Thursday, January 31, 2008

Who is this Froog person anyway?

Some have asked. Heaven knows why!

If you're really interested to learn more about the eternal enigma that is Froog, here is the thumbnail biography I knocked up as 'back jacket copy' for a would-be novel as my entry in Moonrat's competition last week.

Froog attended Oxford University, where he was rendered virtually unemployable by a degree in Classics. He has flirted with careers as an academic, a schoolteacher, a lawyer, a TV producer and a beachcomber, but was spurned by all of them. He is a recovering teetotaller who moved to China in 2002. He now lives in Beijing, working mainly as a technical editor for a variety of academic journals, educational publishers, and business information services.

For the really curious (Beware of the Cat!!), this is a more richly detailed version that I created for one of the training companies I was involved with last year.

Froog was born in the UK, in the small city of Hereford near the Welsh border. He attended Oxford University, where he took a degree in Classics (an exceptionally diverse 'major' covering the language, literature, philosophy, art and history of ancient Greece and Rome). He then attended the School of Education at Durham University for one year, successfully completing a PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Education), qualifying him to teach both Classics and English at secondary and tertiary level in the UK. During this year he was lucky enough to undertake a 'teaching practice' with the inspirational teacher, Adrian Spooner, who was then developing his "language awareness" coursebook, 'Lingo', which used the language and culture of Rome and Greece as a medium for enhancing the English language skills of younger secondary school students. Froog drew on this experience in writing his course dissertation on the problems of native speaker language acquisition and on the ways in which comparisons with the teaching and learning of other languages can be helpful in the English classroom. After qualifying, Froog worked for 4 years in a small private school in south-west England, mostly teaching English (but also Latin, Greek, Classical Civilization, Ancient History, Drama, and Film Studies). He particularly enjoyed working with some of the low-ability groups in the school, in which many of the students suffered from serious learning difficulties such as dyslexia. It was also here that he first became interested in the challenges faced by speakers of English as a second language, since a large number of the students were Chinese (mainly from Hong Kong and Singapore).

Temporarily retiring from teaching after a serious illness, Froog soon returned to the profession, working as a private tutor around Oxford giving one-to-one coaching in preparation for the national school exams, and becoming an Examiner in English Literature in these exams at both the 16-year and 18-year-old level (GCSEs and A-Levels). He also trained as an EFL teacher with the well-known Oxford International School of English (OISE), and delivered more than 500 hours of classes for them over the following 18 months. Then – at the advanced age of 30! – he took a "year out" to go backpacking around the world. The main focus of the trip was a visit to an old college friend who was teaching at Jianghan University in Wuhan. He spent nearly three months there, using it as a base for travels around the central provinces of China, and fell in love with the country.

Back in the UK, Froog returned to academic study, taking a Diploma in Law at the University of Westminster in London, and then attending Bar School to qualify as a barrister (trial lawyer). He won a scholarship to intern for a year with a commercial law firm in Toronto, but on his return found that there were no openings in the profession in England for someone of his age. Instead, he went to work in business, joining a TV production company which specialised in making corporate promotional videos and designing websites. Although initially taken on as a salesman, he soon became a team leader, managing production projects from inception to completion. Later, he moved to a similar role with a leading corporate hospitality provider.

However, Froog could not shake off his fascination with China, and when the chance came up to move to Beijing in 2002, he jumped at it. At first he taught English in Universities: the Beijing Normal University, the North Jiaotong University, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Since 2005, he has worked entirely freelance as an English teacher and business trainer, developing and delivering courses for such companies as Sun Microsystems, Cisco, Intel, Allen & Overy, Siemens, Alcatel-Shanghai-Bell, Beijing Power, China State Construction International, Sinopec, Lenovo, and the Bank of China.

He also provides specialist training seminars on business skills such as leadership, problem solving, time management, and giving presentations, and has taught on a number of pre-MBA and pre-MPA primer courses.

These days, teaching and training is only a sideline for him, as his focus has shifted more towards educational consultancy. He is also much in demand as a voice recording artist and as a writer and editor of English teaching materials, and has several further occasional jobs editing and polishing reports for academic journals, PR firms, marketing consultancies, business information services, etc.

He may write a novel or a travel book one day, if he can rein in his prolific blogging habit.

So, if you know anyone who might have a job for me......


Tulsa said...

Thank you. We want to see the front jacket flap writeup now. Please.

Froog said...

Ah, now that was the novel 'idea'. A deeply trashy one it was too. I'm not sure if I'm ready to embarrass myself in front of the Froogville fraternity with that just yet.... although I expect Moonrat will post it on her blog at some point.

Anonymous said...

Earthling here: I guess between the very very few blog spots of 2008 which I have read, this one has to be my favourit. As a psychologist, I like reading between the lines and finding out what has taken people to the places / stages of their life. Froogville's CV spread out like a story, is one of the best ways for a CV to be. I like this one. Also because many questions and mysteries are solved and one gets to know a lot about the man behind the blog. Impressive path, lots of knowledge acquired!!

Regards, Earthling (N)

Ian Henderson said...

I note with great interest you mention Adrian Spooner. He taught me Latin at Park View Comprehensive in the early 80's.

One of the best teachers I ever encountered.

They broke the mold after him .. if only all teachers had his DNA.

Ian Henderson

Froog said...

Welcome, Ian. It's nice to hear from someone else who has fond memories of Adrian. I'm sure he left a deep impression on many of his former students.

I guess you just missed me. I did my teaching practice at Park View in 1988.