Sue Kay studied at Birmingham University, unaware that it would later be the home of the prestigious Bank of English and one of the first places to carry out corpus-based research into the English language.
My subject was French, and when I graduated, I didn't go straight into teaching. I did a post-graduate course at the Oxford College of F.E. and became a bilingual secretary on the Cote d'Azur in France. I never wanted to make secretarial work my career, but the training has come in extremely useful. For instance, I'm one of the few writers I know who can touch type.
I got married in Vallauris, within sight of Picasso's 'Man and Goat' statue, and my son William was born there too, giving him the double advantage of having a very glamorous place of birth (Cannes) and growing up bilingual. We later moved to the French countryside, but after a few years I was missing city life too much and moved to the nearest one - Lyon. This was where I started teaching English after the customary four-week TEFL course at IH in London. I loved Lyon and worked alongside people who went on to set up one of the most impressive and innovative schools I know - English International. I did my Diploma in TEFL in Lyon and under the guidance of my excellent tutors (Pearson Brown and Henry Daniels) I developed an interest in humanistic teaching techniques and the learner-centred approach which has underpinned my teaching and writing since then.
I came back to Oxford when I decided that I'd been in France long enough (ten years) and got a job at the Lake School of English, a small private language school, situated nowhere near a lake, which was running as a teachers' co-operative at the time. I enjoyed the co-operative approach to running the school which meant that teachers also had a say in how the school operated. My son didn't quite get it though - when he started a new school and had to write his autobiography, he wrote "My Mum works for the Co-op*." At the Lake School, I was involved in developing refresher courses for teachers and practical one-day workshops for teachers of other modern languages.
I left the Lake after 18 years, but the refresher courses are still running successfully. I was a single parent when I started writing - all resemblance to JK Rowling ends there. I wrote the Reward Resource Packs, which didn't turn me into an international publishing phenomenon, but did get my name on the ELT author map. Then I met my co-author Vaughan Jones and we have spent the last five years writing four levels of Inside Out: Elementary to Upper Intermediate.
The Inside Out series is full of engaging topics, meaningful interaction and student-centred activities that we both believe in, because that's what works for us in the classroom. We're hoping that it will work equally well for teachers all over the world.