Friday, May 15, 2009

Six Awkward Questions (part 2)

So, here we have part two of the interview with Lindsay Clandfield, upcoming TEFL guru, and general good sport for doing this. As a measure of my gratitude to Lindsay, and to help raise his profile amongst the more discerning Teflers that read this blog, I am bringing you a picture of him in his earlier, more youthful days. Here we can plainly see Lindsay, when he had a full head of hair, undertaking a bit of 'personal tuition' with a young teacher-training greenhorn at International House in London. My, the things we'll do to get a trainee past the finishing line, eh?!


4. What's the whackiest thing you've ever done with a class?
I had a small group of ten-year olds at a private academy. It was the typical after-school English class, and they were often tired from school. They didn’t like the book we were using, and neither did I. I tried several things with little success until I noticed that they were completely obsessed with a role-playing game: one of those games with cards (like Magic, I think). I asked if they wanted to play in class, as long as it was English. They ended up making a whole fantasy game of their own, including their own cards, decorated with pictures from the internet. It was called Gladiators (the film had just come out) and they spent hours working on character cards, dice combinations and situations, all in English. We even made a cardboard coliseum. I suppose it was getting wacky when the vocabulary they were demanding included words like: impale, gore, coup de grace, execute… I also had to hide the arena and the cards at the end of each class so the director of studies (see q. 2 above) wouldn’t find them.

5. Why did you decide to become an EFL teacher; and what regrets do you have (if any)?
My parents were both teachers, so it was one of those things I guess. I also fit the psychological profile of the bleeding heart liberal who is drawn to helping professions. I originally wanted to be a full-time, professional aid worker or someone in international politics but those two things never worked out and so I became… a teacher. Still, I don’t have any regrets. There are one or two jobs I took on that I wished I hadn’t perhaps, but I quit them pretty quickly. Discovering writing and teacher training has helped stave off a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. It’s easy to burn out in this world of EFL, there is no shortage of things that can grind you down especially if you are in the private sector. Variety has helped me keep going and meant that I don’t really have any regrets.

6. If you could change just one thing in contemporary EFL, what would it be - and why?
Can I say two things please? One thing I’d change would be the pervasive sense of contempt that many schools hold for their teachers and the teachers who provoke that kind of contempt. By this I mean schools that hire people that aren’t trained at all as teachers and the people who happily go off a teach without any training at all and charge ridiculously low prices (enough to pay for beer, and even then…). It has created a situation in which the dog bites its own tail and won’t let go. I know sites like yours and others like Alex Case’s site have gone on at length about this so I’ll stop there.

The other is from the point of view of a materials writer. I don’t mind if people or institutions decide not to use a coursebook because they use their own materials. Great! What does bug me is when some school says in a high-and-mighty way that they “make their own local materials”, but they are in essence a bunch of photocopies from several coursebooks or online places (worse when it includes lessons I’ve written). Worse still is when an institution does this, binds them into a book format, puts their logo on it, and then sells it to their students. If I could change one thing it would be to make those schools go bankrupt, instantly. If you are going to make and sell your own books, then do it all yourselves.

So, many thanks again to the brave man from Canada. Who's gonna be next?


Anonymous said...

sorry, haven't read the interview but really like the flashback photo of Wendy O'Williams! I can hear the classic punk ringin in me ears...

Crawl for me
Beg for me
Down on your knees

You're a sex junkie
You'll do as I please

Harder and faster....!
Harder and faster....!


Squirting flesh
You live for more
You live for sex
There is no more



Anonymous said...


Squirting flesh--out the sky
Brilliant orgasms--until they die

And her performance as an inmate dyke [at age 40+] in "Reform School Girls"--classic.

Alex Case said...

I wonder how he feels about my odd desire to give away my worksheets for free. If my hours got cut because some idiot was teaching for free I wouldn't be too happy, so I think I can guess...

FunSongs said...

Agree wholeheartedly with your comment about private schools bundling photocopies of textbook units and pages to gether and then selling them to students. Apart from being downright dishonest, it makes it harder for vreative teachers and material writers to make a living. I've been ripped off continuously since I started writing original language learning-action songs for FunSongs.

Anonymous said...

Nice to make your acquaintance, FunSongs. I notice that you live in Windsor, hometown to the infamous and well-loathed Windsor Swindler. Any beans to spill on this rather greasy subject?

Pop along over to my blog if you have no idea what I'm going on about...

Lindsay Clandfield said...

Thanks Sandy for posting the interview, along with the photo you've managed to dig out of the archives... one just can't be too careful what one leaves hanging around on the web!

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Lindsay, count yerself lucky! I decided to leave untouched those photos I found of you with that, erm, class of young ladies at the Korean university where you used to work.

I take it there was a reason for holding the lesson in a sauna? Or was it another example of your dedication to the job, taking your ladies on an after-class treat like that?!

Anonymous said...

S&M, I mean SM, matey, please do tell how you got sitemeter onto your blog?