I was born and raised in Olympia, Washington. I went to University of Washington in Seattle, and after that, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I concentrated on foreign language pedagogy, first and second language acquisition, and minimalist syntax.
I’ve studied abroad in Avignon, France; Rome, Italy; Antigua, Guatemala; and most recently in Hangzhou, China.
For the past 8 years, I was a Spanish teacher and campus minister at a Jesuit high school in Seattle. Now I’m moving to Shanghai, China to work for a company developing online study material for people learning Spanish.
This blog is just a journal. Sometimes I tell stories, but mostly I just take pictures of my food, worry about diabetes, and complain about my life. This new blog will probably be about the wonders and challenges of my new life in Shanghai. I hope you enjoy it.
john patrick | 万吉平
It’s almost the end of 2010. I was downsized from Spanishpod101, but months before I had applied for teaching jobs. The best offer was from… wait for it… the Jesuit high school I used to teach at before I went to China! So I took the summer off in Las Vegas, with the folks, and then when school started I moved back to Seattle. So now I’m back to my old life; same office, same townhouse… it’s almost like I never left. I hope this goes well!
It’s the fall of 2015. In a lot of ways, my 2nd round of high school teaching was nice; I got to live in Seattle again, I got to teach Chinese, I was finally making grown-up money, and there was a renovation at the school that made my work day better: an office with a million dollar view, a pretty swanky classroom of my own, etc. But in the end the workload was piled on to me in a way that I thought was inequitable, and I didn’t have time to take care of myself. It was miserable. Others suggested that I take my professional standards down a notch, an idea that was an anathema to me… but in the end, my students were getting fewer carefully crafted speaking and learning opportunities, and more worksheets. When I saw that there was no end in sight, I left.
I took the summer vacation I always wanted to: six weeks in the Philippines with extended family and daily Tagalog lessons. And then I reported to work in Glendale, California, where I work in an office, developing language learning activities for an online early learning website.
I never thought I’d be in LA. But here I am! Let’s see where this new path takes me.
It’s the fall of 2017. I left that corporate job in LA after 10 months of boredom. I was getting a nice paycheck but not doing the project they had hired me to do, and not helping anyone learn language. I had to leave.
I took a job at a Jesuit high school in the Coachella Valley, teaching Spanish initially, but now I’m building a Mandarin Chinese program too. I’m actually teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture, which is something I’ve been against for most of my career, but here I am doing it for money. I’m still annoyed with the corporate aspect of it, but it’s gratifying to teach people how to be good students and get good results.
California is weird to me and I’m not a Californian. I’ll stay here as long as the job works out for me, it might be years or decades before I move again, I don’t know. If I stay, it will be because they have allowed me to build a strong Mandarin program.
I’m going to write a memoire, a collection of short stories from my adventures, which illustrate how I’ve become a multilingual as an adult. When people who know me from SpanishPod hear this, they are often enthusiastic. When people who know me from my work in the classroom hear this, I see a curtain of boredom fall over their gaze. Not sure what to make of it. I know a bunch of people who are not multilingual, and honestly I’m not sure why they’d want to stay that way. In any case, I have to keep believing that what I have to say is interesting and worth telling. After that, book deal, media pundit, disposable income, etc. Wish me luck.