Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

Teaching Argentina

My first-ever ELT publication was a collection of English teaching songs called Mister Monday. We recorded the songs in London in February 1971, and the album appeared in ELT bookstores a few months later. 

It was actually released on vinyl – how on EARTH did teachers use a vinyl disc in the classroom??? Later it was released on cassette and now some of the songs are available for free via box.net here on my blog.

This is what the cover looked like. 

Me, Dede, Gillian Bartlam and Michael Klein, 24th January 1971 - Dede. Gillian and Michael have hardly changed over the past 40 years...

I can’t believe I thought a moustache was a good idea. The best thing about that photo is that it was taken the day after Dede and I secretly got married. 

Of all the materials I’ve ever written, Mister Monday caused the most diverse reactions – huge criticism (mainly from native speaker teachers in the UK) and massive delight (mainly from non-native speaker teachers, and especially in Latin America). 

Under normal circumstances, I would let the album rest with its contemporary ELT materials on the dusty shelves of our memories, but this year, three comments were posted on my blog, all from people in Argentina, who remember either Mister Monday or a later collection of my ELT songs Spotlight. 

I hope you don’t mind me publishing them just before Christmas. 

Dear (because I owe you more than you can imagine) Mr. Wilson or should I call you Mr. Monday?

I am from Argentina. When I was in High School my English Teacher introduced me to the famous Mr. Monday record. I loved it. By that time, I was 17 years old (1973). Since I was the only one in my class that could converse in English, I could borrow the record!!!!. I kept forgetting on taking it back to school, so I still have it.

It opened my world to verbs and how to use them. Today I live in USA and I use your songs (correct tense of verbs) in every second of my life. I had learned to talk fluently by listening to songs in English, again and again and again (most of them were from the group The Carpenters).

I put a tape recorder in front of me, a copy book and a English/Spanish dictionary. I listened to them and went right away to the dictionary to find out which word belonged to that sound. So many songs…

Today I can understand anybody talking, anything, and I still cannot believe what I do! I learned in a different way than the normal: First the sound then the letters.

As you can see “MY ENGLISH TEACHERS” were and are “very famous”. Some times I think how much would cost to be privately taught by “these people”, hundreds and hundreds of dollars, I had it for free!!!!.

This is my “learning English story”. I did it every day for three hours during at least four or five years. I started with The Carpenters and you were the cherry of the dessert.

THANK SO MUCH FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!!!

Mirta Diana Martinez

Ken Wilson, I want to thank you for creating those beautiful songs of Mr. Monday that I listened to in Argentina when I was a child. I think that it would be great to have new copies of Mr. Monday. I have the old cassette but it is worn out now. I enjoyed it in the past. And I like them now: the lyrics and the music. To conclude, I strongly believe that it would be a good material for a class, because it’s high quality material and therefore timeless.

Thank you again.

María Esther Gil

Greetings from Argentina!

I remember having learnt English with Spotlight, Songs and Sketches for the Language Classroom, and luckily I have found the book, but the listenings are missing here!

Have you got any idea of how can I get them?

Thanks in advance!

Laura


Comments on: "Teaching Argentina" (16)

  1. (Another comment from Argentina)

    A couple of weeks ago, I talked to a colleague about Mr Monday! She teaches a low level group at secondary school and was looking for materials.

    Loved Mirta`s story. Imagine if every student was like her. So autonomous!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Autonomous indeed! And using a system that some teachers might disapprove of. But the power of song is strong – i remember a lovely French student who used to sing Beatles songs at our International House music club. He showed me his lyric sheet for the song ‘For No One.’ The real first line is: ‘The day breaks, your mind aches’. He’d written ‘The day breaks, you’re my necks.’ But he sang it beautifully.

  2. Dearest Ken – we have a saying in português: “Recordar é viver!” Mr Monday is not only an ELT classic but a cheerful masterpice for English language learners. Love to read this post. Saudades de Fortaleza. Evandro

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks Evandro! It was always surprising to us – and very heart-warming – that Brazilians, with their sophisticated musical tradition, used to love the routine 4-beats-to-the-bar songs that we sang in English Teaching Theatre shows.

  3. Loved reading this and the moustache and sideburns were surely very ‘in’ then !😉 Thanks for sharing, Ken.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Brad – not sure moustaches and sideburns WERE in – I really was the uncoolest band member in London in 1971🙂

  4. Hi Ken,
    Oh yes – sideburns and moustaches were definitely in in 1971 – I have photos to prove it.
    Am I the only teacher here (rather than student) who remembers using Mr Monday? I know I used it in London in 1975 – was it still vinyl then? I can’t remember. Have to be honest – there were some tracks I couldn’t bear, but others I used regularly. Thank you for making them available again.
    Sad that some really good EFL materials go out of circulation so quickly. I could name several books from the 70s/80s which I’d still happily use, at least as supplementary material – and which I still draw on regularly for ideas for activities. Doing a session on “The History of EFL” a few months ago I showed some trainees a copy of Doff, Jones and Mitchell’s “Meanings into Words” (CUP). They loved it …
    Sue

  5. Ken Wilson said:

    Thanks, Sue – I guess one of the unexpected advantages of online content availability will be that authors of OP material can perhaps work out how to make them available in a new digital form.

  6. Hello, I’m French. I began learning English at school in 1978 and on the 2nd year, my teacher taught us several songs from Mr Monday. I still remember them and I still like them.

    Now, I’m an English teacher myself. As I was preparing a lesson on “if” and the future, I kept thinking of your song “If you go to Rome” and I told myself: “how great if I could find it on the Net and make my pupils work on it”. Well, I DID find it and I was really excited about it. I’m going to use it in class… yes, I’m a bit of a nostalgic person.

    It’s a real pity your LPs haven’t been digitally remastered, I’d be very glad to buy them and use them with my classes!

    • Hello, I would love to use “If you go to Rome” with my classes but unfortunately it isn’t downloadable. sigh
      I saw Mr Monday here, in the free downloads widget. Do you think it would be possible to include other of your songs in this widget?

      • Ken Wilson said:

        I will try to arrange for the other songs from Mister Monday to be turned into audio files and I’ll up-load them. Thanks for reminding me!😛

      • Oh thanks a lot, that would be very nice and I’d love to see my pupils’ reactions.

  7. Let me add my thanks to the ones above, Ken. I adored Mr Monday as a student and as a teacher of English later and I still do.

    Thank you for the music❤

  8. Roberto Jokanovic said:

    Dear Ken,
    I’ve been looking for you for years and years. I never met you nor had any idea that you had a wonderful and proliferous life as teacher of English. My father bought “Mr Monday and other Songs” some 40 years ago in Argentina (at the famous Liberia Rodriguez in Buenos Aires) and I’ve been using them with my students ever since. Please do all you can to upload those songs and others to the Internet.

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