Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Tefl Interview - a Supplicant Writes...

Well, they do say it's grim down south - trying to get a job in EFL, that is. Despite the fact that probably half of the country's EFL schools are in London, finding a decent teaching job there is like hoping to find a gold wedding ring in your mother's stool.

Agent D, hereafter known as TTS - for Tired Tefl Sucker - relates a recent attempt to find gainful employment at one of London's best-known and highly-respected private EFL outfits. Out of deference to Agent D, I won't be giving the school's name - probably the first time I've held back from nominating a wanky EFL school ever!

Friday 6th February.

The mobile rings as I enter Starbucks to get out of the rain.

It’s Richard Stanley-Waite from the Leather Imperial School of English in London. He’s course-director at LISE, on of Britain’s most venerated EFL schools.

‘Would you have a few Moments?’ he asks.

TTS ‘Of course let me just sit down…. OK, fire away’

RSW: ‘Thanks for sending in your CV. So you’ve been teaching for a number of years?

Ah, this is the place which writes on their website that the majority of their teachers have 25 years of teaching experience….

‘Well I, um, should point out that I have had a total of around three years teaching experience, although much of this was obtained prior to my certificate, which I did at the beginning of last year. I’ve since taught at Dove UK, teaching a mixture of ESOL and TEFL, Santoor University ELT department – that was a pre -sessional, and I also did a summer school for Yardley International’

RSW: ‘Hmmm… and why did it take you so long to get your certificate?:

I mention something about money and other commitments making it difficult in the past, neglecting to mention any other career pursuits and how I should have done it fifteen years ago, at the same time thinking 'if I had then, Jesus, I’d really know all this grammar shit inside out by now, and might even have made my way up to become a ... Senior Teacher!'

There are a few questions more before RSW winds up by saying:

‘Well, it Miiighhht be worth you dropping by for a Chaaaattt. Are you free next week….?’

Arrangements are made. There will be a short ‘language task’. ‘Will that include phonology’ asks this Tefl footsoldier?

- No, No, No it’s a LANGUAGE task. I take it that phonology is not your strong point…

- I was just erm asking, as I’m looking to brush up on my IPA table. I think phonology is a very important part of…... ‘

- Hah…Ok…. Look forward to seeing you next Wednesday….


Sitting in the cafĂ©, inside the very plush Leather Imperial School, in leafy West London, I’m handed a series of sentences, which all include the word ‘have’. ‘Notice the words arrrrround the verb, says’ Richard Stanley Waite.

This place really contrasts with some of the other places I’ve visited in the last two weeks are. Going from the Pears School in Piccadilly to this place is like upgrading to a Bang & Olufsen audio system after using a 1985 Tandy combo, that is if both these were accredited by the British Council and all their engineers were paid less than their office juniors.

The more I peer at the ‘have’ sentences, the less like English they look. In the interview room, Richard Stanley Waite and his poker faced assistant grill me.

- Well the first one, ‘she has a new bar of Camay’, that’s the use of “have” to show possession in a simple present tense structure.

- …and how else could you say it?

- erm, ‘she’s got a new bar of Camay’

-And what’s that?

What does he mean, 'what’s that?' It’s another way of saying the same thing.

- What Strucccctttturrre is it ?

- Um, Present perfect

- Is it?

- Well it could be. ‘Got’ could be a past participle rather than an irregular past form.

- What would you say if a student demanded to know what structure it was?

- I’d say, ‘he’s got to get a new life’….. I’d consult Swan.

- What if Swan was missing from the teacher’s room?

- Erm, I’ll go for present simple.

- You don’t sound too sure. How about the next…. Item?

- ‘She’s had her back scrubbed’… well it seems to me this is um, a passive of sorts… she arranged for someone to scrub her back, she didn’t scrub her back herself…

- Now you say this is a passive. But what normally happens with a passive?

- The object becomes the main feature of the clause.

- But that’s not happening here is it?

- No, erm,……………….

Twenty long minutes later

They ask me whether I found teaching IELTS interesting. I say that I did. The assistant wants to know WHAT was interesting about it.

My mind goes utterly blank, seconds last for minutes, the more I try to think the less I can. What was interesting about teaching IELTS? What was interesting about teaching IELTS? Graphs ... dry language ... formulaic use of language for essay writing ... the annual quota of glycerine produced by countries – a predictive and intensive reading task ... Shit, I don’t know; what IS interesting about teaching IELTS……….?


I find a message from RSW on the mobile. ‘Could you give us a ring, to… catttccch up?’

Having just been for a wisdom tooth extraction, I don’t feel like talking too much, but I give him a call.

‘So how did YOU feel the interview went?’ he asks. I’m searching for the right dishonest word rather that doesn’t sound too much like Kevin Costner in ‘In Bed with Madonna. After the preamble he cuts to the chase:

- to be frank we felt your grasp of some of the language in the task to be, well ... shaky to say the least.

- OK

- We won’t be able to offer you anything

- OK

- Sorry to disappoint you

- That’s OK.

The post surgery dental pain overrides. His words are having no effect whatsoever.


vilges suola said...

'So how did YOU feel the interview went?' You are about to tell him he is not going to be hired, you pompous arse! Why ask?

Ozzy Osbourne said...

Imagine being interviewed by Ashley John Bertram Arnold and Paul Simon Lowe. Two cross-eyed, leering misfits with rancid vomit on their lips and the stench of moral decay hanging about their corpulent bodies.
'SSoo, yng man, w-w-why would you like to work here? N-n-no don't go just yet, my fine fellow. Have a look at these videos we enjoy soo much. Ho, ho yes.'

Amazingly, it was Sol who served the coffee at that very same table. Did she know? Did she turn a blind eye? Or was she part of it?

Mr Haddock said...

Obviously it is LSE, London School of English. I got asked the same questions there a few years back. Looks like they haven't got round to asking any new questions. Here are some they could try, using, of course their favourite verb: have.

1. Haven't you a clue how to interview a teacher?
2. Had you any experience before you you dreamt up that silly set of questions?
3. Would you had in your notice if I cut your salary in half?
4. John, where James had had had had had had had had had was correct. Punctuate like a moron.
5. Why not all piss off to the Have-lock pub down the road in Brook Green and get a life?

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Surely it CAN'T be the LSE, where I once spent a couple of summer months working my socks off back in the late 1990s?

All I recall of the place now is the awful IN YER FACE decor, and the obnoxious centre manager, who also had a double-barrelled name.

Could she possibly have been a relation of Mr Stanley-Waite? Judging by the apparent drivel he served up at the interview, it seems there's a common link, so it's all very probable!

Mr Haddock said...

OK.... to all of you out there looking for a job at LSE this summer. Just swot up on all uses of have as verb,auxiliary etc. eg have got/present perfect/causative... blah blah and tell them how much you like teaching Japanese students and probably in that case, how you love reading TOEIC books at bedtime.... and the job is all yours.

Mr Haddock said...

and tell that cunt, Henry Twefleton-Twat at LSE to stop trying so hard.... all that smooth casual gear, boots and rolled up shirt... we teachers don't think you are going to make a better employer, just a bigger twat.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

My, Mr Haddock - you do seem to be 'in the know' about LSE. Do you have any saucy stories to share? Please do...

King John said...

Please google

Paul Lowe Twitter

for a hilarious snapshot of the great man's frame of mind currently.

Priceless and cannot be parodied.

King John said...

That should be

PaulSLowe Twitter

And look at the 'cached' history on the Google listing.


Shaun Ryder said...

King John is right, iss written by a fookin' 'eadcase: "I continued my long defecation and looked with marginal interest at the turrets of Castle-Town Castle". Aye, Paul iss a story thass got everthin' lad: the misery memoir is dead, long live Shit 'n' Castle lit.

Lizzie Love said...

My partner's son is thinking of training to be an EFL teacher. Think I'd better warn him to read your blog first. Very funny by the way! (Incidentally, those payment rates on the right of your blog - they're surely not for real, are they??)

mr ian clarke said...

twattish school. I worked there once. Mind you twattish twat doesn't know his grammar

King John said...

The question of how much Sol knew or didn't know is complex. Now that Paul has revealed his true nature through his Twitter account - and this revelation must come as a shock to her - perhaps she will consider going to the police in the UK and giving her account of what has been going on? I think that would be wise.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Lizzie, those pay figures are NOT made up - they are for real! Which is not to say they're a joke, 'cos they are. You'll have to put your partner's sprog off the idea of even venturing anywhere near a private language school, even an FE college.

I would offer some good advice about becoming an estate agent, a traffic warden, or a council gardener - they all pay better than EFL teacher!

Tefl Shandy said...

Teach EFL in the UK? Don't make me laugh! Only a total plonker would do that. You can earn more money in Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan, both interesting places where the cost of living is much cheaper too!

Get yourself a life, you poor army of brainless fuckwits!!

Tyler said...

tradesman - you're a cunt.
What is wrong with ripping off employees? It is dog eat dog out there. Most companies will rip off their customers if they can.
It is this "entitled" generation who don't know what hard work is - they deserve to be shafted. Cunts

The Debt Collector said...

Tyler, it's so nuce to see you come over here and show us your true colours - a dirty Brazilian grey, I see.

Actually, if it's fair game to rip off the workers, then it's OK to try and give the bosses some grief too. Especially thieving cunts like you, Tyler!

? said...

I'm gonna break your heart and get away with murder...

Dr F Kim said...

Lizzie tell your partner son EFL is okay. Many friends do it in UK and it fun. Okay they live on granddaddy trust fund but efl pay for good pub crawl I see and they always have money to buy me drinks.

With my eu research money maybe I stay in UK in friend castle for a while and teach a little efl two.

Shaun Ryder said...

Here's a interestin' job with the British Coontsil:

Iss a bit of a 'eadfook though.
I mean wot sort of coont just applies fer a job in ANY fookin' country. No fookin' detail at all. Bunch of 'alf baked fookin' kiddy-diddlers, alkies and coonts I reckon.
"What would you say are your main weaknesses?"
"Bumming kids, morning vodka an' being such a fookin' arsewit that I'll just turn up anywhere in the world an' think I'm fookin' great"
"Did you go to public school?"
"Hic! hiccup! Yep!"
"You're in!"


Anonymous said...

better yet is a long-term contract demanding a certain wage [for a low-cost country, verbal agreement], and in the fine print for any country and send the teachers to tokyo, hongkong, no send them to dubai... and give them a high interest credit card there...

And then just simply DON't pay them. Then their parent can sell their houses, and their grandparents can sign over their pensions to get them out of debtors prison...

tyler said...

Yep I'm a thieving cunt - that's how I got rich and you're still down in the shit. Crap down there isn't it. Losers

Agent D said...

i think the paul lowe gag has run its course. far better to be putting collective efforts into dismantling the stinking excuse for a human who may or may not be 'tyler' (above) and sending him off to the knacker's yard.

don't you think sandy?

The TEFL Tradesman said...

As for 'Agent D' above, it's now clear that the 'D' stand for Double. So you've been stringing me along, eh? Retribution will not be swift, but definitely CRUEL!!

Actually, I detect the foul work of Dr Kim here. Could I possibly be mistaken?

ken said...

New visa regulations? Haven't heard such good news for a long time. You are all going to be unemployed or down to £5 an hour but you still won't have the work ethic to get a decent paying job.
Moan moan moan. Gen Y fuck off.
Just thank fuck you won't have to go to some shithole Arab country to get "decent" wages.
Wjat sort of work will SM do when he has to return. Tesco?
crap teaching job? unemployed? or retire at 60 in UAE hahaha

Paul O said...

I don't belong. I don't even begin to belong. Sleeping policemen (!) guard my progress along the boutique-strewn streets of this ancient-modern fortress. I avert mine eyes from the tattoo parlour and the shell-suited ingrates that dwell therein, sideways from me in spoace and time and who obviously have NOT attended a minor independent school (like me!) or been to Cambridge (like my brother!!)

Some jokes wear thin.

Other jokes are pure success, which makes people hail a taxi to see you over the finishing line, ever so glad to see you with a hearty 'I knew you'd do it' and a cheer.
conversely, failure is different and people simply avoid you.

Is it 4.15am yet??

dfk said...

Not me. I no Agent D. Too busy with mijn conceptuele Art.