Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Lathophobe Writes...

... very well, in fact. What I really mean is that there's a blogger out there with a virtually unpronouncable name, and he writes a blog with an equally obscure and opaque monicker. It's something to do with sodomy, I reckon, judging by the number of pictures of scantily-clad young men on the site, but I could be wrong. Anyway, check the blog out here, if you would be so kind.

Well, he's written an extremely interesting and humourous post about the perils of Tefling in Greece and the rigours of teacher training there, both of which had me nodding my head in quiet agreement and almost peeing my pants with mirth (instead of the usual substance you normally pee your pants with). However, the story of Sotiris - "a lugubrious individual with a droning voice" - and his painful attempts to pass himself off as a competent teacher made me want to stand up and shout at the screen, something like "you can not be fuggin' serious, you mad fuggin' Greek!"

Even better, I was reminded of my own attempts to inflict an unwelcome teacher-(re)training programme on some unfortunate ladies in Central Asia many years ago. After a short while it became quite clear that (a) some of these elderly 'teachers' had a lot of trouble expressing their most basic thoughts in English, and (b) they had signed up more out of curiosity (a real Englishman!), and the belief that they might be able to match me up with one of their daughters. In the end, we just sat around drinking tea and chatting.

Actually, none of the above is really true - I just couldn't be bothered to write anything of my own today, so I though I'd nick his stuff instead. Ha! However, here are a couple of the same geezer's efforts to throw a little light into the dark pantheon that is teacher-training in the home of dodgy democracy and crunchy kebabs.

Where's the second one gone? I can't find it! What a fuggin' shambles I am today...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sandy's TEFL Tips...

There are literally dozens of good blogs out there offering a wide range of useful tips for the devoted Tefler. Unfortunately, this blog isn't one of them. All the advice I can offer has been sieved through the bitter experience of utter classroom failure, and then discharged through a veritable gusher of untamable caustic sarcasm. As a result, I would like to present, for your greater edification ... Sandy's TEFL Tips!

You should always remember that you, dear EFL teacher, are a dedicated and deranged professional, and as such you will be expected to remember a large amount of pointless crap while you are in the classroom. So, here are a few of Sandy's really useful and unique ideas to help you make the most of your teaching...


● Act like a teacher. Acting is important, otherwise the students will realise you're a total prat, an alcoholic, or just plain mad. So, learn to act like a professional - you might just pull it off!

● Make your classes interesting - even if you aren't. By preparing a wide variety of activities and games, your students won't cotton on to the fact that you are as dull as ditchwater, and, more importantly, know absolutely nothing about English grammar and syntax at all!

● Be consistent with the rules. It's very bad form to play favourites, so just make sure you treat all of your students equally badly. Give them the contempt they deserve!

● Plan your lessons ahead of time - and recycle them endlessly. Winging it doesn’t always work, especially with an enormous hangover, so you should have exactly what you need at hand, before you enter the classroom.

● Make sure the topic is appropriate. Both men and women are keen on sex, so talk about it endlessly. But remember - some issues that are acceptable at home could be taboo abroad, so start telling them their culture is primitive and backwards, and enjoy rubbing their noses in it.

● Speak clearly and loudly. Even better, shout, stamp your feet, and throw things at them if they don't give you their constant attention.

● Tell the students why you want them to do something - even if you have no idea why. They probably won't understand you anyway, but they'll think you really know your stuff.

● Expect the unexpected. Maybe you planned an activity for ten students and only five showed up? Always have a back-up plan - like adjourning to the pub, or having a joint-rolling contest. See who can balance a tumbler full of vodka on their nose for the longest!

● Keep an open mind. Some countries have laid-back ideas about timing, so you can roll in 15 minutes late and nobody makes a fuss. Students may show up even later, so use their appearance to crack jokes about where they might've been. Nobody will understand your attempts at humour, and the whole class will think you're a real card.

● Ask your students for feedback - then forget it. Most times they will be honest and tell you if they liked or didn’t like the activities you planned. Take their feedback forms with you when you visit the toilet, and make sure they see you doing so - and returning empty-handed.

● Respect their suggestions for things that you can do as a class. Then just tell them that YOU are the boss, with that expensive Tefl certificate on the wall, and they really shouldn't poke their nose into matters of pedagogical procedure. But nicely...

● Adapt your teaching style. Some students like to think things over and have everything perfect before speaking - so quietly ignore them. Others want to shout out the answer as soon as they know it - so tell them to shut up. After all, you ARE the boss!

● Bring realia into the classroom. Porno pictures from magazines, explicit photos of former boy/girlfriends, empty bottles of vodka - these are real objects that can make lessons come alive.


● Wear your weekend clothes to class. The students don't want to know that you're a transvestite or into lycra-bondage. Piercings and tattoos should be covered up, especially the ones on your buttocks, stomach, breasts and nipples, etc.

● Dumb students down - they're probably dumb enough already. Just because one can’t answer a question, it doesn’t mean he doesn't know - he might just be too thick to understand. So ask a different question, or see if someone else can help the student - then laugh at him.

● Embarrass your students ... too often. Ritual humiliation soon becomes demotivating, so just keep it for that special occasion.

For an alternative version of the above advice, you could try the following link...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Those Slippery Cunts at Caledonian ... and Kraplan!

Once again the Sandy McManus network of Tefl spies returns results - John le Carre would be proud of me, I swear! Well, maybe not ... Anyway, I have tied in this item of current dodgy-doings with some similar tales of Tefl shysterism from about 18 months ago. Enjoy the read, and feel free to add any comments or updated information if you wish.

First - Caledonian English, Prague. Agent D reports that one of his informants is working there, and not having a good time of it at all. Not only is the salary derisory -barely enough to pay for a can of beans each day, apparently - but they're basically just an agency dressed up as a bona fide employer. As such, they have devised a clever little wangle, a legal loophole you might even say, regarding the payment of holiday pay. They argue that as the main company is registered in Switzerland, which isn't part of the EU, they do not have to abide by EU law - and can therefore duck out of paying any holiday pay at all. Sneaky, eh?

My first reaction to this is "What a load of bollocks!". For surely, if the Caledonian School is operating in an EU country, they need to follow EU employment rules. However, I'll do a bit more digging and find out. In fact, I tried to do some 'research' into Caledonian myself, but only came across the hardly-startling fact that they have been dissed as "notorious" for having illegally employed American teachers in Prague. But what EFL school in Prague doesn't do that?!

Anyway, compliant with this surprisingly unexpected topic of EFL schools being cavalier with the law, here are a couple of related items from Summer 2008, courtesy (more or less) of the EL Gazette ...


Kaplan, the educational giant owned by the Washington Post Group, has admitted knowingly breaking European employment law. In an internal document circulated at its UK subsidiary Kaplan Aspect, the company explained that holiday pay would continue to be included ('rolled up') in the hourly rate paid to teachers, despite this practice being illegal in the European Union.

An extract from the document notes that"it is true that the European Court of Justice has ruled this practice to be 'unlawful' ... However, the practical ramifications of accruing holiday pay for hourly paid workers according to this principle [the court ruling] are complex and unworkable."

Kaplan, which last year had an estimated turnover of US$2 billion, is not the only educational institution operating in the European Union to have failed to comply with the European Court of Justice ruling. There is clear evidence that the practice of rolling up holiday pay remains widespread throughout the EU's language school industry. In fact, the UK government's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has stated that "Rolled-up holiday pay is unlawful. Payment for statutory annual leave should be made at a time when leave is taken."

The most interesting thing here is that, although the company have grudgingly admitted that they've been breaking the law for years, they seem to be in no great rush to put their house in order. "Complex and unworkable!" they cry, the poor dears!! Even worse, other TEFL Timelords appear to be equally lax, if not bewildered by the whole notion of 'holiday pay' at all, and one of them has rather pompously declaimed that "in our sector I'm not sure how one would actually define it. Perhaps it isn't an applicable concept."

Or perhaps they just can't be bothered to get their tiny little Tefl minds around the grand idea of … giving teachers what the law states they should have. Hard to define? Not applicable? I find that all rather ludicrous – don't you?! Shame on them, the stingy bastards!!

And the next one, please! Yes, it's our old mate EF, the Tesco's of the Tefl industry, the Walmart of the whiteboards. Would you believe they've been found guilty of … stitching up their freshly-recruited teachers! I know, it seems so uncharacteristic of them, dunnit?!

Language schools in the US and the UK who recruit teachers for schools abroad may find themselves in breach of US or UK law if the contracts offered by the schools overseas break employment law at home. This point has been brought into focus by a UK investigation of a contract issued by English First (EF) in Russia, believed to be a franchise of the EF chain. A clause in EF Russia's contract of employment makes its teachers liable for the costs of their recruitment and replacement if they are dismissed or leave before the contract ends. The contract is for 'Native Full-time Teacher Recruited Abroad', and EF have stated that both American and British teachers are hired to work in Russia by its UK arm in Manchester, England.

The UK government's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has stated that British agencies recruiting staff for overseas have a duty of care when they fly them out to ensure they get them back, so that employees are not left stranded. BERR felt that the requirement to pay back recruitment costs is likely to be an 'unlawful detriment'.

Nice phrase, that, isn't it - 'unlawful detriment'. Now, I don't think there would be many experienced Teflers who would deny that EF itself operates to the detriment of the EFL business as a whole, but that's just an aside. Anyway, when asked to comment on the matter of their illegal activities, one of EF's lickspittles wriggled out of his tight corner by dryly commenting that "we are currently under investigation by a government body [so] it is inappropriate for us to comment further at this time." Fuggin' worm!!

However, the fact remains that any EF teacher who quits or is sacked even one week before having completed the contract will be held liable to repay ten per cent of their recruitment and replacement costs. My Christ! It almost makes working for Shane seem like a good alternative!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Fuggin' Ugly!

So, welcome to the latest blog-posting from Yours Truly - a trilogy of informational snippets that reveal the great diversity of life available in Tefl these days. My thanks go to the EL Gazette (online version) for allowing me to 'paraphrase' - i.e., mangle and corrupt - a couple of their fine items of factual reporting.

The Good
London English Tutors is offering perhaps the best-paid EFL jobs in London, from £20 an hour for one-to-one conversation classes to £30 an hour for business English. Not bad, eh? Certainly much better than the old crap dished up at Malvern House, for example, who are still hoping to get teachers to work for them for a tenner an hour or less!

What's interesting here is that London English Tutors isn’t even accredited - but doesn’t need to be, as its students are already resident in the city and therefore don’t need visas. So bollocks to EnglishUK and the British Council, who would no doubt love to stick their noses in and tell them to pay less.

Of course, tutoring organisations have no need for classrooms and the usual paraphernalia of language schools, which saves greatly on overheads and means there's more money available for staff pay. In fact, London English Tutors is only charging a small mark-up to the clients (around five quid an hour), which makes them one of the cheapest one-to-one tutoring outfits in London.

Their director, a former teacher in the state sector, remarked drily that she was "appalled" at the rates that EFL teachers are typically paid at private schools, and that her rates are the same as those offered in London's state sector. However, if you're thinking of giving them a ring right now, a word of warning: the company reported "a hell of a response" just hours after placing the openings on their website.

The Bad
It's barge-pole time for Global English, a rather dodgy US company who are looking for teachers to work as online tutors from 11 pm to 7 am. Nice timings, eh?!

Even worse, the pay is completely unspecified, and they expect their teachers to "cover their shifts year-round, including holidays and weekends ... and find a substitute from our online staff when they are unable to work their shift". And I bet they want us to give the students a pound of flesh, too, eh?!

Actually, the company could run into a lot of difficulties in Europe, as the Working Time Directive means that it is illegal for employers not to give staff a minimum of 28 days a year paid holiday - even freelancers. In fact, in the UK teachers who work timetabled hours for the same employer cannot be regarded as freelancers, and Global English is also legally obliged to pay an 11% supplement of employers’ National Insurance contributions on top of the hourly rate. So go chew on that, yankee!

The Ugly
Remember this ugly cunt? I do. His name's Alistair Robb, and he's an EFL teacher in Maceio, Brazil. The reason he's trying to hide behind a mobile phone is as follows: some three years ago I sent him 600 quid to get himself back to his wife and kid in Brazil, as he'd done a summer school in the UK, pissed his cash up the wall, and found himself destitute. See, I really AM a kind soul!

So, despite only knowing him through our respective blogs (his lamentable piece of shit is still floundering here), as an online cyber-pal if you like, I sent 600 smackers to his UK bank account, which he promised to return as soon as he was able to. Yes,that's right - he promised to return it.

And did he ever? So, who's the biggest fool, eh?!

Well, Alistair - this is your last chance. If I don't get the cash by the end of the month, I'll post a picture of your wife! And then we'll ALL be sorry...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Stan Cruddy Story (part 2) - The Beat Goes On!

Train throws wind through tunnel
Platform of people sighs
Oh shit! Where's my fuggin' ticket?

(from 'Northern Lines', 1966)

Thus we begin the second part of the thrilling story of Stan Cruddy, Tefl's most uncelebrated and unacknowledged teacher and methodologist, with one of his very first 'haiku poems', written during his students days at the Stockwell Higher Institute of Technology and Education (SHITE) in the mid-to-late 1960s.

Indeed, Stan's first contribution to the teaching profession was his haiku poetry, which he taught to some of his very first students. In this artform, although it is almost impossible to single out any particular style or format or subject matter as being definitively Stan's, he attempted to replace the traditional 'contrast and compare' approach of haiku, in which two natural events, images, or situations are juxtaposed, with a more urban and contemporary range of subject matter, including certain more 'modernist' topics such as fare-bunking, illicit sex, and overt affiliation to narcotic substances.

The sharp rain of the morning's cold shower
grates like a sizzling kebab on my parched skin
Oh, I should never have shagged that little Paki tart last night!

To return to Stan's EFL career, after leaving the services of the local unemployment exchange, he chose to work as a volunteer ESL teacher in the burgeoning Indian communities of the Tooting Broadway of the era, rather than waste his time and money in the pubs of his native Tooting Bec. Although the attractions of an almost permanent supply of free curry and cheap beer must have been strong, Stan soon became aware that the booze was keeping him from the long term effort needed to become a respected EFL teacher and, more importantly, to produce a successful EFL course book.

Contemporary reports state that Stan was usually in bed by early evening, having been drinking since his first morning class had finished at 9:30 a.m. Given these rather extreme personal circumstances, it is amazing he managed to turn up for classes at all – sometimes as early as 8:00 a.m. – and legend has it he often taught in a drunken stupor for days on end, later retiring to The Trinity Road Tandoori to give poetry recitals to the restaurant’s regulars on Friday and Saturday nights. Newspaper interviews then followed, as well as a column in The Bedford Hill Informer, plus the occasional spot of television work, appearing in adverts for hangover pills and a wide range of stomach-settling concoctions.

It was on just one such occasion that Stan Cruddy give his first and only interview to a professional journal, proclaiming himself to be a little-known methodologist, inventor of ‘The Silent Way’, post-modern haiku poet, and irrepressible joint-roller and drunkard. My colleagues at the EL Gazette have revealed the following:

"The interview had to be carefully planned, as in order to get Stan to talk coherently for more than ten minutes, he had to be kept away from the bottle. It was therefore scheduled to take place at the ELG offices early on a Saturday morning, so that he could get back home to Tooting Broadway before the pubs opened. However, the wily Cruddy managed to escape the journalist’s vigilance by disappearing to the toilet. When he was finally hauled out, some twenty minutes later, he was as drunk as a lord. He had concealed a small bottle of whisky in his jacket, and had managed to down the lot while the journalist was making a few phone calls.

Yet somehow the interview went ahead, with the ever-more voluble Stan demanding more drink as he rambled on – with the result that on the only surviving recording of his voice, we hear a man slurring his well-chosen words, obviously very drunk. Although the interview was praised by the ELG editor as 'an early classic of an EFL misfit staking out the future of teaching methodology', it was unprintable in the Britain of the early 1970s, and hardly represents a fitting tribute to its subject."

However, by the late 1960s, Cruddy had somehow managed to put together two ground-breaking course books, "English Up My Arse" (1968) and "The Balham Bus-depot Archives" (1969). A draft for a third course book, "Mind the Gap: English for the Northern Line", was unfortunately lost on a bus to Brixton in 1970, and from this tragic moment on Stan moved to Spain and devoted his life to perambulating private language schools and perfecting the techniques of The Silent Way. Although both his course books have their bright moments, neither are as well regarded as his earlier attempts at perfecting the urban haiku for E2L students.

These, then, were the conditions in which the humble Stan Cruddy began to develop his famous (some say infamous) Silent Way method of teaching English. The rest, as they say, is history: first, the unfortunate story of Stan trading his unique Silent Way techniques with Caleb Gattegno a year later, in exchange for a fortnight-long orgy with a band of Bangkok lady-boys; and second, his untimely demise in a fire in a Chinese brothel (pictured alongside) in 1990.

However, the path marked out by Cruddy is still being followed today, with works such as "English Upside Down" and "Blowjob English: A textbook for the sex trade" owing much to Stan’s spirited complexities and his unique approach to teaching the language. Of course, whether they’ve captured Cruddy’s lightness, his hidden humour, or his equally well-concealed charm, is another matter entirely.

In retrospect, it is hardly surprising that a habitual drunkard with bad breath and no teaching qualifications slid into obscurity after disappearing into the ill-considered language schools of Europe and the Far East; his ill-timed death attracted no attention at all at the time. And yet … perhaps if just one of his many publishers had accepted his later masterwork of the mid-1970s, "One part pissed, two parts stoned", or if Cruddy had had the self-confidence (and remained sober enough for long enough) to try and eventually succeed in placing it elsewhere, the course of EFL methodology might well have been very different.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stan Cruddy - A Postmodernist When It Was Neither Profitable Nor Popular

Well, today I am more than happy to be able to reveal to all my readers(s) that the story of Stan Cruddy, the true inventor of the Silent Way approach to language teaching, is not finished at all - no way. If you're a little in the dark as to the enormity of this proto Tefl guru, you can preview the story of Stan (pictured alongside when he was at the peak of his powers) and his unacknowledged contribution to EFL right here.

After an unexpectedly informative 'session' with a journalist from the EL Gazette, in which he generously revealed dark secrets from the journal's archives, I can now disclose the following details of Stan Cruddy's unexpected rise to fame, and his unfortunate demise at the hands of a Chinese 'party girl' in 1990.

Part 1: the early years

Stan Cruddy was born, raised, and half-educated in the rough Toxteth area of Liverpool in the years immediately after the end of World War Two. His mother was a young Irish emigrant, Maureen O'Flagherty, and his father was rumoured to be a Pakistani pastry cook from The Star of India, Huskisson Street. However, his father fled to London almost as soon as Stan was born, and he was raised by one of his maternal aunts, as at the time is was considered a mortal sin to bear a child out of wedlock. His early years are shrouded in mystery, as few written records exist of his later adoption and schooling, although a study of Merseyside police records reveals a high incidence of the name 'Stan Cruddy' in relation to crimes of petty theft, hooliganism, and teenage drunkenness.
What is known for sure is that Stan left school at the tender age of 16, and immediately went to London, intent on finding his father and discovering his exotic Oriental roots. After several months of trawling the streets of south-west London, Stan eventually located the paternal connection he had been craving for so many years. His father had opened a kebab shop in Tooting Broadway, and it was there that Stan learned the basic skills of the fast food business, while living with his father above the shop, at the same time learning Urdu and almost marrying one or two of his father's cousins.

After two years of dedicating his life to unravelling the secrets of his father's life, short-changing the customers, and preparing a shish kofte stuffed with bread crumbs, Stan enrolled as a student at the Tooting Institute of Technology and Science (TITS). After somehow passing a foundation course in pharmaceutical studies, he jumped ship - some say he was pushed - and obtained a scholarship (although only God knows how) to study at the Stockwell Higher Institute of Technology and Education (SHITE).

Here he worked and drank hard for three long years, graduating with a 3rd Class BA in Modern Welsh Poetry, despite knowing not a single word of the language and only realizing halfway through his second year that he was actually on the wrong course. In fact, he had initially intended to enrol as a Chemical Engineering student, but found the queue too long and ended up in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, which was closer to the college bar. This clearly illustrates how the factor of chance, be it ill or promising, was to be a key recurring factor in Stan’s career as a teacher, poet, and EFL methodologist.

It was during his student years that he discovered his gift for rhetoric and public debate, and he was well-known for never backing down in an argument, despite occasionally falling over and forgetting which argument he was involved in. Moreover, his clear talent for writing prose and poetry emerged quickly, as he frequently contributed to the student publication 'Northern Lines', and later edited the short-lived 'Bedford Hillbilly', most of which he wrote himself, as he was rumoured to have 'adapted' most of the submissions that found their way to his desk. Upon graduating he joined the local employment exchange - the only place that would offer him a job - working steadily and apparently putting his teaching and literary career on hold for two years.

The Stockwell Higher Institute of Stan Cruddy’s day, the mid-to-late 1960s, was a maelstrom of progressive thinking and avant garde art. Some of its most daring students, such as the celebrity gardener Phil Buckett and the fashion designer Quentin Queen, had stepped outside the narrow soporific confines of south west London, and even travelled on the Northern Line across the Thames River. Their effect on Stan, however, was not to be fully realised until his later years, when Stan blossomed as a Tefl poet, course-book writer, and methodologist of international fame.

Stan Cruddy, indeed, had never even ventured into the neighbouring borough of Wandsworth at the time, and the nascent Tooting Popular Front, which Stan had apparently joined after a lock-in at the Tooting Tavern, was beginning to exercise a tight grip on its members. Travel beyond the frontiers of the borough was seen as betrayal to the cause of urban proletarian solidarity. Moreover, the TPF had begun to attempt to impose censorship on some of Stan’s first attempts at writing, leading to accusations of 'revisionism' and indulging in 'bourgeoise affiliations' through the writing of poetry.
This inevitably led to the absurd spectacle of Stan first writing a poem, and then voting to ban it himself at a later party meeting. Stan, however, justified this by arguing that no poet worth his salt would write a book that wasn’t banned, and Cruddy seems to have actively tried to provoke the banning of his first anthology of poems 'The Hard-On' by naming one of the poems 'Comrade Cunt'.
Soon afterwards, Stan managed to wangle a way out of his civil service position at the unemployment centre on the grounds of ill health, which enabled him to claim a small pension and avoid work altogether. He also severed his links with the TPF by claiming that he, as a citizen of Liverpool and the son of a mixed racial 'conjunction', could no longer abide by the TPF's parochial, revisionist and 'anti-international' stance. So, after another lengthy lock-in at the Tooting Tavern, Stan emerged a free man, of sorts, and was to go on to produce his remarkable 'Tefl Haiku' poetry, and the 'Silent Way' approach to teaching, as well as his series of visionary EFL course books.
Coming next...
Part 2: the later years - fame, fortune, and fellatio

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bruce renews the BC-Bashing campaign...

Once again I am happy to generously lease a page or two of this ever-impartial blog to Bruce Veldhuisen, CEO and Mr Controller (a.k.a. Fat Bastard) of TeflLife. And no, he hasn't paid me a single fuggin' dime for this, or even promised a week's free holiday at his exotic Thai villa - but it's not a bad idea, eh, Bruce!

Bruce appears to have been tripped up - or pushed over - by the British Council, the Big Brother (or rather, the MinTru) of the worldwide EFL industry, in another of those unhealthy scenarios in which an apparently impartial arbiter of the field is once again revealed as a vested interest. Clearly, the ref shouldn't be wearing red and white stripes when he's refereeing at Sheffield United, eh?!


What if you took a company to court for some misdeed and the judge was a partner in that company? Perhaps the product you bought was defective and you deserved a refund, but the judge, along with his position with the court, was also the General manager of the company that manufactured and sold it to you.

Obviously this could never happen in the modern world, unless in some corrupt dictatorship. Right? Our government organizations, while far from perfect, certainly avoid obvious conflicts of interest. They strive to be fair, transparent and unbiased.


Wrong. Welcome to the British Council.

The British Council, as you may know, is a government-funded organization in the UK that exists to promote British culture, language, education and business overseas. They also operate English language centers worldwide.

The British Council also actively promotes British-based TESOL courses such as Trinity and CELTA. These are the only two courses listed as acceptable courses by name on the British Council website for employment at the British Council, and, if you take the time to contact British Council language centers worldwide, virtually every one will recommend that you take their CELTA. Most of the employees working at the centers have this qualification as well.

In fact, the CELTA is offered in 17 British Council locations worldwide, so the British Council is actually directly involved in offering TESOL certificate courses. And why not? Given the organization’s objectives you would expect nothing else. For years the British Council gloried in its close relationship with CELTA, and there was really no reason to complain.

But in the last few years things have become a bit more complicated. For unknown and unexplained reasons, the British Council decided to expand its role and is now accrediting English schools. And part of this accreditation requires all teachers to have an 'acceptable" TESOL qualification--and the qualifications accepted by the British Council's English and Exams Department are, not coincidentally, the CELTA and Trinity courses.

A few years back, the main competitor to the CELTA, TEFL International, a US-based non-profit organization, was reviewed by the British Council's own Alan MacKenzie. Mr. MacKenzie is the Teacher Training Manager for all of East Asia--a position obviously requiring a great deal of knowledge about training courses such as the CELTA and TEFL International. As part of his professional evaluation he wrote that the British Council "does recognise this certificate for employment purposes as a CELTA equivalent.".

Unfortunately for TEFL International and its graduates when news of Mr. MacKenzie's assessment reached the British Council in London, TEFL International was informed that a second assessment was required. Mr. MacKenzie, despite his relevant position in the British Council and Masters degree, was deemed incapable of assessing the course accurately.
Nearly three years later, despite complying with all the written assessment criteria in the British Council's handbook, the Director of "Business Management", English and Exams informed TEFL International that our course, which a highly qualified British Council employee deemed as acceptable, was, actually, unacceptable. Is it merely a coincidence that it was a director of Business Management? I believe this decision reeks of business--the business of assisting CELTA and the British Council by damaging its main competitor in initial teacher training.

Due to this blatantly biased accreditation scheme, this decision affects not only teachers wishing to work at the British Council but at any British Council accredited English school in the UK and elsewhere, thus harming thousands of teachers already holding a TEFL International certificate.

One example of problems this has caused is Kieron Jarvis, a graduate of TEFL International's course in Vietnam. He was a Director of Studies with Richard Language School, Bournemouth, UK, until a recent British Council inspection deemed him unqualified due to his TEFL International training. This despite the fact that he had successfully held his position at the school for over a year, with no detrimental remarks from his superiors!

According to Mr. Jarvis, "This is causing me considerable stress as I am now out of work and suffering financial difficulties." He has tried to appeal to both the British Council and his school, but states: "Whenever I mention this nobody seems to want to discuss it with me."

The whole situation raises an obvious question: Why is the British Council putting itself in a position of authority, where it can assess its own competitors and blacklist them? In any similar situation, in any country and in any culture, this would be deemed a questionable practice, at best. Are the government agencies that fund the British Council and its projects fully aware of this cutthroat practice?

I have always admired the British sense of fair play and their commitment to economic laissez-faire. But the recent actions of the British Council make me doubt that those noble sentiments are still at play in your country.


So, there you go - clearly another case of the judges making up the rules to suit themselves, and changing them when they feel like it too.

If anybody, including impartial observers and heavily vested interests, have any enlightening remarks to make, please add your cheeky comments and reasonable responses below. Cheers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Negative Outcome Oriented Schemas and How to Avoid Them.

Fuck me - again?! I can't now remember just how many times I have been given the bum's rush from Dave's ESL Cafe. I think the last time was early last year, when I was dished out a dose of 'summary justice' for the alleged crime of posting the content of a PM - that's 'private message' to the uninitiated. The fact that the content I posted was written by myself was apparently irrelevant to the case. No appeals are allowed on Dave's.

So when I got a PM a few weeks back telling me off for daring to raise the question of just why one of my apparently innocent postings had been deleted by ''the mods' (the moderators), I responded in the most appropriate fashion. I told 'the mod' to "Piss off". And I called him a "dickhead". Well, that upset him, I guess, as I got the message you can see in the graphic - "You have been banned from this forum".

Not that it upsets me at all. In fact, this whole issue of getting the metaphorical bullet from one of Dave Sperling's little mods is just a cunning ruse to lead you to the real meat of this blog posting, namely that there is an excellent piece of ripping satire available there on the UAE forum, which you should find here. And it wasn't me wot wrote it - no mate, not at all, I'm afraid!

Just scroll down to the entry by scrog_420, and you'll see a priceless parody of vacuous educational newspeak, concerning the buzzwords of the day to parrot at a job interview. I almost peed myself with laughter when I read it, and I sincerely hope that you'll do the same. And just as a teaser, here's a couple of examples...

6. To succeed at HCT, you must embrace, you must love, you must worship technology. Remember, there is no such thing as too much educational technology. Remember that nothing counts if you cannot put an “e-” in front of it. Speak frequently, therefore, of “e-action plans” and “e-metacognitive paradigms”. Even better, speak of your “e-action plan to create e-student-centered e-metacognitive paradigms”.

7. Try to use as much educational jargon as possible. If you work a bit into an interview or discussion, those listening will be impressed because they will assume you know what it means and won’t dare reveal that they don’t by asking what it means. You should speak frequently of the need to...

• generate collaborative objectives
• aggregate outcome-based paradigms
• enable inquiry-centered schemas
• cultivate technology-enhanced interfaces
• exploit integrated technologies

The saddest thing is - it's absolutely true!