ESL TeachingTraining

Steve HirschhornESL Teacher Trainer

Steve Hirschhorn, overview of career to date:

  1. 2014 - Freelance educational consultant and teacher-trainer
  2. 2013 - Head of Teaching & Training, Gallery Languages
  3. 2011 - Vice President, International Education, China
  4. 2007 - Principal of Eckersley Oxford
  5. 2002 - Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and ELT
  6. 1997 - Head of Language Teaching & Training Unit, St Mary’s College
  7. 1996 - Director of TESOL, St Mary’s University College, Twickenham
  8. 1996 – 2011 Director of Cert TESOL, JHQ Rheindahlen, Germany
  9. 1995 –Director of Cert TESOL, Surrey Language Centre
  10. 1986 - trained in Suggestopaedia with Lonny Gold
  11. 1985- trained as a Silent Way Teacher and Trainer with Caleb Gattegno
  12. 1984- teaching and training in Italy and the UK
  13. 1980 - teacher at International House, Perugia
  14. 1980 - trained at International House, Hastings – Grade ‘A’

External Examiner for:


"A stirring and inspirational leader/deliverer of what he does."
Pete Hardy
"Steve is an excellent team builder who gets the very best out of everyone he works with, be that a colleague, a trainee or a student, they all end up achieving the highest level they are capable of, making the world of ESOL a better place entirely!"
Scot Bell - Lecturer, University of Paderborn
"Steve was External Examiner for University of Chichester MA TESOL taught in Japan: 'Helpful, professional, astute, and always mindful of how to improve the students' learning experience.
(Into motorbikes too!)"
Ian Forth
"As a tutor on my Cert TESOL teacher training course Steve was able to share his extensive knowledge in a way that was motivating and inspiring. I learned a huge amount and recommend his courses wholeheartedly."
Jane Welberry-Smith - Tutor, Kings School, Oxford

I worked with Mr Steve Hirschhorn a number of years ago when we were both working for an educational institution in Mainland China, he is one of, if not the most impressive educators I have ever met. His understanding of teaching techniques, educator management and ESL training methodologies is simply beyond measure. His real value goes beyond his personal mastery of language training and effective teaching methods, it is in his innate ability to effectively and efficiently impart that knowledge to other professionals.

In addition to his outstanding capacity to raise the educational quality of any institution he takes a post at, he is simply an all-around great guy one of the most fun and interesting people I have ever had the privilege to know. A colleague who has become a true lifelong friend.

Robert Warburton
Senior Industry Consultant @ Cincom Systems Cincinnati

I worked with Steve when I was as a new TESOL teacher in China. His approach to true, communicative language teaching was effective and refreshing for both teachers and students. Steve’s workshops on this communicative approach were extremely helpful. They gave me a deeper insight into my role as a teacher in the classroom and helped me focus on the goal of facilitating communication as opposed to prescriptive, lexical teaching.

Liz Palacios
4th grade ESL teacher TX, U.S

Hosting Chinese head teachers
Working with Chinese students
With HS kids
IPA Activities

I worked with Steve in the English department of an international school in China. Steve was a pleasure to work with for many reasons. Whatever the challenges of the job, he never lost sight of his goals of improving the efficacy of English teaching practice and putting the needs of the students first. Steve was utterly dedicated to his job and was always on hand to answer queries and give advice. He demonstrated enormous knowledge of his field which he kept thoroughly up to date.

As well as his commitment to his job, Steve proved a good friend who enjoyed a glass of wine or two after work. He has a keen sense of humour. I particularly remember his description of the evolution of English listening exercises, which reduced me to tears of laughter in a noodle house in southern Kunming, and his short mime depicting the migration of the Finno-Ugrians. Ask to see it some time.

Sonya Scuse
freelance teacher, China

"Excellent timing"
Steve was the course director and an inspirational instructor for the duration of the extremely challenging full- time Trinity CertTESOL course at St. Mary's. The quality of the delivery of the course was high and consistent. Steve has an extensive knowledge of teaching approaches and methodologies and a knack for helping students unleash the critical and creative thinking skills that are essential for effective and engaging language teaching. He also has excellent timing and judgment in knowing when to step in and encourage self-reflection and when to step back and allow people to put into practice what they have learned.

Simon Burfoot - Senior Language Instructor at Lingnan University

"Magnetic influence"
I attended Steve's TESOL course. After getting over the initial shock of Steve's appearance, as I got to know him, he became one of the most captivating, fascinating and inspiring teachers I have know professionally. His depth and breadth of teaching experience is unsurpassed. He has a magnetic influence and questioning approach to traditional teaching. I love his originality and ideas which motivate participants to learn far beyond their own expectations. He has a deep understanding of individuals, knowing exactly how to bring the best out in them. For me, Steve is simply world class. He was my launch pad to a very successful second career.

Bill Coles: freelance Business Trainer

"A voice in ELT"
We appointed Steve as external examiner to our university-validated EFL courses while he was head of ELT at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham. Apart from a finely-tuned understanding of university-level assessment systems, Steve was also able to bring his wide knowledge of methodology and teacher training, providing us with exactly the right balance of wise counsel and constructive criticism. Steve’s is a voice in ELT that combines original and elegant thinking with a hands-on approach to the challenges of everyday teaching.

Ken Paterson - Director of ELT at the University of Westminster, 1994-2010

Working with teachers in Penza
Teachers in Penza 3
Teachers in Penza 2
Teachers in Penza 4
Teachers in Penza 5

I have known Steve since 2003. Steve is a super self-motivated director, and a great communicator, too. We first met in 2003 at St Mary's College - a College of the University of Surrey, UK, where Steve was a program director. The program Steve helped manage was a great success among the trainees. Then, in 2006 (another intensive residential training pogram at St Mary's, UK), Steve proved to be an excellent program manager and designer again. Steve is a well-known TESOL/TEFL expert. On many occasions, when I have needed any pro expertise on TESOL/TEFL or EDU management I could always turn to Steve, and he would always share his ideas and solutions.

We have had a chance to have a lot of intellectual interventions and exchanges of ideas. Plus we have worked on a few projects together (publishing, phonetics course module assessment project, IATEFL international trade fairs marketing project) - every project was successful. The attributes that describe Steve best are: self-aware, resilient, interpersonal, great communicator & motivator, customer-oriented, visionary, and authentic leader. I can recommend Steve to any institution since I know he will be a true asset!

Bart J. Tkaczyk

Demo Games in Jordan
Grad Day for our MA students
Talking to people in Genoa
Working with Quality English in Brazil
Testing in Penza

I met Steve when I had the chance of travelling for the first time outside my country. He was the TESOL Unit Director at Saint Mary’s University in 2006. He worked with a marvelous group of teachers who did not only taught us how to become Teachers to speakers of Other Languages but also to understand the beauty of the different cultures of all the countries which were represented by the students and teachers in London.

Thanks to Steve I could learn a lot about languages, teaching and the most important about how human beings, no matter their origin, beliefs, or points of view, could become great companions, colleagues and friends. He took me and my friend Diana on a wonderful fourteen-hour journey from London to Brighton and I could see all the diversity and tolerance that a developed country can offer.

I thank Steve for having been a great host, teacher, and friend.

Jaime Ancajima Alama
University of Piura, Peru

"Humour and originality"
Steve Hirschhorn's Cert TESOL course provided me with an outstanding foundation on which to build my own language training business. I particularly valued the training he gave in conducting students' needs analysis and developing the follow up training. This training was conducted with humour and originality, adhering rigorously to the highest professional standards. Procedures taught by him have served me in good stead with employers and, significantly, students alike.

Luke Duckworth - Director of Quavey Training Services Ltd

"Excellent service"
I worked with Steve for three years as one of his Teaching Practice team members on TESOL courses in Farnham, Twickenham and Europe. He was a fair, pleasant and extremely knowledgeable colleague, and always professional with co-workers and clients - great to work with!
Later on, Steve and I became colleagues again over a period of five years when he took on the position of External Examiner for the EFL department at the University of Westminster. Here he brought his vast experience and most welcome insights to the biannual Writing and Speaking Skills Board meetings. I would not hesitate to recommend Steve to anyone interested in receiving excellent service within the profession.

Caroline Caygill

"Truly an inspiration"
I worked with Steve in Beijing for a little over a year. His ability to share his extensive knowledge on teaching language was absolutely instrumental in my success as an ESL teacher. I learned more practical applications to go about teaching functional language from him in two months than I did in two years at university. He is truly an inspiration to language learners and teachers alike.

Conrad Baade - Senior Teacher, Beijing

I met Steve while we worked together in Beijing. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to draw on his great experience with language teaching generally and communicative language teaching specifically.

It wasn't until I became more experienced that I noticed how accurate and patient Steve's input and feedback had been throughout. His teacher training reflected his deep understanding of the subject and always enabled me to bring new things to the classroom and become a better facilitator of communication.

Mike Rodbourne
DoS First Decision, China

With the Jordanian Teachers 2011
A group of new teachers
New Teachers in Germany

Steve Hirschhorn is a unique figure in the world of EFL. With myriad talents ranging from car mechanic to accomplished musician and performer, he is a true scholar, excited by new ideas and innovative methodologies. He has an exceptional grasp of everything being done in the field, writes highly cogent articles that are a pleasure to read and he has extensive management skills and a natural authority that his colleagues never question. One of his main areas of expertise is Teacher Training, a field where he is loved, respected and a real inspiration to others. He has a compelling personality, an exceptional wit and, above all, he really cares. I have known him since 1985 and he has always been a fascinating, committed and original person to work with!

Lonny Gold
Suggestopedic Master Trainer

15 years ago, I had the opportunity to investigate my curiosity about whether I’d be any good at teaching in general, and language teaching in particular. As is the way of the world, one decision led to another and the tide eventually fetched me up on the shores of St Mary’s University in London, interviewing for a place on one of the Trinity Cert. TESOL courses Steve was running at that time; I got the impression almost immediately that providence had played no small part in this happy circumstance, and what a pivotal moment it proved to be! Here is a man with a rare skill-set, who has the ability to see and nurture the potential in others combined with the communicative skills and creativity to impart his wealth of knowledge and passion for what he does and holds to be true in a very holistic, humorous and humanistic manner. 15 years later, as I sit in my own office running a busy and successful university EAP centre, I often reflect on my good fortune at having had the opportunity to be trained by, and later work with this unique individual, whom I’m very happy to call friend.

Dave Andrews,
Director: English Language Centre for Overseas Students (ELCOS),
Bangor University

I first met Steve as a trainer when I was a studentteacher on a TESOL course. In response to one of our self-evaluation sessions he asked me firmly how realistic I thought it was to expect to be perfect in five days. This revealed one of Steve’s most impressive strengths: his ability to support his students and co-workers in a very real and meaningful way. We went on to work together over a number of years and this was a constant feature of our working relationship. His extensive experience is evident in the diverse range of techniques that he expertly employs. You cannot fail to develop your own skills as a co-teacher or develop great confidence as a student. It’s a cliché but there is literally something for everyone – and it’s backed up by a proven track record and academic achievement. Now that this wealth of experience is available in digital format the ELT arena will benefit from Steve’s charismatic delivery of a subject in which he excels. Students and teachers will benefit alike from having access to such a rich and inspirational source of materials.

Julian Rixon, MA


Prior to training with Steve Hirschhorn and learning about his theories on observation, my main experiences with the process had not been overwhelmingly positive. I had been given some really negative feedback during my time as a primary teacher and I had felt that the whole process was little more than a fault finding exercise that completely undermined my confidence as a teacher. My experiences of being observed as an EFL teacher were not much better, much of the feedback felt muddled and disorganised, and I left unsure of what the person was trying to say. From speaking to other teachers I have found that I am not the only one who feels this way, therefore it was very important to me that whatever I did as an observer was helpful and supportive.

When Steve first explained his views on the observation process, and what he hoped to achieve, I was immediately on board with his vision. Steve believes that observations should be constructive and valuable and that teachers should go away feeling more confident about their teaching practice, not less.

Steve has a very structured approach to training observers, we started by observing Steve as he carried out observations on other teachers and asked us to share our views on what we saw. He took us through the process step by step, and gave us detailed information on the do’s and don’ts of observation and what we should be doing at each stage of the observation process. Once we were all happy we knew what we were doing we observed alongside Steve and were able to contribute a few comments of our own during feedback. I didn’t carry out any observations of my own until Steve and I were both happy that I was completely confident with the process and that I felt able to give feedback in an effective manner. I trained alongside a fellow practitioner, and I found this really useful as we were able to compare what we thought about the process and support each other.

I have found this training invaluable in allowing me to guide other teachers to their best practise. It has given me the confidence to provide useful feedback to colleagues, without worrying that I am going to undermine their confidence or turn feedback into a negative experience. I believe that every teaching setting should adopt Steve’s approach in order to foster good working relationships among staff and improve the quality of teaching.

Theresa Turner


I have had the pleasure of working with Steve Hirschhorn over 2 summers in the UK. On the first occasion I was a teacher who underwent observations by Steve and on the second occasion I was fortunate enough to have been trained and mentored by him in the art of observations and teacher feedback, so I am lucky enough to have been on both sides of Steve's observation techniques.

As a teacher I found Steve's observations relaxed and non intrusive and this continued through to the feedback session. Steve encourages teachers to reflect on their own work and gently guides the teacher into taking a more thoughtful approach into the classroom. The teachers we worked with always went into the observations with trepidation and nerves, and came out feeling upbeat and positive about the feedback given and were keen to adopt a more student centred, self-aware approach to teaching.

The feedback that I have gained from my colleagues has confirmed that they found their observations to be a very positive and empowering experience.

I would strongly recommend Steve to any language school or training centre.

John Milton