We chat with VANNESSA MISSO-VENESS of Cascade Train Teach Learn to find out more about her career as an English tutor and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. She explains what it’s like running her business in Hong Kong and talks about her time teaching in South Korea.
You’ve lived in many parts of Asia. What have been some highlights of those experiences?
My hometown Singapore holds a special place in my heart – it’s a melting pot of East meets West, and growing up there instilled in me some strong values: family, respect for elders, tolerance and adaptability. My daughter was born in Phuket, and the hospitality, tolerance and Buddhist beliefs of the Thai people has definitely had an impact on me. And my six years in South Korea gave me many long-lasting friendships and the opportunity to show resilience while living in cold and windy Jeju!
Since moving to Hong Kong, I’ve fallen in love with its dynamic energy and the unique blend of influences here; it’s a reminder of home.
What made you interested in becoming an ESL teacher?
It started with me trying to find my niche in teaching. I knew I enjoyed empowering learners in the classroom, sharing methods for learning and improving their English for work or academic success.
Over the years, this “job” turned into a real passion for empowering students, and also an amazing opportunity for cultural exchange, building tolerance and sharing perspectives. Language is a great tool for appreciating each other despite our differences – and it means a lot to me as a Eurasian of mixed heritage.
I also love learning, and this helped me improve my skill set to the point where I started training ESL teachers to work with non-native English speakers (NNES) while living in Jeju. From there, I developed my own teaching methodology to help student learning and autonomy. Now, as a qualified coach, I embed coaching tools into my teaching and training.
How did that manifest in you launching your own business, Cascade?
Preparing a child for academic excellence shouldn’t be a lonely road for the child. I saw a gap here, and a need to shift mindsets and perceptions.
What did the business look like when you started it, and how has it changed?
It was a one-woman show, running to students’ homes, teaching them, speaking to parents about how and why their empathy and support was needed to support their child’s progress.
Today, Cascade has English language teachers and English tutors who continue the mission of delivering quality customised language development support; we collaborate with facilitators to deliver unique programmes that are creative and build vital 21st-century skills for students.
How does Cascade incorporate wellbeing into its ESL teaching?
This is a very big part of what we do – we teach students about managing stress, being better prepared at school, and using positive language when speaking about themselves and their work.
What’s coming up for Cascade in 2024?
We’re so excited about our new facilitation programmes for students, parents and all adults! We’ll be delivering these deep transformative sessions in schools, to corporates and in private sessions. Our first session runs in January 2024 – you can reach out for details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for our teaching programmes, we’re also launching mini group classes on Saturdays in 2024. These will develop those important 21st-century skills that go beyond the classroom but are definitely transferable to school, higher education and beyond.
What are you excited about on a personal note for the coming year?
Personally, this year has been emotional and challenging for me. So in 2024 I’m embracing new goals health-wise and mentally. I’m learning to carve out time for myself and my family, and slow down to appreciate the small things.
What are some of your favourite things in Hong Kong at the moment?
Dim sum! I’m also discovering through my walks the little gems along my route – birds, flowers in bloom, a new building, a friendly face – really just being in touch with myself and in the moment.
Discover more about Cascade’s English teachers or book a programme with an ESL teacher or English tutor at cascadetrainteachlearn.com.
This profile on an English tutor first appeared in the Winter 2023/2024 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.