For many of us in the English Language Teaching sector, the first name ‘ELT name’ we ever encountered (ok, after our initial teacher trainer had introduced themself….. or maybe not…did you have a reading list?) was Jeremy Harmer, so it seems appropriate that his should be the first name in this blog.
Jeremy recently contributed a post to Take a photo and… , and was kind enough to be the first recipient of The Burning Questionnaire.
Before I open those windows onto Jeremy’s secrets, as Take a photo and.. is actually 6 months old (nearly to the day), there will be some back-dated Burning Questionnaires from earlier guest bloggers… so watch this space.
What is your full name, and where did it all start?
Jeremy Peter Hedley Harmer if you want to know!
What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?
I listen to BBC Radio 3 while working. Classical music. I listen to Radio 4 (talk radio – ideas, drama, news, humour, science etc) while cooking or drinking breakfast coffee. Any kind of music (a lot of folk, jazz etc) while hanging around. Latin American music. Mexican music anywhere – from mariachi to música folklórica. Anything in clubs and concert halls. Just watching people make music. Music is everything. Without it there is nothing.
What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?
Satisfying: when you suddenly realise a way of ‘saying’ something (I’m talking as a writer here); when the bits suddenly click/fall into place and you find yourself writing your heart out.
Frustrating: when you slave away all day and nothing emerges at the other end. A sense of things not done, not completed.
Writing or teaching? Why?
Please can I have a combination? I miss the classroom (because I do mostly writing and travelling to talk/work with teachers). I miss – oh how I miss – the staffroom. A good staffroom is the best place in the world.
A teacher from your schooldays:
A rather improbable music teacher called Anthony Smith-Masters. And he had a lisp. But he seemed to believe in me – or rather he seemed to think someone like me who expressed enthusiasm should be ‘given their head’, challenged. I never became a good musician (I don’t have the talent and I certainly didn’t practise enough), but I am a passionate musician because of him, and any performance abilities I have sprung directly from his approach, I think.
What was the first thing you learnt as a TEFL teacher?
That it could be fun, challenging, scary, deeply satisfying. We suited each other almost immediately.
What motivates/inspires you most?
Enthusiasm. Fresh ideas. The whole world of ELT has been changed for me in the last few years by the emergence of a whole new tribe of energetic, excited, clever educators – at conferences, on social media etc. Wonderful.
Do you ever cry in the cinema?
Oh yes! And feel silly. But sometimes you can hardly speak – and when it’s a quiet scene you really don’t want to snuffle all the time. Films on aeroplanes are the worst. Something about the cabin pressure, perhaps. But I have cried at the stupidest rubbish up at 37,000 feet!
Beans on toast and a cuppa, or haute cuisine and a 1995 Rioja?
Beans on toast and Rioja. Allowed?
To Kill a Mockingbird
Beach, mountains or city?
City (with some mountains nearby). So why do I live in Cambridge?
Tablet or pen & notebook?
Cinema or DVD at home?
Cinema – shared experience