My life in languages
I was born Isleworth, in west London, and moved house a number of times during my childhood before completing school in Bath. I left home at 18 to study Civil Engineering at Southampton University, but changed course to French after passing the first year. I spent the third year of my French degree working as a language assistant in a lycée in Marseille. It was my first taste of living abroad and of teaching. I sometimes found the teaching stressful because I was completely unprepared for it. And although I learned to engage my teenage students though conversation and songs, I came home thinking that teaching was not for me.
How wrong I was. Less than two years after graduating I was working as a teacher in Brighton, and in 1988 I got a teaching job just outside Barcelona. It was a time of transformation for the city as it prepared for the 1992 Olympics, an event that made it the must-see destination it is today. In 1993, after completing my RSA DELTA course there, I started working at International House (IH) in Barcelona.
As a teacher I've always enjoyed creating materials to use with students, and working at a major teaching and training centre gave me the chance to make a parallel career out of materials writing. My first job was as a contributor to the magazine iT's for Teachers, written and run by ex-IH teacher Robert Campbell. I then joined the original writing team at Net Languages, one of the world's first online language schools.
Since then I've written course books, workbooks and online resources for a number of publishers. My most recent major project is Beyond, an international secondary course for Macmillan Education, which has also been published in a US-English edition, Go Beyond.
I still teach today, and still find there's so much to learn about and from it. This is especially true for teaching teenagers, whose open-minded energy and ability to surprise you mean that there's rarely a dull moment in class.
My main interest outside work is music. As a kid I'd always been fascinated by my uncle's electric guitar, and he helped me choose a guitar for my eleventh birthday. I taught myself to play, mainly by copying songs I liked at the time.
My musical life took an unexpected turn in Barcelona in 1990 when I was taken to an Irish session in the heart of the old city. I was drawn in by the open, participative nature of session playing, and have been part of Barcelona's Irish music scene ever since. I currently play the fiddle (viloin) and banjo, and am learning the box (accordion).
I also enjoy running and cycling. I've taken running quite seriously over the last few years, taking part half marathons and 10k races. My cycling mainly involves mountain climbs from Bagà, the small town next to the Pyrenees where my father-in-law was born. It's a great place for hiking, and mushroom picking too.