Michael Downie

Michael Downie

Twenty eight years teaching and it feels like yesterday I was at school studying. I can see myself looking at my teachers back in Liverpool. (When the Beatles were playing in the Cavern!) Wow! Time flies… but hopefully not in vain..

Actually if I’d been looking at my French and German teachers I would have been thinking “I don’t understand!” or “What’s all this about?”. I used to really panic in their classes and didn’t learn very much. I was considered a failure at languages! But I don’t think it was lack of interest on my part as I went on to dedicate half my life to travelling and living in other countries.

Or even the ability to learn languages as I learnt Spanish much later in life. I take part of the responsibility: it was probably aptitude! I wasn’t the best of language learners and that’s where the system let me down because that’s really all it catered for: rewarding the best and giving up on the rest! Mind you I have a lot to thank them for too as in a perverse way it informed me as a teacher. When I started teaching I had a natural affinity with the strugglers (perhaps the majority) who don’t find learning a foreign language easy.

Working in different countries, Sweden, Greece, England, Italy and Spain has confirmed my belief that there are a lot of us out there. That’s what I learned and that’s why I teach and that has spilled into my material writing too!

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