Nearly half a year has passed since I last put pen to paper. Lots of things have happened in the meantime. While summer is leisure time for teachers, a pensioner like myself could as well laze around all year long. In this sense, however, I’m not a typical pensioner.
During the summer break there were two daunting tasks in the offing. One concerned my new book, ‘Töprengések a nyelvtanításról’ (‘Reflecting on language teaching’). After my dear reviewers Holló Dorka and Dróth Juli had vetted my text and made hundreds of corrections free of charge, I submitted the manuscript to Tinta Kiadó. But it soon turned out that life is not as easy as that. To cut a long story short, due to complications concerning the public procurement law, the book was eventually published by Eötvös Kiadó. Regretfully, printing took longer than expected and came out a few weeks after my 70th birthday. So on 6 August I was able to hug only the galley proof (and my family).
If you care to take a look at the photo of the book cover, you will see a beautiful painting by Corot, one of my favourite artists. A friend of mine asked if the windmill was meant to symbolise the quixotic hopelessness of teaching foreign languages. Perhaps, but the reason why I chose this picture is rather that there’s a road leading downwards…
My university (Eötvös Loránd University Budapest) not only footed the bill of the publishing costs, but also allowed me to keep all the 240 printed copies for distribution. Many thanks! I have already given complimentary copies to lots of friends and colleagues but I still have a few leftover copies. So if you’d like one, please let me know asap – as long as the stock lasts! By the way, the book contains 25 of my favourite articles, most of them written in English. The articles are arranged in 12 chapters, each being introduced with a dialogue between me and my interviewer, Borbanek Teréz, who had interviewed me on two previous occasions. Teréz is a real professional, who would never let me digress for too long.
Speaking of my birthday, you should know that members of the now defunct CETT (Centre for English Teacher Training) get together on a couple of occasions each year to reminisce and enjoy each other’s company. The venue is alternately at Caroline Bodóczky’s, Sillár Barbara’s or at some other friends’ house. ‘Why don’t we host this year’s party?’ suggested my wife and I happily agreed. Not for a moment did I occur to me that there was a conspiracy going on behind my back and that the real excuse for this get-together is to celebrate my birthday. The CETT choir sang a song in my honour, put together a ‘Medgyes quiz’ and awarded me with an Oscar statue with the inscription: ‘Academy Award to Péter Medgyes – Best performance by a teacher in a leading role – “Simply the Best” 2015’. To my knowledge, never before had an English teacher been awarded with an Oscar.
And this was just the beginning. On the first day of the 25th anniversary conference of IATEFL-Hungary early October, unsuspectingly I was ushered into the beautiful central building of our university and, lo and behold, it was chock-full of friends and colleagues who came specifically to congratulate me on my birthday. Even the newly appointed dean of our faculty honoured me with his presence.
The wonderful programme was crowned with a book written in my honour under the title ‘Inspirations in foreign language teaching’ – my festschrift. Edited by Holló Dorottya and Károly Krisztina and published by Pearson, the volume contains 17 papers written by 19 contributors. There’re no words to express my gratitude to all of them, but especially to Dorka, who, it transpired, had been the engine behind this undertaking for two years. I was so deeply touched that when I was asked to respond to the well-wishers I was desperately looking for words! (photos here)
Oh, I’ve nearly forgotten about the other big job I did last summer. It’s the repertory. ‘The what?’ – I hear you ask. Well, a repertory is a collection, in this case a collection of all the talks delivered and workshops run at IATEFL-Hungary conferences since 1991. The repertory contains, in alphabetical order, the presenters’ name, the year when they spoke, as well as the title and blurb of each presentation. With the assistance of MA students, I worked on compiling the repertory and now it’s available at
Don’t start counting how many items it contains – I’ll tell you: over 2,000. Impressive, isn’t it?
Finally, briefly about the other conferences I attended recently. In Cracow I spoke at the 24th IATEFL-Poland conference – the second Polish conference in a row I participated in. In addition to the ‘Fifth Paradox’, a plenary I had delivered quite a few times in many parts of the world, I presented ‘Elfies at Large – Beware!’ for the first time. Successfully getting over my stage fright, I think it went down quite well. Mind you, it’s one of my most provocative talks, but after all what’s the point of a plenary if not challenging deep-seated views? In the picture you can see me in the company of two lovely colleagues from Bulgaria. When I had a bit of free time I explored Cracow, one of the most beautiful cities in our region. If you don’t believe me, discover it for yourself.
Next came the 1st International SKA ELT conference in Bratislava in Slovakia with ‘Always Look on the Bright Side’ plus my humour workshop. I felt very much at home in Bratislava as I had been there so many times before. In the picture, as I’m being equipped with a mike, I look like a football commentator.
The last trip this year led me to Seville. Well, I’ve been to quite a few cities in Spain and wherever I go I feel like, well, this one can’t be beaten in its beauty. This is exactly how I felt in Seville too. Alcázar, the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, is a glorious place to spend your day. (I did spend a full morning there instead of attending the morning sessions. Shush, please don’t tell the conference organisers.) One of my favourite pastimes abroad is visiting botanical gardens. In Seville I didn’t have to look for one – the whole city is like a botanical garden. Wherever you go, you are dazzled by lantana camara (sétányrózsa), my favourite flower. I wonder why my lantana camaras are so puny in my garden.
Seville was the last leg of my annual tour and now I’ll take a bit of a rest. I’m due to attend quite a few conferences for 2016 too, but for the time being I’d better keep mum about the details.
See you in 2016. Until then, Happy Christmas!