Only two of Munzereen Shahid’s friends at Oxford know that she’s become so famous teaching English online. Munzereen said, “I still feel shy to tell people that I teach English online. Sometimes I cannot believe that thousands of people watch my videos.”
And every day countless people learn English from her online. The videos of the 10 Minute School teacher Munzereen are quite familiar to regular social media users. Munzereen is not typical ill-tempered teacher in thick framed glasses. She is ever-smiling and her easy and natural teaching style is quite popular among her viewers.
Munzereen has completed her Honours and Masters in English from Dhaka University. She is doing her post-graduation in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition at Oxford University in the England. The results of her Masters examination were published before her departure for Oxford – she got a first class first.
We talked to Munzereen on WhatsApp. She said that it had not been long since she discovered herself as a teacher. However, from the very beginning of her university life she worked at 10 Minute School. At first, she used to write blogs there. Later she was in charge of the social media and human resources department. But she never conducted classes there.
She said, “Many people at Ten Minute School used to say, you can take classes too. But I was shy to come in front of the camera. I could not imagine standing in front of the camera and teaching English. I have never done tuition professionally.”
Then Munzereen became restless, staying at home for so long the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. She started to think about doing something different. She decided to make videos. Munzereen said there was no special preparation then. She did not even have a tripod to make videos. Sitting in front of her study table, leaning her mobile phone on a book, she made the first video.
There was still some hesitation. Munzereen thought that maybe no one would watch the video or everyone would laugh. However, her very first video won accolades. People praised her efforts and inspired her through a multitude of likes, shares and comments.
Munzereen said, “Many of my friends encouraged me a lot when I decided to make videos to teach English. They used to say, give it a try. Let a few people watch your videos at the beginning. Even if no one watches your video, so what?”
Munzereen started her Facebook and YouTube channel in April of 2020. Within 9 months, the number of followers on that Facebook page is more than 700 thousands. Besides, her videos have been viewed more than 1.6 million times on YouTube. Not only this, there are several pages on Facebook named after Munzereen. There are more than 100,000 members in these groups. Munzereen said that it was not her but the Facebook users who opened these groups. They practice speaking English in their own way in these groups. They discuss different problems here.
“I myself did not know about these groups. Suddenly, it caught my eye one day. It was great to see that these groups were opened by people out of their own interest, and they regularly discuss and practice learning English among themselves. It seemed like a success," said Munzereen.
Many more people teach English online. But why do people like Munzereen’s teaching style? I asked Munzereen for the answer. According to her, she does not teach too many rules or grammar. Rather, she tries to teach by example in the context of a situation. Maybe this is why people are able to catch on very easily. Munzereen added that she always teaches English, taking into account the problems she encountered while learning English in the classrooms or the problems she saw with her friends.
She is regularly teaching at the 10 Minute School even though she is living far away. Sitting at home, she recently published a book called Spoken English. She also has a special course on speaking English. She has a plan to open courses on IELTS, English in the workplace and spoken English for children in the future. She said, “I have a lot of study pressure so I may not be able to finish my work of making these courses while at Oxford. I will start working in full force after returning home. It is my responsibility to spread what I have learned over the years.”
The lockdown had already been started again in the UK when I talked to Munzereen. So she is spending time indoors. When she gets a chance, she goes out for a walk. She said that she misses her family, friends and colleagues of 10 Minute School a lot. After a day’s work, she cannot meet her friends and get involved in lively discussions on politics, history or philosophy like it was in Dhaka.