When I was taught English in school it was really boring. The teacher would give us words to learn and we were told to repeat those words by rote and do work in our books. There was no conversation, no interaction, no chance to practice all these new words and sounds. Even when I tried to go out and speak English to people in my area I would just get laughs at my bad grammar and awful attempts at pronunciation, I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to help me get better.
I was lucky enough to go to university and this is when everything changed. I met people who spoke good English and they were actually ready to help me! They’d correct my pronunciation, talk about new things so I’d have to learn new words and how to use them properly, and not laugh at me when I got things wrong. It was at this time that I realized how important speaking to people in the language you want to learn is, not just calling out words parrot-style between playing with friends at the back of class.
The urge to do something with this information is what led me to starting Monarch Higher Education Institute in 2016. I want to bring people from a range of backgrounds, both native English speakers and those who have had to learn English themselves, to Sri Lanka to work with our children to improve their English. Access to a good education in English was not open to middle- and working-class families where I’m from, until I started Monarch. This stunted the dreams and damaged the aspirations of their children so I want to change that.