Hi everyone! I’m Tom. I’m one of the Intrepid English Teachers and I’d like to introduce myself to anyone who doesn’t know me already.
Let’s get started!
I am originally from Wales. I grew up in the capital city, Cardiff, which was where I did my undergraduate degree in English. Unlike a lot of other courses, this degree allowed me to study Literature, Language and Creative Writing. By the time I was writing my dissertation, I was purely working on creative projects. This led me to go on and do a Master’s in Creative Writing at Warwick University. There I worked on a series of short stories and a novel which was the reason I got an Erasmus grant to go to Milan and work with Tim Parks. That was a hugely illuminating experience. Not just to be working with a Booker-Prize Nominee writer but to experience Italy. The culture, the food, the language was a huge inspiration! After that, I worked as a freelance writer and editor for numerous publications. I published my own stories, poetry and personal essays in magazines such as Oh Comely, Buzz, Crack, etc. Not long after, I moved to Edinburgh, where I obtained my CELTA certificate and began teaching English.
When I’m not teaching English, I am usually writing. But when I’m not doing that, I like to read. Some of my favourite writers include AM Homes, Richard Yates, Roald Dahl, Eve Ensler. Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy, Richard Scott, Mary Oliver and Lucille Clifton are among my favourite poets. Besides reading, I am a huge fan of film and TV. My poor housemate had to live with me when ‘Game of Thrones’ was on air which meant I would talk about it incessantly. I like that film and TV evoke conversations; currently the Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, American Crime Story, Euphoria spring to mind.
Do you speak any languages other than English?
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know any other languages. I can speak a little Welsh, but I am by no means fluent. I feel that native English speakers are incredibly privileged and we all need to do more to understand new cultures and to not just live in our bubbles. When a foreign speaker apologises to me about their English, I insist they stop apologising; as I don’t know their language at all. However, Italy has always been close to my heart. The food, the lifestyle, the architecture and, of course, the beauty of the language.
What’s the hardest thing about learning a language?
From being taught Welsh in school I can say definitively that the hardest parts are pronunciation and spelling. Those two things go hand-in-hand – if you can’t pronounce the word, you can’t spell it. But of course, language is all about practice.
What advice would you give to English language learners?
The English language is full of contradictions. You may want a clean and clear rule, but that’s not always possible. My advice? Enjoy being creative with the language. Enjoy learning the rules and then bending them with your own writing. Your teacher can help you by telling you if you make mistakes, but try to explore and have fun!
You mentioned that you love living in Edinburgh. What do you like most about it?
When I visited Rome a few months ago, it made me feel close to history. There’s only one other city that does this for me and it’s Edinburgh. Standing on the Grassmarket, the Royal Mile or the Meadows makes me realise how much history comes with this city. This also transcends into the nature of storytelling. The Edinburgh residents are storytellers. They adopt this role every day, filling in tourists on the history of Arthur’s Seat or simply pointing them in the right direction to the Walter Scott Monument. Nothing is the same in Edinburgh, nothing is done twice, so no story can be told the same. And that’s what I love about this city.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our Intrepid English students?
I’m looking forward to working with you. We have much to accomplish.
Post your answers in the comments section below or email us at Intrepid English.
This blog was written by Intrepid English teacher, Tom.
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