“I love you, man, no really I do.”

I delivered a session yesterday to a group of third year degree students in education studies. The session was about routes into English Language teaching, and what the job is about.

I had a good time doing it, and I think the group enjoyed it, lots of people showed an interest in becoming English language teachers and it made me realise a couple of things. The first, amusingly, was that, despite outward appearances (ahem), I’m not actually 19 any more: my first thought when I mentally sifted through my mind for an example of a pop star was Britney Spears. Oh dear.

The other thing, the actual important thing, was the realisation, when talking to people about what we do, is how genuinely excited and worked up I got. I was surprised at the degree of emotion I felt when I was talking about ESOL learners and how rewarding and satisfying it is: which didn’t really hit me until afterwards, but knowing that I get to help some of the most dispossessed and marginalised communities in the UK, work with creative and interesting people, get paid to do this, and get to be astonishingly nerdy about language and technology into the bargain. Unbelievable.

And reflecting on the session made me realise this: Sometimes I may say, or write, or tweet things which are off beam, or which might not be entirely comfortable, or which are wrong, or which challenge, annoy or upset people. And I’m sorry if I do that, particularly the last one. At risk of sounding like the most miserable kind of business studies graduate auditioning for the Apprentice, or perhaps a drunk, I do love the work I do, all of it. I find myself wondering why I write blog posts at 5 in the morning, or tweet about work at 9 at night, and I realise now that it is this: the learners I work with and the teachers I work with are among the best people I know, and like all of my colleagues, I want to do my best by them. And sometimes that means believing there are gaps, or problems, or inequalities: things which frustrate and annoy me, as well as the things which astonish, amaze and fascinate me. Perhaps I don’t write about the latter enough, and I should, no, I shall, but in the meantime, bear with me. I mean well.


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