The Burning Questionnaire: Bruno Andrade

mosaicb695cac27760ffcd377e4aa78e04a90bdf6ca471At the end of 2012, James Taylor wrote a post for Take a photo and…, but he didn’t write it alone. His co-writer/contributor was one of the ELT world’s favourite Brazilian teachers, Bruno Andrade. So if you’d like to learn a little more about what makes Bruno tick, read on!

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What is your full name, and where did it all start?

Bruno Cesar Nunes de Andrade. Well, long ago before my mom was expecting me she met a very cute and chubby baby whom she saw through the fence of a house in the little town where she still lives. She used to see that baby every day and when she found out his name she promised that when she had a baby she would name him after that cute baby! And I was blessed with not only one name but two! The second was a tribute to my dad who had been a very good friend till he passed away a couple of years ago. Now he protects me not only with his name, but with his constant and watchful guidance. 

What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?

Image by @fionamau at ELTpics

Image by @fionamau at ELTpics

 

Quite frankly, I am rather eclectic when it comes to music. My tastes range from the finest pieces of classical music to the latest Madonna album. I enjoy music quite a lot. What I listen to on my phone depends overtly on my mood. Or I just shuffle (music and attitude). I regularly skateboard and I listen to Morcheeba, Corinne Bailey Rae, Ben Harper, Bebel Gilberto, Adele, Marisa Monte, P!nk, Pete Murray, Rebecca Ferguson, Tracy Chapman, Florence + The Machine, Emeli Sandé, (are you still here? Lol) Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Beyoncé, India Arie, John Mayer, Donavon Frankenreiter….

What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?

It may sound like a cliché but watching people becoming independent users of the English Language makes me feel like I have the best job in the world.

Image by @Senicko at ELTpics

Image by @Senicko at ELTpics

Writing or teaching? Why?

Both. I blog (or I used to, at least) and that gave me a window into a new world. Expressing myself and getting opinions on what I do in class through writing is the one of the best professional development tools a teacher may have.

A teacher from your schooldays:

All of them have been precious to my career and to my life. Each of them impacted me somehow.

What was the first thing you learnt as a TEFL teacher?

PPP (presentation, practice and production) I guess! lol

What motivates/inspires you most?

Doing what I like motivates me!

roselibruno

Image by Roseli Serra at ELTpics

More often than I would like to!

Your favourite meal? Where? And perhaps with whom?

Moqueca (depending on the dialect, also spelled muqueca) is a Brazilianseafood stew based on fish, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro. It is cooked slowly, with no water added (taken from Wikipedia and totally accurate!).

With my partner!

A dream?

NYC (for good)

Favourite film?

Any of Woody Allen’s films. But Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a masterpiece in my opinion. You got to watch to see why! (Note from Fiona: And Graham Stanley is in it.. worth watching out for 🙂 )

Beach, mountains or city?

 

Image by @dan64pell at ELTpics

Image by @dan64pell at ELTpics

I make no distinction! I’m happy in any of them. It just depends on my mood (again)

Cinema or DVD at home?

DVD? Isn’t that something more advanced? At home, always! I love my couch, my TV and my fridge!

The Burning Questionnaire: Dale Coulter

mosaiceb664ddfdfef62b137d63643df780bbba4e69803Shortly before Christmas 2011, Dale Coulter was our third guest poster on Take a photo and… At the time, he was living in Rome but has since decamped to another European capital, swelling the ranks of ELTs finest in Berlin. A great believer in reflective teaching, here we have a bit of reflective interview question answering…… We hope you enjoy it.

What is your full name, and where did it all start?

My full name is Dale Alexander Coulter. For about a year and a half of my life, under the impression that Alex would be easier for Italians to understand, I went by the name of Alex. That was when I first moved to Florence, four years ago. It makes it difficult sometimes when people who know me as Dale and Alex meet each other – there have been arguments!

It all started when I sat in a language classroom learning Italian and it struck

Where my a little bit of my heart will remain forever   Image by @foster_timothy at #eltpics

Where my a little bit of my heart will remain forever                                                                     Image by @foster_timothy at #eltpics

me that the job of the guy sitting in front of me seemed like something I’d really enjoy doing; the rest, as they say, is history.

What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?

While I’m cooking, I rely on my housemate’s impeccable music taste – mainly indie music. When I’m driving, it depends on how law-abiding I want to be; The Chemical Brothers is likely to get me arrested, let’s just leave it at that! When I’m contemplating, there’s nothing better than Radiohead. I’ll never tire of listening to them.

What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?

Satisfying is seeing someone take control of their learning and seeing real gains in their language without the need of a teacher anymore. I hope this doesn’t make me obsolete one day! Being Gemini – yes I do buy into that kind of stuff every now and then – I want to communicate with everyone. When I don’t manage to establish a rapport with a class or a student, I feel like I’ve let them down in some way and this can be pretty frustrating. Also, when I start something, I throw myself at it 100% and failure can be quite hard to take, which in itself is a bit frustrating.

Writing or teaching? Why?

On a Monday morning I would probably say writing, but honestly I like them both. The satisfaction you can get out of both of them is what drives me to continue pursuing them both. I don’t think one could exist without the other now.

A teacher from your schooldays:

My economics teacher. Absolute legend. Best teacher that ever lived. He took a class full of 17 year-old boys and brought out the passion within us for the subject. He used our daily experiences and interests and helped us apply them to things like macro-economic theory. He defined the true meaning of education to me and I have enormous amounts of respect for him. Needless to say, we all got As.

Sometimes I'm too precise, verging on pedantic  Image by @sandymillin at #eltpics

Sometimes I’m too precise, verging on pedantic Image by @sandymillin at #eltpics

What was the first thing you learnt as an EFL teacher?

Grade the task, not the input. Wise words.

What motivates/inspires you most?

This is the question I’m meant to answer with “making a difference to the lives of the people I teach” or something like that. I’m not going to say that. I get the most inspiration from daily encounters with passionate and friendly people. Inspiration has many different faces. All of them are different. As for motivation, there’s a certain sense of ego in there, I like to do things to make myself feel better or to gain recognition for my efforts – I think that’s normal and healthy. But thinking of the bigger picture, I am motivated to try new things and constantly strive for something better. I am driven by goals – when I know what I want, I am motivated to get it.

Do you ever cry in the cinema?

I have cried at films, but not in the cinema. I went to see Dude, Where’s my car? with my Aunt when I was about 13 and laughed so much that I cried, does that count?

Your favourite meal? Where? And perhaps with whom?

Good pizza. To be precise, Bari, Italy, a place called La Bomba, and the carpaccio pizza, thick and fluffy base with a large bottle of beer and my best friend. It’s the stuff of dreams. All the component parts need to be there, including the best friend.

A dream?

What I miss about England   Image by @esolcourses at #eltpics

What I miss about England                 Image by @esolcourses at #eltpics

To take my bike and a good friend and just cycle around the world to different countries, without any worry of money or where to stay, just the two of us, our bikes and the road.

Favourite book?

High Fidelity – Before I read this book, I didn’t know it was OK to be a man and neurotic about love and relationships. Somebody must have forgotten to tell me about that. It also introduced me to a heap of good music as well!

Favourite film?

Many, but perhaps Swingers. Vince Vaughan at his best. It’s about a failing actor/comedian, Mikey, and his attempts to get over his ex-girlfriend with the help of the outrageously mysoginistic character of Vince Vaughan. You’ll be hooked after the first watch. I have a theory that everyone is one of the characters in that film at some point in their lives.

Dream car?

A racing bike, Bianchi preferably. Cars are just functional in my eyes. Bikes are my real passion.

Beach, mountains or city?

Beach… I feel at peace by the sea. The one year I lived in Puglia in the South of Italy taught me the value of having the sea close to you.

Where I feel at one with myself - by the sea    Image by @fionamau at #eltpics

Where I feel at one with myself – by the sea     Image by @fionamau at #eltpics

 

The Burning Questionnaire: James Taylor

The teacher James....

The Teacher James woz ‘ere….

The last Take a photo and… post of 2012 was contributed by a mighty duo: James Taylor (now based in Costa Rica) and Bruno Andrade (Brazil). James is quite a travelling man, so before he moves on again, I thought I’d pin him down and scorch him with … The Burning Questionnaire. So here you go: all you ever wanted to know about The Teacher James and then some. 

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What is your full name, and where did it all start?

My name is James Taylor and it started in Brighton, England, where it continued until I went off to London to go to university at 18. 11 years later, and sorely in need of a jolt, I went off to Brazil on my adventures that have also led me to South Korea, Belgium and now Costa Rica.

Image from Costa Rica by Gavin Dudeney at #eltpics

Image from Costa Rica by Gavin Dudeney at #eltpics

What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?

You’ve asked a big question there without realising. I’m a huge music fan and always have been. My taste tends to be a bit more leftfield than most peoples and as I am such a huge music geek, I tend not to talk about it too much. I think the level of my fandom scares most people off, quite rightly!

But since you ask, here are my favourite bands of all time in order. Not that I have this prepared or anything…

  1. Talking Heads

  2. The Beach Boys

  3. LCD Soundsystem

  4. Daft Punk

  5. Kraftwerk

But to really answer your question a) I don’t drive b) I listen to podcasts about science, football and comedy while cooking c) I’m not the contemplating my naval type!

What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?

It used to be doing all the admin that went with being a freelancer, but hopefully that’s over now for a while. So I would say that fact that it’s very hard to make advanced students aware that they are making progress. Not impossible, but hard.

Writing or teaching? Why?

Brasilia  by Carla Arena at #eltpics

Brasilia by Carla Arena at #eltpics

Teaching, every time. I enjoy greatly the end result of having written something much more than the writing itself. But teaching I really love. I completely lose myself in the moment when I teach, and time just flies by.

A teacher from your schooldays:

It would have to be Mr Lacey. If you were on the wrong side of him, he was terrifying. But if you were on the right side, and fortunately I was, he was truly inspirational.

What was the first thing you learnt as a TEFL teacher?

The basics of grammar! Of course I knew them in the sense that I could use them, but I didn’t have the terminology to be able to explain them, so the coursebook helped me as well as the students.

What motivates/inspires you most?

Okay, let’s get deep. Firstly, I am a teacher and no matter who or what I teach, if I do my job well, I will make the world a marginally better place.

Secondly, being cynical is the easiest thing in the world. Being positive in the face of so much negativity, which is how the world is presented to us, is much harder work. I chose to take the second, more difficult path because I wish to become a better person and evolve. If I do this continually, I might just be able to drag a few people along with me, you never know.

Seoul  by Victoria Boobyer at #eltpics

Seoul by Victoria Boobyer at #eltpics

 

Do you ever cry in the cinema?

Absolutely not, and I’m not saying because I’m a man, I’m saying it because I never go to the cinema!

Your favourite meal? Where? And perhaps with whom?

It’d be a toss up between what you could loosely call middle eastern food (couscous, tabouleh, hummus etc) and Brazilian food, which I think is very underrated. Where? Somewhere warm? And who? I don’t mind as long as they are good company with good stories.

A dream?

Apart from seeing Tom Waits live? I’d like to keep travelling, keep enjoying my job and keep trying to make myself a better human being. That’ll keep me busy!

Favourite book?

I’ve always loved Candide by Voltaire and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift for their shared sense of the ridiculous coupled with intelligent and sharp satire.

I also enjoyed American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis for the same reasons, although that has a very different tone and I wouldn’t recommend that to those with a sensitive disposition. Definitely not. I met someone who buried his copy of the book in the garden because he thought it was evil. I think he may have had issues.

Favourite film?

The Red Shoes, which, somewhat bizarrely for someone with no interest in the subject, is a film about ballet. But really it’s about the struggle between love and art. The ballerina is forced into a situation where she cannot have both, and the film is delicately and beautifully portrays her struggle. Plus it’s one of the most sumptuous, gorgeous things every committed to celluloid and I recommend it all of you. It captivated me as a teenager and I’ve never stopped loving it since.

Beach, mountains or city?

Live in the city (I am a city boy through and through), visit the mountains whenever you can (I really enjoy long country walks), and go to the beach for a couple of days every now and then again to unwind (any longer and I get bored). 

Brussels  by Paco Gascon at #eltpics

Brussels by Paco Gascon at #eltpics

 

A sport?

As with most people nowadays, it’s all about football for me. I’ve been a supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion basically since I was born (I didn’t have a choice!), and despite years of suffering, I still follow them through thick and thin.

PS

I’ve chosen the four images illustrating this interview as they represent four countries I am fortunate enough to have called my home, or in the last case, am about to. I wouldn’t be who I am without the people I met there.

The Burning Questionnaire: Tara Benwell

Take a peek at Tara....  Captions, please.

Take a peek at Tara…. Captions, please.

Way way back in 2011 – remember those days? Before whatsapp and instagram? – the third guest poster to contribute to the eltpics ideas blog Take a photo and… was Canadian teacher, writer and generally nice person, Tara Benwell, who provided the eltpics blogmeisterperson with the opportunity to post a photo of a frog on a toilet seat 🙂 This was a first for me. In return for this favour 😉 I sent her the Burning Questionnaire and asked her to choose a handful of eltpics that say something about her. Here are her replies – and feel free to add captions to the photos she chose (and just for the record, she choose more than four, so there’s a bonus eltpics at the end of the interview) ….

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What is your full name, and where did it all start?
My full name is Tara Lynn Benwell.  I always dreamed of having an extravagant middle name like “Clarissa” because it seemed most of my girlfriends had the middle name Ann or Lynn. Since that wasn’t possible, I gave my own kids fun middle names: Beckett and Sawyer. After all, they are stuck with their dad’s last name (Peacock)! Poor things. As a kid, I had the nickname “Tink” because I did a speech on my budgie “Tinkerbell”.  My online English learners recently organized a video challenge called “The Story of My Name”. My own dad shared the story of Tara Kirkpatrick, a girl from grade school who my parents both knew in Vancouver, BC (my hometown).  I love bringing real life stories into my teaching. It helps the language stick!

What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?
I enjoy Brit Pop (like “James”) for dancing and driving, Alternative Rock (like “The Airborne Toxic Event”) for concerts and hanging out, and Salsa (Polo Montana) for exercising and cleaning.

What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?

Image by @mrsdkrebs for #eltpics

Image by @mrsdkrebs for #eltpics

The most satisfying aspect of my job is using my creative juices to inspire and motivate English learners on the other side of the world (often while in the comfort of my pyjamas). I’m never bored because I’m always working on a million different projects at a time. The most frustrating part is not having enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Writing or teaching? Why?
Writing as teaching. The aspect of teaching that I was always drawn to when working in a traditional classroom was writing. I organized the school newspapers, initiated and designed a writing course, and picked up extra writing work as a materials writer. Blogging with English learners and teachers, and developing fun materials that you may not find in textbooks is how I combine these two passions these days.   

A teacher from your schooldays:
Mrs. G, my grade 3 teacher in Montreal, Canada. Grade 3 was my favourite year of all time, and it was my last grade in Montreal before my family moved to Ontario. In the acknowledgments of my novel I thanked Mrs. G for inspiring me to become a writer. I still have the journal that I wrote in her class that year – a “cahier” that was covered in silver wedding wrapping paper. Mrs. G was able to see beyond my horrible handwriting and spelling, and somehow seemed to know that I would one day turn my love of writing into a career. Her comments meant everything to me. I keep that in mind when working with my online learners.

What was the first thing you learnt as a TEFL teacher?

Image by @sandymillin at #eltpics

Image by @sandymillin at #eltpics

I worked as a waitress/bartender for years while I was in high school and university, and I learned quickly that teaching was going to be a huge pay cut. This was frustrating at first, but I soon discovered material writing, tutoring, and semi-private night classes. The TEFL industry helped me discover my talents and interests. Eventually, I was able to do away with the aspects of my job that I didn’t enjoy.

What motivates/inspires you most?
Reading a good book at the right time is the most inspiring thing. I truly believe that certain books come into our lives at the right time if we let them. Sometimes it’s fiction. Other times it’s a writing book, an autobiography, or a children’s picture book (most recently, Barbara Reid’s “Picture a Tree”).   

Do you ever cry in the cinema?
If we ever have a babysitter, we go to the pub.

Beans on toast and a cuppa, or langoustine salad, steak au poivre and a 1995 Rioja? Where?
More like PB* on a bagel with an Americano, or Guinness and a basket of honey garlic wings.

A dream?
To get my novel, “The Proper Order of Things” into the hands of at least one

Image by @mrsdkrebs at #eltpics

Image by @mrsdkrebs at #eltpics

reader in every country of the world. The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics inspired me.  There were some countries I hadn’t even heard of! If you know someone living in or traveling to an obscure country, please get in touch to arrange a book giveaway in exchange for a photo op.

Favourite book?
These days, my answer is The Night Circus. I was tweeting with Erin Morgenstern while I read it.  My book club (13 crazy women who were up to absolutely no good last night following a meeting about “The Necklace”) will be reading it soon (my selection).  

Beach, mountains or city?
I used to think mountains, but now that I’ve moved away from BC, I know that it’s the water I miss the most. I’m a jogger, and I hate feeling landlocked. It’s wonderful to be living close to family in Ontario, but my true home is on the Pacific near the giant trees.

Image by @sandymillin at #eltpics

Image by @sandymillin at #eltpics

Tablet or pen & notebook?
Pen and notebook at all times. I bring a notebook with me everywhere I go, and I’m always hunting for a new one that meets my strict requirements. The cover on my current notebook says “This could have been a novel.”  I do love my tablet, though!  My first iPad series (a children’s storybook series) is in it’s last stage of production. It has been amazing to see all of the different talents (writing, drawing, voice acting, programming) come together. I do believe tablets will take over the world. They are already beginning to take over my house.

Day or night?

 

Image by @mamalarut at #eltpics

Image by @mamalarut at #eltpics  – bonus image 😉

Night. After 11 o’clock, when everyone else is snoring. I can finally turn the TV off and hear my own thoughts. There’s always at least one book in my lap.

The Burning Questionnaire: Shelly Sánchez Terrell

There's something about Shelly....

There’s something about Shelly….

And about time too…..Apologies for the loooong break; life got in the life, as is its wont. But to make up for the hiatus, I’ll be bringing you interviews with several willing victims over the next few weeks – I do hope you enjoy the insights into their lives. We are ‘only teachers’, not Hollywood pillars making seemingly controversial (though who knows why) statements about their lives, private and/or public, we’re not world famous sportspeople ‘coming clean’, we are teachers. Ordinary folk. But personally I don’t think that makes any one of us any less special or interesting, a less seductive casket of memories and anecdotes, than the Golden Globe and Tour de France winners of this world, and sometimes it’s warming, amusing even, to find how alike yet different we all are. There’s safety in numbers and sparkle in being unique.

I waffle. It’s Friday. And Shelly is far, far more special than me and my blah. Back in October, we celebrated eltpics second birthday with a guest post by Shelly Terrell, and lo and behold, we were lucky enough to have our best day to date, hits-wise, on our main blog, Take a photo and… Would you like to find out a little bit about what makes Ms Terrell tick? Here she is, eELT’s Number One lady (OK, maybe she shares her crown…. but then, she’s like that 😉 ), Shelly S Terrell.

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What is your full name, and where did it all start?
Shelly Sanchez Terrell, but originally Shelly Mendez Sanchez. I was born in San Antonio, Texas and I am of Mexican and Native American descent. You can read about my personal struggles with learning English in a post I wrote for Ken Wilson, Children of Immigrants.

What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?Tango
I enjoy all types of music and especially love listening to records on my record player. I like artists like Otis Redding, Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Maria Callas, James Brown, Jeff Buckley, Parliament, and the Dave Matthews Band. I have a lot of music listed on Spotify, GrooveShark, and Youtube.

What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?
The most satisfying aspect of my job is I get to pursue my passion and meet teachers, students, and parents worldwide who are impacted by it and share their incredible journeys with me.

Writing or teaching? Why?
Teaching. I’m terrible at meeting writing deadlines as my publisher will currently tell you. I really enjoy getting learners of all ages excited about learning and exploring their curiosities, especially with technology and mobile devices. You will often see me with a child or adult playing with an app!

A teacher from your schooldays:
MiekeMina Stecklein was my Speech and Debate coach and she kept believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. She taught me how to speak publicly and used very avant-garde methods. I used to squeak, spit, and be very shy and awkward at speaking. Now, I speak in front of audiences weekly and help spread great messages about learning.

What was the first thing you learnt as a TEFL teacher?
The first thing I learned was that you have to make connections with the learners. If they don’t like you well then you won’t be a very effective teacher and you will have a horrible year.

What motivates/inspires you most?
When I see people at any age excited and moved by their learning.

Do you ever cry in the cinema?
I try not to, but I have to admit that I wept throughout most of Brave Heart, Last of the Mohicans, and Life is Beautiful.

Image by Sandy Millin at #eltpics

Image by Sandy Millin at #eltpics

A favourite meal? Where?
How about lahanodolmades, a rioja, and anywhere near the ocean and great music.

A dream?
To live on a beautiful sunny beach with Rosco, my pug.

Dream car?   Well, my dream vehicle is a teleportation device so that Rosco and I can just go anywhere in seconds.

Beach, mountains or city?   The beach because water calms me and I love watching sunrises or sunsets at the beach.

A sport?   I enjoy soccer/football because there’s constant action and I love when the players make really cool goals. I also think the World Cup is an incredible event that brings the world and people together.

Image by Diarmuid Fogarty at #eltpics

Image by Diarmuid Fogarty at #eltpics


The Burning Questionnaire: Sue Lyon-Jones

Image credits below.

In July 2012, the month London got into full sporting swing on an international scale as Olympic host, our guest poster was lovely lady from Liverpool and songstress divine. Sue Lyon-Jones. You already know where she’s from, what she looks like, you may have even heard her singing but did you know……………..

What is your full name, and where did it all start?

My full name is Susan Lyon-Jones, although most people call me Sue. My mother decided to call me Susan because she liked the name and thought it was unusual. No doubt the mothers of the six other girls in my class called Susan probably thought the same 😉 The -Jones bit is borrowed from my husband, and got tacked on later.

What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?

I tend to listen to whatever friends are sharing on Facebook these days more often than not, though if I’m choosing my own music it’s generally laid back jazz, R&B, mellow soul, that kind of thing.

Image from eltpics by Phil Bird (@pysproblem81)

What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?

I enjoy most things to do with teaching and writing, and I count myself incredibly lucky to be in a position where I get to spend my days doing something that I love. The most frustrating thing without a doubt is the bureaucratic nonsense that seems to go hand in hand with the job these days, which has little if anything to do with teaching or learning, and frequently gets in the way of both!

Writing or teaching? Why?

Both really, although I’m going through a writing phase at the moment.

A teacher from your schooldays

Image from eltpics by @MrChrisJWilson

Herr Grace, my German teacher, or “Hairy Grace”, as we used to call him. He was good fun, and his lessons were always interesting, if you discount the bit where we were shunted off to language labs and made to sit there with headphones on for twenty minutes or so, repeating random phrases…

What was the first thing you learnt as a TEFL teacher?

I can’t remember if it was the first thing, but “expect the unexpected” springs to mind. It didn’t take long for the penny to drop that lessons in the real world rarely match the plan 😉

What motivates/inspires you most?

Sharing, collaborating, connecting with inspirational teachers, attending conferences and webinars, and #eltchat, which is great for sparking the creative juices!

Do you ever cry in the cinema?

All the time, and at the drop of a hat. I’m a sucker for a soppy film 🙂

Beans on toast and a cuppa, or langoustine salad, steak au poivre and a 1995 Rioja?

Image from eltpics by Ian James (@ij64)

 

I don’t eat meat so it would have to be beans on toast, although I’d swap the cup of tea for something a more alcoholic, if given the choice.

A dream?

To spend the winter months living somewhere warmer, with more sunshine and less rain!

Favourite book?

Difficult to say, as there are a fair few books on my favourites list, although To Kill a Mockingbird probably has the edge. It made a big impression on me when I read it in my teens.

Favourite film?

Once again, hard to say, as I’m a serious film buff and there are so many to choose from, but I’m going to opt for The Matrix, as it appeals to my inner geek!

Favourite poet?

Image from eltpics by Sandy Millin (@sandymillin)

I’m not sure I have a favourite poet (did I mention that I’m indecisive?) though if I had to pick a favourite poem it would be Warning, by Jenny Joseph. It’s a very funny poem about growing old disgracefully. In later life, I plan to use it as a blueprint 😉

“Image used in this blog are all photos taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics, here by @ij64, @MrChrisJWilson, @pysproblem81 and @sandymillin under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial licence, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/”

The Burning Questionnaire: Ian James

Orrai?        (Image credits below)

Ian James was the second guest poster and second WELSH guest poster to contribute to the eltpics blog Take a photo and…. A rather wonderful photographer (and a very nice man), we were keen to invite Ian early on to share his great ‘techy’ ideas using images from eltpics coupled with webtools ranging from Googlemaps to Wordle. His post, Landscape Stories, was even better than we’d hoped for. But what is Ian actually like?…… Up periscope… :

What is your full name, and where did it all start?

Ian David James. Somewhere between Bridgend and Porthcawl I think, but you’d better ask my mum and dad about that – there were no other witnesses. I was born and brought up in Cardiff, about 20 miles down the road.

What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?

New Order and the Electric Light Orchestra while driving, Sufjan Stevens while navel-gazing and Ron Sexsmith (the songwriter’s songwriter and popular music’s anti-hero par excellence) while doing most other activities. To add a little local flavour – I live in Barcelona – I’d also recommend a young Catalan group called Manel.

What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?

Satisfying: when a student thanks me at the end of a course – we all like to be validated now and again.

Frustrating: maybe not having enough time to pursue my interest in educational technologies. I teach at a public university where I give rather a lot of classes to rather large groups of students, who give me rather large amounts of work, which takes me rather a long time to correct. I would dearly love to be able to integrate more technology into my teaching, but this would entail not having a life.

Writing or teaching? Why?

Image by Diarmuid Fogarty for eltpics

 

After more than 20 years at the coalface I think I’d probably like to do a little less classroom teaching and a little more writing. Writing would be designing materials and developing resources – I think this is where I could be of most use. As regards more theoretical scribblings, I’m not sure I have a great deal to say, or indeed, whether there is a great deal left to be said. Of course, in the future, my paradigm may shift. Who knows?

A teacher from your schooldays:
Evan Davies, a history teacher at Cardiff High School who first introduced me to the pleasures of listening to a good lecture – and “Doc. Davies” certainly did give a great lecture: clear and engaging, they were a distilled synthesis of his vast knowledge of the past – well, it seemed pretty vast at the time – and he even let us ask questions at the end. Yes, I know, I know! According to current thinking, schools were like factories then; we sat on wooden pews and were taught useless facts (as opposed to higher-order thinking skills) which were transmitted into our heads and then instantly forgotten … etc … etc … Well, I actually quite liked school. Of course, not all my teachers were like “Doc. Davies”, but I rarely felt disengaged, nor considered myself a brick in a wall. So, I think I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my school teachers – they’ve come in for rather a lot of stick lately.

What was the first thing you learnt as a TEFL teacher?

That I enjoyed it! Learning to teach is a bit like learning to ski: you have to spend the first couple of days falling on your *rse before you have a clear idea of whether you enjoy it or not. After my first few days of teaching (IH Barcelona, circa 1990) I came to the conclusion that I was indeed having fun – whether or not my students were is, of course, debatable.

 

Image by @elt_pics at eltpics

What motivates/inspires you most?

Inspires: I’m a bit wary of the word “inspire”. It’s been abused, over-used and generally become rather uninspiring. But if I had to say what inspired me I think it would probably be creativity and originality, which is not a very creative or original answer I admit. I also admire teachers who after 10, 20, 30 years in the profession remain dedicated to their teaching and go about their work quietly and diligently without too much waving around of their arms. Ironically, these are people who don’t normally aspire to inspire.

Motivates: Insatisfaction and the desire to perform better next time.

Do you ever cry in the cinema?

No, I normally watch the film.

Beans on toast and a cuppa, or haute cuisine and a 1995 Rioja? Where?

British cuisine: Toad in the Hole with HP sauce and a can of Brains SA at my mum’s

Image by Victoria Boobyer at eltpics

house in Cardiff | Spanish cuisine: Chipirones con patatas fritas and a bottle of Estrella de Galicia at Bar Kilowatio in Cedeira, Galicia.

A dream?

I’d like to buy and do up the house that I rent in the Pre-Pyrenees (“The Country Retweet”). Then take a year off to grow tomatoes, construct dry-stone walls and pursue other country pursuits.

A fave film?

I made a quick list of films that have made an impact on me but couldn’t decide on a favourite, so here’s all of ‘em: “How Green Was My Valley” by John Ford, “Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday” byJacques Tati, “Man of Marble” by Andrzej Wadja, “Glengarry Glen Ross” by James Foley, “Los Santos Inocentes” by Carlos Saura, “Duel” by Steven Spielberg and “The Railway Children” by … mmm … can’t remember who the director was, but it starred Jenny Agutter!

A fave book?

Don’t really have one. Books I’ve enjoyed over the last year include: “Stoner” by John Williams (Btw, it’s about a university professor, not a pothead), “Alone in Berlin” by Hans Fallada and the immensely-funny “How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World” by Francis Wheen.

Dream car?

Can I have a lorry, please? I used to hitch-hike in them and have always wanted one of my own. Truck-driving would provide me with some of the things I often long for: independence, solitude, time for contemplation, space etc – of course, dreams tend to be ever so gilded, so I’ll stick with my trusty Skoda Fabia for the mo. Thanks anyway!

Down periscope……….