Interview Questions (Writing for the Humanizing Language Teaching Magazine)
These interview questions have been submitted to me by the end of March 2014 by Stephan Rathert, an English teacher, as being part of a larger research project that he said he intended to do, regarding the writing collaboration for an already known teaching methodology research magazine, Humanizing Language Teaching, within the Pilgrims Language Courses organisation, UK. (interviewed person: Consuela Popa)
The aim of this study is to investigate for what reasons foreign language teachers write and publish articles about teaching issues and how their publications have contributed to their personal and professional development. Your responses will help gain valuable insights into the process teacher-authors go through. Please respond to the questions below and send it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your cooperation."
School of Foreign Languages
Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam University
1. Rathert: "Tell me about your history with professional writing".
Consuela: "Well, I have always been extremely passionate about languages and English in particular.
I had still not realized everything about my “must” or need for writing in English, until back in 2009, when, during a training course for teachers and then, several months later, during an international conference held in Romania, in Brasov and Bucharest, I had the opportunity of knowing Mario Rinvolucri, who warmly invited me to write for HLT. He said I could be a voice, to put it rather word for word as Mr Mario said. As teachers, we know all about our dedication for English."
As teachers, trainers, academics, researchers, we realize everything about the necessity of expressing ourselves not only in terms of our hunger for uttering English words and messages in a divine way, if you prefer this labelling instead of the more mundane word “magic” and choose to relate to language in ways that should render it global, holistic, spiritual dimensions.
Mr Rinvolucri appreciated my dedication and fluency and argued I should try expressing myself by all means. I was (and still am), very passionate about the realm of linguistics, language acquisition and teaching methodology, and I had a critical view upon many aspects that I wished (and still do), I could approach. Upon Mr Rinvolucri`s suggestion, I contacted the Editor of HLT, the current Editor, Ms Hanna Kryszewska, the lady who took over the Magazine from Mario Rinvolucri, the founding father of the Magazine and its conception and project vision original artist. Fruitful collaboration followed, as I started sending articles, methodology articles that related to my constant study and involvement as a teacher, within the field of language pedagogy. Through everything I did, my study, reading and writing, once I was given a push forward with the opportunity of collaboration with HLT, I felt like I was being mentored into acting as natural as possible and speak my mind to the maximum, and grow, and really become the person I needed to become. Before, I had not seriously attempted at writing articles, even though, eversince I was a student, or even earlier, I got engaged in a lot of correspondence in English, with many pen friends that had been chosen, mostly, with the language practice intention in mind (and some of them really felt frustrated to know that so often, my main/only interest was English!). I have also been extremely passionate about switching languages, about translation, (English-French, English-Spanish), English-Romanian, and I am also able to write in Romanian, but English is a lot better in terms of its multiple dimensions, channelling, further transmission, etc.
Entering this methodology and linguistics realm and reading about it, thinking about it, turning it into a way of life, put me in harmony with my activity and daily existence as a teacher. The story is a long one if I am to explain in detail all about my life as a teacher in Romania, about my endeavours, troubles and pains, effort, satisfactions, training courses and conferences that opened the path towards reflection and further development. The truth is, there are not many people in life with whom you can always collaborate well, and when you can just find these people, it is Godsend. Especially if you live in one of those Eastern block countries, where communication and connection with other linguistic and cultural spaces was so strongly mutilated, to call it in a light manner. Generally, however, as I also mentioned in one of my articles, I think humanity is undergoing a linguistic and cultural crisis. What matters most is our reaction to whatever happens around us and to whatever we think we should give a response to. Our interests should be put on paper. I have, besides the set of articles that I have already conceived for HLT and have been scheduled for HLT in future, a lot of written work in my computer. I have been doing it for some years already, with the intention of publishing it sooner or later. Some over 100 pages were written as food for thought in terms of literary analysis, for instance. I was studying and reading and really longed for putting words, thoughts, expressions, language, on paper. Whenever I feel spiritually empty, writing is like a prayer to me. I do pray, a lot, since Christian faith is one of my convictions, but writing is just another prayer to me.
I could always think of my ideas as something that can be given different shapes, as the educational field, and the linguistic ones, open up a multitude of other doors of the universe that we would have never dreamed of. Also, working with editors is no easy job. I am an adept of artistic freedom and I have found harmony and freedom in the HLT project. Especially since I have been able to collaborate well with the Editor, Hanna Kryszewska. She is a good Editor. A really good one. I can have my spirit, I feel positive, and not extinguished, when I contact her. This is also about her values and professionalism and whenever she gives advice, she does it in a positive way, technically never ever imposing or dictating anything to me, and I can synchronize with that very well.
I have read a lot about editing and publishing, and you know, many times, there are things going on around us that make us wish we could be autonomous, since there are so many bad editors and people with whom you cannot grow or have a healthy contact. I will carry on with my way of working since I am very motivated to go on, and very confident."
2. Rathert: "How would you describe yourself as a writer"?
Consuela: "I know I am not grateful enough to God as I should be for HIM blessing me with the thirst and hunger for languages and writing. Sometimes I feel like I can never manage my resources and time, well enough so as to achieve all those magnificent things that I know I have to achieve in terms of further growing. We have a duty to fulfil our potential to the maximum, to dare step into all those territories that we feel we can have access to. It is just a matter of will and determination in order to start projecting our ideas into reality, if we are healthy and positive about everything. Again, a lot of things to say and write about this (why don`t we turn it into a larger article or survey sooner or later? This gave me the incentive to try to conceive a more comprehensive reflective article, having as main points these current questions.)
As a writer, I am a perfectionist. Sometimes (many times!), I feel like I never push enough in terms of energy developed, in terms of concentration/focus, of creativity, (especially), of faith in my mad ideas even. We should convert everything into words. The linguistic world never dies, and one thing I think is always so puzzling is that, within linguistics you always learn, you always come across new words or words that have been dry to you before, and they are brought to life again. I am always so eager about new cultures and spirits, and it enriches me so much to stay hooked on out there (or inside)! It makes me complete, although whenever you have to “step” down towards the ordinariness of the self complacent existence around us from different places(home, work, society), it is sometimes so hard to stay there under that atmosphere for a little while, that I revert to my interests soon enough so as to avoid mental collapse."
3 Rathert: "What prompted you to work on your article published in HLT"?
Consuela: "I have to write. Even if we are so tired, preoccupied with nowadays` never ending problems, living life up to that (necessary, not extraordinary), standard, is a healthy thing to do. Especially in our world.
We have to maintain our level as teachers, speakers, language users. We never know or practice enough. Being serious about remembering some universal truths and principles, is so important when you wish to keep your spirit. Writing articles warms up our spirit. Writing seriously keeps our spirit alive."
4. Rathert: "Who do you think of as the authors of articles in HLT"?
Consuela: "HLT has a big database, and archive,with many many people, with well known or less known authors, methodology authors known in the field, professors, academics, teachers, trainers, authors of many kinds. There are people who have written there either by chance, or they have been, or will be professional writers some time in future. These people have got teaching, writing and study as a way of life. We can also find debates, fiery ones, and that is so good! HLT discovers spirits, while at the same time remaining humble, in a good way, and its diversity also gives it a feeling of freedom and non conformism. It does not bear the straight jacket of some exclusivist and non inspiring “academic” places. It is academic, while at the same time retaining normality, balance and humane features. It is methodical and does not pretend to be something too fancy or out of the ordinary. I think we should not underestimate HLT! It is never dull anyway. HLT aimed at giving a chance towards discovering potential and towards putting voices and willingness to speak out, into words.
And yes, I am thinking of Mario Rinvolucri as an author, I am thinking of Hanna Kryszewska, of Lou Spaventa, of Mumford Simon, of Feride Hekimgil, of James Porcaro, of Robin Aaron Bright, of Alan Maley, Michael Berman, Luke Prodromou, Bonnie Tsai, Stefan Rathert and his adversaries in debating stubborn issues, Peter Lutzker, etc. Authors like Jeremy Harmer, that gave us “The Practice of English Language Teaching”, in a straightforward and almost biblically simple manner, have signed in articles in HLT. There are academic, authors from the field, linguists of all interests, language acquisition and applied linguistics researchers, fiction and non fiction authors, poets, spiritual writers (eg Michael Berman)."
5. Rathert: "Who do you think of as the readers of articles in HLT"?
Consuela: "The target can be extremely diverse, from the field of teaching especially. Also language students, Ph D and other language studies candidates could use this already huge HLT database in order to enrich themselves much more. But for teachers, trainers, academics, teachers in training, for everyone, HLT is always a goldmine. You can read, get inspired, choose from the variety of topics, and feel incomparably better."
6. Rathert: "How, if at all, is publication recognized or rewarded in your teaching setting"?
Consuela: "This is a special story. I may be congratulated or gazed at sooner or later, I do not care, but the mediocrity around me, especially in my country`s system, as well as the current situation, within a teaching system, parody like, politically dictated (about which I need to write), that places “interest” on political influence, lack of professionalism, etc,,,makes it obvious that I should not find an easy scenery for spreading up my gospel like linguistic and humanistic principles. I need to come back on this. You have really challenged me".
7. Rathert: "What difference has publication made to you, if any"?
Consuela: "HLT means providential spur for me in order to realize that my previous intuitions and beliefs have become reality, a visible one. It is always a presence for me and I hope, I believe I can collaborate in an excellent way and find people with the same wish in order to turn all these noble intentions of carrying out the languages and writing projects as far as possible. I have special propositions myself with respect to wider scopes that we might gather. I am searching for concrete, professional writing opportunities and I have applied for some of them. I am also not giving up the absolute necessity of trying to write novels/short stories/others, with great emotional and mental implication from my side".