An interview with Ramon Ribé
Gerard McLoughlin (I.H. Barcelona)
Laura Nogués (I.E.S. Vilatzara)
Frank McDaniels (GALHAD)
For many of us, Ramon's name is inseparable from APAC. He was behind it from the very beginning and was its president for a very long time. He retired in 2005. We knew he wanted his present silence to be respected, but on the 25th anniversary of APAC he accepted to be interviewed by two of his former students and a colleague. As we hoped, he had things to say. And although he insists that he's old and that his horizons are now different, it becomes immediately obvious that teaching is still very much in his mind and in his heart. For those teachers who are younger and never met him professionally or were not his students, we want to start with this question: Who really was Ramon?
For over thirty years and almost without intending it, Ramon found himself behind most of the innovation and cooperation projects in the teaching of English as a Foreign Language in Catalonia. Today he still sees himself as a grass roots teacher ("I happened to be restless and do things in a time of administrative neglect"). His colleagues define him as a mixture of enthusiasm, a passion for work well done ("la feina ben feta"), creativity, and readiness to help and cooperate with others. A high-school teacher for over twenty years, he started seminars, training courses, conventions, and associations. At the same time he gave lectures and helped seminars and associations of teachers of foreign languages all over Spain. For the second half of his life he worked at the University of Barcelona ("I loved training teachers. A change was necessary and the university was my only chance of doing something related to training on a permanent basis.") He started postgraduate courses on teaching and translation, spent some time in Canada and Australia, worked with organisations of teachers and lectured in different countries, mainly in the area of autonomous learning, keeping contact alll the time with Catalan schools and teachers. He wrote a large number of books and articles, most dealing with FL teaching.
In the volume colleagues and students gave him when he retired, testimonials from all over describe how Ramon had an influence on many teachers' lives: "[now] I'm even surer I want to be a teacher for the rest of my life" (Cristina, UB). "una mà amiga en el despertar d'un noi que ja deixava de ser noi" (Ferran, Barcelona),"[...] he gave the opening plenary lecture, and I remember being impressed by the range of the theoretical references and the boldness of his metaphors." (D. Little, Dublin) "I still often think about that story of your early experience of autonomous learning. You were passionate, wise, funny and moving. And each time I learn something new." (N. Aoki, Osaka).
We have individually brainstormed our own lists of questions, merged them into one list, and later regrouped them by topic in the final version of this interview.
We are sure you'll find Ramon's opinions illuminating and stimulating.
We leave you with him now.
Gerard, Laura, Frank