Meet Our Staff- Dublin School Principal

Running a language school is not just choosing the right location, preparing the building and the facilities for the students. It is much more than that.

To us, hosting the students is to provide them with the ultimate experience, and not only the learning \”in-class\” experience. It is about the warm welcome,  friendliness, quality, the \”feels like home\” atmosphere, fun, support and guidance. There is a lot of \”behind the scenes\” work of many devoted Oscars Team members. We wish to introduce you to some of our staff – with them at the helm, Oscars is bound to succeed in welcoming and hosting you the best way possible : )

Meet Aidan O\’Shea- our Dublin School Principal

\”I think it’s about trying to take the mystery out of learning English.\”

Hi there, tell us about yourself.
I\’m Aidan O\’Shea from Cork and I\’m the school principal here at City Language School.
Great, that\’s a pretty important job. What do you actually do so?
A bit of everything really. It’s generally making sure that everything is running OK from accommodation to the social programme, to the teachers, to reception, to back office. It’s overseeing all aspects of the school but primarily the teachers and the classes.
How long have you been here?
I’m here almost five years.  Before coming here I was a Director of Studies and then before that I was a teacher. I taught in
Korea for a year and then when I came back to Ireland, I taught in Cork for a year. I came to Dublin to do a Master’s in Applied Linguistics at Trinity [College Dublin] and while I was doing that, I was teaching part time. Then about six months into that, the aforementioned Director of Studies role opened up in that school and it was too good to turn down. So I was at that for three years.

How long have you been in Dublin?
Just over eight years. It\’s a great place. There\’s lots going on.
Why should a student come to Dublin?
There are a few reasons. The first thing is the host families. Every year Irish host families get voted the best. They’re native speakers. They care. They’re not just in it for the money. They make people part of their home. Another thing is that Dublin has a good balance between being a decent sized city but also a safe city by international standards and it is becoming more international so it has everything you need whether it\’s halal, twenty four hour Starbucks, theatre, cinema. We’re really well connected now too in terms of flights to Europe and we will soon be the only English speaking country in the EU bar Malta. The other thing is the quality. We generally get good feedback. Everything, our schools, courses and teachers all have to have a minimum standard and that minimum is actually very high. For example, you can’t teach English here unless you have a degree. So whereas English Language teachers abroad don’t need a degree and can teach with just the TEFL cert, you need the degree here. We also have learner protection that they don’t have in the UK.

How does a student make the best of their time here?
We have a lot of activities going on after class. That’s difficult for the longterm students to get involved in sometimes because they have to worry about working and paying the bills and what not, but certainly for the short term students those after class outings or movie nights are a great place to try out that new phrase or practice what you’ve learnt in the classroom. If you can live with a host family that’s great too. It means you get to throw yourself into living with host families as much as possible. I’ve lived in London for a while and if you start up a conversation on a bus or whatever, they’ll look at you as if you’re crazy. Here if you start talking to someone on a bus or the train, they’ll talk back to you.

Is there a guiding philosophy behind what you\’re trying to do here?
I think it’s about trying to take the mystery out of learning English. You have to give students useful English. It can’t be English that exists in a book or that just gets you to pass a test. You have to be able to get out there and use it. There has to be a relationship between what’s in the classroom and in the street. Even an immersion class here is only twenty five hours a week. That’s a lot of free time, a lot of time where there’s nobody forcing students to speak English. So you want to give them the tools so they can make up their own minds and play around with the language.

And in your own free time what do you get up to?
I enjoy running and have recently done the Munich and Barcelona marathons and I’m preparing for Riga next May. I have two pugs, Bobby and JR, who love being brought to the beach or park for walks and I recently started a wine course, but I still couldn’t tell you the difference between a Claret and a Beaujolais.