48: Helping Students to Communicate Beyond Simple Language Skills | Scott Dreyer | Dreyer International Academy

Be Inspired | Do Good

Interview with Scott Dreyer, Dreyer International Academy:

Our early experiences as children can be formative, and for Scott Dreyer, his childhood interest in history and the outside world certainly influenced his life path. He became a geography teacher and traveled on a short-term mission trip to Eastern Europe in his freshman year. In 1989, Scott felt God calling him to go to Taiwan. Thinking he’d be there for a year, he went and ended up staying a decade. However, it was his deep roots and love for the town and community that saw him return to Roanoke first to teach and then to start his own business.

There were several reasons Scott moved with his wife and children to Roanoke. They needed to live in the United States so Scott’s wife Deborah could get her citizenship, but they chose to move to Roanoke primarily because of the family support nearby. The beautiful and clean environment was another strong factor. After the pollution of Asia, Scott really appreciates that the air and water are so clear here. There are also lots of churches, the cost of living is affordable and it’s a traditional, safe area so it’s a great place to raise a family. Scott is true blue Roanoke, that’s for sure.

Scott is an author, educator, business owner and podcaster. Coming from a family that includes teachers, professors, and principals, teaching is in Scott’s DNA. He has taught both here in the United States and also in Taiwan. Scott now has his own online ESL training company Dryer International Academy, LLC here in Roanoke. He also has a podcast called Life App Podcast, which is a series of stories about Scott’s life and travels over the years.

Along with a team of 8 other teachers and through the power of internet technology, Scott teaches English as a Second Language mostly to people in Taiwan and China whose native language is Mandarin Chinese. Most of the students are aged 8-16 years old but there are adult learners too, and children as young as 5 years old. They run a range of groups classes from beginner to very advanced, and through live, interactive video lessons, students learn not only grammar and pronunciation but also conversation skills. Of course, they also help Chinese students who are in the United States for high school or college and need a bridge with their language. They can also help you with learning Chinese and about Chinese culture, which many people need in order to do business with China these days.

Part of Scott’s mission is to improve his students’ lives by giving them skills to communicate. It’s common in Taiwan and China that children study English for years but can’t actually have a conversation with American or other foreigners because all they know is memorized vocabulary lists and grammar rules. This is something Scott is passionate about changing. He knows his company makes a difference to students in this way, which is wonderful. For example, Iris, from South Central China, came to Dreyer Academy a year ago and couldn’t speak, but now she can have a fairly fluent conversation and chat calmly and confidently. Scott loves helping kids realize that learning English is not just boring memorization for a test but actually speaking and communicating with people.

The company is still small and nimble, and Scott says he’ll always be learning. He’s grateful for the advice of people like Bart Smith and Tom Tanner and the Small Business Development Center. He also has friends in similar businesses who share their advice and counsel too. Scott’s wife of 25 years, Deborah, is from Taiwan so her advice and coaching about Chinese culture have also been invaluable in communicating with students and particularly parents of students.

Scott’s advice to other people who have a dream for a business is to try and start it as a side-hustle. Don’t quit the day job too quickly, but also don’t be too perfectionistic or procrastinate forever either. It will be a big commitment, so take it seriously and remember it’s going to take time. The best advice Scott has ever received is to commit it all to God. Whether you believe in God or not, he says don’t leave anything on the table, do your best each and every time, show up and give it your all.

The biggest challenge Scott has in business these days is time management, which is actually really self-management. As a school teacher, he followed the timetable and responded to the school bell, however as a business owner, there is total time freedom and it’s crucial to use time wisely and manage himself. The other challenge he has is not so much lack of information but putting it into practice. His advice to himself and other business owners is to take the information, get out there and actually do it! A call to action, if ever there was one!


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