Concordia student opens language school

Andrew Peters creates Helix Languages, a non-traditional language school
April 24, 2013
By Lesley De Marinis

Andrew Peters has been passionate about languages since he was a young boy. Growing up in the United States, he learned Spanish and German. When he was 12, he taught himself to speak Russian, and he moved to Montreal for university a few years ago partly because he wanted to learn French.
Peters began studying linguistics at Concordia and spent a year abroad in Shanghai and Hong Kong. When he returned to Montreal, he wanted to do something special with his newly acquired knowledge.

Andrew Peters (centre, wearing grey and black), flanked by two assistant teachers with some of his recent students. | Photo courtesy of Helix Languages
Andrew Peters (centre, wearing grey and black), flanked by two assistant teachers with some of his recent students. | Photo courtesy of Helix Languages

“I came back here with this idea that I was going to open a non-traditional language school,” Peters said. “Since I study linguistics, I thought that it’s a useful application for what I study so I’ve been teaching the classes here using what I learned there and just trying to spread what I know.”

Peters began holding free Mandarin courses two evenings a week out of a Concordia classroom with the help of two volunteer teaching assistants.

“Right now, I still have about 15 students who come on a regular basis,” he says. “The teaching methods that I use are a bit different than a standard class where there is a lecture and then there are tests. I base it more on the idea of a Socratic method and I put more emphasis on language production rather than just recitation and preparing for a test.”

Hannah Bimose is an English literature student who participated in one of Peters’ Mandarin classes, which wrapped up last week.

“I have a goal of learning 10 languages before I turn 30, and Chinese is cool because it’s so different from English,” she says. “And Andrew is super nice. He pays for the course out of his own pocket, photocopies and everything, because he loves it. And that’s just awesome!”

Peters is graduating from Concordia and has created Helix Languages, a language school that he plans to open this summer. “I have grand aspirations that I want to call it a language institute but we all have to start somewhere,” he says.

The school will be based in downtown Montreal and will hold language courses twice a week. Peters also plans to make online learning resources available to his students.

“I’m going to be offering language classes online with sort of a mixed media, where we’ll produce videos and then we’ll make memory exercises for the vocabulary and then the students when they’re not in class,” he explains. “The project that I’m working on now is trying to get the funding for renting a permanent space for the school and getting the funding to work on the web development.”

Peters has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for his language school. View his campaign.

Related links:
•    Helix Languages
•    Helix Languages on Facebook

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