that presentation as a trio! Naturally, without any pressure or rehearsals. “Would you two like to help mama tomorrow with something more than just setting up the room for the workshop? Would you like to tell the people how we use our mobiles and i pads at home and what we enjoy doing on the computer? How we use our calendar for the languages of our DVDs and all those things we do every day?” “Sure!” replied Maggie with a nodding Nicholas next to her. That Saturday, the 22nd of September 2014, they both accompanied us to our facilities and helped us set up the venue with all the passion and joy that we had.

lw1

They responsibly and maturely participated in the presentation and sat back in their seats at the end of their contribution to observe the other speakers.

lw26

With genuine interest and amazing conduct that even left their own mother speechless.

lw25

Allow me to be proud:

When the Young Learners’ events that you witness through our website or our social media pages are thought up by Maggie and Nicholas. Since August 2014 and on we have been using their ideas for our theme-based days of learning and joy. They have become so experienced now that this Wednesday’s BIRDS DAY was set up entirely by them.

birds2

The rumbling noise this time was not from The Loras Academy but from Maggie and Nicholas’ passionate footsteps. Back and forth, back and forth.

When we go on holidays and at some point mama has to do some business, we all sit down together and do the best business!

Holidays_Business

How can I not be proud?

Allow me to be happy and proud!

Thank you.

(It is my birthday on Tuesday, 11 November and this is my way to celebrate it!)

“We have a business to run!” – And a family to raise!

I actually took my Organizer with me into the delivery room when I was about to give birth to my first child. I had no idea. I knew that I would have to be away from our business for some days – and it was the first time I was going to do that too.

 

My doctor was in shock at the sight of a woman in labor with an Organizer but we worked very well together. Excellent teamwork!

The next day, I was overwhelmed; by having our first child and by missing our business. So I did open the Organizer that very next day to make sure that everything was running well. A bank installment had to urgently be paid on that day and I immediately spoiled my husband’s first moments of fatherhood by sending him to make the payment. As soon as he informed me that it was done and over with, I could peacefully concentrate on our daughter. You experience this very often when running a business.

Again, my trusty Guardian Angels, had helped throughout my pregnancy. In so many ways. Even by helping recruit new teachers as for the first time I had decided to reduce my working hours.

Many things were happening to me for the first time:

– For the first time I became a mother;

– For the first time I was absent from our business for three consecutive weeks;

– For the first time after nine consecutive years I made the decision to reduce my working hours on weekends. I wanted to spend time with my child. Oh, those Sundays. A full schedule from 10am to 10pm. It took me approximately two years to become accustomed to NOT working on Sundays.

– For the first time I had reached levels of such trust with my colleagues that I felt very comfortable being away from the business. They knew, however, that whatever they needed, I was there for them.

Many things were adjusted so that I could smoothly and happily combine being a parent and a businessperson:

– We had made sure to have our apartment very close to our school. Literally, a three-minute walk that would end up being much longer due to all the people we would greet and talk to on our way. This way I could easily visit my daughter and she could just as easily visit us. Frequently. That is what we wanted.

– When we renovated the school, we took the opportunity to create a playroom both for our very young students and for my own child. So that she could be just next door while I was working.

– I managed to nurse her for seven months which was a great accomplishment for us under the busy circumstances.

– Some of our teachers would also have fun lessons with her. How happy I was to be able to raise my child in such a social and educational environment.

– As I had the incredible support of my whole family, I was also able to continue attending the seminars and workshops whether they were local or not.

– I grasped the great opportunity to learn more about my profession while studying about my child. Bilingualism, Multilingualism, Childhood development.

Many things showed me that I love being a businessperson while being a parent:

– When our second child was born, we moved to Zug. I made the decision to pause my active professional life and devote myself to encouraging our family’s adjustment to our new environment and all the changes that came with it. I continued my professional development from home. It was not long before I accepted the first business proposal to be project manager of a corporate multilingual childcare center. I said ‘Yes!’ so easily. So willingly. And I could do it from home which made it even more positive.

– Not long after that project was complete, I was asked to become Interim Manager at an international Business Center. I would be responsible for Customer Relations and Sales. Well, how could I say ‘No’ to that? Clients are the Saints of a business in my book. For this period, my father came to Zug and we knew that both our children were in the safest of hands.

– Having the momentum of the previous two Swiss business encounters, I swept Vicky off her feet (who in the meantime was working unbelievably hard) to continue where we had stopped off. The Loras Network was born. And here we are now, again with homes very close to our new facilities so as to enjoy the best of both worlds.

I did not start being professionally active again because I got bored at home. A parent who is at home with their children is among the busiest people on Earth. My children’s pediatrician has a sign on her door that writes: “You have not worked full-time until you have become a parent.” Up to a point, the sign is true. But when you have had the chance to experience both professional life and parenthood to the fullest of their capacities and to extremes, in some cases, as I have, then you just have got to love it to be able to handle it.

And I love both.

It is Sunday and I am working so I guess old habits die hard. At least this time I did it from home, seated between my two sleeping children while playing classical music in the background as a lullaby.

Thank you.

This is how I was inspired to write this post tonight:

My children were playing together and created their very first business card tonight, leaving us speechless. I present it to you.

Maggie and Nicholas' first Business Card

Maggie and Nicholas’ first Business Card

“We have a business to run!” – Our Services

Our services – Our rituals:

“So tell us, Mrs Loras, why do you have so many invoices for bottled water purchases?” asked the tax inspector upon visiting and investigating The Loras Academy in Ioannina, Greece. “Just like I wouldn’t want my children to drink bathroom water anywhere, that is why we serve clean bottled water to our students.” You are probably shocked by the question I was asked but I must tell you that the tax inspector was actually shocked by the answer.

In some people’s minds, spending time and money on “unnecessary” elements while running a business is wrong. We support the exact opposite.

Our young clients have always been treated as if they were our own children and the adult clients with the respect we would like ourselves to be treated as well. So what is shocking about that? The fact that our services go a step further? The fact that we respect our clients?

Due to the fact that we were based in downtown Ioannina and later on downtown Zug, we offered to wait for some of our young students downstairs a few minutes before the lesson and also safely return them downstairs to their parents in order to relieve the clients of the extra stress. This way we have also added an extra benefit to our lessons and business. The hearts of cities have their benefits but also their stressful attributes like occupied parking spaces and traffic issues. This, however, gives us the chance to greet the clients and briefly remark on the productivity of that day. This gives us the chance to show our clients that we care about them beyond the clientele relationship that we have.

We have been slightly or greatly deprived of our breaks for such services. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You do not get paid extra for these services. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You might have to help out a colleague who has a lesson directly after the previous one… and they might not be able, for practical reasons, to do exactly the same for you. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You might have to serve a glass of water or cup of tea and coffee to your clients or colleagues. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You might have to give a small surprise to a birthday child or a Lost Tooth Award to your young ones. You know, just for that extra smile involved! You have to love it to be able to handle it! You may have to attend professional and educational workshops and seminars to keep up with examination developments and to learn more and more about your profession. At your own personal expense. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You may have to renovate when the time is right while offering clean and safe facilities along with a new and pleasant environment for everyone involved. You have to love it to be able to handle it!

“And what’s in it for me, Mrs Loras? I could just go on, only teaching English, saving myself valuable time and money while enjoying all my breaks and let my secretary do all the rest”. I would suggest that this person need not worry about their clients at all. They will be in good hands with us.

I love being a generous and conscientious citizen, a respectful teacher and parent, a professional and facilitating business person. Everyone desires and deserves respect.

Thank you.

Help out your clients by adding all nearby parking spaces to your website.

Help out your clients by adding all nearby parking spaces to your website.

“We have a business to run!” – Our Team

And how can your Saints be happy if your Angels are not happy, too!

Our Angels in business, our Guardian Angels in fact, have always been the colleagues we have been working with. Yes, in the business world they would be called employees, but not in our business world. They are our trusted, reliable, highly-established colleagues. They have been working WITH US instead of FOR US. We have entrusted them with our precious clients and they have respected and appreciated that to a level hopefully many other businesses have experienced the way we have.

It is a big responsibility choosing the right person to work with. The path we have always followed (and we have been very lucky to experience a booming business that needed additional colleagues several times) is that of sharing the same vision. Whenever conducting an interview, we would mainly describe the way our business worked, the visions and priorities we had and of course, how it had all started. From the other party’s reactions and comments, we would easily realize if our business, and up to a point, personal chemistry, matched. There were basic technicalities that were very important as far as the qualifications were concerned, and basic qualities in their personality such as politeness and punctuality, a great sense of humor and a very positive attitude.

But then, it was up to the business to make sure that our Guardian Angels were fairly and professionally treated; were kindly and lovingly blended into our business family. We have been in the position of a person working in the interests of a school that did not belong to us. So we held on to all those moments, and made sure that they felt as if our school DID belong to them.

We did our very best:

Individual well-organized and equipped offices; User-friendly methodology with full communication and discussion with us in the event of complications or different preferences on behalf of our clients; Monthly meetings but also anytime-meetings to discuss … ANYTHING and EVERYTHING; Constant modifications based on their invaluable feedback but also the clients’ feedback. Finally, my personal favourite: Fun but informative lockers for each employee. A locker in which they have discovered a wide range of information throughout the years: from examination or schedule changes, to both my pregnancies.

And those are the moments you truly cherish your Guardian Angels. When our relationship had reached a point of such mutual respect and compassion; when we had achieved such high levels of professionalism and democracy; when we cared for, protected and stood up for each other. Without ruining the balances among colleagues while making sure our clients were never disrupted.

No! We had not spoilt them one bit. They deserved every single element offered and deserved so much more. We have had excellent teamwork. Stunning collaboration. Outstanding results. It was not smooth or perfect from the day our very first colleague joined us. But we learned a lot along the way and never forgot one single lesson.

Many years ago when the first problem with a colleague occurred, I made absolutely sure none of the other colleagues were disrupted. I was pregnant to Maggie, my first child then. When a new teacher arrived to take the place of the one that had left, Helen, a long-term Guardian Angel said: “How did you do that? We did not have a clue that something was wrong.” My answer to you now Helen is because we loved you and our school, and never wanted anything to ruin it.

Our moblie phones and email accounts were available to our colleagues 24/7. They knew they could feel comfortable informing us on a development or concern, something they had forgotten to mention at school or just a quick joke to add a happy ending to a long day. We would all arrive way before work began and would stay even after work had ended.

All the above refer to the team we created at The Loras Academy in Ioannina, Greece. At The Loras Network in Zug, Switzerland it is just Vicky and me for now. The unbelievable group of Angels that we were honoured to have met, especially before our finale in Ioannina, is like a dream come true for us. I hope they feel the same. It took me a while to exit my mourning phase and find the braveness to maintain contact with them. I apologise to them for that.

Thank you LAMBRINI, HELEN, CHRISSIE, MELANIE, REA, ALEXANDRA, MELINA, JAHNAVI, LISA, DIMITRA, TINA, ANASTASIA, ANDREW, ANGELA, JOANNA and my very own VICKY and CHRISTINE LORAS.

Even before entering, you could hear us laughing with joy!

Even before entering, you could hear us laughing with joy!

“We have a business to run!” – Our Clients

And now I shall introduce you to a part of my Business Religion: Our Clients are our Saints.

Yes, I have always done and always do my very best for them! Yes, they are our students but due to the business format of our Language Schools, they have simultaneously been our clients. I feel no ethical problem naming our students as clients because in the twenty-two years that I have been teaching while running our own businesses :

Not once have we sold them anything that was just beneficial for the business.

Not once have we thought of cheating them.

Not once have we recommended anything that we could not personally guarantee.

Our reputation as a family and business have never been compromised; even though, we have been balancing a school and a business. There have been numerous occasions that I have acted solely in the benefit of the client, ignoring the negative financial impact on the business.

There are constantly cases that the services offered on our behalf, surpass the fee paid on behalf of the clients and never the other way around.

There are instances that you are faced with incredibly profitable opportunities that are in contrast with your personal and professional ethics and we have declined such offers.

Thanks to our Saints, our family has a roof over our head, food on our tables, clothes on our backs.

Thanks to our Saints, we have become an eagerly grateful human beings.

Thanks to our Saints, my children are proud of us.

And when your Saints, express their unconditional loyalty to you even after years have passed by since your last professional encounter; when your Saints have become a part of your personal life because you allowed them to and they wanted to; when your Saints are always your Saints no matter what has happened in a course of a lifetime; when your little Saints have turned into fully – grown and achieved adult Saints and you feel the I way I feel while writing this hymn in their honor…

then you must be doing something right while you are off to run your business!

Thank you.

Thank You Card from The Loras Network, Switzerland. An idea continued from The Loras Academy, Greece.

Thank You Card from The Loras Network, Switzerland. An idea continued from The Loras Academy, Greece.

“We have a business to run!” – You’ve got to love it to be able to handle it!

I would like to share the anguish and success, the success and the anguish of entrepreneurs.

“We have a business to run!” How I love saying that in my most cheerful, dynamic and ambitious tone of voice. I love being an entrepreneur in education for so many reasons. On both a personal and professional basis, you are offering while watching (and sometimes helping) children grow; you are assisting an adult add an extra qualification to his professional profile (and thus contributing to his professional development and progress); whether a parent, or a parent-to-be, a relative to a child, or godparent, you are contributing to the child’s upbringing in such an invaluable way.

And all the above are offered by every single educator working in the private or public sector.

When owning your own Language School, however, you truly do have a “business to run”. And believe me when I say that ” You’ ve got to LOVE it, to be able to handle it”. I personally thrive upon it. I have been through every single possible stage and form an entrepreneur can experience. Freelance, employee status, volunteer status and business start-up. I cannot imagine myself doing it any other way. It suits me and yes; I LOVE IT! Even as a child and throughout my life, I have always admired our relatives in Canada and in Greece who had achieved to set up and grow their own businesses.

Despite the anguish, the tight financial corners you will be put into, the ruthless schedule of self-employment, the sleepless nights about how to maintain what you have built, the lost appetite over how to find an immediate solution to an urgent matter while not affecting clients, … and I would have to go on for twenty-two years with the rest.

This first chapter of the experiences of a business owner is all about the LOVE OF IT! If I had not become a language school owner initially, I do not know what else I would have become, but for sure, no doubt about it, I would be running a business. I love it and live it so intensely that I sometimes feel that unintentionally, I have already influenced my children in that direction. Unless it is in the genes!

Thank you.

Loras Academy 8

Born and raised in an educational business environment

Feat No 24: Our favourite activity; Usborne First Reading Books with audio CD and worksheets

For the past two weeks our children Maggie and Nicholas have been enjoying their Winter Sports Break. Besides relaxing, helping out with our new facilities and playing, they cannot stop enjoying the readers we bought for them and our students from Usborne Books at Home.

The series, English Learner’s Edition from Level 1 to 5 along with a CD and free downloadable worksheets have become one of our best investments both at home for our own children but also for our English language school, The Loras Network and our young students.

At home, we use them mainly as our bedtime story. It helps us all unwind and enjoy a creative and educational ending chapter to our long day. Even parents can benefit from the CD as there are evenings when we are too tired to read a bedtime book ourselves. And then there are times when we would love to read a story book to our children before bedtime and then do the brief fun activities that are at the end of the book, like spotting the differences between pictures or sequence activities based on the story.

At our English Language School, this series has become an excellent way to promote book reports with our young learners. And they love their new project. They read the books to us after having borrowed them at home to read and to listen to the CDs as many times as they like. Then we print the worksheets for them and again with the help of their books, they can complete the activities. Even in the cases that they find the spelling of some words difficult and choose to copy the word from the story book, they are enhancing their spelling skills. They are enriching their vocabulary and they are fluently becoming great readers. We even use the plot of some stories to discuss further and encourage kindness, team work, gratitude and other qualities that will help develop healthy personalities.

Thank you to all parents and teachers for investing in more books for their children’s and student’s libraries.

usborne2

Feat No 23: Behind the scenes… behind it all!

What a week! What a long, hard-working, stressful yet blissful week. During the two-week Sports Break here in Switzerland, our family is working out… by working.

We have been in the process of looking for new facilities the past 3 months as it would be much more professional and practical to each have permanent separate offices. Many of our lessons are simultaneous and have increased recently.

Literally, last minute, on Friday 31.01 we found the best possible facilities, received the keys and managed to move everything out of the old and into the new during the weekend. That means that as of today we are ready to welcome you to our offices at Uptown, General-Guisan-Strasse 6, Zug in the Premium Business Center.

The main entrance is on the side of their vast parking lot. You can almost always find parking space there. There is also free parking in the “Hertizentrum” next to it, the big department complex. When you enter the building, you press the doorbell of “Premium Business Center” and then take the lift to the 4th floor.

We can be at the entrance a few minutes before our first lesson to welcome you and any other day you wish. We can even come downstairs to the parking lot and escort the children directly to the offices and back.

We are very happy as we will be enjoying our lessons in a fully-equipped, safe, practical and even financially efficient environment and we truly hope you will like our new arrangements when you visit us. Not only can you enjoy our offices whenever you visit but also the spectacular Cafe-Restaurant Skylounge on the top floor.

Yes! Convenient and professional, just the way we like it for our students and their families. For our students and their companies.

And you would have never imagined that my son Nicholas actually planted several bolts in the holes of our new bookcases, or that Maggie screwed many parts of our new desks. You would never have known that Vicky looked after Maggie and Nicholas until after midnight for several days and nights while my husband Thomas and I, moved boxes, transported and assembled furniture. You could not possibly be aware of the fact that we managed to spend fun and emotionally-filled family time throughout this whole procedure. Whenever we could, we all worked together. Gathering and separating the material for recycling, organizing all our books and educational games. Remembering all the times we had made changes in our past professional lives. Rediscovering curricula that have been accompanying us throughout our nineteen-year career and happy to discover how many new items have been added since then. Reminiscing all the people and moments that contributed honestly and invaluably to everything that has led up to this day. Feeling proud about what you can accomplish with your family, your friends, your work and your determination. You would not have believed how many times we clapped our hands with joy, applauded each other for the great work and laughed with exhaustion!

You would have never known that beyond the prestigious Uptown building we have now moved The Loras Network to, are all these simply beautiful things we live.

So I thought I’d let you know.

Thank you very much to everyone!

2014-02-03 16.42.11

Feat No 18: Our events

One of the best parts of being a teacher has been the events we organize for our young learners – for our children. Ever since I started teaching English, I have always tried to find a way to incorporate these educational and entertaining events in our school year.

When I was a freelance teacher and, among several other projects, taught English as a second language to Greek children at a private preschool, we would organize beautiful celebrations for Christmas and the end of the school year. I was responsible for creating a segment in English. It would usually be a short play full of English songs, jumbo flash cards, words and phrases we had learnt throughout the year. What was special about these mini English celebrations, was the result! The children loved them, the parents were thrilled and I was so fulfilled. At the end of the events, the parents would come up to me and express themselves so enthusiastically that they felt their children had performed better in English than in their native language.

Later on at our Language School in Greece, The Loras English Academy, we continued hosting such events with the aid of technology: our interactive white board, videos, DVDs, CD-ROMs, audio storybooks, printable worksheets and electronic board games.

As I mentioned in my talk, on 22 September 2013, what I also love about our profession is that we have the great benefit of being able to mix business and pleasure. In such a productive and pleasant way. To this day we still have an event for children, at least once a month. Every month, a theme is chosen and played with in written, spoken, game and creative form, providing our students with extra practice in English, maybe additional encyclopedic knowledge on a topic and with a wonderful dose of fun. For one hour, we make the best of every theme.

The pleasure, however, is not only in the entertaining aspect of the events. As a mother, I can invite my own children into this world of knowledge and happiness. What a combination!

Even when on holidays, we try to find such combinations at the places we visit. My personal favourite has been our trips to Ravensburger Spieleland in Germany. An absolutely excellent environment of very fun education. Even when choosing hotels, we make sure their is a playroom or kids club for them.

Finally, we felt very proud when we had an article published about one of our events during the previous school year. It was “Clifford, the Big Red Dog” Day at The Loras Network and we all had a great time.

Thank you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Feat No 15: The Loras English Network …with a touch of Greek School!

Our school year is coming to an end and so is the case for Maggie’s Swiss Public School, Nicholas’ Swiss Playgroup and last but not least Maggie’s Greek School.

A full, productive and of course, hard-working year. One that is entitled to a well-deserved summer break.

When we decided to change Greek school after the Christmas break, as described in Feat No 4, we chose a private Greek school. Both, however, in Zurich. Twenty-five minutes away from Zug by train and one tram-ride away from the center of Zurich. And we did it. To be precise, Maggie did it. We were just the escorts. The cheerleaders that kept encouraging Maggie and her progress. For two whole years, every Saturday, Maggie woke up to a school day.

And when the going got tough, literally, the homework got heavy and the cheering was not working anymore, we discussed the issue with Maggie and decided that we should try the second option. The private Greek school. An extra expense for the family budget, but a very good way to maintain and progress our Greek. And it worked! Maggie had fewer hours of lessons, fewer classmates and less homework. She had regained confidence especially in her Greek speech and is now very advanced for a child that does not attend a daily Greek school.

We are very proud of her and also relieved that this school year has come to an end. She can relax and practise during our holidays in Greece with our relatives and friends.

But you do not know the best part yet…

Although The Loras Network is, in fact, The Loras ENGLISH Network, we have decided to go a bit further than that and create a Greek Language Workshop for the families of Greek origin living in Zug:

Dear Parents and Students,

As of the new school year, August 2013 we shall begin a Greek Language group for an hour and a half, once a week. This will be a group for children aged 6 years old and up. The lessons will take place at our facilities and we shall maintain and develop the children’s Greek Language skills in a pleasant and creative way close to their homes.
As we noticed with our own child, Maggie, it has been extremely difficult, exhausting, time-consuming and expensive travelling to another Canton weekly. We have been doing so for the past two years while trying to facilitate her Greek language skills at the Greek schools that exist in Zurich. Through our own personal experience, we came up with the idea of creating this Greek Language group here in Zug. For your children and ours.

And many families in Zug were relieved to receive that letter. So were we. So was Maggie who has already paved the way for Nicholas’ well-being while learning Greek.

At the same time, this will be a test for our professionalism as teachers due to Maggie’s presence in the group. Both Vicky and I are my children’s English-speaking contributors. From now on, every Wednesday for an hour and a half, we will be her Greek language teachers.

Greek Workshop image

A Special Feat: Professional Development While Being a Parent

For two and a half years, I was not in the classroom; not once did I think of deducting those years from my teaching career. And that, thanks to my two full-time students, in Life Sciences and English Language Learning; my daughter, Maggie and my son, Nicholas.

The amounts of Professional Development that I have been receiving through their development, physical, mental, psychological and linguistic, is invaluable.
This Special Feat is a message to all English Language Teachers who have become parents. Professional Development does not stop when you become a parent. On the contrary and through personal experience, you can make the utmost out of your gift and responsibility of being a parent:
You can be one great teacher for your family and for your students.
  •  We have turned our home into a school and our school into our second home. 
  • I have been extensively studying the specialized topics of Bilingualism and Multilingualism and have been applying all I am learning both to my children and my students.
  • Through this effort, several other colleagues-parents have become motivated and began studying and asking for advice on these issues – issues that are firmly bonded with teaching languages. 
  • Some of us may not be able to frequently visit workshops and conferences. That’s alright! That’s what webinars, online conferences and workshops, educational blogs, social media and books are for.
  • And some of us may be able to bring our own children into the groups we teach. This is my personal favourite. As if I have been living and working for this.  

Congratulations to all teachers and parents on their feats. Thank you.  

This post was originally published on the BELTA (Belgian English Language Teachers Association) blog.

Feel free to explore BELTA Belgium: http://www.beltabelgium.com

(The Loras Network is an institutional member of BELTA Belgium)

maggie and nicholas

Feat No 14: Our 1st Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism in Language Learning and Families

As a parent, I have been in doubt and under pressure when raising my children initially bilingually and later on multilingually. And there have been times that I have had to:
– study hard on the topic,
– invest in resources,
– be loyal to a plan or method,
– commit to a schedule,
– exchange feedback with other parents with similar experiences,
– accommodate ideas to our family life and all that… while trying to make it as pleasant as possible for everyone involved.

As a teacher, I have been encouraging language learning and teaching an additional language to a monolingual speaker or to an already bilingual one for almost eighteen years. And there have been times during that role that I have had to:
– study hard on the topic,
– learn through numerous experiences of teaching all ages and all levels,
– invest in resources,
– build up a methodology according to the feedback from students and/or their parents,
– pass on this information and experience to all colleagues working with us,
– ultimately contribute to bilingualism and/or mutlilingualism and all that… while trying to make it as pleasant as possible for everyone involved.

Whether a parent, a teacher or both, it is amazing how many things we have in common. Just look above. And that is how the idea of our 1st International Loras Network Workshop was born. Bilingually; multilingually; while raising our children and teaching our students.

In an attempt to cover as many aspects of this topic as possible:
Dr Muhammad Aslam Sipra will cover the topic of the contribution of bilingualism in language teaching at beginners’ level. (As a teacher, I cannot wait to learn more on this issue and as a mother, it will help me figure out how teachers handle it).
Ms Claudia Buzzoni will guide us in the world of resources, motivation and alternatives. (As a teacher and a parent, I need to invest in the appropriate direction).
Mr Alex Rawlings is our live example of how a child, a teenager and then an adult can learn languages – yes, in the plural. (As a teacher, I wish he were my student and as a mother, how relieved I feel with his results).
Vicky Loras will touch that international point of view of languages and countries, people and their cultures, our world. (As a teacher and a parent, I love the idea of our students and children learning in depth).
As a mother and a teacher, I, Eugenia Loras, would love to share the story of my personal and professional life, with all its mistakes and joy!
I will be honored to experience all this with you.
Thank you.
Poster Part
http://www.lorasnetwork.com/events/events-1/25-1st-international-loras-network-workshop

Feat No…13?: Not that unlucky after all – We have the Sunshine Award!

Thank you very much Stephen Greene, www.headoftheheard.wordpress.com, for awarding the www.eugenialoras.wordpress.com blog with the Sunshine Award!

The Sunshine Award  is given to those who write positive and inspiring articles and bringing some sunshine into the life of others. The Sunshine blogging award has its own rules and requirements:

– Link back the blog who nominated you.

– Post the award images in your blog.

– Tell seven facts about yourself.

– Nominate 5 to 10 blogs and let them know about it.

I dedicate this award to my children and my family for all their achievements and support! Congratulations to them all!

As a Sunshine Award winner, I am supposed to say seven facts about myself:

1. I am a Thank You person so I would like here to thank you all!

2. I have been preparing and working for my children, Maggie and Nicholas even before they were born. As if I already knew them.

3. Words cannot describe how much I love my work.

4. My favourite colour is purple.

5. My favourite book is “Someday” by Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds, Scholastic.

6. I really love autumn and my birthday!

7. Whenever I send my wishes to someone, I truly hope they come true!

And now I am honored with the privilege of awarding the following blogs with the Sunshine Award:

1. www.swissirja.wordpress.com : Sirja Bessero deserves the Sunshine Award because she is the super mother of three children and an excellent English language teacher in Switzerland

2. www.beltabelgiumblog.blogspot.ch: The Belta Blog Team deserves the Sunshine Award because they provide excellent guidance and support not just to teachers in Belgium but all around the world.

3. www.rosebardeltdiary.wordpress.com: Rose Bard deserves the Sunshine Award because she has been wonderfully raising three children and loves teaching English in Santa Catarina.

4. www.ariascarm.wordpress.com : Carmen Arias deserves the Sunshine Award because she teaches English in Spain, while beautifully raising her family.

5. www.rawlangs.com : Alex Rawlings deserves the Sunshine Award because he is an extraordinarily valuable role model for children, parents and teachers.

6. www.vickyloras.wordpress.com : Vicky Loras deserves the Sunshine Award exactly  because she is my sister. Vicky is a very special English Language teacher in Switzerland, she is the Godmother of our children and the best professional partner I could ever ask for.

Thanking you very much,

Eugenia

photo

Feat No 11: Have you read Feat No 9? Then you have been waiting for this.

And then I had to make a decision. A life-changing and devastatingly difficult decision. How do you lock that door behind you…for good this time. Not like you have been doing for about a decade of your life. With the untamable desire to skip night time and open up the doors again the next day.

My husband’s employers for whom he was working as an external associate had offered him a position in Switzerland. And I had my position in Greece as mother of Maggie, expecting Nicholas and businesswoman and teacher. To this day, I am still in love with all these roles. This was too heavy for me, as Eugenia, to handle. So I had to exit from my roles and become a logical stranger. A person who could objectively choose the most possible positive points between each case.

From a neutral point of view, with no major biased feelings, the choice was almost clear. Having been born and raised in Canada, the vast majority of Switzerland’s attributes coincided with those that I admired in Canada. But the neutrality could not remain in the forefront for too long. I would manage to make my appearance in this logical picture and ache for my family, our school and co-workers and friends. This went on and on for several nights…while being pregnant to Nicholas. I really trained myself then to limit my anguish to a minimum. I was sleepless for three whole months. Performing beautifully at home with Maggie and at work with my colleagues and clients. But I had to make a responsible statement to myself first and then to everyone else involved.

Since the objectivity was constantly beaten by the appearance of Eugenia, I had to eliminate those two complicated players and make the decision as a mother first and then as a human being.

The decision was then easily reached.

The best conditions for both my children to grow up in were in Switzerland.

And the best solution for both my colleagues/friends and clients was to continue their cooperation on an independent level. Unfortunately, managing a business in Greece from a distance was clearly not a feasible option from a business and financial point of view.

We all had our own lockers at the reception area of our school. I would leave notes for our English teachers there for them to find and they looked forward to checking those lockers. We worked together in such harmony that everything was very pleasant and productive. Even those notes.

That day, I wrote down an individual note for each one of our beautiful and professional teachers. Beautiful in every way and I mean it. It was like a short love note that had a hint of what was going to happen. Upon arrival, they found their notes, one by one and looked at me. We could not say much and I could not allow myself to mourn or feel sorrow. For the well-being of Nicholas. I forbid myself to feel it. The same rumbling sound that was heard when we were in full swing at the school, could be felt again now. It had a different meaning this time, though. And you could not hear it.

A rough month went by until the end of the school year as the clients were having a hard time accepting this news flash. And I am forever in debt to them. Even for the new school we have today. It all started with them.

The days of June 2009 were coming to an end but I felt I would not be able to cope with the last day. I had physically started to pack our things in boxes with the help of my family and teachers. I remember our school secretary and dear friend, Lambrini trying to stop me from doing things because of my pregnancy. How lucky I have been to have all these precious people in my life.

June would end on a Tuesday…but I could not turn that key for a last time. So I left on Friday. Two days before the end. With my briefcase I walked back home and remember the whole way back. Looking at my shadow in the sunset.

I had to delete the pain from my body and my soul so as not to harm unborn Nicholas. So as to support Maggie in this huge new step. So as to help my sister Vicky, any way I could possibly think of in her new beginning with us.

So Feats No 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 took their course. And it all went along smoothly. But the time had come for me to mourn. At last. At long last.

And now this: http://www.lorasnetwork.com. And I am happy again. Thank you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This door may have closed but it helped open a new one. We are grateful to everyone involved.

Feat No 10: Maggie’s first bilingual school: The Loras English Academy

Today was Clifford Day at our English School. And Maggie was there, too. Just like she always has been these past eight years when she arrived and saved me from myself.

And that is why I love my job:

* Maggie would visit The Loras English Academy. Every day. How happy she was at “Mama’s school”, as she called it.

* And it belonged to her family. Her mom was working there. So were her aunts. Her grandparents brought her there every afternoon.

* The best part was that I also felt happy working in an environment that my child could visit and remained until I would leave. In the evening.

* We were not just together at the same place and at the same time, but I had arranged for Maggie to have short and fun English and Greek lessons there regularly while I was working. Just next door. Perfect. (Many global companies today, have childcare facilities within the companies themselves. The advantages are invaluable for everyone involved.)

* We had even created a playroom for our very young students when we renovated. Thanks to Maggie, many children and there parents became keen on learning English. They wanted to speak and understand English just like Maggie. Our daughter had accidentally become our walking and talking advertisement for these English Playgroups. As we had adopted the One person, One Language method concerning Maggie’s bilingualism, we had managed to draw attention by being among the minority of daily English-speakers in our former city, Ioannina.

The Loras English Academy Playroom

The Loras English Academy Playroom

* At the end of the day, we were both very tired but we always left the school happy and proud.

Too bad Nicholas missed out on all those incredible experiences. …Or did he?

Have no fear, The Loras English Network is here!

Together again at our school with Maggie... and slowly Nicholas will start attending, too

Together again at our school with Maggie… and slowly Nicholas will start attending, too

Feat No 9: The Loras English Academy…the ground-breaker ……and…the heart-breaker

At the age of 17 I had obtained the necessary certificate and license to teach English as a Foreign Language. So I started doing exactly that.

I was mature enough to realize the financial situation of my family and felt the responsibility and duty to help them. To support them. To bravely tell them and show them they can count on me. Completely.

“How many hours are there in a day, Eugenia? Well then, you must work as many as you can handle. As many as you dare.” I dared myself and that was that:

* Private lessons at students homes all over our former residence, Ioannina, in Greece.

* I did not have a car and the means of transportation were not reliable enough to keep a tight schedule in order. So I went to all on foot. Carrying kilos of books in bags in both hands. And sometimes extra equipment like posters and board games on my back. In all weather conditions.

* Teaching at two private English Language Institutes.

* Teaching English at a private Nursery/Kindergarten.

* Doing translations at the end of the teaching day, meaning from 10.00 pm till 2.00 or 3.00am.

* But on which computer? I did not have one. So I provided volunteer work as a secretary at my uncle’s legal office who also happened to be a politician. Very busy. And he had a computer. So I would use that and his printer in return for my services.

And this went on every day – literally – Monday through Sunday. And all day – literally – from 7.00 am to about 2.00 am.

…for better or for worse,
for richer or for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish;
from this day forward,
until death do us part. I was married to my profession.

I was so ambitious, so powerful, so energetic, so passionate with what I was doing and how it was growing that I just could not stop. And I did not.

And I was helping my family. And I was helping my future family. And then I thought of a ground-breaking idea at the age of 23.

“I love private lessons because of their size. They are so productive. But I love the practicality of the Language Schools I teach at as you have all your books, resources, files, printers there…readily available. So why don’t I create a Language School but for private lessons, from one to three people?”

I said that exact phrase to my then fiancé, now husband, while having a rare coffee at one of the several, several though, coffee shops, Ioannina had and still has. Why rare? Because I never ever left a gap in my schedule. I would manage to fill it in with another student. But that day was one of the few that I hadn’t managed to do so. So while I was taking the second sip of that rare coffee, I released my idea loudly in the spring air and Thomas, believing in the potential, grabbed me by the hand and we immediately started searching for a small office. There went my coffee… Me and my big mouth… Me and my wild ideas… (Coffee Time for me had been transformed into something like a curse…while I was working even during the weekends, almost everybody else was enjoying their coffee…right in my face… While I was going back and forth, up and down, here and there. And I managed not to get distracted. At that age. In that lifestyle. I was working for Maggie and Nicholas and I hadn’t even met them. And I was even mocked for this gruesomely hard-working lifestyle. I was deaf and blind to it all).

In the heart of Ioannina, on a very popular and desired street, we found a 40 square-meter office. And I signed. While I was signing I started crying. Like a baby. In front of the owner of the office and the real estate agent. First time for a Scorpio like me to do that in public. “Why are you crying, what is wrong?” said one of the gentlemen. “She is happy and moved”, said Thomas. The truth? The first rent and the deposit was all the money I had in the world.

But I signed.

And innovated. The English Language School with a private tutoring concept did not exist in the books of the Ministries involved. So they made a combination of rules and that was our guideline. That was our innovation.

First year I was alone, pretending not to be sick, or tired. I couldn’t afford to be. Second year, Vicky had completed her studies and joined me. By the way, due to the same financial pressure, Vicky had managed to complete her studies in a record time. Making her own line of sacrifices. We divided the office into two smaller offices and followed the same successful recipe. Work. Hard work. No diversions. No regrets.

We were so busy at some point that new clients would not even come to ask if we had free time. This would become a problem if we had not acted fast. We had to find somebody, beyond our family union, that we could entrust with our clients. Our treasures.

And we signed for the next door office and found our first teacher. And then the next teachers and then the next offices.

And it boomed! Truly Boomed! I can still remember the beautiful rumbling sound our school was making while booming.

More and more students, more and more teachers, more and more ideas, more and more smiles. Boom!

Students were on waiting lists for the next school year. They all wanted to be a part of this. Parents and children. What a pleasure I took with planning the new school year schedule. No matter how stressful it was. For me it meant success.

Teachers were being interviewed; native speakers or Greek English teachers who had studied and lived abroad. Some came, some left, all of whom worked WITH us instead of FOR us. And that, for me, meant success, too. We were a team. A fun one and a professional one. And after all the coming and going we had reached a point where we had formed the perfect team. Lambrini, Helen and Lisa, Chrissie and Melanie, Alexandra and Rea, Jahnavi, Melina and Anastassia…oh, how I thank you all for being a part of my life, a part of my family’s life. Such a special part. Such a huge support.

And of course, the Loras Trio. With Christine, our younger sister starting off as secretary and moving on to teacher, making her own line of sacrifices, as our story goes, we were all head over heels in love with The Loras English Academy. Our lessons would come to an end in the evening and we just would not want to. None of us.

And then there is my family. My precious parents. What efforts they have put into all this cannot be written. What self-sacrificing participation they have made in all this story and history cannot be described. A true family business. My husband with all his support and financial knowledge. His younger sister, Carolina, for being our reliable secretary in times of need. And his elder sister, Sandy for hiring me at her own English Language School at the beginning of my career.

The methodology, the innovation, the teamwork, the sensational atmosphere, the safety and security, the sense of family and love towards everyone involved. It was all there.

So it was time for Maggie. And it was time for Eugenia to become a bit more human and allow time to herself to rest. To breathe. To eat while sitting down. Maggie came to the rescue when she was born.

And her new bilingual school was in the making. Feat No 10.

Next step was to renovate the facilities with even more self-sacrifice but even more passion. We were close to perfect. How smoothly we all worked. Our beautifully the lessons were conducted. Like an excellent choreography. And Maggie’s new bilingual school was ready. Awarded and admired. Loved and enjoyed. Renowned and highly recommended. Our name was our guarantee.

And all this in a handicapped country. Unfortunately, the country that has given so much to this world, is the country that could not contain us.

Our ground-breaking Academy was about to come a heart-breaking finale in Greece. Feat No 11.

The Loras English Academy

The Loras English Academy