Saturday, January 12, 2013
Connor the Conman
The man’s name is Ralph Connor, and his dodgy Tefl operation goes under the name of the Living Language Tree (http://www.livinglanguagetree.com/). He describes it as a “training organisation”, but in truth he is a solo operator who hires either his drinking partners or newly qualified TEFL teachers with no experience. Worse, he continues to hire people entirely without teaching qualifications to teach classes of teenagers ranging from 12 to 15 years old. He is unable to work with children in the UK, due to his previous conviction for drug offences. He has also hired teachers who have drug convictions and who are forbidden from teaching in the UK. His stable of teachers is very small and consists largely of his dubious “mates”.
His website is a master class in bullshit and spurious claims. He claims to represent a “community of experts”, and offers services like “specialist research” and “teacher training and voice coaching”. However, he is not qualified as a teacher trainer or a voice coach, and his only research tool is Wikipedia. He is not a specialist in any subject except the brewing industry.
He is hired to run English courses by a number of schools in Austria for children aged 12 to 16. These schools are in Klagenfurt (Bundesreal Gymnasium, Klagenfurt-Viktring, 9073 Klagenfurt-Viktring), Linz (BG/WRG Gymnasium, Kornerstrasse Linz) and Baden. You can find an example of his achievements with Austrian children here.
He has employed some very dubious individuals who have no TEFL qualifications at all. For instance, his website states that he provides filmmaking course, which is combined with TEFL instruction. When asked about this course and whom he had in mind as a teacher, Mr Connor confessed that the man he had in mind was a fellow drinking partner. When questioned further (he was quite drunk at that time, which is probably why it was so easy to extract these confessional details), he admitted that this drinking buddy had no TEFL qualifications. He said that he enjoyed employing him simply because “He’s got no qualifications. He likes a drink and he has a big personality.” Some of the inexperienced teachers he hires also feel coerced into going out drinking with him. He creates the impression that this is expected of them, and they feel he will not hire them again if they refuse.
Of course, being an alcoholic himself, Ralph Connor prefers to hire those who enjoy drinking. This is no surprise, as those who have had the misfortune of working for him will have seen him begin his drinking at 2pm and carry on until 5.30am on a school night. He will then proceed onwards to school reeking of alcohol and sleepwalk through the day until he can resume his binge. Those Teflers who are not similarly inclined will be swiftly dropped from his books. At least they can say that they have had close experience one of the hairier corners of the TEFL world.
He also purports to offer teacher training. This would be laughable, given such a delusional claim, if it wasn’t so infuriating and aggravating, because it is individuals such as Mr Ralph Connor who are responsible for driving down standards in the TEFL industry. Mr Connor does not have a DELTA, CELTA or a PGCE to back up such a claim.
English in Action (www.englishinaction.com) employed him for a number of years. He left their employ for reasons unknown, and his version of the matter changes depending on his audience. The head of English in the school in Linz later revealed that Mr Connor offered to undercut EIA and that is how he founded his so-called business. He poached his clients from EIA. I understand that EIA are still very unhappy with him over this.
So, there we go then. Does anybody else have experience of working with this most charming and talented Tefl leech, Mr Ralph Connor?