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5 Fragen an Paul Talbot

Paul ist unser Experte für englische Spezialkurse. Findet hier heraus, was die besondere Herausforderung an seinem Job ist.

Why did you become an English teacher?

Accidentally. I studied law. When I came to Austria, teaching was the only job opportunity I had. I started off as a freelancer and I loved the freedom of being my own boss – and the opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

What’s the best about teaching for you?

Helping people to achieve their specific goals.

That’s why I enjoy teaching ESP (English for Specific Purposes) so much. In these courses we work on skills and vocabulary that people need for their work. I develop most of my courses myself, through speaking to people in different fields about what they need English for.

Could you explain ESP a bit? Who are the participants?

In those courses you can choose a specialisation related to your job or your professional interests. In many jobs, English communication is a necessary skill to perform certain tasks. For example, we offer ESP for government. It covers the kinds of tasks, situations and text types that civil servants or politicians see every day – for example, ministerial briefings, government correspondence or dealing with media.

These courses attract a mix of students and professionals, and I’ve been able to work with parliamentary staff, ministerial employees and people from various regulatory bodies.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Tailoring materials to the real needs of the students. It’s the most important and at the same time most difficult part of my job. I spend a lot of time designing and developing courses and materials for my students. But, as a so-called ‘teacherpreneur’, this is what I see as product development. Product delivery – that is, the teaching part – is just one part of the whole project.

The materials need to be of good quality, as well as useful and attractive for the target audience.

Where do you see the differences between English and German?

The obvious grammatical complexity.

Other than that, German is very direct. It’s good fun to teach the participants how to communicate more indirectly – or, as we would say - more politely.

Particularly when working in ESP, there are often no direct translations for certain words. My job is to explain the concept. Austrian students, for example, enjoy talking about these concepts and processes in politics, such as “first-past-the-post electoral system” (einfacher Mehrheitswahl) or “gerrymandering“ (die Wahlbezirkseinteilung zum Vorteil einer Partei manipulieren).

Thank you!

Remark: This winter semester we are pioneering two semi-intensive Writing Labs with Paul. They will focus on everything from paragraph construction to report writing and business correspondence.

Some places are still available and you can still register for it:


If you’re interested to talk to Paul or another trainer about specialised English for your studies or your career, contact Monica Melega at sprachenzentrumsymbolunivie.acpunktat.