I was interviewed by Martin Peacock of the British Council.

He asked me about my career and my views on English teaching issues.



It is good to be back in contact with you from here in wind-howling Baku, in Azerbaijan. If I gaze West there is Georgia, if I look up North there is Russia and if my gaze turns South there is Iran. If I walk East I fall into the great inland sea, the Caspian.

Here is a new exercise: Dictate  this sentence to your students: When she got to the bottom  step, she stopped and waited.  Tell the students to write the next sentence as they imagine it.

Now group the students in 6's and tell them to read the whole text on the page before them to their classmates.

Round off by having a few students from round the group to read their texts to the class.

A nice variation is to ask the students to write the sentence before and after the one you dictate.

In prevous activities we have seen how a single word can stir an imaginative reaction in the students' heads. The same is equally true of simple sentence, one that you may want to nick from a unit in the coursebook some way ahead of where you have got to. Using an unseen sentence from the coursebook is very useful as, when you get to that unit, the students will imediately re-live their own creativity od some weeks before.


Dear Mario,

When I read this activity you suggest to do with students, I felt like sharing with all of you another similar activity. This one belongs to somebody else called Mario, his full name is Mario Levrero, a Uruguayan writer (1940-2004). He used to run literary workshops (for native speakers of Spanish, he worked with the mother tongue) and he was very good at making people write texts with freedom and creativity... to uncover the literary work that they had somehow already written (your activity about the faded letters in a notebook reminded me of his idea that the text was already written, we just needed to "uncover" it). What I find most interesting about the tasks he would ask people to do is that he said that he had actually written a novel, short story or poem by doing them himself... the activties he suggested doing made people go through experiencies he himself had gone through... as my PhD tutor did... whenever I was at a loss with my thesis, he would say "When I did my thesis I did this and the other"... they were both magnificent teachers, and they both used the same method: making the other go through processes they have gone through as well, and this made these processes very genuine.

So, one of Mario Levrero´s activities is the following:

- Write three texts that start with the same sentence, for example "The insect was crawling on the carpet".

That´s all... you should write and not criticise or correct your writing... leave that to a later stage, when you edit and polish your work (if you decide to do that at all)... I have used this exercise with EFL students and it has worked marvellously.

I send you all my heartfelt greetings,


Dear Laura,

                    I will use the Mario Levrero 'three beginnings" techique the moment I next have a writing class. Where can I read more of his thoughts.........

Warmly yours,    Mario


A new book has just been published, a collection of e-mails he exchanged with another writer (who is also a journalist). In this book, Mario talks about his views on writing... but it's in Spanish... the book is Conversaciones con Mario Levrero, Pablo Silva Olazabal, Trilce, Montevideo, 2008.


What a treat to hear Mario disclosing such personal details about solitary time spent planning in toilets and growing and eating his own potatoes! Those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting Mario socially might get a sense of the sheer energy and enthusiasm of the man whose words so often appear in print.

Since meeting Mario I sense this warmth and energy and hear his voice when I read his articles and books. After watching this interview, you can too.

Prepare to have your preconceptions about teaching languages challenged!

Hi Mario I was delighted watching your interview video. What a lot experience in teaching! As I could see you are pontentially resourful and have plenty of ideas to shaere with us and we are lucky to have a person like you among us.

Hello Mario,Having had the pleasure to hear you speak at the CETL, SOAS UCL, Using Drama in Language day, I have tried to use the exercise you mentioned, with some degree of success.I remember that you were mentioning a Frenchman that had made a big impression on you, that also used that technique (this was when you talked about 'la rose' ). Also, you mentioned something so interesting: how this technique went to disprove linguistic analysis, because the text is in the head and not the page. Anyway, I thought I'd check with you, because it could be I'm misquoting you a bit...Thanks again for such evocative exercises,Julien Hart

Dear Mario,

I had the privilege to meet you few years ago at a seminar in Romania. It was a very rewarding experience. The activities you shared with us were extremely inspiring and I have started to explore new ways of teaching English ever since. It was then that I bought your books "Challenge to Think" and "Multiple Intelligences in EFL" which I think every English teacher should have. I remember I had the amazing opportunity to talk to you at a certain point during a break and I was amazed and delighted to see how interested you were in a Romanian shepherd flute. It was so great to watch this interview and learn more about you and the way you feel about English teaching!

Thank you for your dedication and the fantastic materials you have created!

Razvan Macovei

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