The story of 3,000 drams: from private tutoring to a transformative language center - Mediamax.am

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The story of 3,000 drams: from private tutoring to a transformative language center


Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax


After navigating through the narrow and muddy streets of a neighborhood in the city of Sevan, the car comes to a halt before the rusty gates of house number 6. At first glance, it was difficult to imagine the bright and inviting ambiance that awaited us beyond those barriers.

 

Lilit Adilkhanyan, founder of the "EduCAT" English language teaching center in Sevan, welcomes us to her world of learning and development.

 

“This used to be my grandfather’s house. We decided to renovate it and transform it into an educational corner for alternative teaching,” she says.

 

Lilit considers herself one of the luckiest people in the world because her job is also her life's passion. However, reaching this point was by no means an easy journey, requiring a great deal of effort and patience from her.

 

“Mastering the language alone was not sufficient”

 

After graduating from Yerevan State Linguistic University and becoming a German and English teacher in 2008, Lilit found herself uncertain about how to proceed. For several years, she searched for her true calling, exploring various fields such as politics and banking, among others.

 

“I began tutoring my neighbor's child when she was in the fourth grade of school. Witnessing her success in learning English was incredibly motivating for me, and I realized that this is what I wanted to do throughout my whole life,” remembers Lilit.

Photo: Mediamax

She began her teaching career in 2016, earning only 3,000 drams per month for her first tutoring sessions. Later, she seized an opportunity to teach at a public school in Sevan. This experience prompted her to reassess her teaching approach, realizing that mastering the language alone was not sufficient — it was also crucial to excel in delivering it to students.

 

"I did not know anything about the methodology of teaching. It was really hard for me to enter the classroom and see all those little faces and shiny eyes demanding something specific from me, but not having anything to give them," says Lilit.

Photo: Mediamax

With these thoughts in mind, she came across an online advertisement posted by the American University of Armenia (AUA)․ She first applied for the CTEFL summer program (the Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and after for the Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language program.

 

"Luckily, I was accepted, and that was the breakthrough in my career," recalls Lilit.

 

“Being a teacher means multitasking”

 

Lilit fondly recalls her time at AUA, filled with gratitude and joy, as it was the place where she grew and became the specialist she aspired to be.

 

“Thanks to the excellent professors and supportive team at AUA, I was immersed in the best learning environment, where I wasn't judged for my mistakes, but encouraged to grow, develop, and believe in myself. This psychological support was crucial for me to pursue my dreams,” emphasizes Lilit.

Photo: Mediamax

During her studies, she acquired something that many teachers in Armenia lack: the proper methodology for teaching language effectively and the skills to understand and work with students according to their individual characteristics.

 

“Being a teacher means multitasking,” says Lilit, stressing that if one plans to teach a language, pursuing a master's degree is a must in order to learn the methodology. “I think that AUA is one of the best institutions for that.”

 

Allowing the dream to guide you

 

Ever since Lilit started teaching, she dreamt of establishing her own center in her hometown of Sevan, offering her community high-level language classes. Despite the many career opportunities opening up for AUA graduates, Lilit remained steadfast in her mission, “allowing God to guide her through the dream”․

 

“I always believed in the importance of going where development is needed. My main goal in attending AUA was to acquire the necessary knowledge and return to my community. I think that language teaching is also connected to the development of 21st-century skills and providing students with essential knowledge about topics like the environment and friendship. Now, I am here to give my community everything I learned at AUA,” says Lilit.

 

After graduating from AUA in 2022, she suddenly stumbled upon a grant program empowering women entrepreneurs provided by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) while searching for another program to help her friend. In such coincidental situations, she always recalls the words of her favorite professor, Dr. Irshat Madyarov: “One inevitably meets the right people at the right time if they do their job with love and honesty.”

Photo: Mediamax

She applied to the AGBU “Empower Her” program and won the first prize. As a result, Lilit managed to acquire the necessary furniture and technology for her center. With the support of her parents, she transformed her grandfather’s old house, creating an inspiring environment for study and growth.

 

Faith and the kind people we encounter

 

At the beginning, running “EduCAT” was challenging due to community stereotypes about learning English. Parents often insisted that Lilit stick to the school curriculum solely for improving grades, without consideration to actually learning the language.

 

“I struggled to help parents understand that our generation needs more than just that. They need practical English. If they know English well, they will receive high grades in school, for sure. But they will also gain English skills. It was tough because many parents decided not to enroll their children here after learning that I will not exclusively follow the school curriculum,” remembers Lilit.

 

Luckily, Lilit succeeded in convincing one of the parents to trust her methods and wait for some time until her daughter performed better at school with her own English knowledge.

 

“She was very glad. I was also happy with her myself, because we got the results.”

 

Through her methods, Lilit gradually began to change the mindset of parents in her community. Today, she has more than 60 students, mostly schoolchildren and college youth.

Photo: Mediamax

“Actually, my next goal is to start with really young students, three- or four-year-old children, as I believe this is the age when they absorb information best, and if we want to improve pronunciation, this age is ideal,” says Lilit.

 

She believes that the key factors in achieving her dream were her faith and the kind people she met throughout her journey.

 

“The first 3,000 drams I earned grew into something significant, like a small cloud turning into a bigger one and eventually raining. Now, I am reaping the harvest," says Lilit.

 

At the top of the corner bookcase sits the AUA bear. Lilit says it never fails to put a smile on her face, as it reminds her of the people at AUA who supported her in her career journey.

 

Looking ahead, Lilit plans to expand the language center's courses, offer IELTS and TOEFL classes, and establish an English-language library, as the community does not currently have one. She also hopes to find another kind and skilled individual to join her educational center, helping it grow and attract more students in the future.

 

“Once, while walking through the corridors of AUA, I came across a sentence that stuck with me: ‘Do not feel shy to ask for help.’ If I had felt shy, I would not have applied to AUA. If I had felt shy, I would not have applied to AGBU or other programs, and I would not be where I am today," says Lilit, before welcoming her students: bright young individuals ready to embark on an educational journey for a better future.

 

Gaiane Yenokian

 

Photos by Agape Grigoryan

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