06 JUNE 2014
Could you tell us a little about your background?
The only job I’ve ever had has been in teaching. I left school and went to college where I studied art and photography, but I soon realised that I wasn’t much good at these subjects and soon fell into teaching. For nearly 35 years now I’ve been involved in teaching, writing materials and nowadays in training teachers around the world.
Why did you become interested in language teaching?
When I was at college I needed a job during the summer vacation. My sister, who was herself a language teacher, asked me if I’d like to teach English and I jumped at the chance. After two days of training I started work at a summer school in Bournemouth, a town on the south coast of England. I worked for a couple of months, teaching teenagers from Italy and France, and I loved every minute of it. After the summer I went back to college, had a miserable year studying art and photography again, but the next summer I went back to the school and soon realised that what I wanted to do was to teach English.
What's so great about learning a language?
Learning a language opens doors. As soon as you have another language, the possibilities you have in life multiply beyond all your dreams. One of my biggest regrets is that I’ve never really mastered another language. I speak quite good Italian because my dad was Italian – my mum is English – so I have a basic knowledge. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived in Cyprus, where Greek and Turkish are the official languages, for many years, but I don’t speak either of those particularly well. For those of you who are leaning English as a second or even a third language, I advise you to put all your efforts into it.
What's your advice to new learners of English?
Practice is the key to language learning, and not worrying about making mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, if you’re not taking risks with language, then you’re probably not learning much. Find every opportunity you can to practise the language and you will improve.
How does Cambridge IGCSE English as a Second Language (fourth edition) series help learners?
I wrote the IGCSE English as a Second Language series when I was still teaching IGCSE myself, and a lot of the content in the course is based on my own, and that of my students’, classroom experiences and needs. I tried to put all of this into the content of the books, so the content is geared towards the people who are going to be using them. Also, we are now launching the new fourth edition, which means we have had plenty of opportunities to get feedback from teachers and students who have used the books about the content and the types of things they like and dislike. I think we are at the stage now where the books really do provide exactly what users want in a coursebook: in other words, the series is written for you.
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