Surviving CELTA

September 29, 2012

It’s over.  Four weeks of intensive teacher training and it’s over!  They warned me before we started but I ignored the health warnings.  Like you do.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, it was the hardest work I have ever done (and that includes finals at Uni);  120 hours at International House Lisbon and another 120 hours work at home.  This means work and sleep with nothing much between.  But the good news is that we all passed and can feel quietly smug as we plan our strategic assault on the world of teaching English as a foreign language.  Is the unsuspecting world ready?

The students were entirely international citizens as were the tutors.  Paula and Xana are scarily professional but I suspect that hearts of gold lurk somewhere beneath those warm-ups and student-centred lesson plans.  They’re both Portuguese from South Africa; not one drop of English blood in their veins yet they seem to know the lingo rather well.  Turning to the students; Alex was the earth mother of the course; she teaches yoga and loves all things Indian, Twenty years in UK and NL have made her distinctly British and she says she feels like a foreigner in Portugal, although she is Portuguese.  Logan is a jive-talking high-fiveing American graduate who wants nothing more that to be Scottish.  He has a magnificent repertoire of Glaswegian expletives which, fortunately, no one can understand.  He plans to take over Latin America when he leaves.  And I think he could do it.  Anna is a Brit who has spent most of her life in Atlanta so now speaks with a fine US accent laced with traces of scouse.  She’s already a teacher so was the star of the course, of course.  Amy is Welsh but has lived in Alentejo for years, fluent Portuguese speaker and rather good at English, too.  She turned from mouse to lion during the course, faced her demons and defeated them to general applause.  English rose Katherine is the closest to being a Brit but home is the Algarve and has always been. Now she and I can start to get the Algarvians talking proper like what we do.  Carina is a Portuguese pixie with a wicked smile and an English accent that is almost perfect, to the extent that it is impossible to tell that she is Portuguese.  Or anything else.  Her dad has a restaurant in Lisbon and we had our post-course meal there.  She also likes Stravinsky, so we are almost soulmates.

So, that’s it.  Over the four weeks, we got to know each other rather well; the kind of well that means we have suffered together and survived due to a mutual defence pact and support.  The kind of well that means we’ll keep in touch and check out how the others are doing.  The kind of well that involves Facebook, Twitter and all that stuff but I hope it will also be the kind of well that means we’ll try to get together some time and get pissed together.  Again.

Next week is house-move, then I must re-launch Flight Into Darkness.  But first, I have a hangover to nurse.   It’s a hangover that I’ve really earned.  We all did.


Yes! A review!

September 24, 2012

Yaaayyy!  I’ve had a review!  You can read it at but I’ve pasted it here:

“I found the product description above to be totally accurate. That is saying something really because sales blurb so often overstates. The author has clearly done a lot of research (or perhaps has personal experience?) regarding the places and people who inhabit the plot which I found helped the yarn along no end. Having worked in the aviation world all my life I found the aviation related detail particularly convincing. I had a few punctuation and proof-reading issues with the first chapter but if you find those don’t let them put you off as they are certainly not typical of the book as a whole. Highly recommended.”

And it’s not just any review.  The reviewer is John Farley who is one of UK’s iconic test pilots; he developed the Harrier jump jet and we worked together about twenty years ago when he did the flight-testing of two of the aircraft for FLS Aerospace when I was Chief Designer there.  Like most test pilots I have known, he is not like a test pilot at all, being modest, unassuming and absolutely professional.  He’s written an autobiographical book as well, so if you’re interested in the view from the cockpit, I recommend it:

Thanks, John!