Sunday, 28 April 2013



Christmas. New Year. Halloween Day. A time of celebration, fun and good cheer. Or so you thought, until you’re invited (commanded, more likely) to attend your school’s celebratory function.
 It will be well organized, on paper at least.
7:00 pm: Welcome speech by Director.
7:15 pm: Item by Class T5 (Song: “Pretty, Pretty Boy”.)
7:30 pm: Quiz
8:00 pm: Item by Class DH2 (Song: “Pretty, Pretty Boy”.)
8:15 pm: Fashion Show by students 5 to 9 years old.
8:45 pm: Santa.
9:15 pm: Item by Class L7 (Song: “Pretty, Pretty Boy”. Yes, they were told that it’s already been done twice, but the students protest that it’s the only song they know, they’ve been rehearsing it for three months, and besides….)
9:30 pm:
And so on, until the finish at 10:00 pm sharp.

Yes, it’ll all be planned down to the finest detail. Almost like a battle plan. But, as any soldier knows, battle plans fall apart the moment the first shot is fired. And so it is with your school’s much anticipated party. It doesn’t get going until 7:45. The music breaks down after the first minute of “Pretty, Pretty Boy”. Twenty minutes later the stage lighting short-circuits and plunges the scene into darkness. Santa runs out of presents, leaving a dozen kids inconsolable and in a flood of tears. Santa is overheard muttering “Never a-fucking-gain.” The whole fiasco winds up at 11:15, by which time the mood of the audience is bordering on ugly. A sizeable number of guests have drifted away by now, but you can’t; there are chairs to be stacked, litter to be picked up, and children whose parents haven’t turned up to sort out. You finally escape at around midnight, your ears ringing with the five renditions of “Pretty, Pretty Boy” you’ve sat through, and swearing to yourself that this will be the last school function you’ll ever attend.

Merry Christmas.

Now, school outings. A wonderful idea! Get the students out of their classrooms, get them practicing their English in an outdoor situation. Great. Everyone loves school field-trips. Or everyone loves the idea of school-field trips; in reality they usually end up as disorganized debacles.

With any school trip there are a number of non-negotiable givens. It will start late. The air conditioning on the bus will be on the blink. On boarding the bus, fights will break out over who gets which seat. Kids’ bags will go missing. Once the bus is underway, Little Timmy will unleash a series of surreptitious farts which raises a storm of protest and will linger for a quarter of an hour. By the time the bus disgorges the students at the destination, they are hot, irritable and argumentative.

The destination itself, an orchard and fruit-packing factory typically, will prove a disappointing anti-climax that arouses not a glimmer of interest among the bored, peevish students. When, thankfully, it’s all over and it’s time to board the bus for home, a head-count reveals that six students have seemingly vanished without trace. Search parties are organized. After twenty minutes the missing students are discovered gleefully hiding themselves behind trees. A new search is then launched for one search party which has gone missing…

The bus finally limps back to the school, an hour late, and full of sweating, ill-tempered students who would rather be anywhere but on a school outing.

“And don’t forget kids, tonight’s homework is an essay on ‘My Special School Outing’.”


My new book, EFL minus the B.S., is now available on Amazon. If you’re looking for a weighty tome on pedagogy, and the meta-cognitive paradigms of second-language acquisition, give this book a miss. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for an entertaining dissection of the English teaching game worldwide, EFL minus the B.S. is the book for you. Order your copy today from Amazon.

Thursday, 25 April 2013



Whew! My last weeks’s blog about pedophiles in EFL certainly triggered off a flurry of responses. Here’s a sample:
“Castrate the vermin!”
“Apart from the untold harm these animals do to their victims, they put all the rest of us English teachers under a cloud of suspicion.”
“The invariable side-effect of these convictions is that the countries involved tighten up their visa conditions, making the visa situation evermore difficult for those teachers left behind. A pox on the perverted bastards!”
“It is the duty of every teacher working with someone whose sexual preferences are suspect, to report their suspicions to the school management and authorities. Without delay. Don’t wait until the damage is done.”
“Castration is too good for these #@%&#s.”
“The invariable side-effect of these convictions is that the countries involved (I’m talking about Korea and Thailand here) tighten up their visa conditions, making it evermore difficult for teachers to get a job. A pox on the perverted bastards.”

Yes, my sentiments entirely.
In Indonesia, castration used to be the traditional punishment for pedophiles. It was carried out by the local villagers, without any anesthetic or even a nod at hygiene. This practice has, of course, been outlawed for many years, but Indonesian villagers are often slow to hear of laws passed down by the central government (or reluctant to heed them). Ten years or so ago in Jakarta, I was walking down the street towards a man possibly in his thirties or early forties. Even from afar I noticed he was behaving rather strangely. He was wearing a long, unbuttoned coat and muttering incessantly to himself. As he drew close his coat flipped open, and I saw that in the region of his genitals (or where his genitals had once been) there was instead a saucer-shaped open wound. Later, I was to reflect that this man had possibly been the victim of village justice for pedophilia. Right or wrong? Some people say that the old ways are best….

My advice to anyone who’s working with a male teacher who seems to be taking an unhealthy interest in his young students is to dial the child-sex hotline and report your suspicions. You’ll find the number on the internet. (How to spot a pedophile? The indicators are all to plain to see: the “hands-on” approach, the “Hello Sweetie/Darling/ Beautiful” syndrome, the dodgy comments to fellow staff: “Wow, that new kid Emma in my kids’ class is hot!”.


My new book, EFL minus the B.S. (now available on Amazon) puts the English teaching game under the spotlight. 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.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013



Take this sample Asian Driving Licence Test to find out. (Time limit 30 minutes. Or more if you need it.)
1.       When you see a red light…
a)      stop
b)      stop, except if you are on a bicycle, in a hurry, pushing your mobile noodle stand, or it’s raining
c)       ignore it

2.       Give way to…
a)      vehicles on the right
b)      vehicles bigger and faster than yours
c)       nobody

3.       If you are involved in a collision…
a)      buggar off fast
b)      wait for the police
c)       exchange blows with the other driver

4.       Always drive on the correct side of the road, except if…
a)      you are in a hurry
b)      you’re not in the mood
c)       it doesn’t suit you

5.       When taking the Motorbike Licence Practical Test, you will be automatically disqualified if you…
a)      fall off
b)      don’t fall off
c)       collide with two or more other bikes

6.       When driving a car, it is permitted to…
a)      force all motorbikes to give way to you    YES/NO
b)      carry upwards of ten passengers, providing they fit in   YES/NO
c)       cut across lanes without signalling     YES/NO
d)      There are no restrictions    YES/NO



1.       b
2.       b
3.       a or c
4.       c
5.       A trick question. There is no way that you will be disqualified if you have paid the required fee.

6.       a)  Y
b)  Y
c)  Y
d)  N

If you answered all questions incorrectly, don’t despair. There are still three options open to you. You can (a) pay an increased fee, (b) send your brother to take the test for you the following week, or (c) ask any relative who holds an army rank above private, or holds a government position, to intervene on your behalf.



In my new book, EFL minus the B.S. (now available 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?

Sunday, 14 April 2013



OK, someone’s gotta say it. 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.


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. 


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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 lumped in with the murderers, rapists, 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?

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.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


Words to send shivers down an EFL teacher’s spine.

Everyone learns their mother tongue within their first couple of years. And they do it without the help of teachers or text books. After two years their grammar may not be all that perfect, but it will become so in the next two or three years. And their vocabularies will increase day by day. All this minus any teacher or book to help with the process. Fast forward a decade or two. Now he or she has decided (or the parents have decided) it’s time to learn another language. It’ll be English, in all likelihood. This should be easy, for now they have a patient, experienced teacher and the latest text book to help with the task.

This time the learning process will take a helluva lot of more work than first time around. But eventually, after a lot of hard study and determination, English will become their second language. Mission accomplished! I take my hat off to them. Acquiring a second language is not an easy task. I know. I’ve tried it, and succeeded with only one of the two languages I chose.

Yes – first language - second language. The learning processes are far removed from each other, but most learners cope and eventually succeed. Most, but not all. There are some students who just can’t assimilate a second language no matter how hard they or their teachers try. Slow learners or problem learners, let’s call them. Every teacher will encounter them. Let’s talk about slow learners first.

Why exactly are they trailing far behind their classmates in the learning process? It could be a matter of low intelligence, but not necessarily so. They seem to have some kind of mental block to new vocabulary, or to new grammar points, or to English pronunciation. Most often to all three. And it’s not for the want of trying on the learner’s part. They try and they try and they try, yet still they’ve forgotten the vocabulary in an instant, they mangle the grammar beyond recognition, and their pronunciation sounds more akin to Latvian than English. As one teacher commented to me, “It’s as if Chang has reached his learning plateau, and there’s not a hope in hell he’ll ever break through it.”

What does the teacher do? Slow the lesson down to the extent that Chang is able to cope? No – impractical. It’s not fair on the other students for one thing. And in many cases it would mean slowing down to the point of immobility. Forge on at your normal teaching rate and let Chang flounder along in a sea of incomprehensibility? That’s probably the best solution, but some teachers feel that rather than a solution it’s a cop-out. Chang has paid the same tuition fees as his classmates, and to cast him to the winds is an abrogation of the teacher’s duty. There are some managements who agree with this latter school of thought and who set up a special one-to-one class for the slow student. This measure, though well-meaning, invariably turns out to be no help at all. The slow student is overwhelmed by the sudden intense attention he’s getting, and the block becomes even more pronounced. So what is the solution? Sorry, there isn’t one. Some people can learn a second language, and some can’t. It’s as simple as that.

Now, problem students. Here, the problem is not a language block; it’s a personality disorder that has the student’s mind in its firm grip, and their preoccupation with this disorder rules out any input from you or anyone else. It may be attention deficit disorder. These are the students whose attention spans last all of thirty seconds. The students who can’t sit still; fiddling with anything at hand, legs constantly jiggling, who come out with random, unrelated questions, and spout incessant rubbish all through the lesson. Or it may be unmanageable inferiority complexes. The students who will never look anyone in the eye, will talk in the barest of whispers, will hunch themselves up in their chairs to make themselves appear insignificant and near invisible. Or students with aggressive tendencies, or eating disorders (Japanese girls specialize in them), or dyslexia. So, what is the teacher to do when one of these unwelcome unfortunates appear in his or her class? My advice is: appeal to the management to get the problem student transferred out of the class and preferably out of the school altogether. These people have no place in a language class, disrupting lessons and driving everyone to distraction. They should be in special-needs schools, being dealt with people who have training in such things. And that doesn’t include your garden-variety EFL teacher. Sorry.

EFL minus the B.S. is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle form. Buy it, and you’ll get not only an entertaining  dissection of the English teaching profession worldwide, but also a bunch of original, workable teaching tips, advice on how best to land a job, and a country-by-country breakdown of living and working conditions all over.


Monday, 8 April 2013



Every lesson should be prepared beforehand. For every one hour in the classroom, expect to spend half an hour’s preparation time. Fail to do this, and your lessons will be disjointed, confused, and unsatisfactory. Well, that’s what the EFL trainers would have you believe anyway. BUT. Take a look at the teaching schedule of an average EFL teacher in Asia. Thirty-two contact hours per week. Classes ranging from pre-literate four-year-olds (twenty of them in one class, would you believe) to TOEFL preparation. Written assignments to mark, tests to mark, student reports to write. And, oh yes, perhaps a little private social life squeezed in here and there. Now let me ask you, is that teacher going to spend another sixteen hours on lesson preparation?  Will the world be destroyed by a meteorite at ten past two tomorrow? Will Lady Gaga admit that she really is a man? Unlikely. Bloody unlikely.

So, you will get teachers walking into their classes without so much as a minute’s lesson preparation. Or perhaps they’ll engage in some door-handle preparation – as they enter the room they’re asking themselves ‘What the hell am I going to teach them today?’

Now, here I’m going to stick my neck out and make a bald, bold statement. A statement which could be my downfall, and nix my chances of ever landing an EFL job again. But nevertheless, fearless, undaunted, I’ll make it anyway. You don’t need to spend time preparing lessons. Perhaps in your first four or five months on the job, yes. But once you are in the swing of things, no. And your lessons won’t be the disjointed, confused, unsatisfactory disasters that the EFL trainers predict they will be providing you apply a couple of smart little ploys. “Ploys? Smart ploys? Wot smart ploys?” do I hear you asking?

OK, I’ll tell you. (I hope you’re taking notes.) First, you have in your bag a little arsenal of handy fillers.

Photo copies of information-exchange exercises, half-crosswords, word-searches, vocab pics, gap-fills, blank clock-faces, etc. Now of course you don’t fill up your lesson with a non-stop succession of these things. You teach from the book, then every fifteen minutes or so, or when the class’s attention level starts to flag, you haul one out.

That’s the paper stuff. In addition, you have stored away in your head a series of five-minute games, distractions, and fun activities which you also trot out from time to time. You don’t need many – three or four is enough to see you through most lessons. Our esteemed EFL trainers might dismiss these as a cop-out, but I hold that they are essential ingredients for a successful lesson. Two straight hours of book, book, book is the recipe for a boring class and a bunch of bored students. You only need to watch your students to prove that. When you introduce a fun activity you’ll see them sitting up straighter in their chairs, smiles will appear on their faces, and the undercurrent of murmuring in their native language will dry up. And when, five minutes later, you return to the lesson proper, you’ll notice a heightened level of interest and enthusiasm. Yes, regular injections of fun distractions are the way to go.

So, lesson preparation? Yes, all very nice if you’ve got the time. But I don’t know many teachers whose busy schedules afford them that time. Especially not if those teachers plan to devote some time in their day to a little bit of socializing.


EFL minus the B.S. is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle form. The book will be of interest to (a) people contemplating a job in EFL, (b) newbies wondering just what their EFL course trainers left out, and (c) battle-hardened veterans of the classroom. Buy your copy today.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

50 SHADES OF EFL (Part Two)

50 SHADES OF EFL (Part Two)

Uh oh. Another one of those days when no single topic is running around inside my head waiting for me to expound upon. So, as in 50 Shades of EFL, Part One, I will just record a few passing random thoughts before they escape me forever.
I have been trying to analyse exactly what kind of blog topic attracts the most viewers. A month ago, after I had just posted my ‘Corporate EFL Classes’ blog, in which I’d pointed out that teaching company classes is pretty much a lose-lose situation for the teacher, I received an e-mail from my son. “Are you ever going to write a positive blog?” it read. Oh hell, I thought, am I being too negative? Am I coming across as an ill-tempered, whinging malcontent who never has a good word to say about his chosen profession? So, suitably chastened, next day I sent off my ‘Rewards of Teaching English’ blog (a kind of ‘EFL Soup for the Soul’ article.) A blog so feel-good and positive it warms the very cockles of the heart. The result? Two days of the most dismal viewing figures ever. Ouch! So the readers don’t want warm and fuzzy, huh? OK, my next blog post will be an outpouring of invective and withering criticism of the EFL game. Thus: ‘The Top 5 Moans about EFL’. I’m awaiting the readership figures on that one.
(Maybe I should go 50-50, with one positive blog alternating with a negative one. To try and please all of the people all of the time. Mmm… I’ll have to give that some thought.)

For a writer, there’s nothing so dispiriting as asking a literary agent to consider handling your book. Literary agents tend to come across as self-important primadonnas. There are those who will tell you not to send a proposal; instead, send a one-page letter convincing them why they should bother reading your proposal. Some ask for a reading fee before they will deign to read your book idea. The majority of agents will insist you do not send your book proposal to anyone other than them. They will stipulate the format your submission should adopt: American spelling, Chicago Tribune style punctuation, 12-point Times Roman font, five letter-space paragraph indentations, etc, etc. And should your format not adhere to their stipulations, the proposal is relegated to the slush pile without being read. Most literary agents take smug satisfaction in informing you that they receive 300 unsolicited manuscripts a week, and thus your book stands a .0001% chance of seeing the light of day. And most will warn you not to expect a response from them for three to four months. Some even take delight in saying that should your submission prove unacceptable to them, do not expect a reply.
I have a dream. The time: sometime in the future. The situation: my book has finally been published and has proved a runaway success. With a self-satisfied smirk on my face I send off an e-mail to each of the literary agents who’d given me the brush-off. “Dear Mr/Ms XYZ; It may interest you to know that the book which you rejected seven months ago has now entered the New York Times best-sellers list at number four. It has, to date, sold upward of a quarter of a million copies. And I only used three letter-space indentations, too. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, you wanker.”

Teachers. Alain de Botton is widely quoted as saying “You become an English teacher when your life has gone wrong”. Gulp, that hurts. But why did Botton (sorry – de Botton) make this observation? Sure, I’ve worked with teachers whose lives have definitely gone wrong; assorted drunkards, druggies and no-hopers who would be better off in a job where they had no exposure to the public at all. (The army, perhaps.) But I’ve worked with many more teachers who are devoted to the profession, and carry it out in a professional, caring manner. And I’ve found that the ratio of losers to professionals is about 1:10. So there, Mr de Botton.

No-one is quite sure just how many of us English teachers there are out there. I read one estimate that there are 20,000 expatriate EFL teachers in South Korea, and that China recruits 100,000 new native-speaking English teachers annually, but as for total numbers worldwide, it’s anyone’s guess. My estimate is that there are a helluva lot of us. Here’s an idea: English teachers unite! Let’s form a worldwide union to press for better pay, better conditions, and better schools! There are some guys out there who are religiously trying to do just that. But I can’t help feeling that their efforts will come to nought. There are too many teachers, they’re spread across all four corners of the globe, and they’re a widely disparate mob. A union? Nice idea, but I predict it’s doomed from the start.

Students I have met. Idris, a young Indonesian man of around 24 whom I taught, comes to mind. Idris was affable and easy to like, and we formed a friendship. We’d go out after class for a meal once or twice a month. Idris was single (but wished he wasn’t), and lived with his parents in a small, cramped house in the Jakarta suburbs. As the eldest son in a family of six, it was his responsibility to look after and support his five siblings, who ranged in age from six to twenty. A weighty responsibility, but one he accepted without qualms. After all, that’s the way things are in most Asian families. He would join me in a beer, (sipping it through a straw), but after one and a half glasses would beg off, saying he was much more comfortable drinking Coca-Cola. Idris had one regret in life. At the age of twenty he had fallen in love with Sri. They had gone out, held hands, and had planned a wedding someday. Alas, it was not to be. After lengthy consideration, his parents had decided that Sri, a Sumatran, just wasn’t quite suitable for a Javanese to marry. And so Idris and Sri had shaken hands and bid each other goodbye. Idris was near to tears when he recounted this story to me.
After our first meal together, I leant back and lit up a cigarette. Idris carefully unrolled his sock and extracted one of two cigarettes secreted there. “Why do you keep your cigarettes in your sock?” I asked. “My father doesn’t know I smoke. If he found out he’d be very angry.”

Bosses I have met. (Shudder.) I’ve worked for so many bad ones it’s hard to choose which one to write about. Some bosses are just too busy and too important to have anything to do with the teaching staff. I worked at one school in Saigon where I never got to meet the boss. Her edicts were handed down by nervous staff members. “You will be paid one week later than usual, because payday is a bank holiday,” the secretary announces in an awed tone of voice. “What? Tell Mrs Thuong that’s completely unacceptable.” “Oh, no. I couldn’t possibly do that.”

Then there was the Aussie boss of a big school in Indonesia with the temper of a newly castrated pit-bull. During one flaming row with seven teachers he sacked all of them on the spot. ‘The Day of the Long Knives’ it became known as. Thus the hapless Director of Studies was landed the task of finding seven new teachers virtually overnight. He did a creditably good job of it, but inevitably most of the replacement teachers were an ill-assorted bunch of misfits who had no business at all being in a classroom. (Six of the seven sacked teachers went on to very profitable, plum jobs in Brunei, by the way. Tax free.)

Flaky teaching theories. There are plenty of silly teaching methodologies about, and every now and then you’ll find yourself working in a school that has whole-heartedly adopted one of these misguided methods. Would you be prepared to don Mickey Mouse ears and do Disney character role-plays every day, lesson after lesson? There’s a chain of schools in China that expect you to do just that. How about this: You teach 20 new vocabulary words each session, by unison drilling. No games, no light relief; just unison drill, unison drill, unison drill. No full sentences thanks – just stick to the words alone. Or how about the SALT method? (Suggestive Accelerated Learning and Teaching.) It’s designed to get the left and right hemispheres of the students’ brains in sync. All it takes is copious amounts of drinking water, candles, group hugs, and a little bit of Mozart playing in the background. And perhaps a little tap dancing to get the students’ speech rhythms right.

As teacher, don’t even think about questioning the efficacy of these methods, or suggesting a slightly different approach. No, the management has decided on Mad Method X, and Mad Method X is what you’ll apply, (if you want to be paid at the end of the month, that is).

Right, there you have it. My idle mianderings. Any of it ring a bell with you?


EFL minus the B.S. is now available on Amazon, in both paperback form and Kindle version. Buy your copy today.