Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sandy's Alternative Guide to EFL Conference Protocol

Go on - admit it. You went, didn't you. And it was twice as dreadful as they told you it would be - wasn't it! Well, you've only got yourself to blame, intcha, eh? Next time, pay attention to Sandy, right...?

So what in Judge Dread's name am I waffling about this time? Well, that Tefl conference that took place recently in Harrogate - yes, fuggin' Harrogate, of all places! I mean, if I could think of a place that conjures up visions of premature death through chronic boredom, it just has to be Harrogate. I bet even the old biddies snort crack up there, the place is so dull.

Anyway, just so that you don't get caught out again next year, here's Sandy's Alternative Guide to Tefl Conferences. Even if you do get the short straw next time, following this advice will entail your being remembered as a true Tefl hero and odd-ball for a good while - or at least until the next conference, anyway. More importantly, I can guarantee that you'll NEVER be sent to attend an EFL conference again, unless your employer wants his humble language school to suffer the same sort of very public shaming and professional humiliation twice.

First and foremost is the dress code. Never EVER attend in a suit or even dressed in smart-casual mode, as this will announce to all the Tefl world that you are but another saddo who couldn't get a job in management at Tesco's and chose the tacky Tefl path instead. And anoraks don't really belong to the 21st century, do they, so that option's out too. Fancy dress, as in the piccy above, could be an option, but you might be thought of as a mere eccentric, rather then the weirdo that you truly are.

No, you need to think 'MAXIMUM IMPACT', which typically involves having large amounts of nose-rings on show, cheesy henna tattooes on your arms, and plenty of spotty flesh on display. Nipple piercings are an option, but best left for the post conference bash at the pub, when you do your Lisa Minelli impressions on the pool table. Of course, the sort of attire that accompanies these shenanigans is the loose-fitting beach variety, so stock up on flip-flops and speedo shorts, with one of those luminous singlets with the number 69 on it in broad type. There, you look like a true Tefl conference hero now!

But clothes alone do not the Tefler make, so it's important to adopt the required behavioural patterns of the determined conference clone - right?! I mean, you want to be absolutely sure of making the desired impression, so make sure that you always sit right at the very front of every session that you attend. Smile inanely like some old duffer on medication, wink knowingly at the presenter, just to make her/him feel extra nervous, and scratch your nether regions frequently.

Then, in order to cause maximum discomfort and annoyance to each speaker, laugh at the wrong moments, especially the most inappropriate ones. If you feel your attention slipping, start playing with the ring-tones on your phone, at full volume of course, and then stand up and apologise profusely and loudly to everybody present. Sit down with a loud fart, and then stand up and apologise again. Then sit down again slowly and start fishing in your bag for a sandwich or a sausage roll - which you naturally offer to your neighbour first. Pick out your toe-jam with a tooth-pick, and flick the stick at the presenter, just to show your appreciation.

Interrupting and asking stupid questions will make it very clear that you haven't understood a single word of the presenter's codswallop, and will annoy your fellow Teflers immensely. Feel the ripples of discomfort pulsate with agonising predictability as you butt in with "But didn't Krashen write Headway?" or "Yeah, that Vygotsky guy - didn't he give a presentation here last year?".

Another important thing to bear in mind is that food is often supplied free at some stage of the conference, so make sure you bring enough doggy-bags with you. Even if the grub is not free of charge, just lurch up to unsuspecting diners and shout "Are you gonna eat that last little sausage?" while waving your grubby little doggy bag at them. You'll be surprised at the responses you get, I can assure you.

When you get back to your school and go through the tiresome rigmarole of a 'cascade session' with your colleagues - the lucky ones who didn't get forced to go - create a presentation to remember. Show them your colourful and carefully correlated pie-charts full of simplified regression analysis relating to the number of 'erm' and 'um' utterances you heard. They'll be truly impressed - especially your boss.

I kid you not - you'll NEVER get asked (or told) to attend another Tefl conference in your life. And that just HAS to be good news, eh!?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah, I thought I recognised you there, Sandy!

vilges suola said...

I went to two in the UK in the 80s. Total waste of time. There was fuck all to say then. What the hell could there be left to say now?

Nye Bevan said...

Sandy, does this mean that you secretly walk among the Teflers at Harrogate, or is it another ruse to put us off the scent, like the Kazakh caper?

If you think Harrogate's bad, the windswept campus of Exeter University two years ago was pretty grim too. There was a pathetic excuse for a party, in which Macmillan publishing's female staff dressed up as schoolgirls, but don't get too excited, as the party came to a juddering halt at NINE-THIRTY.

All power to Adrian Underhill though, rocking on the dance floor with a balloon tied to him, and to the WELSH as a Foreign Language teachers from Cardiff who'd come along to pick up methodology tips from the Teflers and also to show them how to have a good time.

BTW, you forgot to mention teachery leather elbow patches on the 20-year-old jacket.

Anonymous said...

Our intelligence indicates that Mr McManus frequently presents at conferences and has produced a number of textbooks from which he profits greatly.

This blog is a scam. It's just Mr M's split personality popping through as he is riddled with guilt.

Unfortunately the real Mr M who is an enthusiastic presenter has no idea that he is also Mr M.

Now as you attend the high-profile conferences, look closely at your presenter... he may be Mr M and not be aware of this. But we have heard he slips with certain specific SM keywords. So do your analyses great teachers of English!

nick said...

Is there much shagging going on at these conferences. I in my shame have been to several but just drank.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Nick, there's usually LOTS of shagging going on at these conferences - why d'you think they're so popular amongst the nerdy Tefler community? It's the only way they can get their leg over for some of these guys.

In your case, though, I wouldn't bother. Clearly, when it comes to finding a shagpal, you'd be right at the bottom of the heap - or under the table, I guess. Stick to leering at your horny Brazilian students, mate...

Anonymous said...

this one is a fuckin classic!

"Then, in order to cause maximum discomfort and annoyance to each speaker, laugh at the wrong moments, especially the most inappropriate ones. If you feel your attention slipping, start playing with the ring-tones on your phone, at full volume of course, and then stand up and apologise profusely and loudly to everybody present. Sit down with a loud fart, and then stand up and apologise again. Then sit down again slowly and start fishing in your bag for a sandwich or a sausage roll - which you naturally offer to your neighbour first. Pick out your toe-jam with a tooth-pick, and flick the stick at the presenter, just to show your appreciation."

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Glad you liked it, er, mate. At least, I think you liked it. That subtle irony goes right over my head sometimes...