Tuesday, 22 July 2014

HOW TO TEACH WHEN YOU'D REALLY RATHER GO HOME

HOW TO TEACH WHEN YOU'D REALLY RATHER GO HOME

We’ve all had those moments, when it’s time to go into a class, switch on your cheery, enthusiastic, A-Plus personality and do a two-hour lesson, but all you really want to do is go home, have a beer, and sink gratefully into bed.

These moments don’t necessarily reflect on a lack of professionalism or dedication on the teacher’s part. No, they are more likely to be the result of an overloaded teaching schedule, the knowledge that the class you’re about to teach is a bunch of unmotivated, unresponsive dead-heads, you’re coming down with flu, or it’s your best friend’s birthday party and you’ll miss most of it. Or possibly you’ve been asked to cover for an absent teacher with just two minutes’ notice, (and you know, you just know, that the reason he’s absent is that he’s gone to your best friend’s birthday party).

But there’s a class that’s paid for two hours of tuition, and you’re the lucky teacher who is expected to deliver it. So how do you go about it? You can’t stomp into the classroom with a haggard, disgruntled, “here we go again” expression on your face; that would spell doom for the lesson from the kick-off. You’ve got to summon up all your acting skills and deliver them convincingly and memorably, leaving the students with smiles on their faces and perhaps, just perhaps, better English than they had two short hours ago. Actors regularly face the same predicament that you are now facing. The audience is expecting a convincing performance even though you’ve delivered the same lines night after night ever since Sir Laurence Olivier first took to the stage. So, you have to think show biz, performance arts, improv, edutainment. Then go in there and do the Grammy award-winning performance of your life.

Now, in these circumstances, chances are you’ve done no lesson preparation at all, but that needn’t detract from your performance. No EFL trainer worthy of the name would agree with me, but lesson preparation isn’t the make-it or break-it key to a good lesson. All the preparation you need is a bit of experience, and a good memory. And a little arsenal of hand-outs, games, and bits and pieces in your bag. Whatever the students’ level, it’s a good bet that they need to brush up their telling- the-time skills. (It’s something we teach at elementary level, then never again bring up, and most of your students will have forgotten all they ever learnt about it.) So, from your bag you produce a cardboard clock and a handout of blank clock faces. There’s a good ten or so minutes’ lesson time taken care of. Also in your bag you have some food flash cards. Ergo, you have a vocabulary exercise for elementary levels, a countable/uncountable, “some/any” exercise for intermediate levels. Remember, flash cards are not just for flashing. You’ll get far more value from them if the students have them in their hands, passing them around and asking questions about them. “Have you got any lettuce? / Yes, we’ve got some.”

When you’re tired and would prefer to be anywhere but here in the classroom, you don’t want the students’ attention to be focused 100% on you. So, make sure most of your activities are student-centered rather than teacher-centred. Which means info exchanges, role plays, pair and group work, milling exercises, and perhaps a little bit of writing thrown in. And a song. And a competitive game. Hot Seat’s good value. So too is miming, charades, and Stop the Bus. You haven’t tried Stop the Bus yet? Here’s how to do it. Issue one slip of paper to groups of three or four students. They have to write seven words on a topic you’ve nominated. Jobs, forms of transport, food, sports without a ball, or articles of clothing, for example. It’s a race, and when a group has finished they don’t say “Finished!” but “Stop the Bus!” Don’t ask me why, but this little catch-phrase immeasurably adds to their enjoyment of the game. A little bit of silliness goes a long way in an EFL class.

If you go through the routine well, you could find yourself, mid-session, actually enjoying the lesson. And you might even get a text message from your best friend mid-lesson too, saying he’s put back the starting time of the party two hours because most of his mates are teaching.

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EFL minus the B.S. is the best book I’ve ever written, and one of the best books I’ve ever read.  

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

PEDOPHILIA -- THE SICK SIDE OF EFL



Wouldn’t you know it, another famous name has been charged with pedophilia! This time it’s Rolf Harris. Yes, lovable old Rolf, children’s entertainer extraordinaire. Who could ever forget his classic “Jake the Peg” and “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport”? It has now been revealed that the 84-year-old  Harris has been sexually abusing girls aged from seven years upwards since the late 1960’s. Also implicated in the case was Jimmy Starr, another British singer and comedian.

Before Rolf was Jimmy Saville (Sorry – Sir Jimmy Saville) who, it was revealed after his death in 2011, had been abusing and raping his under-aged fans from the 1960’s on. The toll of Saville’s victims is 300 and counting.

The best known child-abuser on the celebrity list of pedophiles is Gary Glitter, of course. After his conviction for possession of child-porn images in Britain in 1997, went on an eleven-year spree of child molestation in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The EFL profession attracts more of its fair share of pedophiles. Why is that exactly?  Put yourself in a pedophile’s shoes for a moment, (as stomach-turning as that may be). You have already notched up a couple of child-sex convictions in England, Canada, Germany, wherever. Your name now appears on your country’s Sex Offenders’ Register.  So…  where to next? Asia – yes, why not? There’s a long tradition of child-sex in countries like Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia. Law enforcement is notoriously lax. Might as well get a piece of the action there. And once you’ve arrived, how better to meet young people than in an English language school?  The obvious choice for any self-respecting pedophile.  So off you go. Your record doesn’t bar you from entry to the Asian country of your choice. Your English is ok, and schools are crying out for teachers. You don’t choose any of the top schools of course – places like The British Council do embarrassing background checks. No, a small school should suit you fine. Maybe the pay’s nothing to write home about, but you aren’t here for the money, are you? No, what you’re here for is the chance to grope a 12-year-old’s body, and perhaps… just perhaps…

Like it or not, that is the reality of the situation in a number of English language schools in Asia. Just look at the shameful facts and figures on the internet.

2006
John Mark Carr, a 41-year-old American, was teaching English at the Bangkok Christian College when he was arrested for child-sex offences. He’d previously taught at I&S Language School in Seoul, and in Taiwan, Costa Rica and Honduras. On the plane going back from Thailand, Carr confessed to the police accompanying him that he had killed the 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey; a charge later disproved. 

2007
Christopher Paul Neil, a 32-year-old Canadian, was arrested in Thailand for under-age sex. He had previously taught English in Kwanju, S Korea, and was currently working at a school in Bangkok. He boasted of his sexual exploits on the internet, complete with a head-shoulders photo of himself with the face obscured by a computer-generated swirl. German police managed to unravel the swirl to reveal his true likeness, and to eventually lead to tracking him down in Thailand.

Sean McGowan, a 45-year-old Brit, was teaching English in Bangkok when he was repatriated to Britain on charges of raping an 8-year-old Thai girl.

Peter William Smith, a 48-year-old Australian teaching in Jakarta was arrested and convicted of engaging in sex with more than 50 boys.

Alan Smith, a 53-year-old Brit, used fake references to get a job as EFL teacher at Nongyai Temple School, just north of Bangkok. He was arrested in 2007 for child-sex offences.

Ian Bower, a 42-year-old UK national, was teaching English in Cambodia when he was arrested for child-sex offences with two boys aged 12 and 14.

2008
Mark Joseph McDowell, American, taught as ESL Professor at Daejeon University, S Korea, and  at  BCM Academy in Seoul, and also ran the EFL resource website Mark’s ESL Wide World AKA marksesl.com. He was arrested in Korea for child molestation.

Earl R. Bonds, a 42-year-old American, was arrested in Phuket, Thailand for child-sex. He had been teaching English in Bangkok, and took regular trips to Phuket to satisfy his taste for Thai minors.

John Wrenshall, a 62-year-old Canadian, taught at AUA Language Center in Bangkok for ten years. The director of AUA described him as “so polite and quiet”. Unbeknown to AUA, their polite, quiet teacher had spent his after-school hours setting up an internet website for pedophiles, “Boy Love and Chat”, and was charging foreigners $400 per introduction.

Karl Joseph Kraus, an Australian, was arrested in Thailand for raping four young sisters whom he had been giving private English lessons to in his home. He was 92 years old at the time of his arrest, thereby setting the record as oldest convicted pedophile.

2010
Michael James Dodd, a 61-year-old American, was teaching in Phnom Penh when he was convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old Cambodian girl. He’d previously been jailed for a similar offence in Northern Mariana Islands.

2011
Dennis Gale Catron, a 60-year-old American, had been teaching at various educational institutes and colleges in Thailand until his arrest on child-sex charges.

2012
Gregory James Miller, a 48-year-old American, worked as an English teacher at Garden International School, Rayong , Thailand for eight years,  before he was arrested  and charged with sexually assaulting five boys under the age of 15.

The above list, I’m sure, is just the tip of the iceberg. It shows only the cases that appear on the internet, and doesn’t, of course, include the pedophile EFL teachers who have gone (and still go) undetected.

Those pedophiles who are convicted and jailed abroad, find that unlike Western prisons, pedophiles are not cosseted away in special “safe” units. They are thrown in with the murderers, rapists, thieves and what-have-you detritus of the criminal world, and consequently have to bear the brunt of their actions at the hands of their fellow inmates. It’s a tough old world, innit?

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EFL minus the B.S. is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle form.  CUSTOMER REVIEW: “Excellent book. As a former EFL teacher, ten years in Vietnam and Indonesia, this book is spot on in giving the basic lay down of teaching overseas. The book is a quick read and should be read by every EFL teacher. Definitely a good read while on your flight to whatever country you are going to teach.” – J.D.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

DON'T READ THIS

DON'T READ THIS

STOP! I’m about to write a blog on an unpleasant, stomach-turning topic that is better off left unread. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll click off this post right now and log onto You Tube instead, or play a game or two of Solitaire. I’m not joking around.

Bloody hell! Are you still here? OK, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Today’s topic is dunnies and the squitters. First off, dunnies. Or Asian dunnies to be exact. Public toilets in Asia are few and far between. Far fewer that what you get in the West. Now this may seem of little consequence, but if you’ve got a dose of the squitters, it’s of paramount importance. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Public toilets in Asia are best described as basic. That’s Basic with a capital B. Some have real Western-style bowls that you can actually sit down on. Count yourself lucky if you come across one of these. The toilet seat, if there is one, probably has shoe-prints on it, as Asians are accustomed to half-standing while doing their business. That’s all very well if it’s just Number Ones you’re about to engage in, but a bit off-putting if you have Number Twos in mind. Some modern Asian toilets have diagrams on the walls to explain that you don’t stand, but sit on the seat, but these seem to go largely ignored.

Toilet bowls are a rare luxury. It’s far more likely that you’ll find a squatter (a hole in the toilet floor) in which to deposit your excreta. There’s no flush button – just a bucket of water and a dipper with which to sluice away the bowel motion. There is, of course, no toilet paper. You’re expected to use the dipper to splash water onto your posterior and thus wash away any vestiges of poo. A word of advice here. If that is the set-up in the toilet cubicle you are currently visiting, remove all clothing from the lower half of your body. Otherwise you’re going to end up with very wet trous; a decided embarrassment when you emerge into the sunlight. And while I’m on the subject, these holes in the floor are not a pretty sight to see. They’re often clogged with the evidence of the last five people to visit the facility. No, not pleasant at all.
Are you feeling nauseated yet? I warned you, didn’t I? And here’s another word of warning. This blog is about to get even more basic.

The squitters. The trots, the runs, Delhi belly, Montezuma’s revenge, diaria, diorhea, diarhea, diahorrea, (if you know how to spell that goddamn word, let me know), the shits.  Words that will have a special resonance for Western visitors to Asia. Because this is the ailment a Westerner is most likely to be hit with soon after arrival. Some say it’s because of the unfamiliar food, some blame the spiciness of the food, some say it’s the body’s reaction to the hot climate. (A doctor back home once told me it’s none of those things. His theory was that it is the different mineral content of the drinking water that causes it.) Whatever the cause, it’s a given that you’ll come down with the shits some time during your visit to an Asian country. So, what to do when it happens? Take Imodium or Loperamide; both of them very effective in relieving the symptoms of diahorria. They don’t actually cure you; they just make life more bearable while you wait for your body to recover of its own accord.

Now let’s discuss a variation of the squitters that I’m all too familiar with. (And it’s not too late to switch to a game of Solitaire, by the way.) When you have the shits you’re running to the toilet six times a day. But when you have tropical spru, you’re making a bee-line to the toilet just three times a day. This elusive disease, tropical spru, is also known as PIMS or Post Infective Malabsorption Syndrome. The symptoms are thrice-daily visitations to the WC, with a thirty-second warning beforehand. Not nice. But here’s a funny thing: most doctors have never heard of it. And stool and blood tests don’t detect it. “Doctor, Doctor, I’ve got the shits!” “No you haven’t.” Yes I have.” No…” Because of this quandary, I suffered from PIMS for over a year, taking intermittent doses of Imodium but never actually getting cured. When I finally did find a doctor familiar with the disease, I was, to put it mildly, most relieved. Ecstatic, even. Solid shits at last! Hallelujah! It had taken a month of daily dosages of Tetracycline and Folic Acid, but it had done the trick. I’ve mentioned this disease because if you are unfortunate enough to contract it, you’ll have some idea of how to get shot of it.

Well, that’s it. Unsettling? Yes. Unpleasant? Yes, to say the least. But, something that may just mean the difference between months of discomfort, and good health. And on that upbeat note I’ll sign off, with a promise that my next blog post will on a nice, wholesome, family-oriented topic.

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In my new book, EFL minus the B.S. (now on Amazon) I have touched on this theme, along with many others. In the book you’ll find answers to these questions: How can I get an overseas English-teaching job? Why in the hell would I want to get an overseas teaching job? How can I survive that job once I’ve got it?

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

HALLELUJAH! MY BOOK IS OUT!!!

HALLELUJAH! MY BOOK IS OUT!!!

There’s no big mystery in writing a book. The English language has 600,000 words, give or take a preposition or two. What you’ve got to do if you’re a writer is to choose some of those words (relax, you won’t need all of them), juggle them round until they’re in the right order, insert some punctuation marks, and bingo, you’ve got yourself a book. And if you’ve chosen the right words, you could well have yourself a blockbuster, on the New York Times bestsellers’ list for 36 consecutive weeks. You retire from your day job, do an interview or two with Oprah and Jimmy Fallon, and sit back to count your royalties. Easy street at last!

I did all that with my book EFL minus the B.S. Well, Oprah has yet to call, and the NY Times has yet to discover me, but I’ve done the writing bit. That was the easy part. Now you’d think that once you’d typed ‘The End’ on your manuscript, all your work would be over. Think again. This is where it gets tricky. You’ll need a publisher. So, you send your manuscript off to a bunch of literary agents and publishing houses. I did that – seventeen of them. Three months later I had accumulated seventeen rejection letters. Some were your standard form letters; a couple were real letters. “Your manuscript is a good read and deserves a wide audience. Unfortunately, because of the downturn in book publishing we have cut back on the number of titles we publish each year, and must regretfully….”

So then you eat the words you’d said just twelve short months ago, and decide to self-publish. You look up self-publishing on the internet, and narrow your search down to the two big players in the field: Createspace and Lulu. Both stress the fact that the publishing process is simplicity itself. It ain’t. It took me nearly five months of confusion, frustration, tantrums, and fruitless nights to get it right. But then, at last, finally, a package arrived for me in the mail. The first ever physical copy of my book. I gazed at it, sniffed it, gently riffled through the pages. I went to sleep with it under my pillow, then next morning I gazed at it, sniffed it, and riffled through the pages. It’s mine, all mine! Look everybody! See this wondrous, beautiful work of art. I made that. Me! Unaided! Do you want to hold it? Alright – have you washed your hands this morning? Here….

So, you’ve got a book. One problem remains. You’ve got a book, but no-one else has got it, or even heard of it for that matter. You’ll have to publicise it, promote it, flog it for all you’re worth. That is if you want to sell more than the two dozen copies your family and friends have promised to buy. If you’re self-publishing, you’re on your own when it comes to book promotion. How to do it? Blogs, articles, free copies to reviewers, press releases, advertisements in EFL publications, whatever you can dream up to get your book title out there in the market place. And that’s exactly what I’m embroiled in now. Oh me, oh my! To think I’d breathed a sigh of relief when I typed in ‘The End’!

Oprah still hasn’t called.

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“EFL minus the B.S.” is now available on Amazon. Buy a copy today.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

GETTING THEM INTERESTED

GETTING THEM INTERESTED

I don’t often quote Noam Chomsky, but I will here. Nine tenths of the challenge in teaching English is getting your students interested. (Possibly I’m misquoting him here. I can’t for the like of me track down the original quotation, in spite of combing the internet.) But the words are very, very true.

Student disinterest can be an all-pervasive, contagious influence in your class. You walk into the class with a bright and cheery “Hello everybody,” to be met with a mumbled “Hello” from three of your twelve students. The others are engaged in activities far more compelling. Some are talking on their phones, some sending text messages, some gossiping in their own language, some listening to Albert’s long and involved joke. You try again. “How are you?” This time only one responds. Albert, it seems, is nearing his punch-line. Oh shit, you think. Today’s unit is Worldwide Charities. How in the hell am I going to stir up even a glimmer of interest in that dry topic? Good question.

You could, I suppose, forget covering the unit, and instead introduce some topic that’s more likely to elicit a spark of interest. But what topic fits that description? Our Home Town? No, did it last week. Interesting People I Know? No, done that to death. People I Hate? Maybe…. What Annoys Me Most About My Parents? Possibly, though there’s always the chance that a certain percentage of the class will refuse to say one derogatory word on the subject, claiming that their parents are the most wonderful parents in the world. (“Yes, I know, I know, but couldn’t you just conjure up one little thing for the sake of getting the discussion rolling?”)

OK, let’s suppose that you’ve decided to bite the bullet and go with the Charities unit. Now, rule number one: Don’t have them open their text books. If some of the keener ones have already done so, tell them to shut their books. Confronting your students with two dense pages of reading text about the Red Cross, Medicines Sans Frontieres, and Live Aid is a sure-fire way of getting them to slip into the ‘Ahh, who gives a shit?’ mode. The texts are just too dry, too dense, and too riddled with unfamiliar words for them to be bothered getting their heads around. Far more interesting to make a phone call, send a text message, or listen to Albert’s next joke.

Rule number two. Personalize. Now, how do you personalize a charity for a group of students living in a country completely devoid of charities? With great difficulty, I must admit, but let’s give it a go. “Now, you are a pop-singer, Albert. A very famous, popular pop singer. Every girl in the country is in love with you. How would that feel? And how much money would you expect to be paid to sing just one concert? And Jane. You’re a doctor. You just graduated. How long does a doctor have to study in this country? And how much money do you think doctors earn in a year? Anybody know? OK, Albert and Jane, I’ve got a question for you. A very important, very personal question, so you must answer truthfully. Albert, I’m inviting you to sing in a concert that I’m organizing, but I’m not going to pay you for it. Not even a cent. How about it? And Jane, instead of starting your doctor’s practice and earning $XXX,000 in the first year, I’m inviting you to go to Africa for a year, to work for nothing. How about it?” And so it goes. It might be 20 to 30 minutes before they open their text books and start reading, but if it has succeeded in arousing the class’s interest, it will have been time well spent.

Next, keep the pace brisk. Break the lesson up into chunks interspersed with bits and pieces of light relief. Play “We Are The World” and get them to sing along. Do your doctor joke: “Doctor, when I poke myself here, it hurts. When I poke myself here, and here, and here, it hurts. What’s wrong with me?” “You’ve got a broken finger.”

Next, keep up your cheery, enthused demeanor. Let enthusiasm exude from your every pore. Whatever you do, don’t let it show that the unit is every bit as boring for you as it is for them.

Finally, if you think the unit is just too limited in interest to hold their attention for two hours, drop it after an hour and a bit, and do something else. There’s no law etched in concrete saying we must cover every word of every unit. For a book like Straightforward, that would be tantamount to turning your students off learning English forevermore.

Like I said, it’s difficult to arouse students’ interest and sustain it. Good luck.

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Here’s a customer’s review of EFL minus the B.S.: “Excellent book. As a former EFL teacher, ten years in Vietnam and Indonesia, this book is spot on in giving the basic lay down of teaching overseas. The book is a quick read and should be read by every EFL teacher. Definitely a good read while on your flight to whatever country you are going to teach.” – J.D.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

TEACHING IN A MOSLEM COUNTRY

TEACHING IN A MOSLEM COUNTRY

Working in a Moslem country requires the teacher to make a few mental adjustments. One of the many interpretations of the word ‘Islam’ is ‘submission’. You’ll find your students very passive; reluctant to ever contradict, argue, or criticize. Say goodbye to the notion of holding classroom debates; once the first opinion has been voiced, no-one would ever think of contradicting it. This general practice of submissiveness can be a good thing – you seldom see arguments or fist-fights break out in a Moslem country. (In my home country, you’ll see 10 or 12 fist-fights a night at around bar-closing time. In my 20-odd years in Indonesia, I only remember ever seeing three punch-ups.)

Then there’s Ramadan, the fasting month. For 30 days a year, around two billion devout Moslems the world over observe Ramadan as one of the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’. In that month, they don’t eat or drink between sunrise and sunset, nor do they smoke, harbor negative thoughts, or have sex (or even think about having it). One Indonesian Moslem (a doctor) told me that this period of self-restraint was an invaluable boost to physical and mental health. “If you don’t observe Ramadan, that’s like owning a new car and never trying out the brakes. You don’t know whether the brakes, when you really need them, will work or not.”

At Ramadan, Moslems rise early, an hour before sunrise, and gorge themselves on a huge meal to tide them over the 12 hours’ of self-deprivation to follow. Around six pm another huge meal is laid out, and people tune into their radios awaiting the drumbeat that tells them it’s OK to eat and drink again. (Statistics reveal that more food is eaten during Ramadan than at any other time of year.)

Some years ago when I was living in Indonesia, I decided to try fasting for a day, just for the experience. It was a long, long day. I didn’t miss the absence of food so much, although my parched mouth was crying out for water by midday. No, what made the day such a drag for me was the boredom.  Our three meals per day serve to break the day up, and provide us with welcome diversions to occupy our minds. Without those breaks, you get twelve uninterrupted hours of boredom, lethargy, and irritability. And, if you’re a smoker, nicotine-withdrawal symptoms too.

If you’re teaching during Ramadan, steel yourself for a bunch of tired, preoccupied students, and a very long break at around six in the evening when your students break their fast.

Some other considerations to keep in mind when you’re working among Islamic believers. Don’t ever profess to being an atheist – that’ll put you among the lowest of the low in the eyes of your Moslem students. Don’t discuss religion. While that’s what dictates how your students live, work, and think, it isn’t really open for discussion, especially not with a non-believing infidel such as yourself.

Don’t use your left hand to gesture, touch someone, hand over money, or anything else. The left hand is unclean, and reserved for wiping the bum only. Don’t contradict or question anyone’s opinion. Don’t mention stuff like sex before marriage. (The Moslem male hankers after it, and has probably secretly savored it in a local brothel or two, but that’s not something to be talked about or even acknowledged.)

I began my two decades in Indonesia unreservedly admiring the Moslem faith for its culture of tolerance, hospitality and passivity. I ended my time there disillusioned with the religion, because of its dishonesty, duplicity, and hypocrisy. What prompted such a turn-around of opinion? Perhaps the countless instances of doors left to swing back in my face, the small-mindedness, the bald-faced lying, and the all-pervailing dishonesty one faces daily. Certainly because of my experience of Islamic courts as they dealt with my divorce hearings. (“Tell Mr Don that if he were to see fit to pay for the Haj pilgrimage of the honorable chief judge and his wife, then the court’s decision will certainly be in his favor.”) No, I no longer have any patience for the religion or its practitioners. Perhaps I’m wrong about the one true, hallowed religion. Perhaps, when I reach the gates of paradise, I’ll find my promised seventy-two white-clad virgins sporting chastity belts and fenced off in a high-walled compound. Insha’alah. Time will tell.

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My new book, EFL minus the B.S. (now available on Amazon) is my take on the English teaching game world-wide. From applying for a job, living overseas, work permits, management and mismanagement, classroom dynamics, teens’ and children’s classes, to sex and the single teacher; all are examined with as much political correctness as a loud fart in a library. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

CORPORATE  EFL CLASSES

As far as the school management is concerned, Corporate Classes are a sweet little number. On the course’s opening day, the school will be festooned with banners welcoming the course participants, and the first half hour of the class will be taken up with speeches and pomp and ceremony with the school’s bosses and company’s big-wigs all in attendance.

The classes may be conducted at the school itself, or the teacher may have to travel to the company’s premises to do them. Whatever, Corporate Classes differ from your usual classes in the following ways. For one thing, the school probably has no say in the grouping of like levels. Thus you could be landed with a group of students whose levels range from beginner to upper-intermediate. It makes no sense of course, except to the company’s bean-counters, for whom it makes very sound economic sense. So you’re already starting off at a disadvantage. For another thing, the course participants are not there of their own volition. It’s their bosses who have decided that they are in urgent need of English, not them. Consequently, the motivation factor is conspicuous by its absence with many of the students. Thirdly, all your students will have just completed an eight or ten-hour working day, and would rather be watching telly at home or in the pub than in an English classroom. So there’s three major disadvantages for starters. And, because of the importance and prestige the school attaches to this kind of course (not to mention the inflated course fees), the teacher will be expected to deliver a top-notch performance, with every student’s English going ahead in leaps and bounds, and every student deliriously satisfied with every aspect of the course. And to check this is so, midway and at the end of the course the students will be issued with feedback forms to fill in. And that, yes that’s when the heartaches begin.

If you are a student in a class where most of your classmates are of a higher level than you, and where the text book and level of language presented is far beyond your grasp, you will need to blame someone or something to explain away your inevitably poor results in the final test. You can’t blame the book of course; that would expose your low start-level. So instead, you blame the teacher for your poor performance. And then the teacher finds himself on the firing line. “John, we’re bitterly disappointed. Look at all these negative comments! We expected better of you. You’d better pull your socks up, or that’ll be the last Corporate Class we ever give you.”

Lose-lose again. Surprise, surprise.
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Here’s a customer’s review of EFL minus the B.S.: “So, you have checked it all out and decided to go teaching overseas. Now listen you fool… don’t even think about it until you have read this book! I have been an ESL teacher for close on a decade and this book is about as good as it gets. Read it… then do it. See you over here.” – Sensai.