When Sandy met Lizzie

Yesterday, @Lizziepinard and I were having one of our many chats on Twitter, and I proposed collaring her as my second interview victim (after Naomi) for Brad Patterson’s excellent PLN interview challenge. We originally planned to do the interview in June, but after chatting for more than an hour, it was clear that neither of us had anything more exciting to do on a Friday afternoon (me)/evening (Lizzie)…so off to Skype we went.

What I already knew

I first became aware of Lizzie as a contributor to #eltchat, the weekly meetings of ELT teachers from around the world which take place every Wednesday. Unfortunately, as she is teaching in Indonesia at the moment, Lizzie can only make the first chat, but she’ll be in England over the summer, so hopefully she’ll be joining us for both soon! Lizzie’s participation in #eltchat has also taken the pressure off me a little 🙂 as she’s now the number one summary writer, having done three summaries in the last month, all of which are easy to read and very entertaining:

Lizzie’s history

In her own words:

Lizzie Pinardborn in Chichester (and got family in East Sussex), grew up from age 2-16 in Botswana, A-levels East Sussex, degree Warwick Uni w/a yr in France, a few months in Durham when among other things I worked at Northumbrian Water in Pity Me [that’s a real place if you were wondering!], then landed in Sheffield for a few years, then Indonesia!

Read on to find out more!

The Big Five

  1. If your students were to label you with three adjectives, what might they be?
    By @VictoriaB52 on #eltpics on Flickr

    This is one of those questions that is pretty difficult to answer, but after much um-ing and er-ing, Lizzie eventually said enthusiastic, creative and…unpredictable (this was the best word we could come up with!). She later qualified it in a great way:

    “Just to clarify on the “unpredictable” point… it’s not in a scary, kids don’t know where they stand with me kind of way, more in a surprising instead of boring kind of way. But maybe energetic would be a better word! In ELT speak (well, in Jim Scrivener’s Learning Teaching book anyway!), I like to go the parabola way instead of the direct way :-p”

  2. What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
    By @dfogarty on #eltpics on Flickr

    Next week Lizzie is leaving Indonesia for the summer, so her fridge is pretty empty right now: just some biscuits, a quarter of a papaya and some milk (we decided this was very English!).

    Normally it would be much fuller, ideally with:

    “lots of salady things, fruit, hummus, cheese, yoghurt, decent milk (the long-life milk you get in Indonesia isn’t the same)…”

  3. If you weren’t a teacher, what might your profession be?
    By @ceciELT on #eltpics on Flickr

    Before becoming a teacher, Lizzie did disability support work at Sheffield Hallam University, working with people with a whole range of disabilities. She was employed to go to lectures and take notes for the students. It was a great job, but paid by the hour, so that when the students went home there was no money coming in. Biology lectures were fun, but anything involving a lot of numbers, like Economics, Physics or Applied Mathematics where difficult when she didn’t understand what the lecturers were talking about. If you find yourself in the same situation, her advice is “Let the words go in at your ear and out at your hand – if you try to process them, they will melt your brain!”

    If not doing that, Lizzie would like to be a writer or work in a library – anything with books really.

  4. What do you find most difficult about the teaching profession or what has been your most difficult class as a teacher?
    By @mk_elt on #eltpics on Flickr

    Any of you who have read Lizzie’s summary and comments about the #eltchat on using coursebooks will already know that she has been having to teach under very strict constraints for the past year, with “a hefty coursebook, too-short courses and zero freedom to stray from the coursebook”. The students and my colleagues have been great though! She’s leaving next week, so hopefully this situation will change soon and she’ll be able to experiment with all of the things she’s learnt from her PLN over the last few months.

  5. What was the last book/movie you read/saw, and what have you seen/read too many times?
    Not quite the right kind of leopard (by me!)

    The last book Lizzie read was Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was OK, but not earth-shattering, and the section set in Indonesia was interesting. At the moment she’s reading Tales from Firozsha Baag by Rohinton Mistry, which is a series of short stories about the inhabitants of an apartment block in Bombay [which I now want to read!]

    The last film she saw was National Velvet with Elizabeth Taylor, which was being played on the plane as part of an Elizabeth Taylor tribute. Her comment: “a pleasant watch, good if you like horses”

The DVD extras

After I’d asked Lizzie the five questions for the challenge (with a blip in the middle when we lost the connection, and another as I accidently hung up!), we then carried on chatting for about half an hour. Two questions I really wanted to ask her were:

How did you end up in Indonesia?

I wanted to go there, saw that English First had lots of schools there, and decided it seemed like a safe bet, especially because you get a contract before you arrive in Indonesia, rather than having to do a demo lesson once you arrive with no guarantee of getting a job. I’ve got a new job at a different school for September, this time based in Jakarta. I’m in South Sumatra at the moment, so it’s going to be like going to a whole other world.

What was Botswana like when you were growing up?

Completely different to now! When we first arrived in the mid 1980s the capital city was not much bigger than a village. There was only a ridiculously small number of paved roads in the country! Botswana is the size of France and currently has around 2.4 million people living there, even fewer, much fewer, when we first went there! Now it’s more like a mini-Joburg. (Unfortunately with a crime rate to match! Well, not quite that bad, but heading in the wrong direction!)
We lived in a government house (which we nick named the matchbox) and memories of childhood include running around outside barefoot and climbing over the fence to play with the neighbours.
One Christmas when we were going to the UK, when I was still very young, we got to the airport and THEN my parents noticed my bare feet! Them: “Where are your shoes????!!!!” Me: “Er, in my bedroom…” (Where else would they be?! …did I mention I used to go barefoot a lot? :-p)

Lizzie climbing

Eventually I had to go as there was a parade of masks in Brno that night, but I’m sure if I hadn’t we would still be talking now! We’re going to try and meet at some point in the summer when we’re both in the UK, and Lizzie is also trying to get a scholarship to take her to IATEFL next April, so we should meet there too (good luck!)

Thanks again Brad for challenging us to these interviews!

On top of a mountain
On top of the world...
In the pub
...and in an ELT teacher's natural element!

18 thoughts on “When Sandy met Lizzie

  1. Great interview, Sandy! And such an interesting interviewee! I feel I know Lizzie much better now. Where in the UK will you both be in the summer? I’m heading there too mid-July – we could have a group #eltchat meet up!!


  2. What a lovely interview! Ever since the ELTChat on coursebooks, I’ve been keen to learn more about Lizzie! Thanks for this wonderful introduction to a teachers I’d definitely enjoy meeting someday 🙂


  3. Hi Sandy and Lizzie!

    Wow! What a super interview. Thanks Sandy for asking Lizzie : )


    It is so great to get to know more things about you, your life and life in Indonesia. I have never been there so it sounds exciting!

    I loved the stories from Botswana as well – especially the barefoot one!

    The pictures of you climbing are absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing them!

    Many thanks to you both,


  4. I’ll be working at Rugby summer school from 11th July to 11th August & will probably be spending a few days with family in Lincoln either side of these dates. Might be possible to get a lift to London when the students have their trip there at the end of July – don’t know the exact date yet.


  5. Three thumbs up

    (nabbed an innocent bystander and forced them to agree)

    Lizzie has been a great new presence on #eltchat and twitter so it’s great to hear a bit more of her story here. I wanna know more about that snowy mountain picture at the end… très cool ! and you spent time in France too ?

    Sandy… did we say you could do two interviews… LOL… I did my second on friday with Ozge so you all can look forward to learning more from her. Isn’t the process fun !

    merci à vous deux !


    1. Yes Brad, I lived in Poitiers for a year. Lovely little place. In fact, just the kind of thing I want for where I settle down eventually! I was doing a British Council Language Assistanceship, teaching English at two primary schools in Poitiers, as the year abroad element of my English and French Literature degree.

      The mountain pic was on my first trip to the Alps, July some years ago..er..2009 (seems longer ago than that!)

      Cheers, Lizzie 🙂


      1. @Sandy Sorry… blame it on the fact that I hadn’t had my coffee… 🙂

        If I didn’t know you so well (virtually), I would’ve never been so cheeky. We both know it’s “the more the merrier”, and the motivated like you and I are snatching up the gems still sitting out there 🙂

        @Lizzie Poitiers and the ALPS— oh… you’ve found some good spots in La France. If yer ever around Paris (this summer HINT HINT), please do look me up and we’ll grab a baguette, a coffee, a verre de vin, or a pint. Cheers 🙂


  6. Wow! What an Interview!!
    I think this is great, I meant I’ve known become regular to Lizzie as we have chatted regularly these days, but this has opened up more on how Lizzie is professionally but in a fun interesting way.
    Now I’m getting nervous to do the challenge! As I’m scheduled to do the interview to this Monday .Gosh I hope I get out of it alive :d
    Nice going Sandy and Lizzie


  7. What a delightful interview! I read and it and thought – it makes perfect sense that these two get along so well! Both of you are so insightful, enthusiastic, dedicated, well travelled (!!!) and write so beautifully!
    Looking forward to following both of you for many years to come – I’m sure it will be VERY interesting indeed!


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