About Me

Hi there! My name’s Leslie. I’ve been an EFL Teacher since 1998 or 1999—although it actually seems like much longer!

I’m Australian and I started out in EFL at a Chinese community school on Saturdays (actually, that was in ‘98, I think!) with kids who were mostly bilingual, but took extra classes in English and other subjects because (a) their parents were Chinese and thought that 100 extra hours of study a week would do their kiddies good, and (b) the parents were worried about only speaking Cantonese or Hokkien or Mandarin at home.

I liked that gig. It helped pay for my way through uni (second time round when I was studying Arts). It made me realise how much I love both teaching and language.

When I was first at uni I studied Environmental Engineering :shock:, but dropped out after just three semesters. Before setting off on that particular ill-fated journey, I naturally informed my high school teachers what I intended to study. Almost all of them (except maybe my Engineering Science teachers!) looked at me really quizzically. My English teacher said “You should read Satre”. My history teacher said “Really? I don’t think so. Something involving people and relationships, surely?” And my science teacher said “Engineering? :???: No. You’re a teacher”.

And sure enough, here I am! Now I’m even training teachers! Too funny. The value of vantage point, eh.

So, yeah, I ended up back at at uni doing Arts in my mid-20s and soon got involved with linguistics and language teaching! While I was doing that degree, I met and became quite good friends with a French exchange student who was always asking me about aspects of English. We were forever discussing and dissecting language (I was studying French at the time, too).

That was when I decided to really leap into EFL. I remember sitting around with her one day and I just grabbed the newspaper and said “Y’know what, I’m going to look for a job teaching English!” And as luck would have it, there was a part-time opening at a suitably cowboy (and now, unsurprisingly, defunct) outfit in downtown Sydney.

I don’t know how true it is, but I once heard that in NSW (i.e. the state of New South Wales) a certain maximum percentage of your staff (like one in 20 or something) can be pre-CELTA/Trinity (Read: unqualified)! Presumably – IF that rule is true – there must be some kind of stipulation that this person attains a basic level of training within X amount of time. Dunno. Irrelevant to me now anyway.

But that’s how I got started.

And, frankly, it was so duck to water that I owe the Director of Studies a HUGE debt of gratitude for taking a chance on me. I have no idea why she hired me; there has never been any shortage of even minimally-qualified EFL teachers in Sydney to my knowledge. It’s a mystery, but one that I’m grateful of.

Since then I’ve mostly worked in Sydney, but did two years in England (London) and two years in Japan (Kochi).

I’ve worked with so many awesome people over the years from whom I’ve learnt so much I’m not sure it would be fair to start listing names because I’d be bound to pass over somebody. Maybe one day.

I’ve done most of the things you end up doing if you stay in this game long enough: General English (of course), Exam classes (FCE, CAE, IELTS, TOEFL, etc), Business English, Private lessons in people’s homes, One-to-One corporate tutoring, elementary school teaching, junior high school teaching, study-tours for teenagers, etc.

And teacher training, of course.

I got my first start down that track in about 2004, I think. I was working for a company that runs a CELTA/Trinity-like 4-week full-time course and then offers the trainees who pass jobs in their franchised schools abroad. That was good. I was brought in as an Teaching Practice Tutor, watching lessons and giving feedback and then helping set up whoever was teaching the next day.

Then I was asked to run a couple of inservice courses for experienced English teachers from other countries. The course I was given wasn’t much chop so I redesigned it.

Workshops, of course. Lots of workshops on things like “Using Coursebooks Effectively,” “Teaching Phonology,” “Writing Skills,” “Syllabus Planning and Assessment” and so on.

Teaching a CELTYL-like course (Certificate in English Language Teaching To Young Learners) to regular trainees as well as experienced elementary school teachers on “inservice tours.”

I don’t know… lotsastuff.

Qualifications (in the event that you’re interested): Bachelor of Arts (Art History, Anthropology, Semiotics), CELTA, DELTA, Master of Arts Applied Linguistics (Language Program Management).

Blah blah blah.

Not trying to downplay it. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished and the number of people I’ve helped over the years. It just doesn’t make for especially interesting reading, in my opinion. But that’s what an “About Me” page is all about, I guess, innit?

If you’ve read this far, you’re a champion.

Any questions, you can always reach me via My Contact Form.

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