Chatterbox #123 – An interview with Roberto

In this episode, we interview Roberto, a Canadian who partly grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, spent 10 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, and is now known as the Vegan Yoga Dude. Roberto and Harp discuss his experiences learning French, and what it’s like to edit English-as-a-second-language textbooks. Oh, and did we mention that he was in Germany for the fall of the Berlin wall, and worked security for Celine Dion? Listen to this episode to find out more!

esl podcast

Expressions included in the learning materials:
ESL Podcast

  • To follow in someone’s footsteps
  • Off to
  • For all intents and purposes
  • To take something for granted
  • Storybook
  • To never step foot somewhere
  • By no means
  • A groupie
  • Chapters A, B, and C
  • To put yourself in someone else’s shoes
  • Off the top of my head
  • A baptism by fire
  • The Vegan Yoga Dude

Roberto: Well, hello everybody. My name is Roberto, otherwise known as the Vegan Yoga Dude. I guess I could tell you a bit about my recent life. My recent… I have no idea what to say. Where are we going? Do you want me to start at the past?

Harp: Let’s start at the beginning. So you were telling me that you were born in Trinidad and Tobago.

Roberto: Yes I was. I was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and we immigrated to Canada when I was 6 months old. So I spent my early years, the first 10 years of my life, in Canada. My father was in the Canadian Air Force, so we moved around between London, Ontario; Ottawa, Ontario. Then, when I was 10 years old, the family moved back to Trinidad and Tobago. I went to high school in Trinidad and Tobago. The school system there was run under the British system, which was quite rigorous, and I’m grateful for that. And then when I was 18, after high school, we came back to Canada, where I attended the University of Western Ontario. And I studied economics.

Harp: OK. And then, now do you work in a field related to economics?

Roberto: Absolutely not. I have done so many things. The only thing I’ve ever done vaguely related to economics is right out of university, I worked for 6 months with an accounting firm. And I realized that that was not the career for me, so I moved on. And I have done a few dozen other occupations since then. I went from accounting to freelance writing. I worked as a groundskeeper at the Toronto Harbourfront. That was a wonderful time. It was physical work; I quite enjoyed that. And at that time, I had a short career as a stand-up comic and as a professional actor. I didn’t get very far in either of those fields, but I did enjoy my time in show business. I also became an aerobics instructor. And after a couple years of all of those things, I joined the Canadian military, where I became a logistics officer. And I did that for 10 years. However…

Harp: OK. So you followed in your dad’s steps?

Roberto: In a sense. He was Air Force. He was a physician, so he was a military doctor, and qualified as a jet pilot. I stayed closer to the earth. I was in the ground forces, or the army. I was an army officer.

Harp: OK. And you were in the army for 10 years, you said?

Roberto: Ten years, but I broke it up. I have to keep things interesting. I broke it up into two segments of 5 years. I did 5 years, and then while I was in Germany, which was a wonderful posting, I left the Armed Forces to work for a while as a musician. And having had a very limited amount of success as a musician, I re-enlisted… I re-enrolled in the Canadian Forces and did another 5 years.

Harp: As a logistics officer again?

Roberto: As a logistics officer again, yes. While in the Canadian Armed Forces, they sent us to French school. And so I became bilingual, and that has been a huge addition to my life. I’m very grateful for that, to be able to speak English and French now.

Harp: That’s great that they sent you to French school.

Roberto: Yes. The requirement was that all officers had to be bilingual, and so that was part of the training for everybody. Off we went to French school.

Harp: Ah. Definitely gonna come back to this topic later.

Roberto: OK.

Harp: And then now, as a civilian, what do you do?

Roberto: Well, I did a few more things before I ended up doing what I’m doing now. I got out of the Armed Forces and took yet another shot at show business. I worked as an actor and, again, a stand-up comic. I did a little bit of freelance writing. I worked as a medical writer and I also did a little bit of security, including a brief stint doing security for Celine Dion. And about 7 years ago, I moved into what I currently do, which is I work as an editor. I’m a book editor for English-as-a-second-language books, produced right here for the Quebec market. So I work on books for the high-school and college levels.

Harp: Wow. Very interesting life. I have a million questions. So, let’s get started with my questions. Are you ready,

Roberto? Roberto: I’m ready to go. I’ll do my best.

Note: check out Roberto’s blog, Vegan Yoga Dude, at You can also find Roberto on Twitter @VeganYogaDude, or on Facebook .

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Photo Culips