Sometimes, when I go to the theatre, I look in the back of the programme and read about the actors who are starring in the play. But it is usually disappointing. They list all the plays they have ever been in, the TV shows, the films. Occasionally I think ‘oh, she was in X’ (the name of a show I have liked) but I can’t remember what role she played so it doesn’t help. Frankly, actors’ bio-data is just boring. I’m looking for something else but I never find it. But what am I looking for? Their life story? Whether they like cats or dogs? What makes them special?
The thing that made me think about this was looking at the programme for TESOL Arabia – a conference I am attending in March of this year. Like all the other speakers I had to write bio-data for the conference brochure. But my version is only a paragraph, whereas some of the others go on for half or even three quarters of a page. I am tempted to congratulate myself on my own modesty (that’s a joke by the way!) and scorn the vainglorious nature of my colleagues’ versions. But then it IS quite interesting to learn where people studied, the books they have written (ALL the books they have written?!!). Isn’t it?
What makes a good bio-data statement? Of course it depends on the word limits that conference organisers etc set. But supposing there is no limit, what then? Why don’t you tell me!! Here are three fictitious bio-date statements. Which do you prefer?
a) Amelia Grasonova has taught in the Ukraine and in the USA. She is assistant professor of languages at the University of Westchester. Among her publications are Teaching English Made Easy (Westchester press) and Learn to Spell (Kidscape).
b) Amelia Grasonova studied at the University of Eastwich before obtaining an MA from the university of Northalia. She has a PhD from Southenation University and is currently teaching at at the University of Westchester. She is also a visiting teacher at the University of Midtonia (Kuala Lumpur) and an occasional scholar at Nuevo Viejo university in Southern Mexico. She has taught in the Ukraine and in the USA.
Recent books include Teaching English made easy (Westchester Press), Learn to Spell (Kidscape), the Art of Silent teaching (Silent Teaching Press), Using Realia in the classroom (Object Publishing), How to mentor terrified teachers (Development Press) and I love teaching (Academic Arts).
Amelia has also written a number of best-selling coursebooks including Let’s Play (Shortwoman), I love English Books 1 – 4 (Locomotive English), Dictionary Delights (Build Together publishing), Listening and reading (Greengage ELT), Arena (Eden ELT).
Recent awards include Best teacher (Ukraine 2007), Oustanding University lecturer (Westechester 2008) and the Duke award for best English language teaching book (2009).
c) Amelia Grasonova is a university teacher at Westchester university where her interests range from methodologies for young learners to modern applications of dictionary techniques. She has written books for teachers as well as authoring course materials for students of all ages. She is married to her third husband, musician Arthur Kasinstky. Outside work Amelia’s interests include modern dance, calligraphy and discursive dialectics – all of which she brings to her work as a teacher of English and a teacher trainer. She says that her early experience as a young girl trapped in a frighteningly repressive environment both at home and school have made her ‘a better person’
OK, so these are all fictitious, but they are not too far removed from many I have seen. Which of them do you like? Which do you hate? How should we write our own bio statements? Help!!