11 things

I’m flattered to have been tagged by no fewer than 4 people for the latest blog challenge!  Thanks JoshCeciDivya and Wiktor.

Here’s how it works:

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger(s).
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger(s) has/have created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

So, without further ado, here are 11 random things you might not know about me, followed by the 11 questions I’d like to pose to others.

1. I never wanted to be a teacher.

When I was younger and started thinking about careers, I felt that there could be nothing worse than having to spend every day of the rest of my working life trying to lecture a bunch of horrible teenagers about stuff they couldn’t care less about.  I’m ashamed to say it took years to occur to me that there might be other ways and contexts of teaching, other students of many different ages and backgrounds, and so on.  I’m so glad the lightbulb went on one day and I decided to give teaching a go.  Best life-changing decision I ever made.

2. I’m very scared of spiders.

Not the teeny-weeny-almost-invisible ones, but the goliath ones that have haunted my parents’ house for as long as I can remember.  Their legspan is like 3 or 4 inches.  And they’re FAST.  (Please note: if you are from, live in, or have ever been to Australia, there is really no need to comment on this point below this post.  Thank you.)

3. Every one of my teeth is a sweet tooth.

I have absolutely no threshold for sugary food.  If it weren’t for the fact I know it’s bad for me, I would probably eat nothing else.  I could consume M&Ms, Percy Pigs and those strawberry pencil/cable things until they were coming out my ears.  And pretty much any kind of mint chocolate.

4. I’m a night owl.

I don’t like mornings.  I’d much, much prefer it if the typical working day suddenly shifted back from 9am-5pm to about 1pm-9pm.

5. I love baking.

I’m not great with big cakes, but I do love baking cupcakes and cookies.  Anything to satisfy the aforementioned sweet tooth.  Here are some of my latest and greatest creations:


Christmas 2013. (Clockwise from bottom: gingerbread men/trees/stars, chocolate mint slices, snickerdoodles.)

6. I love art deco.

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era.  The deco architecture of the 1930s is just fabulous to me.  I was recently in New York and thought I’d died and gone to deco heaven.  Some of my favourites from various cities (all pics by me):

Senate House, London

Senate House, London

New Yorker Hotel, NYC

New Yorker Hotel, New York City

old Greyhound bus terminal, Washington, D.C.

old Greyhound bus terminal, Washington, D.C.

7. I absolutely love big band music.

Another reason I think I was born in the wrong era.  If only I’d been able to enjoy the music of the 1920s-40s in all its original glory.  Some classic pieces performed by some of the greats, if you’re interested: In the Mood (Glenn Miller), A String of Pearls (Glenn Miller), Sing Sing Sing (Benny Goodman), Begin the Beguine (Artie Shaw), Perfidia (Glenn Miller), Fascinating Rhythm (Mel Tormé)…

8. I helped launch the iPhone in Europe.

Before I started teaching, I worked as an account manager in advertising.  This meant liaising between the client, the agency and the other people involved in making ads (graphic designers, media agencies, hand models, etc.) to make sure everyone was happy, plus doing many and various odd jobs to prepare for filming an ad.  My only client was Apple.  Remember this early iPhone ad where a hand scrolls through stuff on the phone?  (In fact, that one hand is played by 2 actors.)  Much of the content you can see on the screen was put there by yours truly.  Guess who made up all those emails, typed them and sent them to the phone so they’d be ready for filming?  You can’t really see it in this low-quality YouTube video, but one of those emails whizzing by in the ad I linked to above has the subject line “Laura’s birthday”. 😉

9. I’m interested in sign languages.

I wrote my BA dissertation on humour in signed languages.  It was fascinating.  I learnt some BSL (British Sign Language) to help me understand better what I was studying, but unfortunately never studied past Level 1 (you can go up to Level 5).  I’d like to go back to it some day.

10. Batman travels everywhere with me.

When I quit my job in advertising, some of the girls on my team made me a gift box full of odds and ends to remind me of the fun we’d had working together.  One of the things they included was a little Batman figurine, in reference to some long-since-forgotten inside joke.  When I moved to Prague to start teaching, I sent them a picture of Batman there to let them know I’d arrived safely.  Now I take a picture of him in every new city that I visit and send it back to them.  It’s as good a way to keep in touch as any.  Here he is on some recent trips we’ve made together.  If anyone can name all 6 locations (without help from Google!), leave a comment below.  The first person to get them all correct, I’ll buy you a drink next time we meet at a conference.

20 64 29 17 9 61

11. I have a habit of not seeing hugely famous/popular films.

The Godfather, Dirty Dancing, Schindler’s List, Psycho, Alien, Watership Down… never seen ’em.  I only just saw Toy Story (1 and 2) on a plane the other day.  And the only James Bond movies I’ve seen are the ones with Daniel Craig.  Not that I actively avoid good movies – it’s just that these films don’t happen to have been on TV when I’ve had access to one, or else they aren’t in my friends’ DVD collections.

Here are my answers to 11 questions posed by the 4 people who nominated me (I’ve just picked 11 questions at random from all the ones they suggested):

1. Do you like country walks? (from Divya)

Yes, love them.  There’s possibly no better way to spend an afternoon off.

2. Do you think lemon tart is better with or without the meringue? (from Divya)

I don’t like lemon tart or meringue.  But if I had to eat it, I’d lose the meringue.  Preferaby, I’d swap it all for lemon drizzle cake.

3. If you had time to blog about something other than education/ELT what would it be? (asked by Leo, but passed on by Divya)

Probably baking cookies.

4. What is another/the next language you’d like to learn? (from Divya & Wiktor)

I want to continue studying British Sign Language.  Then maybe Arabic.

5. Do you think salted butter caramel is better consumed hard or soft? (from Divya)

Never heard of it or tried it, but I’d wager that soft is the way to go.

6. Name the most beautiful foreign language word/phrase you can think of. Provide translation. (from Wiktor)

I don’t know about beautiful, but I’ve learnt lots of French words and phrases that I just really liked for whatever reason.  The word for ‘dragonfly’ (libellule) I like just because it sounded funny to me the first time I heard it (plus I like dragonflies); similarly, the phrase for ‘window shopping’ (faire du lèche-vitrines, lit. ‘window licking’) made me laugh for obvious reasons; and the adjective chamboulé(e) is just such a great word for describing a feeling/state of being all messed up and confused.  It reminds me phonetically of English ‘shambles’.  Maybe they’re related.  But I’m not really satisfied with any one-word translation for that in English.  I also like the sigh of ach jo in Czech.  Again, no direct English translation feels quite right to me – ‘oh well’, ‘ho-hum’, ‘nevermind’, ‘I hear ya’, simply sighing… they just don’t quite strike the same chord of resignation mingled with something bizarrely like contentment.

7. Imagine your doctor tells you that you’re only allowed 5 hours of work per week. What do you keep doing – what do you let go? (from Wiktor)

Here’s how I’d spend the 5 hours: 1 hour teaching, 1 hour teacher training, 1 hour observing other teachers, 1 hour of whatever surprise is sprung on me that week (I complain about last-minute cover, etc., but it keeps me on my toes and I do learn a lot from surprises) and 1 hour in the staffroom with great colleagues just chatting about it all.  I’d manage to live without all the photocopying and fixing of various IT problems.

8. Name a non-English book that you think everyone should read. (from Wiktor and Ceci)

The Count of Monte Cristo (by Dumas, a French author – though I’ve only read it in English).  A book I enjoyed reading in the original language (French) was Le Petit Nicolas.  So funny.

9. What would be your last/death row meal? (from Ceci & Wiktor)

Starter: mozzarella, tomato and basil bruschetta like I had in Italy.  Main: some amazing cheesy chicken fajita things that my best friend invented (and she’d have to be the chef, of course). Dessert: sticky cinnamon buns (no raisins allowed), orange sherbet ice cream and Swedish Fish.  But as my eyes are always bigger than my stomach and I’m sure I couldn’t really eat all of that, I’d settle for just the dessert.

10. Have you ever had to write out a minute-by-minute lesson plan? (from Divya)

Of course. For CELTA and Delta observed lessons.  Thank goodness they’re over.

11. What are you currently reading? (from Ceci)

A Brief History of Thought (translated from the original French) by Luc Ferry.


Now that’s out of the way…

I nominate the following people to continue the ’11 random facts’ meme and/or respond to the questions I’ll list below (I’ve tried to avoid people I think have already been nominated elsewhere):

Katy Davies (@KatySDavies)

Lizzie Pinard (@LizziePinard)

Chia Suan Chong (@chiasuan)

Bethany Cagnol (@bethcagnol)

Ela Wassell (@elawassell)

Luiz Otávio Barros (@luizotavioELT)

Dale Coulter (@dalecoulter)

I leave the remaining 4 slots on my list of 11 nominees for anybody who wants to get a piece of the action but hasn’t been nominated and is too polite to just jump on the bandwagon.  I hereby invite you to join the blog challenge!  Or if you don’t have a blog, I’d be happy to host guest posts here.  All you have to do is…

Pick a lesson, course, publication, conference, presentation, or – dare I suggest it – colleague/student/trainee (!) and answer 11 questions about it/him/her starting as follows, in any order:







Why not…?

How long…?


Has it/he/she ever…?

What if…?


About Laura Patsko

Teacher trainer, language learner, language teacher, linguist, researcher. Not necessarily in that order.

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