I suppose I've been involved in TEFL in one way or another for all of my working life. I stumbled into it early on in Grenoble, France where I had gone straight after university to seek glory on the rugby field. Sadly, in the early eighties, rugby was still very much an amateur sport so I needed a job to pay for the beer. Through various rugby contacts I got a teaching post at the local Chambre de Commerce and spent two very stimulating years relearning my native tongue through the eyes of my French students.
Attracted by the idea of "TEFLing" round the world but worried that I still didn't know much about teaching, I decided to hang up my rugby boots, do the four-week preparatory certificate at International House, London and try and find a job outside Europe. In 1984-85, I spent a very bizarre year teaching for a door-to-door sales company called HOLP in Yamagata, deepest Japan. It was like having my own cram school. My "classroom" was the lobby of the Hotel Green Tohoku and I taught students ranging from three-year-old children to a group of local neuro-surgeons. Character-forming stuff...
I then returned to work for the International House organization and spent three fabulous years in northern Spain where I completed my Diploma in TEFLA. After six years in the classroom and pondering that tricky question: "Now what?", I spotted an advert for a sales rep. / teacher trainer with Heinemann ELT in Madrid. It was a great move and I spent the next couple of years careering round Spain in my Fiat Uno, talking to teachers, giving workshops and trying to explain to my publishing colleagues what sort of materials I thought were really needed in the classroom.
Heinemann was expanding fast, and in 1990 I swapped the Fiat Uno for a Tokyo train pass and spent four very exciting years establishing Heinemann ELT in Japan and later on, setting up marketing operations in Korea and Taiwan. After coming from Spain where Heinemann was one of the established market leaders it was weird being the new kid on the block. No office, no database and, at the beginning, no books to promote! However, our small team worked very hard and as the new publishing came through we enjoyed some success - particularly with David Paul 's children's course Finding Out which I believe is still doing well. It was an intense time but a really enjoyable one and I stay in touch with a lot of friends and colleagues from that era.
After twelve years abroad, and with a baby recently arrived, we decided it was time to move closer to home. So we returned to Heinemann HQ in Oxford and I took up a regional manager role in western Europe. The late nineties were a period of great change in the ELT publishing industry with lots of mergers and take-overs. A year before Heinemann was bought by Macmillan I had already decided to get back into the classroom and try my hand at writing materials. My move was born out of frustration really. My job had seemingly become a series of interminable meetings about sales forecasts and balance sheets - very little to do with teachers or teaching.
I returned to the chalk face as a teacher and trainer at the Lake School in Oxford and since 1998 I have been co-teaching and co-writing Inside Out with Sue Kay. We are lucky that the course has been very well-received by teachers around the world. It has given us the chance to travel far and wide and meet some wonderful teachers and trainers. I currently divide my time between teaching at the Oxford English Centre in Oxford and writing further levels and components for Inside Out. It has all been extremely hard work but very rewarding. We hope you like the result.