Rosemary Richey, author of Business Basics, talks about her love of Damascus and how working in the hotel business equipped her with the transferable skills for writing and teaching.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m originally from Corpus Christi, Texas with a Syrian and German family background. I went to the University of Texas twice, first for a degree in Middle East History, and then for a MATEFL. I was in the hotel business for nearly eight years but changed careers finally to get into English language teaching, in particular Business English. I’ve been based in Munich, Germany for almost twelve years. In my free time I really enjoy going to the opera and classical music concerts. I also play tennis and a bit of piano.
In five words, how would you describe yourself?
Trying to be more organized!
How did you start your writing career?
When I started teaching for HypoVereinsbank in 2002, I was offered the chance to develop materials for intensive courses at the bank. Even though I had always prepared my own teaching materials, this was my first time to write for someone else. This led to my first writing project for publishers: English for Customer Care (Cornelsen Verlag, Berlin). Since then, I’ve continued to write for publishers: coursebooks, worksheets or supplementary material.
Where’s the most interesting place you’ve taught?
Definitely Damascus, Syria! I taught there at the British Council for four years before moving to Munich. The region is special for me since my family roots are there and Lebanon. I can say I’ve got a wonderful connection with the people there.
What are you most proud of in your teaching and writing career?
As a teacher, I think I’ve got a good instinct for moving the language process ahead for learners. I also pride myself on always having a good rapport with students and participants. Coming from a hotel business background, I like having a customer-care angle to all my writing (and my teaching, really.)
What’s your most embarrassing teaching moment?
One time, I went to teach a seminar and left all my materials on my desk in my home office. I had to improvize the course for the entire day and I felt as if I were doing a teacher show and dance just to keep the participants busy. Thank goodness that’s only happened to me once!
What’s your favourite joke?
Well, I’m not much of joke teller, but I’ll try this one:
Gerhard Schroeder (the former German chancellor who’s been married four times) visited China. He and his wife were meeting the Chinese prime minister who said ’Ah, Herr Schroeder, is that your first lady?’ Schroeder replied ’No, she’s my fourth!’
What are your tips for becoming an ELT author?
For developing and organizing materials, it really takes a lot of patience – and careful attention to detail. You learn to get better at it, the more you do it. And positive feedback from writing one worksheet – or a complete coursebook – is really rewarding!
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