7 things you probably didn’t know about me

1. Dave Sperling still owes me ten Euros he borrowed off me at the TESOL Spain conference

2. The EF school in Eastbourne had the alternative word for the “F” part of its sign that me and my friends graffitied on there for about a month before they got round to replacing it. We were only 13 at the time, I should point out

3. In my schools in Spain and Japan I was selected to teach footballers who were going to the UK to play because I was the only teacher who spoke Estuary English

4. I had to retake my DELTA written test because I was caught trying to look at a phonemic chart I had in my pencil case

5. I was in the same Alcoholics Anonymous group near Oxford Street in London as Andrew Wright and Michael Swan

6. I was thrown off my MA in TEFL by the disciplinary panel at King’s College London for telling Jennifer Jenkins she was a Marxist dyke and then starting a food fight in a lecture

7. I got into a bit of a scrap with Scott Thornbury at the end of conference drinks at IATEFL 2003. I was in a bad mood because they had cancelled my workshop on X in the Classroom at the last minute when they realised what X stood for, then I had a few too many… Scott’s a lot tougher than you’d think, but if you’ve noticed the scar behind his left ear then you know not to mess with me. No hard feelings from either side though.

Oh, wait a minute. I get it now, it’s supposed to be 7 true things you didn’t know about me. Someone didn’t use instruction checking questions with me now, did they? Oh well, here we go again:

1. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, when I was really young I used to say “A tramp”. Well, managed the next best thing…

2. In my first ever observed lesson when I took my RSA Cambridge CTEFLA I was visibly shaking (or so my students told me at the end of the course)

3. I get a tiny little mention in the latest edition of Harmer’s The Practice of English Language Teaching. And not for getting into scraps with famous TEFLers.

4. About halfway through my first teaching job I had actually bought my ticket home and was ready to do a runner, but decided to stick it out (a year of middle aged Turkish civil servant false beginners studying New Cambridge English Course 1 is enough to destroy anyone’s sense of judgement and decision making)

5. Despite having to teach Academic Writing, in my whole 3 years at uni I only once wrote anything over 700 words and even the shorter essays were rare. Here’s hoping no students are reading this!

6. A kid in my private primary school class in Thailand caught me swearing. Turns out he had spent 2 years in America and was virtually native level. Lucky it was only “Bloody hell”. I had no idea it was any different from the other talking to myself in kids’ class to keep myself sane until I heard “Ha ha. Bloody hell. Ha ha ha” coming from somewhere at the back of the class.

7. I once had to run out of a kindergarten class to “deal with my hangover” in the nearest toilet. When I came back a few minutes later the assistant teacher was still making the kids count from 1 to 10 over and over as I’d instructed, poor kids! Still, pretty impressive aim to get it all into a tiny kindergarten toilet, I reckon. Since then I’ve created the Alex Case’s Rule of TEFL Careers, which states that those kinds of things are acceptable when you are under 25 or in the first two years of your career, but after that get a little sadder year by year.

And now apparently I’m supposed to:

Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog

Share 7 facts about yourself in the post – some random, some weird

Tag seven people at the end of your post

Let them know they’ve been tagged

So, EFL Geek, Karenne from Kalinago English,  Sandy McManus,  Troy from Blog With the Longest Name in Spain, An Englishman in Osaka, Jason West of Languages Out There, Laurent of Saw You on the Flipside, and Scott Adams of the Dilbert Blog (hey, worth a try)So guys, you’ve been named. I leave the shaming up to you!

This entry was posted in Cambridge Delta, EF, EFL geek, IATEFL, Teacher forums, TEFL blogs, TEFL chains, TEFL heroes- Jeremy Harmer, TEFL heroes- Michael Swan, TEFL heroes- Sandy McManus, TEFL heroes- Scott Thornbury, TEFL Tradesman, TEFL villains- Jennifer Jenkins and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to 7 things you probably didn’t know about me

  1. Oh crap. Do I have to tell the truth?

  2. Alex Case says:

    How would we know? I’m thinking I should have stopped at the false ones, seeing how dull my real ones are. Maybe I should’ve written about the tattoo on my

  3. David V. says:

    You bugger, you’ve stolen some of the people I was going to send this on to! At least you didn’t choose me too.

    I dare say Sperling was rubbing your ten euros all over his privates.

  4. David V. says:

    That’s got me thinking, I haven’t blogged about Dave ‘give me your money’ Sperling for a while. I feel a tirade coming on.

  5. jason west says:

    Thanks Alex! Should I wait for Karenne? Here goes:
    1. The chief executive of ARELS once felt moved to apologise to the whole workshop in Brighton for my behaviour in the bar earlier that morning. I still maintain she had it coming and shouldn’t have been there at that time of the morning if she couldn’t take a joke.
    2. My first business phone was the public call box in Gerrard st, Chinatown, London.
    3. I was in the England Schools rugby squad when Will Carling was captain (warmed the bench for 3 games and no cap. Which still rankles, which is a bit sad to admit to but hey in the words of so many tv talent contestants – I really wanted it).
    4. I have already let this one out but it was buried in my biblical length interview with Alex – and it is very topical now – it was my idea for the evening standard visa shop sting story a few years ago. I told my mate Steve Boggan – a crack investigative reporter. That piece was seen by govt and started the legislative process coming into force in the uk on 31st march. I really hope that lots of students and teachers dont get shafted by schools closing abruptly but I will be doing my bit to help by offering students very cheap lessons in small classes and teachers the chance to greatly improve on their current hourly rates by going freelance with us.
    5. I was once asked to procure some female company for a Japanese VIP student.
    6. Whilst on the subject. I have always had a strict policy of never sleeping with a member of staff (even if sorely provoked or tempted).
    7. I have never lost a fight. And being an English student at a Welsh uni in the 80’s I got plenty of practice.

  6. Alex Case says:

    Cheers Jason, know that phonebox well. Were you the one sticking those interesting looking “postcards” up in it then??

    Who are your 7 people to link and send the challenge on to?

  7. jim says:

    1. I saw Rod Bolitho flirting with a young Turkish man at a conference and for years was convinced along with my colleagues that he was gay until recently I see that he has moved to Norwich with his female partner.

    2. I was in a workshop with Jane Willis when she recommended a book. A participant said that he would borrow it from another participant and she exploded and demanded to know how writers were supposed to make a living when people photocopy their work-he apologised.

    3. I was caught drink driving in a Middle Eastern country and driven home by the police-no charges.

    4. I got reprimanded by Peter Maingay for getting pissed and embarssing myself in a bar in Cyprus.

    5. Julian Edge gave me feedback to an assignment and said that what I had written was arrogant.

    6. I worked with a bloke who walked out of a bar after a full day’s drinking and collapsed on the pavement and had a stroke.

    7. I am utterly ashamed to be a TEFLer.

  8. jim says:


    3 -the country was one where alcohol is illegal.
    2- he was going to photocopy it and use it.

  9. Alex Case says:

    If you do your job as well as you can reasonably be expected to and don’t make the world a worse place by doing so, I don’t see what there can possibly be to be ashamed about. I worked nights in a factory making those tin foil containers that Chinese takeaway comes in in England, and wasn’t ashamed by that either. A bad banker has a lot more to be ashamed about than a good toilet cleaner

  10. jim says:

    the pay, the conditions, the shite promotion prospects, the mindnumbing sameness, as you get older you end up in Middle East, the nutters who are your colleagues, need I go on

  11. Oops,

    I just realised the others were posting here rather than on their blogs, nevermind, mine’s on my blog.

    Jason – cool on the sting. You hero.

    Jim – get out if it’s really that bad, c’mon man or are you just another whinging pom? Fer pete’s sake, you get to see the world, dude. There is sunshine, y’a know.

    Alex/Jim – and one of my jobs included putting tags on handbags. Another working in a warehouse moving crates from one side of the building to the other in Oz. That’s a hilarious story, I even got offered a supervisory position there and had this horrible vision of myself 20 years later, realized I had to get out and fast. Got a job on a yacht. There’s nothing wrong with TEFLering -if you were a doctor making the mega-moola you’d probably be moaning about how bad it is not having a mansion.

  12. Alex Case says:

    Hi Karen

    You did it properly- supposed to be on your blog.

    You’re so right. All my mates in computers moan that they want to be in a different kind of computers

    Talking of technical stuff, how did you manage to put a link in a comment? I can’t even seem to manage that on my own blog!

  13. Aaaaahhh… the tricks o’ the trade- speaking of Jim and his moaning about the lack of moola – it’s exactly this lack of moola that led me to learn how to code. A most-handy skill now leading me to better paying jobs in ESP:IT.

    (I’ve no company behind me, clearly, paid a webdesigner to make me a template, teach me content management and css and then I did/ do everything else myself)… comes in handy now that I’m also blogging.

    What you do is this – copy the piece of code that I’m going to type below and then stick it in your ‘notes’ on outlook (so you can cut and paste it whenever you need to) or you can put it on a post-it somewhere and retype each time.

    Type whatever you want to appear here

    😉 Karenne

  14. Sandy says:

    Ah, yes – now I see… WTF’s it all about again?

  15. jim says:

    Another TEFLer picking up a bit about computers and thinking she can get a job in computers. Just like someone doing a TEFL course and thinking they are going to get a great job. If I had a pound for every TEFL er I have heard saying they are going to get a job in computers I wouldn’ t need to TEFL for my pittance.

  16. Jim,


    What happened is that once you type the opening brackets of a piece of code, it automatically turns into a link – so despite the fact that I added ‘spaces’ it still ‘recognized’ it as a piece of code.

    😉 Karenne

  17. Alex Case says:

    In summary- you can use html in comments boxes even when it doesn’t say so anywhere?

  18. Nope – some bloggers have this function turned off, it’s in the backend, settings. Basically, this activity could be used for spamming so some people prefer not to allow this -especially if they have their comments function set to automatic. I allow people to do this on my blog (because it’s more useful than cutting and pasting the link they add). You’re welcome to come test it out on mine.

  19. Alex Case says:

    Oh dear, someone else who both failed to see the joke and failed to read to the end of the post:


  20. I noticed that too – didn’t know you were into dogme.


  21. Alex Case says:

    Didn’t know that I was the perfect example of someone who is anti-dogme!

    I saw Luke Meddings talking about it at Oxford House in the fairly early days, and I thought it included lots of good ideas but ones that were only useful in very limited teaching situations, e.g. small classes. They have dealt with most of those points over the years, including quite a lot of admitting that it doesn’t work for everyone, but I think most people who come to it for the first time miss all that and swallow it whole

  22. Alex Case says:

    As you’re a member, Karenne, you couldn’t leave a message asking them to read the rest of the post before they make comments on my scrapping history, could you?

  23. Laurent says:

    Just seen this *hangs head* will do mine later. my past is just not that exciting… might have to do a fake thing too.

  24. Alex Case says:

    You’d be amazed how many people failed to spot that the first bit was fake…

Leave a comment (link optional and email never shared)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.