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De-Use It - A tale of coursebook misuse

Last month I was asked by one of the editors of IATEFL's TDSIGnewsletter to contribute to their Teacher Development Stories series and I came up with the following.

They say you never miss the water till the well runs dry and as is often the case, they were right. For years, the institute where I work had shown keen interest the ongoing development of its teachers. Training sessions were organized throughout the year, the occasional methodology book was acquired and money was even found to help teachers attend conferences around the country. But times are tough here in Spain and while it took some time to finally filter down to this modest, lost corner of the country, last September we found ourselves forced to become apostates to the country’s new religion, Austerity. The new fundamentalist prophets ruled that Teacher Training and CPD was frivolous and non-belief in the new creed would not be tolerated. Deprived of this flow of ideas, the few teachers that remained were forced to …
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Sunday Goodbyes

Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

Sunday afternoon in the Calle Moret in this everlasting climate-change-denyer's indian summer. At first glance everything looks the same. Graffiti splatters the shuttered shop windows that used to bear life and the few businesses that are still open are also closed up tight for a well-deserved day of rest. After all it is Sunday in Spain and moreso in Caceres. But a closer look, and listen, shows that it’s not just another sleepy Day of their Lord. About halfway down the pedestrian street a few people appear, then a few more and suddenly there’s a large crowd. After the recent altercations between the raging nationalists that have happened in the main square, you could start to feel nervous but there are no flags, anger or confrontation here, just smiles, dance steps and cries for more. This is a meeting of a diffe…

A Betting Man Forced to Be

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.
I’m not really a betting man. I can clearly remember when my great grandfather used to get dressed up take me on his weekly trip to his place of worship, the track. I can also recall being more interested in the horses themselves rather than who ended up winning the race. In all the times that I played concerts in the American gambling meccas of Las Vegas or Atlantic Beach, I can count on one hand how many times I played the slot machines and that was probably only to get the free beer that you got while sitting at the machine. Traveling through the gambling capitals of Asia, the range of the different gamblers interested me much more than the games themselves. In fact, believe it or not, here in Spain I don’t even play the Christmas lotto. But now that my holidays have finally arrived, I’m going to take an enormous ga…

Spain's Hidden Summer Surprises

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.


As I watched my kids search for a free space in the kiddie pool so that they could practice their newly acquired skills the other day at the Ciudad Deportiva outdoor pool, wondering why the pool next to it inexplicably sat closed off, I came to realize what an important part of life public outdoor pools play in Spain. Tourists trudging through the UNESCO cores that dot this country under the fierce midday summer sun in search of a typically Spanish experience that they can tell their friends back home about often wonder why the only life they seem to come across are people trying to sell them something. Why are the city centres only filled with tourists? Where are the people that actually live amongst these beautiful, if terribly hot stones? What they don’t know is that the locals lucky enough to not be working are eit…

Another Round!

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.
After the last class before the summer break the other day, a group of students and I went across the street to the bar to celebrate what was coming to an end and of course what lie ahead. It was just before noon and as we lined up to the bar, a few people were having their first or maybe second breakfasts while some kids were enjoying snatches of freedom as their mothers took a well-deserved break over coffee. Cortados, solos, con leches and teas were ordered and everything was completely normal until one student said, 'I don't know what to have, I don't usually go to bars.' The world suddenly stopped on a dime and I turned and joked with him that I must be more Spanish than him, because if there is one thing that I absolutely love about this country, it has to be its bars. There is truly no equivalent…

La Pequeña Georgia

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.


Four years ago yesterday, while the rest of Caceres was celebrating San Jorge (Saint George), I sat in the maternity ward of the local hospital awaiting the arrival of my second daughter. I say awaiting her arrival, because as she was the second, I knew that she wasn’t arriving via Stork Airlines and the look on my wife’s face let me know that it wasn’t going to be an easy landing. It’s a holiday here and everyone knows that it's just that much harder to get up and go to work when you have to, yet there wasn’t a trace of regret in the attentive faces of the staff helping my partner through this. Their own families were surely getting together that day and it goes without saying where they would have rather been but there was absolutely no spite in their actions. The health of my wife and the baby were the only prio…

A Bit of a Warning?

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

The Queen paid a visit to Caceres the other day. Sorry, I should probably be more precise, I don’t mean the ex-journalist who is the darling of all the fashion magazines, but the one who, like me, can’t get rid of that stubborn accent from elsewhere. In these days of having two kings, two truths, two popes etc, things can indeed get a bit confusing. But as the refrain about the legendary Spanish generosity goes, donde comen tres, comen cuatro (where three can eat, so can four). Even in these difficult times when hospital beds are being cut back and people are expected to retire after they die, why not have two queens? And if the trains out to this part of her realm aren’t to her liking, well let's send a helicopter to pick her up. Anyways, don’t feel bad if you didn’t know about her visit, I only found that she was…