Russell Stannard is one of NILE's Associate Trainers and an innovator in the use of technology in language teaching.
He has won a number of awards and given presentations all over the world. We met up with Russell recently to find out a little bit more about him.
How did you get started and how long have you been involved in ELT?
I decided late in my life that I liked languages. So at the age of 19, while at university, I took up French (I was totally useless with languages at school and don’t have a single GCSE in languages). I then decided to travel and teach and try and learn a few languages. I went to Greece and totally failed to learn Greek, but I DID manage to learn Spanish and French and even a little bit of Mandarin. Now I am thinking of going back to the Greek again. I have been in education for about 27 years teaching English, Spanish, Multimedia and now Educational Technology.
Was there anyone in particular who inspired you in your early days in ELT?
I think I have been blessed. I worked at Devon Tech (now South Devon College) and met Rod Bolitho, and Jill and Charlie Hadfield. I was also able to pilot some of Mario Rinvolucri’s work which was sitting on the table and test out the books Charlie and Jill were writing at the time! One was on writing (Writing Games) and one was on reading (which became Reading Games). I learnt loads and that is what made me fall in love with ELT.
Have you worked in any other areas?
Yes, I guess I still do. I do lots of work with using technology in Higher Education. So it is not always ELT.
We all need a change from time to time. Can you suggest a life-changing book/film/experience?
The first time I connected to the internet was in 1994. That was seriously life-changing. I am doing a course at the moment with Duke University and that is changing all sorts of ideas in my head about education and the way we learn. They recommended a book on the course called ‘Now You See It’ (Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century” by Cathy N. Davidson, Penguin 2012) and it is totally changing my ideas about how we learn.
It’s Desert Island Discs time! Name 5 albums you would take with you.
Gosh, that is way too hard for me to answer. My dad was a jazz pianist, my brother plays the drums (brilliantly) and has been in several bands (didn’t quite make it big time, but got close) and I sing and play guitar, so music was a huge thing in my family. But first it would have to be something from Dennis Brown, then Marvin Gaye, then R Kelly, then I guess Everything But The Girl and finally something from Stevie Wonder.
I hardly read for pleasure, or what I mean is I don’t really read any ‘literature’ as such. I like The Magus by John Fowles, but really I read lots of history and biographies. At the moment I am reading about the Stuarts and the ‘King of Bling’ James II who was restored to the throne after the English Revolution. There is a good video about James II on YouTube… it is quite funny.
What websites would you recommend?
Well I have to mention my own website, www.teachertrainingvideos.com, which helps teachers to incorporate technology into their teaching and is used all over the world. I think Lyrics Training is a great site if you are into learning the words of songs. There is stuff in all sorts of languages. It is great for language learners.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went to University and fell in love with education decided I wanted to be a lecturer. I went to ask my lecturer about the job and he said, “it’s just like being a student”. I thought “Wow. I am having a great time as a student so being a lecturer is going to be great!”. So, that is what I wanted to be and I guess what I am.
What has been your worst teaching moment (so far...)?
In the CELTA course I stood on the table and put my head through the roof (table plus 6 foot man was much higher than the ceiling) and knocked out a few tiles. There was dust everywhere and the whole room was in fits of laughter - except for the trainer - who was not amused. It was a good start to my CELTA course and in the final report it mentioned something about me being a 'natural eccentric'.
While teaching on a summer course, I had a board marker in my hand. I tend to move about all over the place and use my hands a lot (must be some Italian in me somewhere). The marker came flying out of my hands, hit a girl right in the eye. It actually cut her, blood started pouring out just above her eye - total mayhem. Warning: Do not stand near me when I have a board marker in my hand.
There are many more…
Are there any other questions you would like to be asked, or that you would like to ask other NILE trainers (and were always afraid to ask!). Would you like to ask them generally or are they directed at specific colleagues?
Well, Rod Bolitho was honestly one of the reasons that I fell in love with ELT. I only met him twice in Devon, though officially he was my boss. I went to the pub with him and a group of other teachers and he was telling stories about flying here and going there and I thought “Wow, this ELT thing sounds good. Maybe I should be an ELT lecturer?” Now in my memory of the day I am sure that Rob was wearing a rusty brown corduroy suit and was looking like a total hippy. So my question is…. Did he possess such a suit or is that all a figment of my imagination?