....at the college but you were teaching a long time before that.
I've been teaching a long time. I started in England in a secondary
school in the south of England, in Essex. In a place called Witham. And
I taught there for one and a half years, but I didn't really enjoy it
very much..erm..the teenagers were, well..not my cup of tea, to be
And so, I always wanted to work abroad so I applied for a few things;
jobs in the erm..Times Educational Supplement, sent off applications,
and eventually ended up teaching in Sudan.
After five years in Sudan, I..erm..er...basically, the civil war was
kicking off, the scheme which I was on was coming to an end anyway, so
it was time to look for something else. So, I remember applying for
various jobs in Mediterranean countries; Italy, Greece, Portugal, I
don't really remember, and I got an interview for a job in..er.. Gijón
I remember that.
Yeah, yeah that's where I'd been teaching when I first met you. I was..erm...yeah.
But basically there was no summer work, so I was forced to look for
So it was coincidence, you especially....ermmm
It was coincidence, you know, I knew nothing about Asturias before
coming to Spain, you know, and most people's image of Spain is, you
know, the costas, flamenco etc. and Asturias is very different, it..it
rained a lot more, it does rain a lot more, it's greener.
What's been the most difficult thing about living here, now that you've
been here for a while?
Erm...nothing that was really that difficult, because compared to Sudan
it's really very safe, very similar to Britain.
I mean, I..I came from a country in Sudan where I would go to the market
in the morning, buy a live chicken and then kill it myself in the
evening. Pluck it, cook it, eat it. And here, go to the supermarket and
buy one. You know, I...I...I came from a country where I would...erm...wh...where
I had, on two or three occasions, eaten live termites and I come here
and obviously the food's very different.
You've eaten live termites!
Live termites, live termites, yeah, yeah I know it's not a very common
delicacy, ok? But..erm..people in the country, in certain parts of the
country do it because it's a source of food, it's nutrition, it's you
Or whatever they have, I don't know what they have. It's a strange
experience 'cos (because) you...well..I won't go into that...
No, no tell us.
Well, no you..you...they...basically they only come up, I don't know
there must be various kinds of termites, I've no idea about termite
terminology, but they only come up when it's raining, so what these
people used to do was get like saucepans or saucepan lids and bang them
to mimic..er.. the sound of rainfall, and then they would come up
crawling, ok? And then, I imagine that they would collect them and then
fry them, which they did after. But what they first did, because they
were hungry, is put them straight into their mouth.
How big were they?
Like this, yeah. Something like this...
Yeah, I don't..no they weren't beetles as such, they were...it was...it
was like a kind of...parts were crunchy and parts were slimy, you know?
It was really strange and you put them in your mouth and..they sort of...
you can feel them....I mean they die very quickly obviously, you know?
But it's the same for me, you eat a live animal or you eat it dead.
What's the difference?
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Erm...communicating with people..erm...when students are laughing. I
think when they're laughing normally they're learning. Erm...enjoying..yeah..just
the contact, enjoying finding out about them, and letting them find out
about me. Yeah, that's what I enjoy most, actually, y'know, being in the
class talking to people.
And what do you dislike about it?
Erm...when students don't understand and they get frustrated, and you
can't find a way to explain to them. Then it..it's..it can be difficult.
So, you're affected by their frustration?
Of course! Of course! I think it's normal.
What's been your most embarrassing moment in the classroom?
I haven't had too many really embarrassing moments, as such. I mean
there's the kind of things that happen to us all. We write a word on the
board and we realise twenty minutes later it's spelt wrongly!
Or the other day, for example,...er...someone asked me the difference
between one another and each other, and I started explaining, talking
about two people and three people, and I suddenly realised I haven't got
a clue what I'm talking about. I didn't know! Y'know. I've looked it up
since on the Internet and evidently they're more or less interchangeable.
What advice do you have for Spanish speakers learning English?
Right, erm...number one, for example, people who come here to the
Council, they have their four hours a week, it's not enough. They need
to do the homework. they need to do extra exercises. They need to
practise as much as possible. Erm....they can't expect to come here and
only, in four hours a week, erm...progress as quickly as they want to.
Yeah, that's...that's quite a false expectation.
They pay their money, and it's not cheap.
It's not cheap at all.
And they expect, in the four hours, to learn....
Exactly, they expect....
You know they learn something, obviously, otherwise, well they wouldn't
keep coming. But, they need to do more. Now, I understand they have time
pressures, they have, y'know, the family, work, other stuff etc. But you
really do need to put time aside for a foreign language.
What do you do when you're not here at the British Council?
I...I live with my partner and we have a son..er..who's nine years old.
So obviously that takes up a lot of my time, y'know, with cooking and
generally living with them and doing things in the flat.
Er...hobbies...er...I enjoy cycling. I don't cycle very quickly, but I
like going out at the weekends. I enjoy travelling, reading..er..I look
at the Internet quite a lot. I listen to, y'know, all kinds of music.
If you could change something about yourself, what would you change?
Er...I think I'm too impatient. I...er..can't stand waiting, like many
people, but I think my anxiety transmits itself to the people I'm with,
and they get nervous as well. So, at least as far as my character is
Do you mean, in situations where you have to queue?
Yeah,...queuing, waiting. I...I'm always the first person to arrive at
an airport, y'know, and then I'm ages there doing nothing, getting bored,.
But I...I can't help it I'm thinking, 'well, what happens if the car
breaks down? What happens if there's a problem on the...on the
underground?', or something like that. Y'know, so...far too early for
things. But, it's ok.
Ok, well. Thank you very much.
Ok. Thank you very much indeed.