Saturday, 18 June 2011

When Andrea met Michael

First, I must give credit to @sandymillin from whom I nicked the idea for the title of this post!   See here for her recent, memorable interview with @LizziePinard, 'When Sandy met Lizzie'.   Wait, perhaps I should also be giving credit to a much earlier movie which may well have inspired Sandy??!!  But no, let's keep this in the 'ELT' family!

So, back to 'When Andrea met Michael'..... If there is such a thing as an EFL groupie, then I'm not ashamed to say that I was one the other day.  Michael Swan, whose book, 'Practical English Usage', has been my constant companion throughout many years of teaching, came to Venice to give a seminar.   As soon as I heard about it, several months ago, I made up my mind to be there.   So it was that I was up at the crack of dawn and less than 40 minutes later, I was at the station berating my colleague for being five minutes late to meet me.   After a half-hour train journey and a 35 minute power walk across the city (allowing my colleague precisely 2 minutes to stop for a coffee and brioche en route!), we arrived at the venue.

We were greeted at the door by a smiling Robert McLarty, who was to be the second speaker on the programme. I'm ashamed to say that I was somewhat curt in my haste to get upstairs and into the seminar room so as not to miss the start of Michael's presentation!

It is often said that you should never meet your heroes as they can disappoint. So, was that the case for me today? No, on the contrary, as I am sure many of the readers of this blog who have met him before would confirm, Michael Swan is an unassuming, knowledgeable, personable, accommodating, thoroughly pleasant man! His presentation was entertaining and informative and the subject of a separate post, Grammar Doesn't Have to be Grey.

When his talk was over, all seminar attendees were given a copy of Michael's latest book, 'Oxford English Grammar Course - Intermediate', which he agreed to sign.   In the queue waiting for my moment with Michael, I heard several people musing on the incongruity of waiting to get a grammar book signed, but no-one walked away!   My (male) colleague chose not to have his copy signed, but he did kindly agree to be my photographer to record my moment for posterity!

After the whole seminar had ended (and Robert's part was equally valuable, as I have written about here), we again had the opportunity to speak with Michael and he wished me luck in my new job in Shanghai (more about that later!) and I left smiling, despite the 35 degree heat and the numerous bridges I had to cross to get back to the station.


  1. Yay Andrea!

    Thank you for your lovely write-up of the day! It is a wonderful feeling, I understand - last November I met my two heroes in France - Ken Wilson and Simon Greenall. Groupie here too, yes!

    I am so happy you enjoyed your day there! I hope to attend one of Michael Swan's talks as well in the future.

    Kindest regards,

  2. Thanks for the comment, Vicky! It was a great day! I've just posted a summary of Michael's presentation - he had so many useful tips to share: