Dave Dodgson

After Dave’s thought-provoking post on existential crisis, I just had to nail him down to have a heart-to-heart chat, and this we duly did. So, is ELT a profession devoid of respect from the general public? Why isn’t ‘being just a language teacher’ enough? Why is there a need to specialise to command respect? Isn’t being a clown, a counsellor, a tutor, a psychologist, an entertainer, and many others besides, and sometimes being all of these in a space of 50 minutes, isn’t being so versatile enough to warrant respect?

Let’s hear Dave’s views, and we’d be pleased to hear yours, too.
Here are the questions I asked Dave:

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself
  • What brought you to Turkey? How long have you been working here?
  • What age group are you teaching?
  • Have you taught any other age groups here in Turkey?
  • What’s your opinion of Turkish students, teachers, and education system?
  • What would you say to a teacher thinking about going to Turkey to work?
  • Your recent blog post on ELT identity crisis seemed to have struck a powerful chord among some teachers. Do you think that part of the problem stems from the lack of respect towards EFL teachers? I’m sure you must have heard of stories about family/neighbours/friends asking, ‘So, when are you coming home to a real job?’
    Your post suggested that you yourself is kind of unsure about your position as a teacher, that it isn’t enough to be someone capable of helping others learn a language, that, perhaps, if you were to specialise in something, it would make your existence as a teacher more… respectable, shall I say?
    What’s your take on this?

  • I think that people like you, striving for excellence, self analysing constantly, looking for better ways of helping his students, it’s people like you who will make EFL teaching a more respectable profession. I’ve worked with many teachers here who appear satisfied with their monthly salary and their course books – their time away from school is their personal time. How are the local teachers you’ve worked with? (Certainly, I think I have more Turkish than Spanish teachers in my PLN!)
  • What motivates/de-motivates you?
  • How do you motivate fellow teachers?
  • Have there been moments when you felt like giving up teaching?
  • Would you say language learning experience is a prerequisite to being a good EFL teacher?
  • What do you do when you aren’t teaching, or blogging?
  • What is your next goal in life?

Thanks, Dave, for taking time to speak to me. Wonderful stadium, by the way!

About David Dodgson:

I have been working as an EFL teacher since the year 2000 and, aside from my initial training in Barcelona, Spain, I have spent all of my teaching career in Ankara, Turkey. I started out teaching adults before switching to young learners almost 9 years ago and have never (well, almost never!) looked back.
I work at TED Ankara Koleji, one of the oldest private colleges in Turkey, in the primary school section. This year, I have been teaching in the 4th grade helping students develop thier language skills, rehearse for drama shows and prepare for the Cambridge Movers exam.
I am also currently studying for an MA in EdTech and TESOL through the University of Manchester’s distance programme, which I am due to complete in 2012. I have also recently started giving workshops at conferences such as the TED ELT and ISTEK Schools ELT Conferences in Turkey as well as online events like the Virtual Round Table and the forthcoming RSCON3.


All the while, I’m trying to find my identity in ELT and move my career forward. If you want to join me on this journey, you can follow me on Twitter (@DaveDodgson) or visit my blog (www.davedodgson.com).


About the recording:


I shot this using my Samsung Galaxy Tab in my school’s athletics stadium. I was planning to do it in the library or the school atrium but due to a meeting in the former and cleaning in the latter, the stadium was the most peaceful place I could find! Before uploading, I edited the video with Windows Live Movie Maker.


Dave Dodgson on iasku.wordpress.com

About Chiew

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

Posted on 20 June 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. By the way, I did go to the bookstore after work and I picked up a copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Great read so far but I fear I may finish it very quickly so if anyone has book recommendations for me, please share. 🙂

    • That was quick, Dave. Can you get English language novels easily in Ankara? I must admit I haven’t done much pleasure reading either – I could almost say the reading I get to do is during holidays when I’m at some hotel or other and manage to pick up a novel someone has left! I must get an e-reader or a tablet soon!

      • There are a few bookstores with an English language section but the choice is often limited. Generally, I get new books via internet order or when I return to the UK but every so often I find something good for sale here.

  2. I very much enjoyed watching this interview and identify with several things. I’m on the journey with you, Dave. Enjoy your non-academic reading! =)

    Btw, certainly looks like an amazing campus you work on!

    • Thanks for the comment Tyson. Glad to have you along for the ride. 🙂

      Yes, the campus is huge with buildings for all levels from K-12 and a new sports complex next to the stadium that should be ready for September. Nice to work somewhere that gets me out of the city everyday.

  3. Dave,
    I enjoyed your vlog. Our school has quite a few Turkish teachers. I spent 3 weeks in Turkey at a school in Bursa. I was interested in what you had to say about your experience as a non-Turkish teacher in a Turkish school. Our teachers who are Turkish also tried to base their grades solely on exams…
    Thank you for your honesty.

    • Hi Suzanne,

      One over-riding aspect of the system here is that grades have to be ‘backed up’ by visible evidence. Just saying ‘this is based on my observations of the student in class’ is not enough. That’s why a black-and-white multi-choice exam paper is the preferred mode of grading. Changing the system will take a long time…

  4. Hi Chiew and Dave,

    Another nice interview. Thanks guys. I have something in common with both of you now. Chiew and I live in the Canaries and I did my Dip with Duncan Foord in Barcelona at Oxford TEFL, like you Dave.

    It’s a small world huh?



    • Small world indeed, Leahn. Thanks for popping in 🙂

    • Duncan has been a great guy to reference in my TEFL career to date. I’ve met so many people who have worked with him, been trained by him or worked with him in some capacity.

      It turns out he did the same MA I’m doing now in the 1990s and is still known to several of the tutors there. It also seemed about half the presenters I met at ISTEK earlier this year knew him in some way!

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