On the road – indeed…
Thought that for this post rather than a pedagogical subject, I would tell you a little about my life on the road, using tours last month in Kazakhstan and Romania as examples.
Let’s start in Kazakhstan where I arrived in the capital Astana around midnight and noticed the temperature sign outside the airport read…-30°! Up the next morning at 6.00 to travel by train for two talks in Karaganda and back that evening by train for talks the next day broadcast from the state-of-the-art film studio at the Ministry of Education to teachers in 120 primary schools and 460 secondary schools in linked-up teachers’ rooms around the vast country on Primary Colours for kids in primary, Messages for tween-agers in lower secondary and English in Mind for teenagers in upper secondary, as all three courses have recently been put on the approved list of courses for Kazak state schools. Have you seen the Tim Burton film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in which Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka often says (in his inimitable manner) ‘That’s weird!’? Well, it was somewhat weird—but an interesting experience! — talking to and training teachers I couldn’t see; my first time doing that.
Then off that evening by overnight sleeper train to Pavlodar (got down to -40° there, but with the sun shining!) where I gave four presentations during the day before taking another overnight sleeper train the same evening back to Astana for a final two presentations there the next day. I was talking about entre autres Cambridge ELT ‘Tools for Teaching IELTS’ as IELTS is growing in Kazakhstan with Kazak students aiming for 6.5/7.0 band scores in mainly the Academic Module to study in the UK, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and in English-medium schools in their homeland. Anyway, nice picnics with delicious Kazak meat pies on the train with colleagues from Study Inn, our Cambridge partners in Kazakhstan, who accompanied me and organised the whole tour. But there was a big, gregarious Kazak man in my compartment on the first train who stored like a bear and I barely slept at all. Anyway, no snorers on the train back.
A week back home in Paris and then off to Romania for a weekend Cambridge Day with 320 teachers in Bucharest organised by our local bookseller Centrul de Carte Straina Sitka with the ‘two Cambridges’: Cambridge ELT and Cambridge ESOL. Cambridge exams are now accepted in Romania as the English requirement for the state secondary school-leaving baccalaureate exam and I was talking about the wide range of Cambridge ELT preparation materials for mainly CAE (Romanian students have an excellent level of English!); ‘Cambridge books for Cambridge exams.’
But I also did a two-day tour with Centrul de Carte Straina Sitka before the big Cambridge Day, giving two talks each day in a prestigious colegiul national (national high school) in the main cities (Braila, Galati, Craiova and Slatina) of four different counties on ‘technology2teach — and learn!’ on autonomous learning and ICT with face2face which is on the Romanian Ministry of Education list of approved courses for secondary schools. Let’s see: we left Bucharest by van at 6.30 each morning and arrived back at around 10 p.m. each night.
But, hey, I’m not complaining; I like my job! Just, as in one of The Who’s first hits ‘My Generation’: Hope I die before I get old. In any case, hope this post has given you a taste of my life on the road — but will return to pedagogical subjects in future posts.
Look forward to meeting some of you at events in my Upcoming Travels…on the road.
Gary Anderson, Cambridge ELT International Teacher Trainer
PS. The picture next to this post doesn’t come from either Kazakhstan or Romania, but from the end of a tour last summer in Bosnia — where I’m returning at the end of this month: nice country; loooong roads…