The following interview with CCLCS TESL instructor Robert Ward aka Bob, was conducted by email in September 2021.
If you are interested in the TESL program read more about it at our site: https://cclcs.ca/
Can you please introduce yourself? How long have you been teaching and writing?
Hi! I’m the lead TESL teacher for CCLCS. I do the full-time TESL course four times a year, as well as covering the grammar module of TESL Ontario. I was an ESL teacher in Canada and Japan for nearly twenty years from 1988. I first taught at CCLCS in….. Hmmm, 1998? So I’ve been at CCLCS for a while, first as an English teacher, and for the past ten years or so exclusively as a TESL teacher.
What kind of writing do you do?
Both of my published works are travel journals about pilgrimages. They combine my own experiences and encounters with what I could glean about the history, culture and religious practices of the places I visited. I’ve also tried my hand (without success) at writing plays. Currently I’m at work on a novel.
Can you tell us about your first writing experience?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, though for a long time it was an intermittent activity. From about 1997, it became a regular, scheduled part of my life. The first things I published were freelance travel articles in newspapers around North America. Those were the days when newspapers had a budget for such frills!
What are you working on these days?
I’ve recently resumed work on a novel that I set aside several years ago. It’s been a voyage of discovery, reacquainting myself with what I had written. The good news is that I like it. The novel follows several pilgrims along Spain’s Camino de Santiago. I’ve introduced some supernatural elements to spice things up.
How important is travel? When you get an opportunity to travel again where do you want to go?
Oh my, how I miss travel. I travel overseas every year, sometimes two or three times. (The TESL Canada schedule has lovely big gaps between courses.) When I can travel again, the first destinations will be Portugal, to continue a pilgrimage I started in 2019, and Spain. In 2022, I’ll almost certainly spend some time in Japan, studying Japanese and visiting my late wife’s family.
Why do you live in Toronto? Have you ever lived elsewhere?
Toronto is home – though I’ve always been happy to run away from home. I’ve lived in Japan (about five years total) and spent significant time in England, Italy and Spain.
How has your teaching been impacted by COVID?
Covid has sent me, and the teaching profession in general, online. There are some things to be said for online teaching… I think I could say them all in two minutes. I will be delighted to return to the classroom. I suppose I will be happy in the long run to have picked up some online teaching skills.
Do you have any advice for people considering taking up teaching and writing?
Teaching has worked out well for me and helps support my writing. I enjoy teaching, especially English teaching, which makes you think about your own language and puts you in contact with so many interesting people from various backgrounds.
Thanks Bob for doing this interview!
Read more about Robert at his website: https://robertward.ca/
Photos and text by Robert Ward
Interview by Mike Simpson