I was recently invited by Liverpudlian artist and writer Derek Dohren to participate in ‘The Next Big Thing’, a set of chain posts from bloggers to bloggers around the world.
Derek, a former TEFL trainee of mine, has recently published The Cats of River Darro a witty account about the trials and tribulations of living in Granada. It’s a great read and I’d definitely recommend it to any TEFLers out there.
So, thanks to Derek for passing the baton to me. I’ve got a steaming mug of black coffee in front of me and am ready for whatever is thrown at me.
What is the working title of your book?
Talking in a funny lingo – The Insider’s Guide to TEFL or 50 things you should know about TEFL
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Many people dream of upping sticks and heading off to foreign climes. One way to make a living and get to know members of the local community is to become an English teacher. And if you do it well, it’s good for the soul and you make a positive impact on people’s lives.
However, there is not a lot of regulation in the TEFL industry, especially here in Spain. This means that there is a good deal of misinformation (inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally) and disinformation (inaccurate information that is spread intentionally) and far too many charlatans, swindlers, shysters, con artists, confidence tricksters and snake oil salesman around!
I’ve spent 15 years working in TEFL and have spent time, effort and a substantial amount of cash getting professional qualifications. A TEFL course is quite an investment so I’d like to think that people can read my book and be able to make an informed decision about whether it’s for them or not and what they should do during and after the course.
What genre does your book fall under?
I suppose it would fall under the ‘How to’ genre. I’ve tried to include lots of anecdotes and interactive tasks to make it more accessible to the general reader. It’s not a dry, academic text!
What other books would you compare this work to within your genre?
I’m a fan of writers such as Malcolm Gladwell and Daniel Pink. I may not agree with everything they write but their casually informative prose style makes reading their work a pleasure. I’m certainly not in their league though!
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ha ha! I consulted a few close friends on this one about who could play me in the dramatic re-enactments of some of the classroom experiences I refer to in the book. I bought a beer for the chap who suggested a younger Al Pacino but poured a beer over the head of the wag who suggested Ronnie Corbett (bespectacled, diminutive British comedian).
Of course, I’ll need someone to do a narrative voice-over. Morgan Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen or Clint Eastwood. Someone with gravitas. Or Brian Blessed, he’d be fantastic and keep viewers awake for sure.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
50 things you should know about TEFL but were too afraid to ask in case the person you asked happens to be an insufferable egomaniac.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’ve been collecting questions for a couple of years but the actual writing only took about a month. Unfortunately, I’m not very detailed-oriented so proofreading and editing feels like pulling teeth. Anybody fancy doing it for me in exchange for a few beers?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Positive inspirations would include many of the trainees I’ve taught over the years. To see somebody undergo a remarkable transformation from a trembling, gibbering pupa in front of a group of students into a calm, cool and collected educational butterfly in a month is a wonderful thing.
Then there are those TEFL charlatans I mentioned earlier with their negative inspiration. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can set up a language school or teaching training centre and convince people to part with their hard-earned cash and I would love to see these opportunists go the way of the dodo!
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Well, I’m currently writing an additional part about TEFL teaching here in Spain. It will include lots of useful tips about working in this marvellous, if frustrating, country, and links to online resources and lots of other goodies.
Phew, time for another coffee. Next week, we’ll be crossing the Atlantic and hearing from a couple of young American writers.
Kellie Joyce and Brittani Mann have been best friends since they were kids in the United States. In the summer of 2012 with college freshly them, they moved to Granada, Spain to spend a year teaching English and learning about a new culture, and maybe even picking up the language along the way. Sometime while they were looking for work as teachers, they managed to hatch fledgling careers in writing, a life-long passion. Both have novels being published in January.