Mike Harrison

When I first approached Mike several months ago for an interview, his initial response was that he didn’t think himself quite cutting-edge enough to be featured here, thinking of one of the by-lines of this blog. I managed to convince him of his worth, but, unfortunately, he couldn’t schedule it until now.

I apologise for the length of this interview, but I wasn’t willing to edit out any particular section, so take your time, do watch all three parts, and I’m sure you’ll agree Mike has something to offer all of us. πŸ™‚


Mike Harrison teaches ESOL in south east London, where he grapples with the challenges of teaching English in the Further Education sector. Perhaps non-typical of an ELT body, he has not back-packed around the world (although one day who knows…), though he enjoyed teaching for a year in Spain. The Iberian Peninsula, and its culture have fascinated him since he studied Spanish at university, and he is a keen Pedro AlmodΓ³var cinephile. He keeps a blog at www.mikejharrison.com and tweets as @harrisonmike.

Mike Harrison on iasku

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About Chiew

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

Posted on 25 September 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. Cool. I really enjoyed this interview. I only “know” Mike through twitter, which goes for Brad and many of the other interviewees here on your blog. It’s nice to hear from different teachers about their experiences and really nice to hear them talk about their own lives and I think this is an excellent way to do it. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thnx Chiew n Mike. Thoroughly enjoyed !

    Be it a word ya like or not, Mike, yer a big part of many of our PLNs.

    I know exactly what you mean about the ups and downs of blogging… sometimes the fire just isn’t there. I also like “drafting” ideas and then checking back with them to see if I can expand more. Having 4 or 5 kindling makes it easier to pop off a post during the low waves.

    Paul and my sparring action was more goofy brotherly communion than anything… i haven’t been doing much MA recently either. Only 2 or 3 times in the past few months. Miss it. It used to be 2 or 3 hours 2x a week. In the way that we negotiate meaning while learning languages, MA does that for me in the physical world. Cheers, b

  3. Thanks Mike. Enjoyed listening to your interview while cooking breakfast this morning and blogged about it too. I love teaching for the same reasons as you in that nothing is ever the same!
    Thanks Chiew.

  4. Chiew and Mike!
    Thanks for the great interview!
    Mike, despite your dislike of the term PLN, I have learned a lot from your blog and have found it personally influential and helpful!
    Thank you!
    naomi epstein

    • Thanks for the comment, Naomi. I’m sure that though Mike doesn’t like the term, he agrees with the benefits. We’ll just have to think of another term…

    • Welcome Naomi. I really enjoy your blog as well, as it’s great to read about different contexts. I must comment a bit more! Even if I don’t really like the term PLN, it’s certainly true that this sharing and connecting is a good thing.

      Mike =)

  5. Great interview Chiew. I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with Mike and some other great PLN-ers in Zug, Switzerland recently so I know first hand what a great guy he is. I really enjoyed this opportunity to learn more about him.

    By the way, I’d like to join this PLN martial arts league with my red belt in taekwondo, although with my dodgy back I might regret it!

  6. Nice interview Chiew and Mike – thank you so much. I watched while making pizza, which I’m now going to give to the kids. Looking forward to our eurostar trip, Mike – it’ll be easier to spot you now at Kings Cross. I think we should get Bad Brad and Mike sparring for TESOL France talent night! See you all soon. πŸ˜‰

    • Mmm… is this going to be the norm now? Cooking and watching iAskU’s… Which is the cause and which is the reaction? πŸ˜‰

      Oh dearie me…Brad’s not gonna forgive me for that ‘bad’ now…I’d need to gather up some protection around me if ever Brad comes near me… I’ll have to remember Andy, Mike, James… πŸ™‚

      • Hey Antonia, Bad Brad and Mike will be working with more intellectual arts at the talent show, I believe. So looking forward to it. And Chiew… I look forward to the day we meet and giggle about it all. Cheers !

    • If that’s gonna happen, I’ll definitely need to practice my cartwheels!

  7. Very interesting interview, Mike (and Chiew!) It’s great to hear someone working at a very challenging chalkface like UK ESOL at this time.

    Interesting that you suggest that translation isn’t “best practice”, Mike, as it’s something that I have started to defend a bit more than I used to (if you’re *lucky* (or not…), you can see my se7en deadly sins talk at Glasgow…)

    Also this notion of negotiation for meaning (vid1: 08:20 following) – in terms of becoming more grammatical, research suggests this doesn’t happen, although messages may be effectively negotiated otherwise (see Foster http://applij.oxfordjournals.org/content/19/1/1.abstract and Foster/Skehan (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=2553444) for more on this – these articles are a useful counterpoint to the ELT common faith in Krashen and Long.

    Re: PLN – (video 3: 4.35) I think you hit the nail on the head there, the ability to contact with people around the world is what amazes me!

    Thanks for so muc work you two – I found something worth watching for in each installment!

    • Ahhh, that is so encouraging & motivating, Anthony. I will strive and I will survive! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for the comment, Anthony. I think what I meant about translation was that ‘my’ use of translation wasn’t the best practice – i.e. it wasn’t done in a pedagogically good way (not easy as a new teacher teaching in a box room =/ ) Hopefully I’ll be able to get to IATEFL Glasgow!

      Thanks for the links to those journals, which I will check out in detail soon

      Mike =)

  8. Great to learn more about you Mike! Great interview!

  9. Nice Mike πŸ™‚ …but Anthony, those journal articles, as interesting as they sound, holy cow, do you see the price tag on them? I spend as much money on literature as the next TEFL addict, but I’ll just have wait for someone to blog about these πŸ˜‰

    • Sorry Anne – I got my hands on them during my MA, so I paid through the nose indirectly πŸ˜‰

      Seriously, the SMUC distance MA is great value for money in more ways than academic papers per pound πŸ˜‰

      Actually, If you wrote to Prof Pauline Foster at St. Mary’s University College (UK), she might just email them to you. (no promises, mind…)

  10. Thanks guys, nice to listen to while writing on my whiteboard at home, like others here, it seems it’s good to hear Mike chatting away while we do our little jobs.

  11. Enjoyed hearing you and knowing more about you, Mike. =)

  12. Hi Mike, hi Chiew,

    I am a bit late to the party but I watched Mike’s interview today (we have a holiday here in Zug!). Mike is one of my absolute favourite people in ELT and such an interesting person to talk to, either about teaching or other topics. A really cool dude : )))

    I liked what you said about PLNs, I kind of feel the same about it. It was also great to hear you talk about your teaching, your students πŸ™‚

    It’s great to know you Mike – now what I’d also like is to meet Chiew!!!

    Hugs to you both,

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