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Zen Kyu Maestro: An English Teacher's Spanish Adventure

Zen Kyu Maestro: An English Teacher's Spanish Adventure [Kindle Edition]

Jeremy Jose Dean
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

‘Meester Dean,’ says Macarena. ‘How you write ‘leetoldoh’ een Eenglish?’
It’s Monday morning, and the kids are working on their ‘What I did at the weekend’ pieces.
And not for the first time, I’m stumped.
Leetoldoh? What the hell is one of those?
Guessing that it’s probably spelled ‘litoldo’, I google, and trawl for a quick translation.
Nothing. Nada, as they say around here.
‘Leetoldho?’ I say.
‘Yes, yes. My friend have eet. Ees blanco. She bring to my casa.’
Another clue. Mac’s friend has a leetoldoh, and it’s white, and she brings it to Mac’s house.
I’m not much further on.

Jeremy Dean is flummoxed, but then he’s come to expect that.
He is an English teacher, teaching Spanish children, in English, in a school in Spain.
Confused? He certainly is.
Not long ago, Jeremy and his wife, Linda – both 25-year-veterans of the English education system – decided it was time for a change. So they quit their nice, safe jobs and moved to an ‘immersion school’ in a picturesque town some distance north of the Costas.
The financial storm is just about to break, none of the kids can speak a word of English, and no-one seems to know what’s going on…

‘Never mind,’ I say, brightly. ‘Just write it in Spanish. I’ll get someone to translate it later.’
‘¿I write eet en español?’ She looks confused.
‘Yes, I don’t know the English.’
‘But leetoldoh ees eengleesh.’
‘Leetoldoh is English?’ I say.
‘¡Claro!’ It’s a great word, claro. It means, ‘of course’ or ‘clearly’. It doesn’t always carry a ‘You dumb ass!’ implication. You need a certain intonation for that and a particular look in your eyes. If you could hear and see Macarena now, you’d know what I mean.
‘So… how do you say leetoldoh in Spanish?’ I say.
‘Perro pequeño.’
‘¿Perro pequeño?’ I repeat. ‘Little dog?’
She shrugs. Claro. Dumb ass.
‘You want me to spell “little dog” in English?’
‘¡I say eet!’ she protests, as if I’ve accused her of not saying eet.
This is the diary of Jeremy Dean’s first year in this bizarre system (a system he comes to love, along with the children), complete with endless confusion, misunderstandings, a heart attack and an eye-opening insight into a Spain the average Briton never sees.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 594 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Monday Books (14 Jan 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B1I54KG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #159,544 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Jeremy Jóse Dean is a pseudonym. I acquired it when I wrote a series of articles for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) describing my first year in Spain teaching Spanish 6- and 7-year-olds... in English. I had thought long and hard about my pen-name when the articles were accepted. I thought Pedro San Miguel or Jóse Luís Cruzcampo might fit the bill. Then the editor shot me an email saying they were going to press and they'd chosen Jeremy Dean and hoped I liked it. (I added the José bit later.)
The photo isn't a true likeness either. But it does capture how I sometimes feel as I struggle to communicate to the children in my class in English, and then go home and struggle to communicated with everyone else in Spanish.

Seven years later and I'm still here. If you're interested in keeping up to date with life inside and outside school, sampling some of the weird and wacky activities that make up life in a very 'Spanish' part of Spain, then visit my blog: where you can also see the many photos I take.
You can also visit (and 'like') my facebook page, Zen Kyu Maestro.
Finally, if you don't enjoy Zen Kyu Maestro, then please tell me. If you do enjoy it, then please do me a big favour, tell somebody else.
Muchas gracias. (That's 'thank-you' to you, if your Spanish is only a little way behind mine!)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As Much Going Loco in Spain as Going Local 3 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
"Find Madrid in the atlas. Now find Barcelona. Now draw a line joining Barcelona to Almería and Almería to Madrid. You should have a triangle. We're somewhere in that triangle. Now look at all the names of places in that triangle that you've never heard of. We're in one of those places."

Meet enigmatic primary-school teacher Jeremy Dean who's swopped cosy Norfolk to take up a new position, with wife Linda, in a private, bilingual Spanish school. For which they have my sympathy. My first job after relocating to Gran Canaria was an English teacher in a private, bilingual Spanish school. The setting couldn't have been more dramatic, located in a majestic position surveying the island's rugged north coast. Every day, during break, I'd have to dig in my heels (literally) to stop myself walking down to the nearby cliff and into the raging Atlantic below.

Thankfully, despite an actual rather than virtual near-death experience of his own, the Deans' experiences are more comic than tragic. I could pick a quote from any page to illustrate the author's potential as a stand-up. However, I particularly enjoyed his description of lone English student Jake, the son of a fellow teacher, who's "got about as much Latin blood in him as a Pukka Pie."

Zen Kyu Maestro offers a lesson that a new life in the sun is no extended jolly. Dean recalls struggling adjusting to the decidely non-East-Anglian climate on his first day at school, "I feel like an ant being slowly cremated by a small boy wielding a large magnifying glass." The class register also gets him feeling hot under the collar with fiendishly-difficult names to pronounce. Or as Dean puts it: "Each name appears in front of me like a bear trap, and I fall clumsily into every single one of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly entertaining read 29 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If only the current Minister of Education would read this book! Jeremy Dean's story shows so well that it's not the national curriculum content that makes for effective education. It's not even fantastic school facilities (although they would have made Jeremy's life easier). What makes for successful education is good child-centred teaching. Yes, Jeremy Dean survives his first year as a teacher in a Spanish primary school through inspired teaching, working with the children from their - initially very basic - level of English.

And "survives" is the word! Jeremy and his wife have given up safe, secure teaching posts in the UK to move to Spain and teach in a private "immersion" school; that is one where Spanish children are taught in English. Nothing like making life difficult for yourself! As he says: "I struggle to communicate to the children in my class in English, and then go home and struggle to communicate with everyone else in Spanish."

As the latter suggests, this book does have some of the typical ex-pat stories of day-to-day life when you have moved to a new country. However, it is enlivened by the tales of life in a classroom of 6 and 7 year old children struggling to speak in a foreign language (and also to learn mathematics, geography, spelling, grammar, etc. in English). By the end of the book, these wonderful children will have won you over. I, for one, cannot wait for the next book where I hope Jeremy will tell us how the children are getting on now.

As a final point, as someone currently studying Spanish, I must say how much and how well this book gets you thinking about the process of learning languages. We English speakers are so lucky not to have to grapple with the spelling and grammar quirks of our language. Ultimately though Jeremy Dean tells his story in a light-hearted and fun way - a truly entertaining read.
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I had an extremely pleasant weekend reading the book Zen Kyu Maestro. Yes, as he himself says, "Cheremy's" Spanish still needs some polishing, but that's part of the charm of what is, over all, a charming book. Big Smile

I could relate so well to all his stories, as I teach as a volunteer in a state primary school a couple of hundred miles south of where Jeremy is.

What means "Sit up" and what means "Sit down" in Espanish? I've heard it all, and seen it all too - including teenage boys voluntarily kissing their mothers and sisters. They also carry umbrellas when they think it's going to rain - how many lads in the UK go out for the evening with their brolly?

As Jeremy is still in Spain we can assume that he has surmounted his initial difficulties. Buy the book so that you are contributing to his pension fund - we all know you don't get much in Spain. I much enjoyed reading it.

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4.0 out of 5 stars NOW I get the title! 5 Oct 2013
By Bex
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wasn't sure at first...the title, I must admit, initially put me off.
But don't let it - it's a VERY clever play on words and as you read through this tale of an English teacher struggling with life as a foreigner-and trying desperately to teach Spanish kids in English, you'll understand the meaning of the title by the end.

For anyone who's ever taught English as a Foreign Language, lived abroad and/or has kids of their own attending a school in a foreign land, this is a great read for you.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Try working in a Spanish State school! 29 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It kept moving along quite nicely and reminded me so much of our time in Spain....but as usual we don't get the hard financial reality of day to day living, as they had a bought house back in England and no kids etc. etc. not that that should take away the pleasure of reading it BUT we did it with two small children who also went to the same spanish state children were classed as gypsies and put at the back of the class...It is a COMPLETELY different ball game when you go with children. Had we gone without them, we may have stayed. I hadn't really experienced proper racism until then....but yes immersion does work to make them bilingual (with all that word entails) as long as they are still doing the R W L S in their mother tongue...I now teach English in a BIG multilingual school in Belgium, where they are taught in 2 languages in primary and 3 in secondary, which is also very interesting...Perhaps I'll go back to a school like Jeremy Dean's when I finish here:)) I'm glad that it worked out well for him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting
Hadn't had an ebook before. haven't read book yet. Everything worked as was advertised.
Six more words are required for the tyranny of writing a review, can this be right?
Published 6 months ago by CHRISTINE HAMMONDS
5.0 out of 5 stars Mdr
As a primary teacher of Spanish who has had close links with a school in Barcelona where half the curriculum was delivered in English, this book struck a chord with me. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Lisibo
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer brilliance
As a TEFL teacher I found so many things in this book which were funny, familiar and inspirational. It was a book I didn't want to end. Tell us more! What happened to little Maria?
Published 8 months ago by R J PEARCE
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read!
Absolutely loved this! Thank you Meesa Dee for sharing your teaching (and non-teaching) adventures in Spain with us. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Dina Fathalla
5.0 out of 5 stars Zen Kyu Jeremy!
Just brilliant, usually, as an expat teacher myself, I find myself frustrated at the derivative and frankly same-old nature of expat memoir books. Read more
Published 11 months ago by NotTreadingGrapes
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Zen Kyu
A feel good, laugh -out- loud, read. He may 'only' be a teacher but Jeremy is brave and creative in his daily dealings with the high energy Spanish children he and Linda teach. Read more
Published 13 months ago by S.Fielding
5.0 out of 5 stars Made me laugh throughout
I love the Spanish people and speak a little of the language myself, so I could recognise the various traits that the author was describing and thought he did it perfectly. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jackie Caldwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, amusing and often hilarious. An insight into Spanish...
A beautifully light hearted account of Mr. Dean's trials and tribulations in Spain. It's well written, amusing and often hilarious. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Langleys Toymaster
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