If you haven’t heard of it yet, the premise of the ELT Blog Challenge is simple. Ask one of your favourite PLN people 5 standard questions, which you’ll see below, and from there, get to know them in ways that you might not otherwise have the chance to on twitter or other social media.
|Beth working it on the promenade|
1) If your students were to label you with 3 adjectives, what might they be?
Committed, compassionate and uninhibited.
I’m committed because I love nothing more than seeing my students connect and become empowered. I’m compassionate because I know what it feels like to struggle to learn a new language. Seriously, I spoke Tarzan French when I moved to Paris nine years ago…
My students will tell you I’m uninhibited; I’ll do anything it takes to ease the tension and stress of language learning. I have this great game where I encourage students to take on bizarre roles, such as “You like to smell paper,” “You count all the buttons on a person before saying hello,” “You have to collect DNA from everyone you meet. (e.g. hair, skin etc.)” And they really run with it! And when they can laugh at me they aren’t so afraid of taking risks and laughing with me.”
|Beth having her DNA collected|
Right now? The “working me” essentials. My fridge is familiar with two different “MEs”. The “working me” and the “vacation me”. The working me fridge has basic staples like pasta, salad, steaks, milk, eggs, a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and a bottle of Ruinart champagne for Friday nights. But the vacation me fridge is packed with unpronounceable ingredients. I have an adult class that likes to pick recipes out of the Joël Robuchon cookbook and I have to cook whatever the students choose, send them pictures and ask for advice on which wine to drink with it. They make me cook some of the weirdest, and yummiest, stuff!
3) If you weren’t a teacher, what might your profession be?
4) What do you find most difficult about the teaching profession, or What has been your most difficult class as a teacher?
My most difficult class! Oh Lordy, I’ll never forget it. I was in the fetal position in the language department director’s office. Tearing at my hair. Really! I was given a group of university-age students who had a retched reputation for exhibiting behavior that we normally see in zoos. I laid down the law and it completely blew up in my face. They mutinied. For the entire semester, every time I entered their room, I felt like I was being asked to walk the plank. While this happens very rarely, I think dealing with discipline issues (with all ages!) is one of the most difficult aspects of English language teaching.
Beth’s students showing off a treat from Ken Wilson
5) What was the last book/movie you read/saw, and what have you seen/read way too many times?
The movie “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with Steve Martin and Michael Caine. I know it practically by heart. I love the bit where Steve Martin is in prison in the south of France.
And now for the encore…
6) Can you tell me a bit about where you teach, and how long you’ve been there?
I like to juggle. I’ve liked it since I began in 2002. It keeps me on my toes. Being freelance, I teach in about five different places during the week. These include public and private higher education institutions and private companies. I specialize in what the French call “deblocage.” I help the students come out of their shells. I get the biggest rush when a student tells me they’ve been “debloquéd” thanks to my classes.
7) Where did you teach before there? Have you ever taught in any other countries apart from France?
I wish I had teaching experience in other countries! I taught piano and musical theater to teenagers back in my hometown in Virginia. But it was in France I fell in love with ELT. I’ve dabbled in teacher training in Poland. LOVE that SO much.
Beth’s students presumably cooking up
something delicious (well they are French!)
8) How did you become involved in TESOL France?
I arrived at TESOL France’s doorstep in 2006 for the Best of BESIG. It was my very first teachers’ conference. I knew right away I wanted in: watching it all come together, schmoozing with the top-notch speakers, the technical know-how, the nitty gritty, the adrenalin rush in the wings. All of this was familiar to me thanks to my years of theater experience. I jumped in, head first, and co-organized the 2008 and 2009 Conferences with Ros Wright and graduated to organizer of the 2010 and 2011 events. I’m convinced organizing conferences it is the best way to meet the best and the brightest in ELT.
[Blush] Thanks! I had a blast doing that PK. Stand up comedy?! Heck, why not! I first got up on stage at the age of 5. I played a bush that sat on stage in a local production of the “Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Since then I’ve acted and sung in loads of shows. It plays a huge part in my teaching experience. Back in 2002, a language school boss said it best. He took me aside right before one of my first classes and asked, “Beth, do you like being on stage?” … “Yup” I replied. He winked and said, “Then, you’ll do just fine.”
Beth working it on the promenade part two