Interview with Khmer Teacher Vanna
Today is a general Q&A session with Khmer teacher Miss Vanna.
I was working at a restaurant part time and the owner was giving Chinese lessons to students. She thought it would be nice if I could give some lessons to students and teach them Khmer. So my tutoring career started.
Q: How did you progress to becoming a Skype teacher and running a website.
I had no plans for Skype lessons until a student was leaving to go back his home country. He asked me if he could continue by Skype, and then a light bulb went off. There are many Khmer teachers out in Phnom Penh, some good some bad, but my research showed there were not one reliable Khmer teacher available by Skype.
Q: And the website?
Well I have no knowledge on websites, programming or anything technical in those matters. I was lucky enough to have a student who set up the website and taught me how to post via WordPress. WordPress is extremely easy, and anytime I have a question I have a friend I can ask which is great.
Q: What countries do the students come from?
All different ones…The usually country is Australia and England with some Americans. But there are a lot of European non native English speakers that are learning Khmer and they do really well. I have even had a student from Brazil!
Q: Skype lessons cant be as good as 1 on 1 lessons face to face?
- Well first there is no need to commute. Traffic in Phnom Penh is getting worse and worse. This saves time (more to time to study for free!), petrol, and not breathing pollution.
- Second reason is time availability. Some of my students are very busy and they work lots of hours and then go home and want to spend their available time with their families. So the student will get on Skype at work (either lunch or free time) and do an hour lesson. It kills dead time and increase productivity while not cutting into family time.
- The third reason and the usual main reason students take Skype lessons is that simply there is not one native Khmer teacher available in their city. So necessity brings upon lessons by Skype.
Q: Hardest part of your business?
Trying to make YouTube videos and editing them. It is very time consuming, and extremely hard for me to edit them. Hopefully with more practice I will get better and faster :).
Q: Was your goal as a kid to always be a Khmer teacher?
Absolutely not! I want to eventually open up my own restaurant where I will serve food. Now since I started teaching I realized I loved it, and thus my goal is one day to have a restaurant and have Khmer lessons available on site. Right now, if you ask someone if they recommend a Khmer teacher you will get 10 different answers from 10 different people. I want to have the best reputation and have people say if you want to learn Khmer, you have to study with Vanna. And maybe they get hungry and want to eat some of my food too.
Q: Advice for someone trying to learn Khmer?
I wrote an article to described the biggest ten mistakes when learning Khmer and I really think that article has a lot of good information. Not only for Khmer, but for any language. With that said, studying a little bit everyday even just one word is important.
Immersion is also extremely important. Immersion doesn’t have to be literally being in Cambodia, but can also be by listening to music, watching Cambodian movies, or talking with a native Khmer speaker. That native speaker could be a Khmer teacher via Skype or if your lucky enough to live where there is a Khmer restaurant, then just going there and practicing a little bit of what you learned is huge.
Q: Can you tell us something unique about you? Something most people would never guess?
My favorite T.V. show is WWE.
Q: WWE? like wrestling?
Yes! I know it sounds weird, but I have watched it since I was a little girl and continue today. I will stay up till midnight to watch, even after working 8-5 at my office job and then teaching Khmer till 9….My friends make fun of me, but it is something that I love and lets me relax.