We meet VANNESSA MISSO-VENESS, aka “The Learning Coach” – a teacher, examiner and coach, and founder of education training centre Cascade Train Teach Learn. She tells us about her teaching background and what inspired her to launch Cascade which offers bespoke training programmes and academic classes to improve the English language learning and teaching experience for non-native English speakers.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from originally, and where have you lived and worked?
I’m originally from Singapore – born and raised there to a Eurasian father and a mother of Javanese descent. After my teacher training, I worked in schools in Singapore but felt I was missing something. Over the next few years, I started working for myself – training teachers and working with learners who were interested in improving their English. I did lots of corporate training in the 1990s – business writing and communication programmes.
In 2009, my husband and I decided to go on a little adventure, and we haven’t looked back since! First, we moved to Phuket where my daughter was born not long after I completed my master’s degree in education. We returned to my husband’s home country, the UK, for a year in 2010 before moving to Jeju Island, South Korea. We worked and lived there for six years – I headed an English as an Additional Language (EAL) department.
What inspired you to launch Cascade? When did it start?
When we moved to HK, we came with my husband’s job. I started teacher training again and enjoyed the process but slowly I moved towards teaching children, teens and adults who were preparing for school entrance exams, academic essays and the IELTS. Though there are tonnes of tutorial centres in HK, I realised that there was a gap in the market for a more holistic approach.
What services do you offer?
Cascade trains teachers, learners, parents and students through individual and mini group programmes addressing language, literacy and learning across the curriculum for non-native English speakers. We offer entrance exam preparation for international schools in HK, overseas schools and universities, including 11+, 13+, SSATs and IELTS; Academic English classes for non-native speakers from Year 1 to IB; Phonics & Reading; and holiday programmes in Creative Writing, Critical Thinking, Public Speaking & Presentation, and Building Language Skills through LEGO Six Bricks.
Specifically, how do you help prepare kids for certain schooling challenges, demands and requirements?
As The Learning Coach (TLC), I not only spend time speaking to parents about their child and expectations, I also spend time getting to know the child, their academic needs, interests, strengths and areas for improvement.
During our sessions, especially for older learners, I believe in giving them agency to decide the path each session will take. Listening to the way they speak about life, school, friends, studies and so on helps me shape a lesson that not only helps them academically but also emotionally. Their wellbeing is one of the pillars to academic success.
I work closely with parents, too, updating them on their child’s needs and progress, and coaching them in how to continue the learning at home.
Knowledge is only one tiny fraction of the learning process. We also equip our learners with learning strategies and how to take care of themselves when homework, tests and exams seem overwhelming.
What do you like to do in HK when you’re not working?
I love exploring and discovering new places – walking trails, restaurants, shops, going out for a weekend brunch with my family, catching a movie (sharing popcorn with my daughter), snuggling up at home for a family movie and reading.
Find out more at cascadetrainteachlearn.com.
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2022 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.