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Hello Miguel, hello everyone!

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Sean | 09:47 UK time, Monday, 11 October 2010

First of all, I have a confession to make - I've been both shirking and lurking! Just a bit! (By the way, those words rhyme... and here's a clue - with working!)

A man lurking outside a window looking in

For shirking, I'm sorry - I hope you'll forgive me when I tell you later about what I've been up to and why I'm coming to this blog a little late... and I hope you can be part of some exciting new plans for BBC Learning English...

Enjoying chocolate cake instead of working!

For lurking, I'm not sorry at all! It's been fascinating to read Miguel's amazing posts and fantastic to read all the comments from everyone around the world. By now, you're probably wondering who I am. Well, you'll have to wonder a little longer because I'd like to keep the spotlight firmly on Miguel and his posts. I have to say I am very, very impressed. Miguel, not only is your English nearly perfect but you also write with great style and flair. I can honestly say my job here as Teacher to 'give tips and advice to improve your writing' is going to be a hard one! There is very little to be improved! I absolutely loved your introductory paragraph. You gave us so much information about yourself in such a succinct and witty way - it was no surprise to me to see that you are a journalist but I was surprised you don't have a boss! I'm pretty sure that won't last long as you'll be in great demand. In fact, can I apply for the job as your boss?! ;-)

Not only have you given us a vibrant image of yourself, Miguel, but you have also given us such a rich picture of Peru. You have taken us on a breathtaking tour through over 500 years, from the indigenous wonder that is Machu Picchu, through the founding of Lima in the 16th century with its rich Spanish heritage, to the moving (spiritually and quite literally!) story of the 17th century mural of the Black Christ, saved in the earthquake of 1655. But that's not all. You have brought us right up to date with religious images of the annual procession through the streets of thousands of Peruvians celebrating the Lord of the Miracles. I am sure I am not alone in looking forward to that in a week's time. Talking of 'literally' and 'up to date' - your last post couldn't be more topical with the news that Mario Vargas Llosa has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Many congratulations! Clearly, Peruvians know how to write!

Of course, good writers shouldn't plagiarise... but you may have heard of the expression "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" so I hope you'll be flattered if I say that I can find no better way to introduce myself (yes finally!) than by imitating your introductory paragraph...

I'm (not saying how) old (but I'm young at heart!). I speak English, French, German, Spanish and a few words of Arabic, Chinese and Swahili (just a few!) . I'm learning about Peru! I'm not a footballer (but I have been to a World Cup Final and the final of the African Cup of Nations).

Enjoying the African Cup of Nations final in Egypt

I'm also a singer (I write songs in the shower! In my head! Tried with pen and paper - it was a wash-out!). I'm a good boy (according to some) and a bad boy (according to others). I'm a writer - that was my first job for the BBC (I felt happy!). I'm a poet too (when you are too!) but my mother is a more accomplished poet. I have been a dancer (people who know me now will really laugh at that but I did once dance on stage in London's West End!). I'm a journalist too, an Editor to be precise (and I do have a boss). I'm also a recent blogger (for this month). My name is Sean and I was born in Uganda but I'm from Yorkshire (the county where macho pitmen were once located!).

So that's me. I am delighted to be the guest Teacher blogger this month. Before I joined the BBC as a freelance writer (of strange drama about an alien called Antenna who could 'Tune into English'), I taught English for about 7 years in London, Switzerland and France. My first 'proper job' with the BBC was as a radio producer many years ago. I made lots of different programmes - one I particularly enjoyed was 'Lead Vocals' which was about singer-songwriters (Phil Collins, Ziggy Marley, Adam Ant to name a few) talking about the English they use in their songs. I then became an Editor - first for Europe and EurAsia, then for Online (when back in the mid 90's we launched this site!) and most recently for the Arab World, when we launched BBC Xtra English and BBCe! the first BBC programme on Egypt Radio! You can visit the website at and see the Facebook group BBCe! fans have set up here - http://on.fb.me/bc1yr0

My job now is as Multimedia Editor, BBC Learning English, - so the teams that work so well and with such creativity and success on this website (www.bbclearningenglish.com) and interact with people via Facebook (http://on.fb.me/ddTuVE) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/bbcle) on a website for China (www.bbcukchina.com) and in radio and online for Egypt and the Arab World (www.bbcarabic.com/learningenglish) - as well in other language services - all now form part of a new Multimedia Team... and over the past few weeks we have been planning and working together to try and bring the best of what we do to the most number of people around the world, in all kinds of ways. I'll tell you more about that later but it's been a busy time (that's my excuse!) and an exciting one - and we'd like you to share in our plans as they develop. We'll be looking more and more at how we can make Learning English more topical, relevant and interactive. In fact, last week we just re-organised our teams and output to focus more on English News, English Now and English Network! As in social networking... so I'd be delighted to hear from you and to know what it is about what we do that you value and what it is you would like to see us develop!

Finally, - putting my teacher hat back on - I've noted below a few (very few!) corrections from Miguel's blog... but frankly, there are hardly any worth mentioning because so far it's not only a joy to read but the English is excellent. As for my English, I've added some of the highlighted words below too with an explanation for each. I hope you read on and enjoy!

See you soon

Some notes on Miguel's English -
Overall, excellent! We would say 'Let me introduce myself' rather than 'introduce me'. I think when Miguel said "Neither the Spanish could find the lost city" he meant "Not even or none of the Spanish could find it". Also we say 'called a Lost City' rather than 'called as'. A few 'typos' or spelling mistakes: mistery should be mystery..., cost should be coast.., and skeptical should be sceptical, although the noun is a sceptic. That's it really! As Mariana from Slovakia said "I suppose there won't be find a mistake by no teacher." Almost right, Mariana! But you should have said "I suppose no teacher will find any mistake." ;-)

Some explanations of my English

when you're shirking, you're avoiding doing your work!

when you're lurking, you are hiding and watching!

what I've been up to
means what I've been doing

to keep the spotlight on someone or something
means to focus on that person or thing

is a natural talent, usually creative

means to the point, clear and precise

means funny in a clever way

pretty sure
means fairly certain

be in great demand
lots of people want you or your services

means full of energy, life and colour

a breathtaking tour
a tour that takes your breath away, that amazes you

looking forward to (something or doing something)
means to anticipate with pleasure - be careful it's always followed by a noun or verbal noun (I am looking (or I look) forward to visiting Peru NOT look forward to visit Peru)

current, up-to-date

to take someone else's writing or speech without giving them credit

imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
to imitate someone is to compliment them

working independently or occasionally, not on a long term contract

proper job
a full-time job, employed on a contract

lead vocals
refers to the singer who takes the main role in a group

started, set in operation; often used with reference to ships meaning to put to sea

currently of interest, of the moment

with meaning or significant to people or a situation

acting with others, a two-way system


  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Sean, Wow you've done incredible job in lots of fields. You don't need to shirking and lurking Sean. Well, your name is simple and easy to remember that's what I like. But first of all welcome to the blogland of BBCLE. You've a witty style of writing and the way you introduced yourself is really catchy. It's nice to know that you like singing too. Who is your favourite singer? Your posted pics are very vibrant and colorful. Thank you for sharing with us.
    Take care,

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Sean,
    nice to meet you, I am also blogger since September, and we were waiting already for you, I like this blog very much because after a long week or hard day being at work I get something different and also to see what happen on the other site of the world, That is wonderful! away from much advertisements of the city and the noise of cars on the streets...just for example I get to know you and believe or not you also keep the spotlight, well such descriptions of what you do and all you are up to it is impossible just to pass it over. it is great ! and we learn new more things!!!
    how did you get that picture of the man outside the window? must be a trick
    and the chocolate cake, did you have birthday?
    see you

  • Comment number 3.

    Hooray - the teacher has turned up - at last! Hello, Sean, glad to meet you! I'm impressed how many languages you speak and what a lot of interesting things you have done in your career.
    So you said you were intending to focus Learning English more on English News, etc. Well, whatever consequences that may have - isn't there an abundance of news around all over the place anyway? I thought it was just such a charming feature of Learning English that there was so much room for things that have nothing to do with the latest news. For instance I really enjoyed the staff blog with all those lovely random topics being dealt with. I miss that blog. Is it going to disappear? Mind you, I'm not opposed to change on principle - soooo let's see what's going to happen and hope for the best!
    So long,
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello Sean,
    This is the first time that I am writing in this blog, and I hope that it will be the first step for a string of comments.
    I enjoyed your self-introduction and eagerness to teach, one of the more important virtues in this vocation.
    I am in the process of brushing up my English, which is full of mistakes already ingraned inside my brain because I have been shirking for too many years. I know that it will take time and patiente to change it, but also I would like to take the big challege and do something serious to start writing and speaking a proper English.
    My native language is Spanish and most of the time it interferes with my English production, however I think that reading and writing asiduously in this blog, will be of great help to correct it.
    Currently I am living in Japan and I still am fighting with the Japanese language, which sometimes is like climbing the Everest with highheels.
    Yours sincerely,

  • Comment number 5.

    This is the first time that I am writing in this blog, and I hope that it will be the first step for a string of comments.
    I enjoyed your self-introduction and eagerness to teach, one of the more important virtues in this vocation.
    I am in the process of brushing up my English, which is full of mistakes already ingrained inside my brain because I have been shirking for too many years. I know that it will take time and patience to change it, but also I would like to take the big challenge and do something serious to start writing and speaking a proper English.
    My native language is Spanish and most of the time it interferes with my English production, however I think that reading and writing assiduously in this blog, will be of great help to correct it.
    Currently I am living in Japan and I still am fighting with the Japanese language, which sometimes is like climbing the Everest with high heels.
    Yours sincerely,

  • Comment number 6.

    Hello Sean,

    great to have a teacher blogger again. And Mario's posts are great and deserve to be commented by someone as experienced as you are.
    Your job seems to be amazing. Very creative and full of colors. Thank you for joining the blog and be welcome.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hello Sean!

    First at all, Welcome to staff Teacher Blog! Everybody was expecting about you!

    I felt really grateful for your commets and advices. I love your job. One of my dreams is work like you in a big mass media company where all the world can read my articles. In this site I could find this opportunity, It’s the first time that People from other places in the world can read and comments my posts.

    Your introduction it’s great ! I was very flattered that you have imitated my first paragraph. It’s amazing the languages you can speak. You’ re really good at your work in other case you couldn’t enjoy it. Like you I love write.

    Writing for me it’s a sort of expression of Arts. With the same dedication that a sculptor make his sculptures, a journalist write his stories, for this reason I try to be very accurate with my writing besides I am fond of information, If people don’t catch what I want to say I failed.

    Today I read something about Mario Vargas Llosa. He said “Someone who does not follow his vocation is sentenced to unhappiness”.

    In addition, I have a suggestion. Why don’t you create a kind of forum, maybe on facebook. You can choose a topic to discuss everyday, I think it’ would be great!

    I forgot something. I said I didn’t have a boss, but I could do a exception! =)

    Best Regards


  • Comment number 8.

    @Mauricio: Here's a limerick which I would like to dedicate to you;)

    There was a great blog from Peru
    where Miguel mentioned Mario too -
    Now the one won a prize
    of considerable size,
    but the question remains - who is who?

    No offence meant!!!!
    See you,
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Sean , Welcome to the BBC LE BLOG .Wow What a big root you have in BBC , good Job and I 'm wondering How You can speak many languages .... I always admire people who can speak more than three languages !
    I 'm sure we will have a fruitful month ! Thank you for your new words , phrases and extra explanation . You did a great Job !
    Pary From Iran

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks for all your comments! I'm enjoying reading them as I listen to programmes for feedback! Multi-tasking! Not a typical male or perhaps a typical British skill... and most of the time I don't like doing that... I guess it depends on the tasks! These are both enjoyable and go well together.

    Sero, the chocolote cake was in celebration of the anniversary of BBCe! I'm sure you know Carrie - she made it. Yummy!

    Elisabeth - yes at last! Are you a teacher too? You have a certain authoratative tone? ;-) I'll explain more in my posts about our plans and some of the changes - but don't worry, I too think the random topics are charming and hope to get more people involved in the staff blog (but news can also be charming! Fashion, Music, Entertainment, Sport, Business, Technology etc etc)...

    Thanks Mauricio, yes it is an amazing job! What do you love?

    Miguel, thanks for your welcome too. Yes I have to say I am lucky to have such an interesting and enjoyable job - and it's always good to have people remind you! I've been reading your latest post with interest and will comment soon in my second post... it's going to be about ghosts! So I hope no one - especially Sadith! ;-) will be scared!

    All the best

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Sean,

    It's a pleasure to have met you over the internet. I consider myself as one of your dedicated online students. I have been using this wonderful website since 2006. I was in Egypt when African Cup of Nations final was kicking off. Your fist blog took me really back.

    I'm not passionate about football, but I like watching major tournaments like the World Cup, ACN, Euro Cup and so on. At the moment I live in Kampala, Uganda. so, how does that sound make you feel? Obviously, that's where you're born.

    nice to meet you,


  • Comment number 12.

    Salam every one and welcome MR SEAN proud to be our blogger teacher for this mmonth .actually this is my fourth comment and i ,infortunatly do have only one response which was from DOMMI the previous student blogger , so kind she was , what i want to say is that responses r very important to us as students , from each other or from you MR as our teacher ,this allow us to correct our faults and encourage us to continue , to be forward to learning the language as someone who is starved to death MR SEAN and i will add CONNERY because i like so much this actor , his films and his personality , you are the boss and our guide and also our lamplight that inlight our ignorance
    nice to meet you
    best wishes
    Soumia from BREZINA /Algeria

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Sean! Hi everyone!
    Sean, nice to meet you, I'm glad you are with us. I want to add "at last or finally" too, these words are on the tip of my tongue, it's because, you know, we have been waiting for you for a not-so-little while. I'm impressed with your knowledge of languages, it's amazing! I'm looking forward to reading everything what you have to say (or write).

    Dear Soumia from Brezina/Algeria! Nice to meet you. You are absolutely right saying that it’s very important to have a response to your questions, comments. Apart from encouragement it gives you reassurance that you aren’t being simply ignored by people. I always feel uncomfortable when I say or ask something and there is silence instead of reply, as if my words dissolve into thin air, as if nobody hears me and nobody cares enough to say something in return. It’s very frustrating sometimes. But don't be sad, there are attentive and polite people in this world who can always find some kind, warm words for you. Such as Dommi, for instance. Dommi, how are you? I miss you sunny girl!

    Bye for now,
    best wishes,
    Svetlana, Russia

  • Comment number 14.

    Soumia! I'm awfully sorry, but I think I've made a huge mistake! The collocation "warm words" turned out to have the opposite meaning in English to the same combination of words in Russian! In Russian to say warm words somebody means to say swomething good, kind, encouraging. In English "to have warm words with somebody" means, if I can trust my dictionary, to say something harsh, to have a quarrel. I should have been more careful choosing my words. Sorry, I ment no harm.

    Svetlana, Russia

  • Comment number 15.

    salam svetlana , salam everyone :
    my dear Svetlana , i'm so glad and greatful to your person at least my words has found an open ears and a generous heart and mind that care so thanks and don't be sorry i know that you didn't mean it .
    i know few things about Russia , cold weather , Vlademir Potin and a people found of chess game in fact i think you have many grandmaster and famous players of this game such as Anatoly Karpov i'm really found of this game but infortunatly i play it only once so dear i guess there are planty of genuis around you as chess is the game of intelligence by the way do you play it? or what do you do in your passtime?
    I'll never throw the towel in my prject to learn english.
    Soumia from BREZINA / Algeria

  • Comment number 16.

    Dear everybody,
    I just become aware that I sent my message twice. I thought that the first one has been erased, so I corrected some spell mistakes and send it again. I am very sorry.
    Best regards.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Sean! Wellcome! According to the photographs it looks like enjoying chocolate cace is more serious ´work´ than enjoying the African cup. However, the most enjoyable, according to the excitement in your writing to Miguel and to us, seems to me your work, work and work! Hope you are going to have time enough to write more in detail about things from the bit mysterious 7th paragraph. Looking forward to the next! marianna

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi dear Soumia! In fact I’m not very interested in playing chess and know little about this game. I played chess several times, but it was so long ago that I don’t really remember it. This game was very popular amongst the people in the Soviet Union, and from that time I know a few names of the Grand Masters, but nowadays… I don’t know. Of course there are chess schools and the like in our country, for instance there is a chess amateur society at my son’s school, but he doesn’t play chess either, he plays hockey. I wonder if you know anything about hockey. I usually spend my free time by reading books. I like watching good films on DVD either, but I do it not so often as I’d like to. I don’t have much free time unfortunately. 24 hours is not enough for me to do all the things I like.
    About weather. You know, people all over the world often think of Russia this way: cold weather all the year round, white bears walk up and down the streets, all the people drink vodka and other stuff like this. This description of my country always brings smile to my lips. The thing is the Russian Federation is very big country, and there is a variety of everything. Russia has a vast territory which consists of a few geographical areas with different climates. There are the southern areas where you can find palm trees and other tropical plants and where hot or warm weather is most time of the year. In the place where I live we have primarily long cold winters with a lot of snow, but may be you know about global climate change, each year is different now, and weather is always difficult to predict. This summer we had two incredibly hot months which had never happened before, judging from the official record. And our weather forecasters say that we are going to have an extremely cold winter this year. We’ll see whether their prognosis is correct. I hope we won’t freeze.

    Bye for now, all the best,

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi there!

    Thank you for your interesting post and many new words.I would like to express my special gratitude for the word witty, this is the word I've been looking for a such long time!

    Thank you,


  • Comment number 20.

    Hello Sean,

    Welcome and thanks a lot for this brilliant start. I confess you've rightly compensated for the loss of first ten days ): ):

    It's really surprising that you can speak English, French, German, Spanish Arabic, Chinese and Swahili, Oh God, seven languages! The lucky seven!! So, where will you stop, Sean? What's your target, half-century or century!!!

    I really liked your writing, Sean. It's pretty lively. I enjoyed especially the part 'Some notes on Miguel's English' as I think it provides the student and all us an opportunity to correct ourselves. 'Some explanations of my English' part is also very clear. Thanks again.
    Look forward to your next delivery.

    @ Svetlana: How are you? I'm really anxious about the predicated weather in the upcoming winter. Nobody can guess how much more impacts due to climate change we'll have to suffer. Anyway, get ready with your warm cloths. We're also in same condition in Bangladesh. Moreover, the rain was not sufficient this rainy season. So, we predict we'll suffer severe winter this year. We here believe in a proverb as it's true in our environment 'Less rainfall always results into a colder winter'.

    @ Misou: 'Sometimes silence expresses you most effectively', says someone. So, don't think that nobody cares you. Welcome!

    @ Elisabeth: Thanks for the Limerick. It's lovely. I adore reading such types of pieces. So, carry on.

    Thanks to all.

    Ashish, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hello Sean and fellow bloggers,
    I have been reading your comments and I can see that not only your English level is very high, but also you have started some kind of community that transmits warm feelings and support for others.
    Learning surrounded by in this kind of atmosphere might help to keep my motivation to learn while making virtual friends all over the world.
    Thank you for be there.


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