I was also teaching and I was a self-employed teacher and I was teaching
in companies doing company work, really.
Did you have your own...you had your own company?
Yes. Well, I didn't...not exactly a company but I worked for myself, and
I was the only worker. I mean, I didn't employ anybody to teach. Yeah,
but that was fun. I enjoyed that.
But it was off-site teaching, you went to their.....business
I went...yes, I went to their companies. In-house teaching, nothing...
...and how long did you do that for?
7 or 8 years as well.
Yes. But then I thought.... 'cos (because) circumstances change, and
everything changes and I was offered just temporary Saturday mornings
here, and since then the work here has just grown and grown and grown,
and there are also opportunities that I wouldn't have had just working
by myself. I've become an examiner, I'm also writing tests which I quite
So, how long have you been in Valencia?
In Valencia, on and off for about 15 years.
Wow, almost as long as me.
That's a long time now.
I think I've been here 17 years now.
But on and off, I did go back to England for a year and a half in that
time. And then three months here, and then four months there...
Have you lived anywhere else in Spain?
I lived in Barcelona for six months. That's where I started off. I
actually did my CELTA training there in International House in
So, what brought you to Valencia?
Erm...my mum lived here, or lives here still.
I didn't know that! That's why I love doing these interviews 'cos I
find out things that I just didn't know.
No, my mum's Spanish, as well. So she spent, what, thirty, forty, nearly
forty years in England, so then...
Have you always spoken Spanish? Did you speak Spanish at home?
Erm....I'm not sure about speak Spanish, I've always had some contact
with Spanish, but I wouldn't really say I spoke Spanish at home. But I
did have...I mean I do have cousins, and the only way I could
communicate with them was in Spanish. So I did have an advantage. But I
also studied it at school, and at university. So I had a...I had a big
advantage coming here.
Where were you born?
And did you grow up there?
Yes, I grew up in Ashford then we moved to Folkestone.
By the sea.
By the sea, the Channel, the Channel Tunnel.
Did you....did you ever live in London?
Yes, and then I studied in London. But now, all my family live in London
or Valencia, so it's one or the other. We've all....yeah, in the end my
parents....my parents divorced, my father went to...to London and my
mother came to Spain. And my brother lives in London now, as well.
What's been your most memorable moment in the classroom? Do you have
one? Something that sticks out?
Sticks out! I think, we live in Valencia, Valencia football team's very,
very popular, and...erm...when my son was born one of the classes gave
me a replica kit of Valencia football team, and ..erm...
What, small models of players?
No, not of the players, the kit, the actual kit, the T-shirt and the
shorts and the...and they gave me..erm...they gave me the T-shirt, the
shorts and the socks of, y'know for a...for a baby. So, I thought that
that was so sweet. I was, like, nearly in tears. So...I...I.. unwrapped
it and had a look and oh, it's a T-shirt...
Was that when your son was born?
How old is he now?
Time goes quickly.
Is he playing football yet?
No. No, this is...He likes football. Every kid likes football, but I'm
trying to st..keep him away from football at the moment.
Well, 'cos football dominates everything, and they're only...sometimes.....
Especially in Valencia.
Yes, and Valencia and Spain. I'm trying to...trying to..er.. broaden his
culture, his sporting culture.
I'm thinking he'll probably drift into football eventually anyway
with his mates.
Oh it's....it's..it's inevitable. And he'll talk about football, and
he'll play football, and he'll go to football matches. But at the moment
I'd like him to see other sports and other, y'know, other areas of...y'know,
What advice do you have Gary for Spanish speakers who want to learn
What advice do I have?...
...as he dropped his cookie on the floor...
Erm...there are lots of pieces of advice that you could give to Spanish
speakers. Erm...at the moment I think the way Spanish is taught in
schools is very grammar based, and really...to really learn a language
well you need to know the grammar, you need to know pronunciation,
vocabulary, the fundamentals, but there is a...there is a case for
actually studying language in context, studying language as it is, in
chunks, and forget about studying grammar to apply to, or to do grammar
tests. This is not very effective.
And how would they....
How would they do that? Can you give them something more practical?
For example, go and look at films, listen to......music
Listen to films...I..I always find very very useful is actually...erm...and
interesting as well, is taking small chunks of language; a song...erm...a...a
couple of paragraphs...three or four paragraphs, a magazine article, a
newspaper article and analyzing that and saying, what is being said in
the article, or the song, and how it's said; the grammar, the language
that's being used in order to. And...erm...this is very useful, and you
don't need to go to a school or an academy to do this by yourself.
Also, sorry, but I think that's very useful, particularly with songs
because you could take it as a poem and analyze the..erm..the word
stress and analyze the..the..rhyming vowel sounds and then when you
listen to the music, it suddenly it...it becomes alive.
Yes, and songs, you know the...there is this thing that when you study
grammar it's just not a language, it's just to do a test. Nobody likes
it, but everybody likes songs and you can choose your songs as well. And
it has that effective, you know, it is y'know very relevant for them,
'cos they like it and also it's very catchy. Songs repeat themselves,
you can sing along with the songs
So, it sounds like you're saying, "Don't concentrate so much on
grammar, but concentrate more on words in context and find original
sources of English...
Yes, exactly yes, yes, yes put it....put...language has always a context,
so you need to find that context. But that's very important; what
they're saying and how they're saying it in everything. Analyzing more.
What do you do with your time when you're not teaching or spending it
with your family?
Er....spending time with my family? It's spending time with family! Erm...I
don't know, I enjoy reading a lot, so I read all sorts of things, I also
enjoy running. I go running a lot, when I'm not injured!
But, do you play football?
I used to play football, but nowadays.....you get to a certain age, you
get injured...all my.....everybody I used to play football with doesn't
play anymore. Yeah, but you get to a certain age when the youngsters go
"Vroom, vroom, vroom!" and overtake you and they are faster and stronger
and quicker, and then you start losing and you don't like it.
I've been there!
Can you talk a bit about what you hope to do in the future, Gary?
What I hope to do. Apart from family-wise and being a good father and,
y'know, focusing on that, I'd like to...professionally I'd like to
follow a lot actually writing tests. So, specializing more and more in
my area. I'd like to do that. So, maybe, I don't know, I still enjoy
teaching, but maybe in the future teach less and do maybe work online,
maybe write exams or maybe more examining.
And that would also lend itself to you working at home which would
allow you to be around your family even if you're not actually with them,
which would give you more flexibility in terms of spending time with
Exactly, yeah. So, plenty of time at home. Changing the dynamics of
things, I think.
What makes you happy?
What makes me happy? My son makes me happy, my family make me happy.
Er....very happy! But just general satisfaction of teaching...teaching
makes me happy as well, seeing progress, people passing exams.
What makes you sad?
Sad? Oh, I don't know. Lots of things make me sad. Nelson Mandela
possibly dying'll make me sad.
Is he dead yet?
I don't know.
He probably will be by the time this goes online, unfortunately. He's
in a pretty bad way.
But lots of things make me sad as well. I don't know. The students,
y'know, th...the general crisis that we're in makes me sad. Low
expectations for people in the future make me sad. Oh, I don't know, all
sorts of things.
Apart from perhaps Nelson Mandela, which famous person would you like
to have dinner with or have a beer with?
Have a beer with...er...I don't know there are lots of people. Maybe
Ale...Alex Ferguson. He might be interesting. He's probably got a lot of
stories to tell. Well, he's been around a long time.
He has. He has.
And he finally retired, so....that would be interesting. Winston
Churchill, Nelson Mandela. Winston Churchill would be interesting I
think, as well. (I) don't know why.
In an ideal world, what would your life be like?
In an ideal world? Erm....I don't know, my teaching would be perfect, my
students would be perfect. No, I think actually the idea of perfection
is completely dodgy, I don't know about an ideal student, or ideal
teaching, but much the same as it is now, I think. I...I do more or less
what I like, and I have enough time I think and enough money to do more
or less what I like. So, I'm quite pleased about that.
If you could change something about your character, what would you
My character? Erm...I would change the way I get up every morning. I'm
not a morning person.
You don't like getting up early.
I would love to be a morning person, but I'm very grumpy.
Me too. I hate getting up early.
Don't talk to me!
...until I've had that second cup of coffee, don't speak to me. The
world doesn't exist.
Exactly, we're much the same.
If you had 6,000 euros to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
What would I buy? 6,000 euros? A trip to Australia. I don't know, I...I'd
go travelling with it I think.
I've never been. There are lots of things to see. I don't know. I like
diving, I could go to the Barrier Reef. I like nature, you could go to
the Outback. I think it has a lot to offer, it's a whole continent.
My best friend lives in Sydney. He moved there with his family about
four years ago, and he keeps inviting us, and I keep wanting to go but
That's the chance, that's the opportunity...
I know, I know!
...and he could organize a trip for you.
He could, but I wouldn't want to stay too long with him, it's not
fair. A week, maybe. Four or five days with him.
Yeah, it's a big country you'd have to get flights around and travel
Maybe next year.
Take him up on the offer.
Thank you very much.
That's a pleasure.