Eleven things that I’m not too hungover to write about

I’ve been a bit wary about joining the “eleven things” blog thingy that’s been floating about recently. It has more than a whiff of the chain emails I used to get. The ones that ordered you to “send this to 900 of your friends in the next minute or bad men will come to your house and murder your pets (with a chainsaw).” I hoity-toitishly considered myself above those and possibly above this too, but I find myself with spare time on a Boxing Day evening with my brain still partly addled by my colleague’s super-strength eggnog, so not in any condition to write coherently about teaching*. I am also extremely fond of the three people who nominated me, @kevchanwow, @annehendler and @laurasoracco, and I am obviously not far above them (quite the reverse in fact). Here, therefore, are some answers to a compilation of their questions and some other gubbins about me.

1. Ocean or mountains?

“Why not both?” I ask greedily. Most of the north-east coast of Korea, which I was fortunately to live very close to for two years, features mountains sweeping down almost to the beach. My favourite area might be the city of Sokcho, where one can chill out on the beach in the morning, grab a quick bowl of seafood noodle soup for lunch and my clambering up through steepling sandstone gorges in the Seoraksan National Park before you’ve even halfway digested it. One of my favourite places in the world.

2. Three phrases you think people need to know in any language?

“Hello.” “Thank-you.” “I don’t understand.” One that you probably don’t, “My postillion has been struck by lightning.”

3. Happiness = x + y; where x=? and y=?

x = Stuff that intrigues you to do, y= the time to do it

4. What game did you like to play as a child?  Why?

When on a car journey, I would try to blink once and once only during every unbroken stretch of kerb that we passed. If the kerb was interrupted by a driveway or sidestreet, I’d then have to blink again. Challenges included leaving a long enough gap before blinking to avoid discomfort on long stretches, and fitting blinks in where driveways were closer together. Why did I play it? I’ll leave questions of my sanity to you, dear reader.

5. What would you hope your students remember you for?

Being kind to them, remembering all of their names and making them feel more confident. In truth they probably remember me for weekly quizzes, embarassing attempts to speak Korean and obsessively sending them performance statistics.

6. If you were given a paid semester off to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? 

On reading this I immediately thought about finishing a journal article I’m (supposed to be) writing and working on a TBL curriculum for my workplace. Then I wondered if I’d have time to learn a bit of internet-stylee programming (CSS, html, java) or learn to play the banjo. I strongly suspect, however, that the reality would involve quite a lot more sitting around on my arse than nay of the above scenarios, except at those times when I’m scratching it.

7. Do you listen to music while grading? If so, what do you listen to? If not, why not?

I listen to music when planning, grading, reflecting, writing and many other times too. What I listen to varies with time. At the moment I’m attempting to drown out shitty Christmas songs with aggressive breakbeats (Aphex Twin, Venetian Snares). At other times I like to be all indie and wet (The Antlers, Okkervil River). The one constant in my listening since the age of 18 is 2001 by Dr. Dre. Without a shred of irony, I consider this one of the best albums of the past 15 years.

8. Who has influenced your teaching?

I have been lucky enough to meet people over the last two years or so who have not so much influenced me as a teacher as allowed me to start doing anything vaguely useful in a classroom. These people would certainly include #keltchat colleagues @michaelegriffin, @annehendler, @johnpfordresher and @alexswalsh as well as @josettelb. The theorists who have influenced me most are probaly Scott Thornbury, Leo van Lier and Jennifer Jenkins.

9. What was your very first job?

I cleaned up the garden of the landlord of my local pub when I was about 14. This involved lots of cutting and digging, and enveloping our village in clouds of smoke from burning completely green hedge clippings. In return I received three pounds fifty an hour as well as a pint of lager, in complete defiance of licensing laws. Halcyon days indeed.

10. The correct number of hours of sleep is ______ in 24.

Six and a half, with a lie-in as long as you want on Sunday.

11. What is something you do that has absolutely no connection to TESOL?

I play football in the Seoul foreigners football league. I play in central midfield and bring a lot of energy and no skill whatsoever to the role. My knees are on the point of collapse, and my team was relegated this year. Travelling to and from games can take me upwards of 4 hours. Still I dutifully pull on the pale blue of Seoul Inter Soccer Club every Saturday during the season.

Eleven random facts about me

  1. My infant brother once dropped a full can of baked beans from the second-floor landing into the hall of our house. My head intervened in it’s descent, and I still have a lump there today.
  2. I sort of speak Korean, but not very well. Improving it is a project that I need to stop putting off.
  3. I have never owned a house or a car.
  4. I am the holder of an i-to-i 40 hour TEFL certificate.
  5. I have lived about one-sixth of my life in countries other than that which I was born in. I’m interested to know how this compares to other people.
  6. I think the name of my blog is a bit rubbish, but cool at the same time.
  7. I was much better at maths and physics than English at school.
  8. I was also the athlete of the year at school aged 17. I won the 200m, the 1500m, the long jump and the triple jump.
  9. I’ve never been sent off playing football, but I was dismissed once in a rugby match.
  10. I’m still not sure whether teaching is incredibly simple, incredibly complex or a mix of the two.
  11. I would like to do a PhD one day.

Eleven people I would like to know stuff about:

  • @alexswalsh
  • @bryanteacher
  • @daylemajor
  • @tomtesol
  • @GemL1
  • @thewangjangnim
  • @esltasks
  • @kheironschool
  • @languagebubble
  • @chriswcollins
  • @sophiakhan4

The stuff I want to know:

  1. What’s your mantra?
  2. Is teaching incredibly simple or incredibly complex?
  3. Are you good at making friends now you’re older? Why or why not?
  4. Music or literature?
  5. What would your ideal coursebook look like?
  6. What’s the worst cocktail you’ve ever tried?
  7. Have you ever eaten dog? If not, would you?
  8. What’s your favourite student error ever?
  9. What’s the most important thing that you try to convey to students?
  10. What’s your favourite gangsta rap tune?
  11. What one law would you abolish or introduce to your current country of residence?

That’s more or less that, I think.



* I will of course accept the accusation that I am rarely to be found writing coherently about teaching.


2 responses to “Eleven things that I’m not too hungover to write about

  1. This was so much fun to read! Would love to hear more about a TBL curriculum (wishing I could add more TBL in my current position). Hey, and I also like Aphex Twin! Don’t know if I could grade listening to AT though -might get me a bit stressed 😉

    • Truly I find listening to Aphex so much less stressful than the torrents or MOR Christmas crap that they’re pumping out in Starbucks at the moment. If you enjoy him I’d also highly recommend Venetian Snares; Rossz Csillag Alatt Szuletett is a good album to start with.

      The TBL curriculum is my attempt to write some materials that might actually work (whatever that means) in my workplace. I’m looking for something that moves students away from a structuralist, forms-based approach and towards something much more holistic. It would also hopefully have a large component of learning how to learn, creating and recording knowledge and reflection. It’s a bit of a pipe dream at the moment, but I might have a couple of spare weeks in February to make a start on it. No doubt it will inspire a few blog posts around then if I do do it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


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