London Writing


September 14, 2011 by Willy Cardoso

What a great year it was!

On 3rd September, 2010, I landed in London and swiftly hopped on the Tube making my way to Camden Town with only a pack on my back.

Well… my two-piece luggage with 30kg of clothes and books each got lost somewhere between Rio and Paris (?? I flew Sao Paulo to London), anyway…

A month later, with clothes and books in place but still guitar-less, I was on my way to see a flat on an unlikely fortunate day (there was a Tube strike), when the 24 to Pimlico drove by Denmark Street (THE guitar-shop street in London), and well, guess what? I postponed the viewing, got off the smelly bus, and as I enter the first guitar shop, who do I see? Jeremy Harmer.

Denmark St, Sep 2010, with Jeremy's guitar.

This was the first of many encounters I would have with amazing and inspiring ELT professionals, with whom I was able to socialize and learn thanks to this blog and to Twitter. I know I wouldn’t have done so much in this first year here if it wasn’t for the people I met through blogging and micro-blogging (btw, micro-blogging is a ridiculous word).

There are too many faces to name. Well, I could actually name everyone, but the point here is writing.

In order to build some textual coherence, whatever it means, I will simply say that at the time little did I know I would meet Luke Meddings and end up writing a conversational-piece with him for the excellent Teaching Times (the TESOL France Newsletter); and that I would meet Simon Greenall and end up having him as not only the editor-in-chief but more importantly as the motivator of an unexpected early career in materials writing, which I will be forever thankful.


It was a year of writing. The main reason I’ve had these and other opportunities was because I write this blog. It is also probably a reason why I am not offered some other opportunities, but I don’t know about them.

What I know is that the more I blog the bigger my readership gets, and that’s just so obvious now. The more I blog, the more I learn. The more I blog, the more I position myself in the profession and in the world, and then I change, I find new perspectives, watch my language and bite my tongue. All in all, I’ve found a channel of self-expression so important to any professional life, but extremely important to the education profession.

It is also by writing a blog that I see how much I still have to learn and how much I have already learned. With the blog I am able to see myself a year ago and enjoy the learning path retrospectively. It is a photo album made of words.

The real downside is that I don’t know who is actually on the other side; I know some people who read it, but I don’t know if they are reading this. Hence, I rarely have a reader in mind, which makes me feel like talking to myself most of the times and trying to convince myself of what I’m saying has some value.


A foundational reason I moved here was that of a master’s in education; which means writing four 5,000-word assignments during the year. I still don’t know how but I managed to achieve top marks in all of them. Half way there, another year to go and an increasing uncertainty of what the heck I’ll do with all this MA thing. It makes is easier when I remind myself that I started it for the learning and nothing else, but that’s also a bit stupid considering all the money I’ll have spent aimlessly(?). We’ll see. In the end I wish the MA studies were less solitary and more open, less formal and more passionate; a bit like blogging.


This is a post about writing and not-writing. It is perhaps time to shift gears, not to park, but just to shift gears: I have so much in my head after intensive teaching for 12 weeks that I just can’t write on this blog; it’s the hell of a paradox, let me explain.

teaching n' learning, Saint George Int'l, July 2011

I’m flooded and lost in reflection. What was a great thing, reflecting on lessons, is now jumbling up in a corner somewhere in my brain. I have hundreds of notes I took in lesson waiting to be checked out and expanded, but at the same time I still keep taking notes of new lessons so when I sit down to write in here it’s just so overwhelming that I get stuck, lost.

After teaching such a diverse wealth of personality types, the prolific and the monosyllabic, the down-to-earth and the lunatic. Oh boy, all those languages and nationalities, it was fantastic. After all that I just have so many concepts called into question that it is hard to formulate any opinions about anything at the moment that I sometimes think it’s just better if I don’t write for awhile instead of publishing trash for the sake of blogging.

But it is so hard! I want to write!

After the second hour in Tate Modern everything was art, even what it was not.

So what I’ll do for the time being is to write down the best activities/ideas/resources I’ve used during the summer, which are by and large not my own, but adapted from varied places and people. I’ll leave the complex(ity) stuff aside a bit, leave it chewing cud or ageing in an oak barrel for whenever. There’s a lot of philosophy of education I want to write, a lot about affordances, loads and loads of stuff in teacher education, but they’ll have to wait. I’ll clear my head writing other things for the time being,

However, I don’t want to publish the practical stuff here – this has never been a blog of practical resources and I don’t want to make it one now. Instead I’d like to use another space, more especially someone else’s space. I’ll let you know. And you let me know if you have a place I can bunk overnight blogwise.

And back to the 1-year-in-London thing, it’s been a great journey! I love how cheap junk food is here, love people standing only on the right side of the escalator, love the self-checkout at the supermarket, love the way women dress in the summer, love being able to taste different cuisine, my favorite now is Greek! Love the pubs, thanks Ken Wilson for introducing the Dove (I even moved west to be closer). Great tweet-ups! It’s now easier to go to IATEFL (but it’s still very expensive!). And lastly, I’ve been enjoying the new challenges in teaching, writing and the bloody accents mate!

So thank you if you read me this year and double thank you if you commented on or offline. See you in other corners and I’ll be back as soon as the thinking dust settles. I predict very shortly (arf, all the fuss for so little).

first week, Sep 2010

Foo Fighters gig, Wembley Arena, April 2011

IATEFL's Dogme Advocates (+ me), April 2011

Ken, Luke and I thrilled after our impressive vocals on The Weight by The Band (take a load of Annie, or is it Fanny?) - Summer 2011


22 thoughts on “London Writing

  1. Fiona says:

    What a great year indeed – very interesting reading. Thanks. What is your MA in? I’m doing an MA In Educational Technology & TESOL and it’s online/ distance but I wouldn’t describe it as a solitary experience.

  2. David Warr says:

    Could feel you buzzing as you wrote.

  3. bealer81 says:

    A great post Willy. My blog is in its infancy at the moment, but after reading your post I feel inspired to step up my efforts. A photo album made of words – amazing summary. I’m looking forward to looking back on my own blog and hopefully having the same feelings that you have described here. Can’t wait to read further posts and if i’m ever in London perhaps a possible tweet-up if your interested.

  4. Hi Willy,

    What a great year indeed. Thanks for sharing the experience with us. I agree with you about writing a blog. It changed my life too, gave me a great opportunity to meet my online colleagues from whom I get constant support and motivation just like you.
    12 September was the 2nd birthday of my blog, thought about writing a post, waited for inspiration but it hasn’t arrived yet due to staff meetings before the new academic year, I guess.
    Please keep blogging


  5. Darren says:

    Great stuff Willy. Doing an MA is a wonderful experience, and it sounds like you made the most of your chance…. I’ll keep reading!

  6. Ken Wilson says:

    I think it’s Annie 🙂

  7. I enjoyed the rhythm, and the ‘writing’ that popped in again and again throughout this post. Felt kind of like you were jammin ! A year of adventure and discovery. What more can we wish for ?

    I’m a very happy part of your readership Willy. I really enjoy how you mix philosophy, critical thinking and humanism. I don’t know that you have to ask yourself too often who your readership is. If you write for yourself and to seek a truth, then the readers that enjoy that will join you.

    Cheers, b

  8. We love your blog! Thanks for sharing, great text:)

  9. Your post moved me so much that I stayed up really late and wrote about it!
    Thank you for putting my feelings into words!

  10. […] you may be tempted to make some false assumptions regarding my connection to this post, named “London Writing” . Since you know I’m not in London let me make it clear that I don’t play the guitar (love to […]

  11. Iove the “photo album made of words” too
    if you’re looking for somewhere to kip on the sofa (blogwise 😉 ) …. mi casa es tu casa

  12. Been fab to meet you this year, Willy, and share some cool moments. From seminars at the BC to impromptu gigs in people’s gardens. Also a very happy member of your readership (don’t like that word). To be honest, I’m not sure writing for a reader is the best, as Brad says, write for you, be true and people will enjoy (damn, that triplet almost rhymed!).

    I’ll keep reading for sure, and like Ceri, if you ever need a temp blog home you’ll be very welcome!

  13. likewise dude!

    thanks for organizing that tweet-up a year ago at Trafalgar Sq.! First of many!

    I don’t think I like readership either, been thinking about it, but couldn’t find another word.

    Interestingly enough, I’ve seen many writing guides/tips (included those for English learners) saying ‘have your reader in mind’, of course it’s mainly for correspondence, but what about these other writing skills? When readers are unknown.

  14. Sandy says:

    Hi Willy,
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. it was one of the first I found when I joined the online ELT community. I would love to have you as a guest poster over at my blog if you’re interested. look forward to reading many more posts from you!

  15. Although it feels like it, one thing’s for sure: you’re definitely not alone here. Ever since I first got into your blog, it instantly became one of my favourites, it inspires me to get better, to read more and to listen more carefully. Thanks for sharing it with us and I hope there’s many more to come. Cheers!

  16. DaveDodgson says:

    “The main reason I’ve had these and other opportunities was because I write this blog. It is also probably a reason why I am not offered some other opportunities, but I don’t know about them.”

    Love this line! I sometimes wonder if being too open about the struggles I’ve had in my teaching through the virtual pages of my blog is a good thing or not. Good in the sense that I get to reflect and hear the valued opinions of others but perhaps not in the sense that some potential future employer might ger put off by it – but as you so rightly say, I’ll never know about them!

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about blogging. There is no better place for self-reflection AND interactive discussion with peers.

    I also took the opportunity over the summer to write down a lot of the activities I used in class last year. Initially, it was supposed to be for the benefit of any other teachers assigned to the grade group I worked in (my HoD was appalled at the non-exsistent dossier of lesson plans and hand-outs!) but it turned out to be a great practical reflective experience. If you want to share/swap ideas, I’d be more than happy to accomodate you. 🙂

    • Being open about struggles and all that can only be a good thing, Dave, it’s a very good sign we’re trying to improve and to become better teachers through reflection and dialogue, and if employers don’t get that, well too bad for them.

      Let’s share more ideas, I’ll get in touch soon, maybe we can write something together.


  17. Adam says:

    Posts like this make me wish I were in London. Trust me, that’s quite a feat.

  18. P!erre says:

    Interesting blog Willy,

    I’m glad your writing is bearing fruit – I myself am just starting… thx for liking one of my first posts!

    Good links on complexity btw – something I’ve been interested in as well.

    I’ll be visiting your homeland sometime in the spring for some teacher training. I’ve been wanting to go to Brazil for ages!


    PS- Also love the Foo Fighters! 😉

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