With 11 years teaching Japanese in New Zealand and 1 in Japan teaching English, Trudi is an experienced and passionate teacher – and learner – of languages. Trudi’s students at Mission Heights Junior College won the EP World Series in 2015 and it was shortly afterwards that she joined the EP family.
While Trudi is most passionate about languages she is also loving working with the other subject areas. Trudi especially loves working with teachers across New Zealand who are utilising EP to enhance their classrooms and assist their learners. Trudi is based in Auckland and frequently visits EPHQ in Dunedin to brainstorm with the team on what we can do next.
“I’ve had people simply get up and hug me, be unable to stop smiling, and be so excited about EP that – in the nicest way – they want me to finish and leave so they can start using it.”
I always say I’m simply ‘from New Zealand’ as we moved around a little when I was younger. I’ve lived in Matamata, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, Auckland, Dunedin and two parts of Japan – Osaka and Nara. It’s probably partly because of this that I’m a very hard person to locate during time off – I love to travel and experience the different cultures, cuisines, languages and communities of different countries. In recent years I’ve spent time in Samoa, Hawaii, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Fiji and Vanuatu, and have trips planned this year to Singapore and Rarotonga. I also love to see as much of Aotearoa as I can – it’s such an amazing country and I’m so blessed to be able to visit so much of it with work as well. I love to cook and often pick up ingredients, recipes and ideas on my travels. I’ll never be a Masterchef, but I love adapting dishes and creating healthy, tasty options.
Your EPeep story
I was getting to a stage in my career where I was thinking about ‘next steps’ when the opportunity to work at EP arose. I was very much starting to look at my options and identify what was important to me, and EP absolutely matches what I was leaning towards. I love presenting at PD and conferences and had been doing a little of that for The Japan Foundation, NZAJLT and funnily enough, EP before I started the job here. I actually became involved with EP in the very beginning, as a teacher in Dunedin back when it all first started and I had seen the incredible growth of both the platform and the service, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. My official start date was 5 years ago this year and I haven’t had a single regret. My job is so positive – I spend my days helping teachers to make the most of their access to EP and I genuinely love what I do.
Trudi’s passion for languages
After studying German and Japanese at high school, I’d say that moving to Osaka aged 17 definitely cemented my love of language and culture. Living inside a culture and needing to be able to use another language to do even the smallest daily jobs really drives home how connected language is to life. I went on to a second year in Japan after uni (BA Japanese, Massey University) before beginning my teacher training at the University of Auckland.
I taught in two schools – Bayfield High School in Dunedin and Mission Heights Junior College in Auckland – before being asked to join the team at EP. I’ve studied bits of German, Spanish and Te Reo Māori over the years, as well as working on my Japanese. I believe you can’t appreciate the culture of a place without acquiring a little bit of language – so when I travel, I always learn simple words and phrases in the local languages. As a teacher, having the ability to inspire students to also fall in love with languages was one of my favourite things about the job.
Languages at EP
We’re incredibly fortunate at EP to have an amazing Languages Team – our Head of Languages, Philippa, and Languages Manager, John are innovative and open to ideas and feedback. Together with their (insanely talented) Instructional Designers they have created world class resources for Languages. I’ve been proud to present these to schools and make sure that as many schools as possible in NZ are aware of, and confidently using, EP for Languages.
I suppose one of the greatest things I’ve been able to do is to work for Languages teachers to have a voice in future developments on EP. I actually worked as the NZ Languages Manager and Te Reo Māori coordinator at EP for two years before moving into my current role, and was able to speak on behalf of the teachers in both communities to make sure that their needs and wishes were heard.
For Te Reo Māori, I led the NZ Māori Competition, where in 2019 6,200+ students answered more than 2.7 million questions in Māori over the three day competition. Being able to provide a national celebration of Māori and an opportunity for students to achieve success with their reo is something I’m very proud of.
No one person achieves things in isolation at EP and together with various team mates I’ve also been heavily involved with the Language Championships, both globally and nationally, and with our teacher course in Te Reo Māori, which had 3,000 participants nationwide in 2019.
EP is constantly evolving and I love that about it – we’re meeting new needs for schools all the time. Some of the current things I love to talk about to schools include our Peer Review feature, where students can give each other feedback on written or spoken work and the assessment comparison tool which makes comparing pre- and post- test results an absolute breeze. I also really enjoy showcasing our differentiation features and our verbal feedback option. As a learner on EP (I’ve been learning a little Te Reo Māori and I like taking part in the competitions) I love the instant feedback, the pronunciation prompts and the gentleness you’re shown with wrong answers – it’s really easy to get things wrong but stay confident in what you’re learning, which isn’t always the case using other methods.
EP magic moments
Honestly there have been so many interesting stories shared with me over the years! Personally some of my favourite moments with teachers happen during a Professional Learning and Development presentation, where you see things come together and the teachers start to be able to connect the platform to their own classroom, workload and goals. I’ve had people simply get up and hug me, be unable to stop smiling and be so excited about EP that – in the nicest way – they want me to finish and leave so they can start using it. We’re now getting teachers using EP who studied on our platform in school and the ‘full-circle’ aspect of that is amazing. We’re onto generation 2 already!
Most excited about?
At EP we talk a lot about ‘Onwards and Upwards’ and that is probably what I’m most excited about. We’re established in NZ and Australia, so I’m looking forward to having other countries on board to the same extent. I’m constantly in awe of our Content, Development and Product teams and what they create, tweak and release on an almost daily basis – EP 2020 has a very evolved set of features compared to EP 2010, so I can’t even envisage what the 2030 version will look like.
I’m excited to see where we’re going – but love that we keep the same core mission intact while we focus on the evolution of what we offer! I’m also very excited about the future developments we’re putting in place for Kaupapa Māori, the communities we are building and expanding every day with our teachers and schools, and the development of our own staff and team culture. We’re in a fantastic place as a company and I can’t wait to see the plans for staff wellbeing play out over the next few years.
Three things about EP
It depends if they’re a teacher or asking about my job out of interest, I think! For a teacher, I share that it’s a solution to many of the things that are time consuming and frustrating about their jobs, that we employ ex-teachers and industry experts who are tasked, essentially, with making active teachers jobs easier and more enjoyable through the use of EP. I often mention that ‘it takes a lot to get a passionate teacher out of the classroom and we have plenty of teachers at EP who have done just that!’ as I believe that says a lot about the platform. For non teachers, I explain that we’re a teaching and learning platform used in classrooms and for homework, but that we’re not a teacher replacement, we’re an enhancement. I add in that it’s online but that we’re also connecting in person with teachers every day, and that it’s pretty much a dream job for me!
I’m quite an open book! It’s in the nature of those of us in my particular team at EP to be pretty open and chatty. Usually I surprise people with the fact that I speak 3 dialects of Japanese, in varying levels of skill and my Japanese host sister was a J-pop star in the early 2000s. I’m also pretty good at finding a bargain when I’m shopping – a skill inherited from my father.
Fun fact – at any given moment there are usually half a dozen employees of EP who were learners in my classroom at some point in time. They’ve become amazing adults in their own right and I’m proud of all of them!
Trudi in three words
Passionate, stubborn and resilient.