Stephen Gowlett

Online Instructor, English language teacher & content creator

About Me image
Experienced ESL Teacher with a Modern, Personalized Approach

Hello! I'm Steve, an ESL teacher with over 30 years of rich experience, based in Spain but teaching students globally online. My teaching style is a harmonious blend of tried-and-true methods honed over decades and the smart integration of AI and digital tools to enhance the learning experience.

What I Offer:

  • Deep Experience: With 30+ years in ESL, I bring a wealth of knowledge, having adapted to various educational environments and student needs.
  • Personalized Teaching: I believe in a student-centered approach, crafting lessons that resonate with individual learning styles, using both my own extensive library of materials and new, AI-generated content.
  • Tech-Savvy Enhancement: While my teaching is rooted in traditional excellence, I embrace AI and digital tools for supplementary support—enhancing lesson interactivity, providing diverse material, and offering precise language analysis.
  • Dynamic Material Creation: Passionate about creating engaging learning materials, I combine my vast collection of self-produced content with fresh, tech-enhanced resources.
Join me for a learning experience where expertise meets modern innovation, tailored precisely to your language learning goals!


100% ONLINE ENGLISH CLASSES FOR ADULTS

100% ONLINE ENGLISH CLASSES FOR ADULTS

Highly engaging,interactive classes for adults via webcam for individuals and companies. Build your English skills with fluency and confidence. Online classes give you the flexibility to take classes from anywhere without being restricted to a classroom and specific location. Whatever your objective with the language is, I have a solution for you. See inside for more details.

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ONLINE COURSES AND MINI COURSES

ONLINE COURSES AND MINI COURSES

Not everyone has the need or the time to sign up for a series of classes all year, but there are times when some help in English is necessary. All my mini courses focus on specific areas of English language training or skills development. They offer standalone and Teacher-led content in resource-rich packages for English learners to purchase without the need of signing up for continuous classes month to month. Check inside for details, availabity and discount codes.

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PROOF READING & TRANSLATIONS

PROOF READING & TRANSLATIONS

Apart from my classes and online courses, I also offer a proof-reading service to help you prepare accurate reports, emails, and presentations. In addition, I also do non-juridical translations of documents from European Spanish to English and English to European Spanish.

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EXCLUSIVE FREE AND PAID MATERIAL ON PATREON

EXCLUSIVE FREE AND PAID MATERIAL ON PATREON

"Get insider access to exclusive free & paid content!" I upload various posts each month for my Patreon members including some free content available to all public. To access the free content, select "public" or "free content". But this is only a small sample of the content available for paying members. Consider becoming a paid member to unlock a lot more useful content and services specially for you!

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MY PODCAST & YOUTUBE CHANNEL

MY PODCAST & YOUTUBE CHANNEL

These channels combined offer over 135 useful free lessons for learners covering grammar, expressions, corrections and recommendations. Follow my Podcast across multiple audio streaming platforms and subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking the links inside.

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Now available on Amazon around the world:

I currently have two notebooks on sale on Amazon, each with 100 pages for all your notes and drawings, etc.. And for all you English learners out there, each page contains an idiomatic expression that will help expand your vocabulary and level.

These are the first books of a set of 4 to be published this year.

The first book has 100 everyday idioms (size A4) Book One
The second book has 100 idioms that were introduced into English through the King James Bible (size A5) Book Two



Purchase from Amazon Spain

Purchase from Amazon US

Purchase from Amazon UK

Also available in SE, DE, FR, IT, NL. PL, JP, AU, CA

This is a blog for learners and teachers. Learners should not feel bad if this takes a while and teachers should not tell students to "think in English!" and expect that to make everything ok :) Thinking in English is a process that takes time.


Thinking in English


So, how long does it take until you can think in English? Well, how long is a piece of string?

The answer to both questions is….it depends.


It takes time to acquire the ability and that time varies from person to person. It is a process. In fact, I would even suggest that the objective is not to think in English, but to not be aware you are thinking at all.

In this blog I am going to talk about how thinking in English is achieved through speaking and what you can do to train your brain to think in English when reading and writing.


Speaking and thinking in English

 

“…you have repeated those answers so many times…”

 

If I ask you the following basic questions:


How are you?

What’s your name?

Where are you from?

What’s your job?


I am sure your answers would be instant. You would not be aware of the “thinking process”. This is because you have answered those questions and you have repeated those answers so many times since you started learning English. They have become interiorised, automatic. Your brain recognises the questions and can transmit the answer to your vocal cords with no delay.


I am sure at some point you have heard an English teacher say: “Think in English” or “Don’t translate”.

Both messages are valid, of course, but it is not as easy in practice. Translating, for example, is a completely natural process and until we are really familiar with sets of expression, subject matter, vocabulary, and grammar, some translation is to be expected. You cannot just switch translations off.


Learners tend to want to have an exact translation for new words and expressions. This is not always possible as your language base is likely completely different.

However, you can train yourself to be less dependent on translations.

When taking notes of new words and expressions, it is a much better practice to do so in English too. This helps you become less dependent on translations and gets you into the habit of thinking of explanations in English.

If you do translate, remember to look for something that is the equivalent in your language, with the same overall meaning even if it does not translate word for word.

For example, if you translated, word for word, this typical English expression for torrential rain into your language, I’m sure it would be lost in translation: “It was raining cats and dogs!”

As I mentioned, the ability to think in English without the need to translate, is a process and it takes time. This is true of any language, and many EFL teachers are learners of a second language themselves, so they do appreciate this.


We also make associations with situations and places and the language we use. I live in Spain and whenever I go to the supermarket, I speak in Spanish to the staff there. Then, when I find myself in a supermarket back in the UK, I often say “gracias” instead of “thanks”. This is because I have associated the language or a set of expressions with a situation or place.


So, repetition and familiar situations and subjects will help for speaking. But how else can you help yourself to start thinking in English?


One way is through reading.


Reading and thinking in English

 

“..Don’t stop every time you find a word you don’t know..”

 

There are two points I would like to focus on when talking about reading in English.

The first is reading for context. This is something I discuss in one of my podcast lessons and I recommend you give it a listen.



To summarise, I always recommend continuous reading. Don’t stop every time you find a word you don’t know. A lot of people do this. They stop and look up the meaning of an unknown word. This may sound like a good way of learning something new, but it breaks the brain’s natural learning process. Keep reading. In most cases, the meaning of the word will become apparent through context and this is, in fact, a more effective way of retaining the new word in memory.

As you read the first page, or pages, you may feel you haven’t understood much (or anything), but as you continue to read, things will start to make sense. A picture or story will start to form in your mind. While you read, your brain is stitching together words and sentences, adjectives, verbs, nouns, tenses, etc…. and you realise that, almost by magic, you understand the story or article.

It really works!


Now, the second point to mention regarding reading and thinking in English is “reading out loud”.

Grab a book, a blog, news article, whatever you prefer and start reading it out loud to yourself, but don’t stop until you finish it, or you finish a chosen section.  When you finish, if you have understood what you have read, then it is a clear indication that you have been thinking in English (or subliminally understanding at least 😊.)

It works better when you read out loud than in your head and it also allows you to practice your pronunciation too.

This is an activity you can put into practice immediately and the more you do this, the faster the learning process gets.


What else can you do? Well, what about writing?


Writing and thinking in English

 

“...If you are checking your writing, you are thinking..”


For many English learners, writing is the preferred form of communication. It can be more comfortable as we usually have more time to think than we do when speaking. You also have time to review what you have written; to make changes if necessary. You can ask yourself if your text reads naturally and sounds English? Does it translate too easily into your language? If it does, maybe you have translated things too directly and need to apply some changes.


There are things to check when writing, like spelling, the use of pronouns, the correct form of the verb, the level of formality, etc… If you are checking your writing, you are thinking 😊

And another great activity, if you have time, is to try to think of alternative ways of expressing the same idea.


Here is an example sentence with various alternatives:


The sales dropped last month but we are now seeing an increase.


After a drop in sales last month, we are now seeing an increase.

After a drop last month, we are now seeing an increase in sales.

Sales are improving this month compared to last month.

We have seen improvements in the sales figures since last month.

Despite a decrease in sales in the previous month, we are seeing positive results now.


I could keep going….


Each time you look for alternatives you are training your brain to think in English.

 

So, when a teacher tells you to think in English or stop translating, these are the ideas behind those words 😊. And for teachers, be aware of all the processes involved in turning your “recommendations” into a reality 😊


It is a process, but there are ways you can help yourself. And then, one day, if it has not already happened, you will wake up in the morning and realise you even had a dream in English😊


Let me know in the comments if you feel these tips have been useful and have worked for you, or if you have other suggestions to share with other learners.


Go practise thinking in English