I was also teaching and I was a self-employed teacher and I was teaching in companies doing company work, really.

Did you have your had your own company?

Yes. Well, I didn't...not exactly a company but I worked for myself, and I was the only worker. I mean, I didn't employ anybody to teach. Yeah, but that was fun. I enjoyed that.

But it was off-site teaching, you went to

I went...yes, I went to their companies. In-house teaching, nothing...

...and how long did you do that for?

7 or 8 years as well.

In Valencia?

Yes. But then I thought.... 'cos (because) circumstances change, and everything changes and I was offered just temporary Saturday mornings here, and since then the work here has just grown and grown and grown, and there are also opportunities that I wouldn't have had just working by myself. I've become an examiner, I'm also writing tests which I quite like.

So, how long have you been in Valencia?

In Valencia, on and off for about 15 years.

Wow, almost as long as me.

That's a long time now.

I think I've been here 17 years now.

But on and off, I did go back to England for a year and a half in that time. And then three months here, and then four months there...

Have you lived anywhere else in Spain?

I lived in Barcelona for six months. That's where I started off. I actually did my CELTA training there in International House in Barcelona.

So, what brought you to Valencia? mum lived here, or lives here still.

I didn't know that! That's why I love doing these interviews 'cos I find out things that I just didn't know.

No, my mum's Spanish, as well. So she spent, what, thirty, forty, nearly forty years in England, so then...

Have you always spoken Spanish? Did you speak Spanish at home?

Erm....I'm not sure about speak Spanish, I've always had some contact with Spanish, but I wouldn't really say I spoke Spanish at home. But I did have...I mean I do have cousins, and the only way I could communicate with them was in Spanish. So I did have an advantage. But I also studied it at school, and at university. So I had a...I had a big advantage coming here.

Where were you born?

Ashford, Kent.

And did you grow up there?

Yes, I grew up in Ashford then we moved to Folkestone.

By the sea.

By the sea, the Channel, the Channel Tunnel.

Did you....did you ever live in London?

Yes, and then I studied in London. But now, all my family live in London or Valencia, so it's one or the other. We've all....yeah, in the end my parents divorced, my father went London and my mother came to Spain. And my brother lives in London now, as well.

What's been your most memorable moment in the classroom? Do you have one? Something that sticks out?

Sticks out! I think, we live in Valencia, Valencia football team's very, very popular, and...erm...when my son was born one of the classes gave me a replica kit of Valencia football team, and ..erm...

What, small models of players?

No, not of the players, the kit, the actual kit, the T-shirt and the shorts and the...and they gave me..erm...they gave me the T-shirt, the shorts and the socks of, y'know for a...for a baby. So, I thought that that was so sweet. I was, like, nearly in tears. So...I...I.. unwrapped it and had a look and oh, it's a T-shirt...

Was that when your son was born?


How old is he now?

Three now.


Time goes quickly.

Is he playing football yet?

No. No, this is...He likes football. Every kid likes football, but I'm trying to st..keep him away from football at the moment.


Well, 'cos football dominates everything, and they're only...sometimes.....

Especially in Valencia.

Yes, and Valencia and Spain. I'm trying to...trying broaden his culture, his sporting culture.

I'm thinking he'll probably drift into football eventually anyway with his mates.

Oh it'''s inevitable. And he'll talk about football, and he'll play football, and he'll go to football matches. But at the moment I'd like him to see other sports and other, y'know, other areas of...y'know,

What advice do you have Gary for Spanish speakers who want to learn English?

What advice do I have?... he dropped his cookie on the floor...

Erm...there are lots of pieces of advice that you could give to Spanish speakers. the moment I think the way Spanish is taught in schools is very grammar based, and really learn a language well you need to know the grammar, you need to know pronunciation, vocabulary, the fundamentals, but there is a...there is a case for actually studying language in context, studying language as it is, in chunks, and forget about studying grammar to apply to, or to do grammar tests. This is not very effective.

And how would they....

It decontextualizes....

How would they do that? Can you give them something more practical? For example, go and look at films, listen

Listen to films...I..I always find very very useful is actually...erm...and interesting as well, is taking small chunks of language; a song...erm...a...a couple of paragraphs...three or four paragraphs, a magazine article, a newspaper article and analyzing that and saying, what is being said in the article, or the song, and how it's said; the grammar, the language that's being used in order to. And...erm...this is very useful, and you don't need to go to a school or an academy to do this by yourself.

Also, sorry, but I think that's very useful, particularly with songs because you could take it as a poem and analyze the..erm..the word stress and analyze the..the..rhyming vowel sounds and then when you listen to the music, it suddenly becomes alive.

Yes, and songs, you know the...there is this thing that when you study grammar it's just not a language, it's just to do a test. Nobody likes it, but everybody likes songs and you can choose your songs as well. And it has that effective, you know, it is y'know very relevant for them, 'cos they like it and also it's very catchy. Songs repeat themselves, you can sing along with the songs

So, it sounds like you're saying, "Don't concentrate so much on grammar, but concentrate more on words in context and find original sources of English...

Yes, exactly yes, yes, yes put it....put...language has always a context, so you need to find that context. But that's very important; what they're saying and how they're saying it in everything. Analyzing more.

What do you do with your time when you're not teaching or spending it with your family?

Er....spending time with my family? It's spending time with family! Erm...I don't know, I enjoy reading a lot, so I read all sorts of things, I also enjoy running. I go running a lot, when I'm not injured!

But, do you play football?

I used to play football, but get to a certain age, you get injured...all my.....everybody I used to play football with doesn't play anymore. Yeah, but you get to a certain age when the youngsters go "Vroom, vroom, vroom!" and overtake you and they are faster and stronger and quicker, and then you start losing and you don't like it.

I've been there!
Can you talk a bit about what you hope to do in the future, Gary?

What I hope to do. Apart from family-wise and being a good father and, y'know, focusing on that, I'd like to...professionally I'd like to follow a lot actually writing tests. So, specializing more and more in my area. I'd like to do that. So, maybe, I don't know, I still enjoy teaching, but maybe in the future teach less and do maybe work online, maybe write exams or maybe more examining.

And that would also lend itself to you working at home which would allow you to be around your family even if you're not actually with them, which would give you more flexibility in terms of spending time with your family.

Exactly, yeah. So, plenty of time at home. Changing the dynamics of things, I think.

What makes you happy?

What makes me happy? My son makes me happy, my family make me happy. Er....very happy! But just general satisfaction of teaching...teaching makes me happy as well, seeing progress, people passing exams.

What makes you sad?

Sad? Oh, I don't know. Lots of things make me sad. Nelson Mandela possibly dying'll make me sad.

Is he dead yet?

I don't know.

He probably will be by the time this goes online, unfortunately. He's in a pretty bad way.

But lots of things make me sad as well. I don't know. The students, y'know, th...the general crisis that we're in makes me sad. Low expectations for people in the future make me sad. Oh, I don't know, all sorts of things.

Apart from perhaps Nelson Mandela, which famous person would you like to have dinner with or have a beer with?

Have a beer don't know there are lots of people. Maybe Ale...Alex Ferguson. He might be interesting. He's probably got a lot of stories to tell. Well, he's been around a long time.

He has. He has.

And he finally retired, so....that would be interesting. Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela. Winston Churchill would be interesting I think, as well. (I) don't know why.

In an ideal world, what would your life be like?

In an ideal world? Erm....I don't know, my teaching would be perfect, my students would be perfect. No, I think actually the idea of perfection is completely dodgy, I don't know about an ideal student, or ideal teaching, but much the same as it is now, I think. I...I do more or less what I like, and I have enough time I think and enough money to do more or less what I like. So, I'm quite pleased about that.

If you could change something about your character, what would you change?

My character? Erm...I would change the way I get up every morning. I'm not a morning person.

You don't like getting up early.

I would love to be a morning person, but I'm very grumpy.

Me too. I hate getting up early.

Don't talk to me!

...until I've had that second cup of coffee, don't speak to me. The world doesn't exist.

Exactly, we're much the same.

If you had 6,000 euros to spend on yourself, what would you buy?

What would I buy? 6,000 euros? A trip to Australia. I don't know, I...I'd go travelling with it I think.

Why...why Australia?

I've never been. There are lots of things to see. I don't know. I like diving, I could go to the Barrier Reef. I like nature, you could go to the Outback. I think it has a lot to offer, it's a whole continent.

My best friend lives in Sydney. He moved there with his family about four years ago, and he keeps inviting us, and I keep wanting to go but it's expensive.

That's the chance, that's the opportunity...

I know, I know!

...and he could organize a trip for you.

He could, but I wouldn't want to stay too long with him, it's not fair. A week, maybe. Four or five days with him.

Yeah, it's a big country you'd have to get flights around and travel around.

Maybe next year.

Take him up on the offer.

Thank you very much.

That's a pleasure.

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