Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crispy Rizlas

Things have been getting rather busy for me on the professional scene, what with my forthcoming viva for my Doctorate in Education, and several conference presentations looming ever closer on the horizon, so I've not been able to devote as much time as I would like to this blog over the past week or so.

As a result I'll have to palm you off with an offering from several years back, which came to me by way of a friend of a friend of a ... well, get the picture? It concerns a newbie's 'induction' to a certain EFL school in Brighton, that ever-so sophisticated alternative hub of the UK Tefl Trade scene - otherwise known as Skidrow on Sea, of course. As you know, I've always been keen on laughing at students' mistakes, and the fertile field of piss-poor pronunciation has given me more laughs than I could ever remember.


I had only been given the briefest of introductions to the students' cafeteria, where we were apparently entitled to half-price grub, if we could stomach it, so when I got the chance to have a good nose round the place, I took it. Obviously designed and decorated in the early 1970s, and not touched since, it gave off the dispiriting air of an old British Rail station restaurant (pre-privatisation, of course). The colour scheme was a daring cocktail of tangerine and coffee (today’s special, dear?), and the tables were mostly enormous oval-shaped lumps of heavy wood, surrounded by fixed and uncomfortable padded benches.

And here I sat, after a heavy morning’s classes at some time in my first week, happily shoveling down an amazingly appetizing dish of undercooked cut-price chips, heavily anaesthetised with brown sauce, and sloppy tea. I noticed the presence of one of my students, a sporty Korean guy of mature years and an accent to spike worms with, with a few of his younger pals from Seoul, on the seats behind me. They appeared to be discussing musical matters, as from time to time I would hear a carefully created dissonance of some far-off top ten tune, followed by either grunts of recognition or syllables of baffled ignorance.

Then came a tap on the shoulder. “Mister Sandy” my little Korean clubber intoned, with a slight tinge of triumph in his voice, “my friends don’t know Crispy Rizlas!”. My look of extreme puzzlement was enough to oblige him to expand on his statement. “Great music – Crispy Rizlas!”. Just about here my brain began a panicky perusal of its musical memory box. Was it some American cult band of the late 60s, sharing the honours with Jefferson Airplane? Or an obscure but legendary English outfit of the early 70s, stagemates to Soft Machine, or Kevin Ayers?

“You don’t know famous song ‘Rung Once’?” he asked, shaking his little head incredulously. I began to sense I was on to a loser here, and decided to slurp up my tea and make up some feeble excuse, like needing to use the toilet urgently.

Perhaps reading my thoughts, he chose an exemplary path to enlightenment – he burst into song. I clocked the tune immediately – ‘The Young Ones’! Crispy Rizlas - Cliff Richards!! That musical and cultural icon of a most peculiar British type had crossed immense geographical and cultural barriers – to become a crispy rizla!

Sort of seemed about right, I reckoned.

PS: For the teacherly fools amongst you, don’t worry; I did make an immediate mental note to do some focused pronunciation work with the guy the following week.

'A visitor' left this comment on 28 Feb 05
Ha ha - very funny! But it's also quite embarrassing when that happens, isn't it? You don't want to destroy their confidence by not understanding, but if you can't understand them, there isn't anything you can do about it there and then, especially with other people around, other than smile and nod - hoping that by nodding you're not actually committing yourself to anything untoward - and then jump into 'escape' mode.


Clarence Rhode said...

Farewell then
Linguas UK
and Ashley Arnold
They said
You were a cross-eyed imbecile
Who failed as a chef
But I remember you
As the person
Who zipped up Paul Lowe's trousers for him in the morning
A charitable act
Which he returned by letting you take your wages from the vending machine

Dr F Kim said...

WTF? Dr. Sandy?

No. I am only PhD on here... ever. I never believe...

Kapitano said...

I might have said this before, but I once built a lesson around a student who said during a test, "Teacher! My friend! He shitting on me!"

What was he trying to to say?

Yes, it was "My friend is cheating!"

Once I explained the difference there was much hilarity.

PS...Dr McManus? You're secretly part of the establishment you attack? Hmmm.

King John said...

Yes, it's official. The Linguas website has closed and the phone number has been disconnected. The mighty empire has fallen after two thrilling years of incompetence, debt and failure. Ashley Arnold can add this to the long list of things he's failed at in life. Failed at being a chef, failed in recruitment, failed as a TEFL teacher, failed as a trainer, failed as Paul's receptionist, now he's failed to set up his own idiotic little business. He even failed to defend himself in court when Paul dropped him in the shit. Even Paul managed to stammer out a few words of attempted mitigation -Ashley just stood there with his lip quivering.
Quite a list for a person who's only just pushing forty years of age. No doubt many more years of failure lie ahead.
What next - back to Blue Rhino recruitment? Or TEFLing at East Berks College? Or stacking shelves at Tesco Dedworth? Or just scrounging off the in-laws again?Rest assured, Ashley, I'll be watching your future progress (or failure to progress) with interest.

Windsor Watcher said...

Paul Lowe has allowed himself a modest celebration at the news about Ashley Arnold. Paul has just been sighted shuffling out of Tesco with a party pack of budget Chianti and a bottle of Night Nurse. Have a great afternoon, Paul - enjoy the moment while it lasts! How long before we click on your website and find it abandoned? A few months at most; the summer school will be your last chance to scrape through.

Don't overdo it now!

Shaun Ryder said...

You coonts won't appreciate it, but 'ere's a video of Cliff thass foony, iss a bit rude mind:

The TEFL Tradesman said...

You fools! Idiots! Imbeciles!!

See, you should not believe everything you read on this site - come to think of it, it's not too wise to believe any of it, really. Sandy with a doctorate? Giving an EFL presentation?! Come off it - do you really believe I'm THAT sad and mad?!

OK, I know some of you do...

As for that Paul Lowe and Ashley Arsehole - bugger off back to the Windsor Swindler site, you loons!

Dr F Kim said...

I was exciting:
Dr Sandy Fookin McManus presenting "I did it mine way: back from the septic tank and now loving every TEFL moment". At IATEFL with all your mates.

Clarence Rhode said...

If I may quote from the Windsor International Diploma TEFL guidebook:

"Students are the enemy, and lessons are the battles we fight against them. Use any means - flame, sword, psychology or intimidation. But make them curse the day they met you, and make them call you 'divine.'"

Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Never been happier!

Things here very quiet since the Night Nurse came in.
Blimey, I hope he's ok?

Sarah said...

A Libyan colleague in the 80s asked Tefler B to get him a CD by a band apparently called Bung Flite. Tefler B, a good chap but not knowledgeable about the crazy world of popular music, went around various record shops in London to no avail, although a number of them claimed to have heard of it. The Libyan was appalled by this ignorance "Bung Flite very famous." Tefler B asked him to name a few of their releases. "Dark Side of Moon", "Wishing You Here"
Yes, Pink Floyd.

Shaun Ryder said...

Aye: one in the pink, one in the stink. I've seen that film, me.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

'Bung Flite'!? I love it.

It reminds me of the student who wrote that she liked to serve her friends her 'pest food' - cockroach chowder? No, she meant 'best food'!