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EC San Diego Teacher Spotlight: Nick Di Zinno

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Background information:

Born and raised in San Diego, California; studied Communications and Italian at UC Davis and lived and worked for 8 years in Rome, Italy before coming back to San Diego and finding my second home at EC San Diego.

Years spent teaching:

8 years in Rome at The New British Centre; 2 years as a part-time teacher at EC San Diego and another 4 years “off and on” teaching while acting as ADoS and DoS at EC San Diego

What made you decide to become a teacher? 

To be honest, I wanted to live and work in Italy where I had studied abroad, and one of the paths to getting there was by taking a TEFL certificate course and becoming an English teacher. A couple months into my job there, I found the passion and the enthusiasm that I still have today to help ESL students achieve their goals. In all my previous fields of work (journalism and advertising), I had never had such a rewarding experience as being a teacher who can influence someone to communicate more comfortably and effectively. Plus, I learn so much from a cultural standpoint – it’s very enriching.

What’s the thing you love most about teaching English at EC?

The atmosphere here is really like a family. There is a pay-it-forward mentality which has been instilled in the teachers and staff here where people genuinely care about helping each other and our students. It’s wonderful!

What makes teaching at EC so special? 

Teachers have the freedom to bring their own personalities and life experiences to the classroom to benefit the students’ learning experience. Students also bring their culture and personalities into the fold and the dynamic makes for something special.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from a student that really stands out? 

Not just from one student, but from all of them – learning about the different cultures/traditions has taught me so much. It has affected me greatly in how I look at the world on a daily basis, and I feel more enlightened because of it.

What is your favourite story about a student/teaching?

There are so many great ones, it’s hard to tell. It might have to do with how my students have turned my classroom “punishments” into fun activities. I created a “cell phone island” for students who use a mobile device in class and it became such a popular part of my class’s culture that for Halloween, they made a jack-o-lantern as a “cell phone island/prison” which won the competition.  It was hilarious! I was quite proud to say the least.

What do you think makes a good teacher? 

An open mind, a great deal of patience and the willingness to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Passion doesn’t hurt either. When a teacher exudes passion, it becomes contagious.

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