Where were you 25 years ago? Back to list

25 years of Teachers’ Days – Can you remember your first one?

Many things have changed in the last 25 years: trains have got a lot faster, we don’t use cassette players in our classes any more and there are a lot more people going to regular training to stay up-to-date in their professional lives. We thought it would be interesting to see what our speakers have to say about the early Teachers’ Days! We interviewed two of the first speakers: Alan Matthews and Vaughan Jones.

We’re celebrating our silver Teachers’ Days anniversary this year, 25 years of Teachers’ Days…

Alan Matthews: Goodness, that was all such a long time ago! Yes, Heinemann and the little unit in the British Council I headed up (TDU or Teacher Development Unit, as we called it) jointly set up a collaborative programme of practical methodology sessions for teachers of English which proved very popular. It was at the time when Centros de Profesores (CEPs) were being opened around the Territorio MEC and then in other Comunidades.

Vaughan Jones: Wow! That’s brought back some memories…25 years! I feel old! You’re right about 1989 being the first year we organised a ‘proper’ series of jornadas in conjunction with the British Council. I started for Heinemann in September 1988. Publishers had organised author tours before and the odd one-off talk, but I think this was the first concerted and organised series of teacher training sessions by any publisher in Spain. The EGB coursebook at the time was TRIO!

Can you remember where you did the first sessions?

VJ: I think we did six in that first season probably A Coruña, Madrid, Barcelona (or maybe Girona?), Sevilla, Bilbao and Elx. I might have got the cities wrong. I do remember that I did the first one with Alan in A Coruña in late February 1989. We took the train up from Madrid and, at that time, the trains took forever.

How many speakers were there at each place?

VJ: There were two: usually Alan Matthews or Sheila Estaire from the British Council in Madrid, and latterly Paul Seligson and others from the British Council in Valencia with either Jane Phelps or myself from Heinemann. Two groups (A and B) with 60-80 or so very enthusiastic EGB teachers in each. One session of three hours on the Friday night and then we swapped groups and repeated the sessions on the Saturday morning.

Can you remember which sessions you gave?

AM:  We gave a whole range of workshops on practical methodology to explain and exemplify the fairly new concepts behind ‘communicative language teaching’.

VJ: I remember doing sessions called ‘Dealing with Dialogues’ and ‘Sound Advice’. They were workshops really… lots of communicative stuff, info gaps, games, songs, etc.

Is there anything else that stands out in your mind about the early sessions?

 AM: The most vivid memory I have of this programme is of the incredible enthusiasm shown by the teachers. They were really keen to learn more about all this newfangled communicative language teaching!

VJ: I really do believe they helped establish Heinemann/Macmillan as a ‘teacher-freindly’ publisher. We were more ambitious in our second season (1990) and probably organised 8 or 10 weekends… It was a lot of work but ahhh… it was worth it!

Can you remember your first Teachers’ Day? Where was it? When was it? Who did you see?