This is HD’s last week at Languages International as he is retiring after having taught here since the year 2000. In honour of the occasion, our teacher Sally MacGregor interviewed HD.

1. How is it that you were born in England, but now live in New Zealand?

I trained as a high school teacher in Leeds, England. In my degree I majored in Philosophy and Education. I taught for a year but then I decided not to continue full-time. Teaching millions of teenagers and being responsible for them, was hard work! I went travelling. In 1989 I was doing relief teaching in England. A man from Auckland came to London and stayed at my house. He came for 2 weeks…and stayed for 2 years!! When his visa expired, he came back to Auckland and three or four of us came with him, to start a new life. That was in April 1991. In Auckland, I registered to be a teacher with NZQA and worked as a relief teacher in South Auckland. I taught 25-30 six to nine-year olds, for six months. Then the Ministry of Education stopped funding relief teachers in primary school. I started teaching English at one of the local English schools. That was at the end of 1991. I did the CELTA in 1994 and moved to Languages International in 2000.

2. What do you enjoy about teaching adults English?

Firstly, I like Cambridge exam classes. I like a class with a specific goal and my father went to Cambridge University in England, so I know what Cambridge wants. “It’s in my blood”- so to speak.
I like working with all levels, seeing everybody growing in confidence, getting qualifications and improving their overall English. It’s just really enjoyable.
HD with Brian the cat

3. What were some of the highlights from your time at Languages International?

  • I studied for the DELTA (Diploma of English Language Teaching to Adults) from 2009-2010 with Melissa, Liz, Simon F., Lara and Emma. The study pushed my professional development to my limits!!
  • I cat sat Brian -the school cat, for 4 and a half months. He was good company and laughed at my jokes. I had to make steps for him to jump up onto my bed.
  • At LI I have many wonderful colleagues and met many wonderful students. It has been such an excellent place to work.

4. I noticed that you like to wear brightly coloured socks to school. Why is that?

I like bright clothing. I buy very bright colours-primary colours. At school I tone it down (and so don’t wear too many strong colours) but I like to wear bright socks and occasionally a bright shirt. I have a favourite pair of orange trousers that I wear out, to see friends.

HD's colourful socks
HD's colourful socks
HD's colourful socks

5. We know that you are environmentally-minded. You always recycle, you put food waste into a compost bin and into your garden. What would you suggest Kiwi households do more of, to help the planet?

Lots of people don’t recycle. They put plastic bottles and aluminium cans in the rubbish. If all households recycled, that would be great. I have a worm farm. Any food waste goes into the worm farm. The worms eat it and create castings. I mix these with good soil and put it on my garden. The Auckland City Council want Auckland to be Zero waste and for that to happen, companies need to make their packaging recyclable or biodegradable.

6. On Friday 14th Dec 2018, you will finish working at LI and retire from teaching. What plans do you have?

I’m going to move from Auckland to Whangarei on Sunday 16th Dec. I’ve bought a 2-bedroom house with a large garden. I bought a place up there because my friends are there. I go to a meditation meeting every Sunday in Auckland, so I’d like to have more time for meditation. I’ll have time in Whangarei.

7. What will you miss about living in Auckland?

I will miss my friends and colleagues at Languages International. I will miss the traffic jams…No! Never. I like the beaches here in Auckland but there are beaches where I’m going.

8. What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to living a quiet life, where I don’t have to travel much. It’s a 50km round trip from my Auckland home to school each day.
I want to have my friends to stay. My garden is mostly lawn. It needs a lemon tree.
A friend wants to make a retreat centre, amongst the bush on his land. I’ll help him clear some of the land so he can create some space to build small cabins.

HD (our grammar genius!) will be greatly missed by his friends, colleagues and his students. We hope that he has an “excellent” retirement in Whangarei…and doesn’t work too hard!!

HD on a bike at Languages International