Meet Donna Durbin of Clear English Coach in Museum District
VOYAGEHOUSTON STAFF Today we’d like to introduce you to Donna Durbin.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Donna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve always been fascinated with foreign cultures and ethnic textiles. In 1991, I received an MFA in Fibers from Texas Women’s University and continued my art career as an exhibiting artist working in Fiber for 20 years.
My early black and white weavings symbolized duality and layered conceptual ideas of the life process. This work evolved into an installation called, “Lifting the Veil,” which explored love, marriage and relationships to stimulate dialogue and communication.
At the same time, I was an exhibiting artist, I also taught academic courses at the Art Institute of Houston, TWU and HCC. During those years, I hosted international students in Houston studying English as a Second Language (ESL), as a home-stay mother. I met incredible young people from around the world. We shared cultural differences, family traditions, our goals as we learned to communicate with each other.
In 2005, a friend encouraged me to teach ESL at the Language and Culture Center at University of Houston. I loved working with students from around the world and helping them expand their communication skills. From 2008-2010, I had the opportunity to live in Thailand and travel around Southeast Asia. This created an awareness of different languages and how important it is to pronounce words correctly to be understood.
When I returned to Houston and began teaching again, I focused on Pronunciation and Accent Reduction. Many of the foreign students had been studying academic English, but when they spoke, people could not understand them. I recognized the need for speaking and English pronunciation, so began offering classes. In 2015, I founded my business, Clear English Coach, specializing in Accent Reduction and American English Pronunciation. It’s been a fabulous experience. I continue to expand the Houston business into global remote teleconference training and webinars for foreign professionals.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s been a steep learning curve, especially the technical expertise, like creating a website, learning to do videos, SEO’s for online visibility. However, it’s tapped into my creativity and desire to express myself in new ways, while being of service to others.
I’ve been self-employed all of my life, so keeping a low overhead, (translated as not having much money, which has always been the artist dilemma) while developing a new “project” is not a new experience. I’ve always understood how important visibility and marketing is to any business. So, I recognized the necessity to learn about social media and attempt to stay current with the channels of communication that my clients use. My problem is learning everything as quickly as I need it. So, I’ve had to plug away and take multiple online classes to understand the technology.
Clear English Coach – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Clear English Coach specializes in Accent Reduction and American English Pronunciation for non-native professionals. I have a love for other cultures and the people who have the courage to move to a foreign country to improve their lives and share their talents.
I’m proud that I have gained the awareness, training and expertise to coach doctors, engineers, geologists, research scientists, accountants, IT professionals, architects, teachers and many other professions, techniques to modify their accents so they can be understood and gain more self-confidence in themselves.
I continue to be tickled that people find my website, www.clearenglishcoach.com when they do a google search looking for Accent Reduction. That SEO class must have taught me something right. Now, I’m doing videos and learning how to provide live teleconference training so I can extend my service around the globe.
I’m invest in my clients’ success. I add humor, focused feedback, techniques and practices that define the changes they want to accomplish. I’ve written a condensed comprehensive Training Manual to reinforce these new speaking habits for English.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me means being productive, creatively passionate about what I do, and enhancing the lives of others. My business has all of these qualities, plus I feel valued for my contribution to my clients’ success. How much more wonderful could that be?
Um… markers. When I asked for feedback and people began to tell me that “nobody ever taught me this before.” That felt good. I felt like I had a purpose and could make a difference.
I have to say the biggest marker for success has been successfully working with corporations and providing group coaching for their foreign-born employees. That’s my favorite. I can reach several people at the same time.
Another marker was when new people began to contact me because past clients had talked about working with me.
When my website began to be discovered online and people called because they had viewed my video, liked my presentation and wanted to set up an appointment.
Of course, the financial success I have achieved with Clear English Coach has far exceeded the financial compensation I ever got from my artwork. Now, I have a more secure sense of providing for my future.
• Private Face-to-Face Coaching begins at $100-$300 per hr.
• Skype Lessons $85 per hr.Contact Info:
• Website: http://Clearenglishcoach.com
• Phone: 713-893-7363
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/houston.accent/
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClearEnglishCoach/
• Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/donnadurbin
• https://www.pinterest.com/donnadurbincom/Image Credit:
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