I'm originally from Cornwall where I spent most of my childhood, having been born just over the 'border' in Plymouth.

My family hail from Sussex and are reputed to have come over from France with William the Conqueror. This also gives rise to the theory that my surname was originally 'Dieu donné', or 'given by God', though I couldn't possibly comment. Anyway, suffice it to say that it's an uncommon surname and we Dudeneys are easy to link together. In my distant ancestry there's a shepherd who taught himself various languages whilst tending his sheep on the South Downs in Sussex and subsequently became a school headmaster, so perhaps I was always genetically destined to go into language teaching.

After leaving Birmingham University in 1986 with a degree in French and Hispanic Studies I worked for two years as a professional stand-up comedian and film extra before moving to London and working for a telephone dating agency. It was during this time that I had my first real contact with computers and some heady training at Marconi in Portsmouth. I have a vague memory of signing the Official Secrets Act in order to get that training, but that may be a slight fabrication. From there I decided that I really should do something with my languages and so did the CTEFLA (now the CELTA) at International House, then in Picadilly.

One of my tutors on that course was Peter Moor (now super-co-author of Cutting Edge), himself recently returned from Spain, and it is largely due to him that I owe my career: both for being an excellent and sympathetic tutor and also for convincing me that Spain was the place to go when I finished the course. And so it was. I finished my four-week course on a Friday and started teaching 24 hours per week on the Monday. I worked in a well-established school just outside Barcelona for seven years, and it was here that I acquired my trade with the support of an amazing group of qualified, experienced and supportive teachers. Incidentally, I bumped into Peter eight years later when we were both plenary speakers at a conference in Bogotá and where my world-famous inability to remember anyone had me sitting opposite him at dinner for two hours thinking "I know that man".

In 1996, having heard a lot about the Internet, I took the plunge and bought a modem and an Internet connection. In those days it was a slow and painful process to connect, I had nobody to write to and there was no Google - only a pathetically small Yahoo directory. But I was hooked. I found my first online friend and we exchanged many emails over the first few months (it was much later that I found out he was paralysed from the neck down, typed with a stick in his mouth and was studying for a degree at home in Canada thanks to the foresight of his college. This was one of those defining moments that convinced me technology and education had something to say to each other). Later that year I did a talk at a conference - my first ELT conference and a very general talk which really concentrated solely on my excitement!

Not long after that I was being approached by ELT people to go around to their houses to connect them to the Net and, finally, headhunted by International House Barcelona to run their fledgling Internet Room and web presence. At that time I combined classroom teaching with web development and looking after the Internet Room where classes came to use the computers (sometimes successfully, sometime not!). International House was also the place where Scott Thornbury, Jonathan Dykes and I hatched the plot for what would become Net Languages, one of the first online language schools. In 2004 I left both jobs to set up my own consultancy with my colleague Nicky Hockly.

We run a series of acclaimed online teacher training courses as well as face-to-face training and other technology-related projects. Our ICT in the Classroom (now the Trinity-certified CertICT) was a winner of a British Council ELTON award in 2007. We do a lot of work with the British Council (you'll be hearing about some of that in the articles I'll be posting over the coming days) and other large educational organisations as well as work outside ELT, which allows us to broaden our horizons and experiences and, I think, impacts postively on our work within ELT. I'm interested in what other professions and outlooks can bring to our world and I don't think many of us spend enough time looking outside for useful input.

This year I've visited twenty different countries for work, a combination of conference appearances and longer-term projects as well as to run teacher training courses. I love the diversity of my work, meeting people, sampling food and simply wandering around new cities and getting to know new countries and cultures. I'm a bit of a regular in Thailand and Russia and have enjoyed many surreal experiences in my travels, most notably ending up in a Cuban bar in central Moscow speaking to a man from Barcelona. Travel, as many ELT people will tell you, is something of an addictive drug and I hope to be able to keep it up for many years to come. For me it is an ideal way to get a balanced view of what is happening with technology in ELT around the world as well as an appreciation of infrastructure, availability and training and all this experience feeds into the work we do.

I've written a couple of methodology books on technologies, one in the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers series and one with Nicky Hockly in the Longman 'How To' series - this won the International House Ben Warren Trust prize in 2008. We're also putting the finishing touches to another one, this time in the famous 'Dummies' series which is due out at the end of the year, and a few chapters in other books, notably about Second Life and gaming technologies in education. I also keep a blog (in retirement for this month) at http://slife.dudeney.com and am an active tweeter (@dudeneyge).

In my little spare time I play the drums, go to the cinema and spend too much time reading blogs, tweets and other websites in order to keep up-to-date. I like to eat out and buy an increasingly absurd number of gadgets, many of which gather dust in my house. I also volunteer for IATEFL and have, over the years, been newsletter editor and coordinator of the Learning Technologies SIG as well as Honorary Secretary, my current job. I think it's important to volunteer and to work to improve the conditions, experience and support of teachers worldwide and am happy (and lucky enough) to be able to find the time to do it.

I suspect that that is more than any of you need to know about me and my career, but I'm happy to take questions!

 

Gavin's now finished blogging on the site - check the Guest Writer's page to see who our current blogger is.

Comments

Dear Gavin Dudeney,I am very pleased to see you again,after having met you at the IATEFL Cardiff Online Conference - where you gave much support to everyone. Thank you for sharing with us your wide, enriching experience, which has certainly contributed to encourage all teachers (even the retired ones... regular visitors and fans of this website). I think they need further encouragement these days in order to keep interested in this challenging (and exciting, in our view)profession. While reading about you, your ancestry,career, main interests in your "little spare time", I wondered whether your days really might be "longer" than ours ...It is amazing how you are able to cope with so many activities, always thinking of helping others across the world. You have impressed us with your life stories, your dynamics, your flair for languages, as well as your expertise in the field of "Learning Technologies". If you allow me, dear Gavin Dudeney, I would like to ask you the following: "What difficulties have you mainly faced on teacher training around those "20 different countries"?" Sincere congratulations to you! Best wishes, Maria

Hi Gavin,I wonder how your previous jobs experience helps you in teacher training. It's very interesting because I have never been anybody else but a teacher. And one more question, if you don't mind. I've recently completed e-moderating course. What would you advise me to read? Rgds,Lena 

Maria,Thank you for the kind words - I think I probably do spend a little too long at the computer each day. Of course the advantage is I get a little more done than some people, but the disadvantage is that I don't get enough time for my hobbies. I'm just hoping I can catch up with them when I retire!In terms of your question, I don't think it's so much a question of difficulties but of often being the 'outsider'. As I think I said elsewhere in answer to a comment on another of my postings, it's great to be able to go to a lot of places and work with people, but you always have to be careful not to assume too much and also spend a lot of time listening and asking questions before beginning to share what you have with anyone.As it turns out, teachers worldwide are actually fairly similar: most are over-worked, stressed with exams, often under-paid and worried about their learners and their own future in a changing world. In that sense the job is fairly easy, because at least I know what to expect, a little. And the real challenge - and the reason why I like the travel so much - is the thing that makes each country special, whatever that may be.I don't know if all professions have as many nice people as the teaching profession does, but I don't think I'd change jobs if anyone asked me!Gavin 

Lena,An nteresting question - I'd never really thought about it too much. A lot of my jobs before I entered the teaching profession were either part-time or not for very long (about two years each, mostly). I think that being a stand-up comedian probably helped me the first time I stood up in front of a class to teach, because making people laugh for a living is quite hard work and I think if you can do that, at least you don't feel too nervous in class. And I also did some design work in another job, which has helped me now I run my own busines and have to do everything, from the actual work to designing publicity and our website, etc. So I guess they did all help a little.In terms of e-moderating, I would recommend two books by Gilly Salmon:E-moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning OnlineSalmon, G. Routledge 2004E-tivities: The Key to Active Online LearningSalmon, G. Routledge 2002Gavin

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