Plenary speaker Linda Ruas

Plenary Speaker Linda Ruas

Linda Ruas loves her present job teaching CELTA and multicultural ESOL groups in London. She’s taught and trained teachers for over 30 years in the UK, Brazil, and Japan, and more recently for short periods in Africa, the Calais refugee camp, and Greece.

She’s recently written the ‘Global Justice in Easier English’ series (New Internationalist) and ‘Why Global Issues?’ (Academic Study Kit). She runs the New Internationalist Easier English Wiki (eewiki.newint.org) and is Joint Coordinator of the IATEFL Global Issues Special Interest Group.

Linda’s an advocate of bringing real world issues into class, thinks she might have invented a new word: ‘anti-trivialisation’ and has a small tattoo of stick-figure versions of her two daughters.

We asked our plenary speakers seven questions. Here are Linda's answers.

1.      What are you working on right now? –  This week is great! I have a week off college so I’ve come to Greece and am working on one of the most interesting training projects I’ve done for a long time. I’m training and supporting mostly untrained volunteers teaching English in refugee camps. I’ve condensed everything useful from a CELTA course into 2 days of training, and adapted that to the context of teaching refugees, often suffering from trauma, in a low resource context. It’s been far too hot, but the volunteer teachers are so lovely and interested. It’s great to feel so directly useful.

2.      What is the best piece of advice you ever received?– When I was working, many years ago, as a tourist guide on 28-day coach trips around 18 countries of Europe, one of the drivers once said: ‘Stop trying so hard! - however hard you try, you’ll never be able to please everyone all the time.’ Quite good advice, I think.

3.      What is the biggest challenge for you at the moment professionally?– When I had to write my targets on my yearly appraisal a few months ago, I wrote that I want to manage the symptoms of the menopause. My manager (younger) thought it was a joke, laughed and deleted it. I don’t want sympathy or special concessions. I’d just like more people to talk about taboos like the menopause more openly, as continuing with the same pace and energy when you haven’t slept for a few nights, or are having hot flushes every 5 minutes is not very pleasant!

4.      What do you consider to be the most urgent need in education today?– Sharing. Sharing of opportunities so that everyone who can’t pay for education can get it free. Sharing of expertise with those who need it. Sharing of admin to reduce the heavy burden on hard-working teachers. Sharing of ideas on free or democratic publishing platforms.

5.      What does it mean for you to live in the present? (How do you interpret the ‘POWER OF NOW?’)– I feel I need to make the most of opportunities as they arise and not be afraid of saying ‘Yes, I’ll do that!’. I think it’s important (for me) to do something active about issues I feel strongly about. I like to trust that I’m usually in the right place at the right time and that many things happen for a reason.

6.      What sources do you use to recharge your energy?– I love spending time with family, travelling, films, reading, meditation, art and I also really enjoy flopping on the sofa to watch some mindless TV when I’m tired after work!

7.      What’s on your desk now?– hmmm… maybe a few old sweet wrappers, last years’ Christmas cards, 20 pens that have run out of ink – all buried under mounds of paper and books. Everyone at work agrees that mine is the messiest desk around but I (think I) know where (most important) things are. I always find far more interesting things to do than tidy it up, but usually get round to doing a big clean-up once a year. It’s like cleaning windows at home – you could choose to clean them once a week, use all that energy and never notice the difference. Or you could leave it for once every 5 or 6 years and be amazed at the difference for months!

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