What is a Englishman doing in Sofia and what are the problems of Bulgarians learning a foreign language?

Adriana Popova 04 April2015


“Razbirash li?” (meaning: “Do you understand?”) is Liam Webber’s favourite Bulgarian expression. Another of his favourites is “Ti da vidish” (non-literal translation: “Would you look at that”). The phrase, which makes him laugh the most is “Shte yadesh boi” (literal translation: “You will eat beatings”, meaning “You’re in for a beating”). He heard this from one Bulgarian politician and from then on he started making combinations like “Shte yadesh chorapi”(meaning: “You will eat socks”). He also likes pickled cucumbers. He can pronounce the most Bulgarian word -“neprotivokonstitutzionstvuvatelstvuvaite”.

Liam is British from Scottish and Jamaican descend. He graduated from “The B.R.I.T. School for performing Art and Technology”. It boasts disciples like Adele, Jessy J, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis. Richard Branson has greatly contributed to the foundation of the school for talented children in the fields of music, theater, dances, photography and arts.

In 2009, Liam was accepted in a dramatic arts university in New York, but the economical crisis prevented him from setting off. He started working with international youth programmes, financed by the British Government and has come to Bulgaria a few times.

Three years ago he decided to stay here. He works at different schools as an acting and an English teacher. He noticed what struggles Bulgarian students had: lack of confidence, inability to speak with ease and fear of making mistakes. Then he decided to establish his own educational centre for teaching English, based on the Cambridge programme and on techniques from acting. His aim is to make it so his students are not worried when they are at his lessons.

He calls the school Mr. English – www.mrenglish.eu. Students from the age of 4 to 60 have already attended the courses. Among them are the famous Bulgarian producer Krasi Vankov and the sexologist Natalia Kobilkina. He has many clients from embassies, the oldest one being a French man. “I tell my students that they should be proud that they are living in Bulgaria, because it is a nice place. I find it strange that Bulgarians are proud nationalists and at the same time they want to leave Bulgaria. They can improve their English and use it here”, says Liam.

Liam often gets questions like: “Why are you here and not in London?” His response includes things like the weather, the food (the fruits and vegetables are not “plastic”), the nature, the fact that when he opens his window he can see Vitosha mountain, while London is a concrete jungle.

When he goes around Bulgarian villages, he feels like he meets his own grandma, and the food is grandma’s food. His favourite places are Belogradchik and Rupite. Let’s not forget another big advantage of Bulgaria and Sofia – his girlfriend Rosi, who works at Mr. English with him. Tall, slim, and very urban – the two of them are a pleasant sight in the streets of Sofia.

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