Sunday, June 28, 2009

Alex Case Does the 'Six Questions' Bit...

And the next one, please! Yes, here's the next victim to submit to Sandy's six questions game. This time it's Alex Case, the well-known Japanese Samurai warrior and author of the appallingly cheesily-named TEFLtastic website. If, by some strange chance, you've not yet discovered the cheddar-flavoured delights of Alex's site, I recommend you do so soon - it's almost as good as this one!

*******

1.What's the worst EFL job you've ever had?

I look back on all my jobs fondly, but there are some bits of several which are funny looking back:

- Adult students who copied all their homework from each other and then complained when they failed the final test until they were passed by the school owner (Turkey)
- Asking if I could use the computer to prepare a lesson and being asked “Why? No one has ever done that before” by the school boss (London, near Piccadilly Circus)
- Being told that the fact that we could guess the answers to a reading comprehension in Dutch despite not understanding a word was the definition of a good reading comprehension task (pre summer school training week, UK)
- Being told I wouldn’t get my full bonus because I didn’t drive, even though they knew that when I signed up (same summer camp)
- Being told to spend less time planning my lessons and more time chatting with the kids between lessons (ditto)
- Showing my best flexibility by saying that I didn’t care which classes I got as long as there was variety and being given just two levels in four days a week in a private primary school and so having to repeat each lesson 6 times (Thailand)
- A student who picked his scabs in class (Japan- nice students, bad skin!)
- Being told in an accusing voice that a sixty five year old student who studied thirty minutes a week (if she arrived on time) and never did her homework had dropped out because she felt like she wasn’t making progress (Japan)

2. Compare and Contrast: your worst colleague and your worst boss

Again, some bits and pieces rather than one person:

Colleagues - one continually mentioning that he went to Cambridge in every conversation, playing his home made techno music on the teachers’ room CD player, installing file sharing software on the school computer so he could illegally download music while other teachers were waiting to print out their lessons, hanging around the summer camp in Turkey telling all the students he got sacked because he was a Muslim; another, a Welsh guy teaching a lesson on Irish English to a group of Elementary level Turkish kids; a teacher in Thailand who tried to move in on my girlfriend by telling her she was the one to cure him of his addiction to prozzies

Boss - one tried to introduce a policy that teachers had to wear a suit once a week (even though most of our students will still never see us in a suit and no other school in Spain had that policy), boasted that in his previous job he spent the entire year’s marketing budget in two weeks, finished some lessons 25 minutes late and was usually unshaven and with bloodshot eyes but would nag the teachers about their own organization and appearance; another, a former Catholic priest and boys’ school headmaster with a penchant for cross dressing shows in the summer school cabarets, giving the first full time contract in 2 years to the least qualified teacher who had the most complaints from students because he had a thing for Welsh girls, and being told to tell more jokes in my classes

3. Your worst lesson - does it haunt you still?

- An observed DELTA lesson on skimming and scanning where the students neither skimmed nor scanned. Don’t know how I passed that one!
- A worksheet using Hole in my Bucket by Spearhead, for which I only had a really bad tape recording. The class revolted and I lost it a bit and said “I did this yesterday with a lower level class and they did fine, so you are just going to do your best and that is that”. As usually seems to be the case, the students seemed to actually appreciate me showing my real feelings in class, but I was horribly embarrassed about snapping at them when actually the task was pants. Actually, lessons I have tried with one group and try to make go exactly the same with another is a consistent theme of bad lessons throughout my career. Same thing happened with another disastrous DELTA observed lesson, this time the “humanistic classic” Empty Chair
- I have a terrible skill for mentioning I don’t like things and then finding that the students have brought me precisely that for an end of course present and have it sitting in their bags. I did this again the other week with chocolate.
- Any number of times when you find out the next day or week that what you told your students was totally wrong. I can still picture the look of polite disbelief on the face of a Japanese engineer as I told them that metres squared and square metres was the same thing.
- Times when your native speaker intuition abandons you, e.g. not being able to hear if something is wrong or not because you have heard it so many times
- As anyone who reads my blog and my O Level English teacher can tell you, my spelling is shocking, and many times that shocking spelling has gone onto the board and then into their notebooks
- Describing vocab with pictures that accidentally look very rude indeed
- Saying “Right, this is your homework and pausing, then realizing or being told “But teacher, there is half an hour left” -usually due to having a teaching body clock that suddenly flashed back to another school where I finished at that time every day
- Breaking my flies in the toilet just before going into the first session I was giving on a 4 week TEFL course. Luckily had a long jumper on
- Any time I had to raise my arms in a kindergarten summer school in a non air conditioned building, especially when wearing blue or grey shirts (white shirts with yellow patterns- the most useful teaching tip they never tell you on your TEFL courses)
- The two 4 year old kids in the class running into each other while searching for hidden flashcards and getting a nose bleed and a black eye, all while their mothers were observing for the first time that year

4. What's the whackiest thing you've ever done with a class?

The thing where you all link hands and have to untangle yourselves, and loads of other similar warmers. The students seemed to quite like them, but there was hardly ever any language use or link to the rest of the lesson. I’d never do those now, but actually I miss being experimental like that, and it did seem to help class dynamics. I also had that trust building thing where you fall back into each others’ arms on my lesson plan many times, but chickened out each and every time.

Another one, which was theoretically a good idea to practice directions, was to design a treasure hunt in the local area in Waterloo. Unfortunately, half of them just went to the pub (which wasn’t on the route!) and didn’t see them until the first lesson the next day.

5. Why did you decide to become an EFL teacher; and what regrets do you have (if any)?

I had done three years of care work, and was thinking of taking the diploma in social work, but thought it might be a good idea to take a break and travel for a bit first. I’d done a one-week intro to TEFL years before when I was on the dole, and suddenly had enough cash due to getting paid to sleep in care homes, so I did one and off I went. No regrets, as social work is all paperwork and so not really my kind of thing at all. I still have no idea of what else I could have done.

6. If you could change just one thing in contemporary EFL, what would it be - and why?

I would make all accredited schools in the UK (e.g., the ones that could issue documents for students to use to get student visas) only employ teachers with a PGCE-equivalent one-year full-time TEFL qualification or people who were in the process of getting such a qualification. The government would then find that they had to provide at least some funding for said training, as they should for an industry that brings so much money into the economy. Those teachers would inevitably go abroad at least half the time, but as many of them would work for British chains like International House and the British Council and hopefully spread a reputation for good teaching from British teachers, I hardly think the government would live to regret that. There was recently a suggestion in one of the UK newspapers that there should be regulations on who could call themselves a college, in a similar way to universities, and we could do something similar with “Approved English School” or suchlike for schools that kept to those qualifications.

*******

So, thanks very much Alex. In fact, there's another victim in the pipeline, but she's being a little coy with me. Come on, you know who you are!

35 comments:

KALINAGO ENGLISH said...

This afternoon. Promise. How did you know I'd be reading this!

LOL
Karenne

Shaun Ryder said...

San's gone all posh, see. Not a sign of 6 questions fer Dr Kim or fer Shaunie.
No, San's got all posh new friends now.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Shaun, I haven't heard a peep from Dr Kim for ages - probably a couple of months, even. Maybe he's become 'entranced' in some bong-induced state of mental torpor - a bit like you, in fact.

Actually, Shaunie, I would not want to stretch those few existing brain cells of yours to the limit with six whole questions. Do you think you could handle three - short ones?

Anonymous said...

Send the questions to JWS... do tell the tale matey. Do tell the tale...

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Do I detect the cunning work of JWS in the above request? It would not surprise me at all, matey!

Shaun Ryder said...

Whatever. If yer gunna be fookin' rude then I won't answer any fookin' questions. You've missed a fookin' scoop there though, lad.
An' this coont JWS-come on, oo the fook is it?

The TEFL Tradesman said...

OK, here's the full SP...

http://www.biogs.com/castaway/jonathan.html

A former EFL teacher and DOS who once offered me a job, and then got me very drunk to try and get me to say yes. Or was it no? Can't remember...

Be careful Shaunie - he's a wee canny bastard!

Anonymous said...

So JWS knows your real identity? Hmmm. I wonder how much PL and the swindler crew would pay for that information...

What exactly was he trying to get you to say "yes" too? You never know in the world of TEFL...

Adam said...

And what the fucking hell difference would it make, 1UP? PL is a deluded fucking clown and well-known to the all here and indeed the police, for both his crimes and for being a time-wasting crank. Do you think the result was good for him last time? Do you think it would be good at any time?
Fuck PL and fuck you too, cunt.

Oliver Twist said...

You see - I just throw 'em a morsel, and they swarm round, cacklng like demented witches. But take care, as some of these 'morsels' might well be poisoned - or just designed to lead you astray!

Anonymous said...

2UP, Shaunie clearly is detoxing off Finlandia... hehe. Hehe. Hehe. Hehe. Hehe. HEHE. HEHEEEEEEE.

Shaun Ryder said...

Aye, aye. Them 'hehe's ring a bell, but there's so many fookwits on 'ere of late I carnt work out oo it is.

Rico said...

Hmm, I think we've been here before. And I also think that the old charmer known as JWS actually IS, in reality, Sandy McMAnus.

It's more than a mere hunch. Let's just say one of his 'little birdies' told me!

Sandy Fuckin McManus said...

Rico,
I'm afraid you are wrong. I'm only allowed internet at the Al-Wathwa resort every so often. You see, I got caught in a booze run through Sharjah.

Kimi said...

Hi, my name is Kimi. I'm 13. Are you the real Sandy McManus? What is your email address?

My mother told me. Can I speak to you, Dad?

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Ah, sod off, the whole bloody lot of you! I'm off to the beach, and I won't be back for a few weeks...

Kimi said...

Shaun, Adam, Rico: Can anyone here tell me about my Dad?

Shaun Ryder said...

No lad, I can tell you about yer mum though...

Kimi said...

Kimi is a girl's name. How do you know my mother? Are you a friend of my father's?

Mary Crump (Sandy's mum) said...

Kimi used to be our cat's name years ago... I'm very old now, Kimi, living with a little state pension and I've got me a bad hip and need an operation.
But if you are my grandchild, you can call Sandy's uncle Pat at the O'Neill Fish & Chips shop in Peckham (London).

Does your family have a nice house in America?

(Typed on behalf of Mrs. Crump's visiting carer.)

Your mum said...

Sandy,

Kimi is now in email contact with your Uncle Pat and she'll be flying to London soon.

Your mum wants to know when you will be sending her the money. She says you are four months late and she cannot pay her electric bill now, and the council keeps calling her as she is VERY behind on the rent.

(Typed on behalf of Mrs. Crump's visiting carer.)

Mrs Crump said...

"Sandy",

If you don't send the money soon, your mum says you are forcing her to set up a blog and post photographs of your "secret" storage box.

She's going through it now. I must say, it is a bit odd that you've kept 20 year old porn magazines, old ID cards, unpaid credit card statements, your TEFL certificate and... poems of love to Pamela Anderson?!

(Typed on behalf...)

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Sandy says 'bog off, you tired old blackmailer'! Anyway, it's all lies - I don't even have a TEFL certificate!

Anonymous said...

what's wrong with that shawn ryder cunt. why can't he spell? What a fucking knobcheese. Must be all of 22 with a bumfluff for balls

Anonymous said...

niggerago you stupid bitch your comments are here and link you to your site I will destroy you

The TEFL Tradesman said...

I see that Paul Lowe, the loathsome Windsor Swindler, is up to his usual futile activities (above two postings). What's up, Paul - no business to keep you occupied? I wonder WHY?!?!

Shaun Ryder said...

'Allo, Paul, you fookin' thievin', mental coont. Iss not very nice what you've said about Shauine there lad. Wadyou think- I'm gonna book into yer fookin' fleapit 'otel under the name Shaun Ryder? No, lad, no. I'll pay you a fookin' visit though, thass fer fookin' certain. You'll only know iss me when iss too fookin' late.

Anonymous said...

AH-HA! Paul Lowe's thinking he's a man is he,now...Fuck me,he's still a bloody mental patient...let him remember,i fucked a woman by the surname of Lowe-up the arse! Want to 'out' people,do you,Paul,you fucking gaylord? Leave my arse out of the equation,though-calling me a fine example of manhood worries me and might bring 'hubris' down on your head far quicker than you could expect,Poofy-Ballocks!

Paul Lowe is a spastic and a cack-pipe cosmonaut who should piss off back to his cottage

William Frederickson

Anonymous said...

I think all of us denizens of Tefltrade should do a weekend booking in PL's cess-pit of a hotel,paid for in forged tenners or with a credit card cloned or stolen from a Member of Parliament.We could really show the nasty little cuntling what we think of him. Sandy, Shaun,Oliver,John King and PL's mate Alex Case and my horrible self,too.

If we do so,we should all agree to eat nowt but vindaloo or Madras curries and garlic rice for the duration and drink only Buckfast,Special Brew,Guiness or White lightning for the duration.Shaun Ryder's favorite dessert 'proons' should be eaten,too.

This would set the scene nicely for a 'who can smash PL's lavvy fittings to fuck the fastest'competition' with the aid of a twenty-pound sledge-hammer and plenty more cans of Special Brew...This would be followed [and possibly accompanied] by projectile vomiting and shitting on PL's walls and carpets.As the lavvies would all be vandalised by this point,PL's cupboards and chests of drawers should be used as urinals.

Also,'Dirty Sanchez' or 'Bumfights' style shenanigans could be indulged in with any remaining furniture/windows in PL's doss-house being destroyed in 'last man standing'fights with them.Special Brew and Buckfast are known for their property as a fuel for these pursuits,gentlemen,as you are probably aware.

Depending on the sort of household pets PL has,if any,these could be microwaved,set on fire or made into gonks. Budgies,parrots or any other pet bird,with the addition of Alka-Seltzer or bicarbonate of soda,really WOULD make things go with a 'BANG!'

I'd smuggle in a minger of the Amy Winehouse-lookalikey persuasion,and once said slappers arse is all runny from Special Brew and bean vindaloo,give it an unlubricated 'one'up said orifice in PL's bedroom.I could use my beshitted knob to draw a picture of a knob on the wall with an arrow beside it and 'PL' beside the arrow.

During our stay,however much fun we might have,we should all keep our rooms as free of rubbish as possible.Take-away containers and empty cans should be thrown out the window and all bottles broken over PL's head. Otherwise,all empty bottles should be thrown onto the drive-way/at any garden ornaments.

At the end of our weekend,gentlemen,all period fittings and copper piping should be ripped out and sold [copper fetches 150 squid a hundredweight these days.]Ditto any electrical equipment that hasn't suffered the ravages of rampaging TEFLTRADE wrecking-crew member or exploding household pet.Gut-rotting Indian food and fucking strong booze don't come cheap,do they?

By the end of the weekend,we should have given PL's hotel a very modernistic makeover...Psychedelic patterns on all walls,water features made from ripping out the copper pipes and boilers,and sculptures commenting on the transitory nature of Man's existence...or sumfing! Fuck me crossways,WE should charge PL for the 'work' done! PL need not worry ,though,as regards paying any bill that we send the little shit,coz we'll have had our revenge on him already,innit?!! And if not,then we'd make Boris Johnson's Bullingdon Club look like a bunch of big fairies...

William Frederickson

.

Anonymous said...

I've an idea...let's ALL book in to Poofy Paul's hotel at the same time ,saying we're members of a battle re-enactment society and trash the fucking place.Wall-to-wall smashed furniture,vomit,diahorrea,smashed-up lavvy fittings...and empty beer cans!We could say,later if arrested for criminal damage and rioting,that we were re-enacting the effect of a stray bomb falling on Windsor during the air-raids of WW2 in the style of Monty Python...or sumfin...Well,it would look like a bomb had hit it after the Tefltrade version of the Celtic Soccer Casuals had spent a weekend in PL's hotel!

William Frederickson

Shaun Ryder said...

Thass the only fookin' sensible post that WF has made.
I'm in. An' I'll get the proons an' all.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Right, you're on. I'll make the booking, in the name of James O'Keefe - one of PL's old pals from former swindling days. William can foot the bill though, eh?!

William Frederickson said...

Can i fuck,Sandy.I'll go and rob Simon Green's coin-meter and give Paul Lowe the results,and he can be bloody thankful for it!Specially if i boot him in the ballocks that he probably doesn,t have!

William Frederickson said...

And i've got a lock-up garage full of Zimbabwean dollars,too. If you belt someone over the head,then the worthless bog-paper looks like a pile of British banknotes...Need to make some room in the garage and i'm feeling generous!

Alex Case said...

I'm so happy that my interview got 34 comments!