Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I managed to get myself interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday. I don’t know why I did it really. I don’t have a ‘Made For Radio’ voice, nor did I have anything original to really add to what’s already out there. And what I had got in mind to say, was said by the BBC correspondent who was interviewed directly before me! Such is life.

I guess I did it firstly because the Beeb asked me, having been pointed in my direction by a Guy, a friend and fellow TEFLer in Mexico City. And because every other blogger was being interviewed and I was feeling left out…! If you are interested in hearing what little I had to say, you just need to click on the Listen Again button for Friday on the Stephen Nolan show webpage. You need RealPlayer on your PC, I’m afraid, and you’ll want to navigate to about 1 hour and 11 minutes into the show.

Otherwise, what to say about today? Quiet again. I had hoped to see Popo and Izta from my class on the 5th floor of an office block this afternoon. They did appear on the horizon back at Christmas when reduced traffic allowed the smog to lift temporarily. But no such luck today. The pollution hasn’t cleared enough. Apparently the program than bans certain cars from being driven on certain days has been suspended to encourage people to stay off the metro and microbuses. Although having a few more bangers on the street can’t be solely responsible.

I also noticed that there are far, far fewer people wearing face masks today. I can’t offer any hard figures based on a scientific survey, but I would say that 50% plus of the population were wearing facemasks on Wednesday. Today, maybe 20%. Why? Well I think a lot of people are fed up of having elasticated masks over their faces now. There are more and more reports hitting the headlines saying that the Swine Flu is actually quite mild and the deaths attributed to it are being drastically reduced. And it has to be said that there is also now a severe shortage of face masks.

But overall….life is getting boring! The sooner this is over the better! When will that be? It’s hard to say, but I imagine a lot of restrictions which were put into place to run up to May 6th will indeed cease to exist.

Photobucket

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

ELTWorld Job Site

Last month I wrote a post ‘Good Dave, Bad Dave’, which told of the nefarious goings on at a famous ESL/TEFL website. And of a new(ish) site set up for the disaffected, disenchanted and disenfranchised!

ELTWorld.net has gone one further from simply offering a forum, and now offers a full TEFL jobs site, free to use for both advertisers and job hunters. Which beats forking out US$75 that Bad Dave requests. Whether you are after ESL jobs in Mexico or ESL jobs Korea they should soon have something for every job hunter.

I certainly hope they succeed and hit Bad Dave where it hurts – his pocket! He’s already lost a huge chunk of his long term community members, including very recently six year member and TEFL Mexico expert Guy Courchesne. Bad Dave’s loss, Good Dave’s gain. It’ll take a little while to get into full swing I expect, but it has lots going for it – namely a growing community of people who have been ‘living the TEFL dream’ and have lots of experience to share.

Photobucket

Read Full Post »

Good Dave, Bad Dave

Yesterday I managed to get myself banned from the most popular ESL/TEFL forum on the internet! Was I terribly naughty? Not really. Maybe a little, but only a little. And I won’t lose any sleep over it. Dave’s ESL Cafe has for many years been the place to go for help and advice regards anything TEFL related, and also for anything about moving to, living in or travelling through pretty much any country you care to name. It’s really nothing more than a large community of people who take the time to share their knowledge and experiences, and to keep in touch with the forever evolving world of TEFL.

But the forum has long been a centre of controversy, for quite a number of reasons. The owner, Dave Sperling makes a fortune out of adverts on the site. A lot of people have been allegedly upset, on a regular basis, because he accepts adverts from companies who are well known for poor business practices/unethical business models/ripping off newbie TEFLers and even, so I’m told, out and out fraudsters.

What upsets people even more is that he has a team of moderators who clamp down hard on any sign of dissent. Want to warn a new TEFLer against going to work for a certain company who advertises on Dave’s? Your advice will be deleted, and you’ll probably be banned. Want to raise a question about Dave’s forum which could be construed in even a slightly negative way? Delete and ban. Think Dave could improve an aspect of his site’s moderation policy? Don’t post it – delete and ban!

My sin? Well. I’ll come to it. There was one particular user on the Mexico forum who posted a plethora of links over quite a period of time. He wouldn’t usually actually contribute his own thoughts or opinions. Just a grim headline, followed by a link to a story. All of them negative, all of them rather pointless, and most of them sourced from some very questionable news outlets. For example, a Conservative Christian movement in Texas. Nice. Every story was about murder, drugs, beheadings, economic doom, crime gloom. “Don’t look now, but Mexico is collapsing” being a recent one.

It has to be said there are plenty of negative things to write about regards Mexico. And the better members do cover them. But this member in particular doesn’t seem to understand how a forum works. It’s a place to share your own opinions and stories. What he did would be called spamming. At best. Trolling, at worst. What he is doing still living in Mexico City when he’s clearly so terrified of the place is unclear. He sure does need to grow up though.

I have never been a prolific poster on Dave’s. Largely because of the aggressive censorship and unethical practices that I observed or heard about. A couple of posts a month was my limit. I don’t expect to find absolute freedom of speech anywhere. It doesn’t exist. But you hope not to find the kind of fascist style censorship that is employed there.

After the latest string of one line doom threads by the contributor in question, I thought I’d play the same game. I posted three new threads. “Mexico – sunny weather expected on Tuesday” was one, with a link to a weather site. “Postcard sent from Mexico – arrives safely!” was another, linking to a picture of a postcard. “A photograph of a man in Mexico – not beheaded”, linking to a photo of a chap in Mexico, who clearly still had his head attached to his torso. That was all too much for the moderator, one would presume Mr Kalgukshi, who promptly banned me! I have to say I rather expected it, and didn’t much care.

But Dave’s Cafe is missing the point, and whilst I am sure it’ll be the top dog in the TEFL world for some time to come, it probably won’t last forever with it’s current policies in place. Their current ethos is all about getting in revenue, with the community seemingly considered an incidental annoyance to be barely tolerated. The thing is, without that community, Dave’s income will shrivel up and disappear.

I’m not the only one to be banned. One of the biggest contributors to their forums, of many years standing, was also today banned. That will be their loss, not his. And a big loss. His crime? As I understand it, he started a thread, now deleted, complaining that I had been banned. Another thread started a few hours ago simply titled ‘Goodbye Gary’ with a ‘will miss you’ type message, but not mentioning the word ban or anything else, has also been deleted.

So goodbye to Dave’s from me, and he, and many others. Some time ago a rival forum was set up to accommodate the banned, the disaffected and the unruly! I hope it takes off. It’s still a young site but growing. I will take my contributions over there full time. Where to find it? By clicking this link – Dave’s ESL Cafe. I know what you’re thinking. The link I gave has the name of the old site. Indeed it does. But it links to the rival. If enough people did this, the term Dave’s ESL Cafe will point to David’s ELT World in the first page of Google’s search engine. Yes, I also know I’m petty! But I have a few other tricks up my sleeve. Because I’m a little bit twisted too… 🙂

Photobucket

Read Full Post »

The Laughing Coyote School

I regularly browse through TEFL related sites and come across many strange stories. But rarely do I come across one this bizarre. It goes without saying there are plenty of good English schools in Mexico. And plenty of bad ones. And then there is the Laughing Coyote School of Nayarit. It doesn’t seem to have the best of reputations in the TEFL community!

I could easily form an opinion based on the things being said about the school by former teachers. “American teaches should avoid this school at all costs! The living conditions during training are terrible at the Nayarit school and you are required to teach 20-30 hours per week for free.” by Reportero. “Am also a Laughing Coyote survivor. Would not do it again in this or a future lifetime.” was posted on Dave’s ESL Cafe.

Along with comments which would suggest the honesty and even sanity of the owners leaves something to be desired….”Once he started talking about being related to William Travis and cousin to George Washington, I started to disbelieve every thing he said” and “ I was right, saying that insane doesn’t do her justice. Her gall, continual lying and failure to face reality is astounding…..Paloma’s truly a crazy, and yes ( you were right ) evil, bitch who belongs in a padded cell !!!

It’s hardly flattering stuff, is it! And these opinions do seem to be supported by the majority of posters on the net. With the exception of some, who do appear to be the same person posting under different names. But with the same grammatical and spelling errors. The owner of the school, one would presume. Which in itself is a bad marketing tactic. But the real meat of this story is to come. A visit to their website is in order!

Photobucket

They, rather uniquely, have set up a Black List on their web site, purportedly to advise other schools as to the unsuitability of teachers they have employed. A Black List with names….and sins! So what sort of people have they been employing? Well Christopher was guilty of pornography, having an intimate relationship with a student and destruction of property. Ok, well sounds plausible, I guess. Not every teacher is a saint. Let’s move on. Dicky has also been nailing a student, it seems, along with excess booze and drug use. And he stole. Bad boy!

Alexander has moral issues. But now for my favourite, Nicole, with her radical muslim views, her sleep disorder, psychological issues and obssessive compulsive behaviour. But wait – that’s not all. She’s also a pathological liar, and bi-polar. She sounds the best! But there are other good ones to come! Travis has emotional disorders and knocked a girl up, whilst James has ‘mental disorder memory disease’. No, I’m not making that up! Did this school have a resident psychiatrist evaluating these people as they left?!

John has moral and integrity issues as well as a liking for underage porn, a theme which continues from James who also had pedophile links in Asia. Or so they claim. Bob and Fiona also had a selection of phone related issues, emotional problems and the like. But they’re not as special as Todd. He put cocaine on candies and handed them to kids, brought prostitutes to school, used drugs, and caused major destruction of two schools. Way to go Todd! and all of them, virtually, stole stuff! And they have tapes to prove it – which would perhaps cast greater doubt on the school’s integrity than the teachers.

Now, this is only my opinion. But it seems to me that this school has a serious issue with former teachers reporting negative stories about them within the TEFL community. Revenge can be sweet, I know. And it is best served cold. But when it’s served in such a blatant and ridiculous manner as the Laughing School have attempted to do, it just induces further ridicule and  derision, and justifiably so.

Still I thank them, for they made me laugh today! As it’s New Year I will kindly offer some personal guidance on remedying the situation. If the owners do have sanity issues, seek help. Operate the school in a professional manner. Deal with complaints like adults. Then they will find that there are teachers who will report positive stories about them, will stay long term and help them to run a successful business.

UPDATE:

I today had an email forwarded to me from someone who had been in contact with the Laughing Coyote School:

Thank you for your courage and discretion. Under no circumstance will your name or email or even a mention of you be exposed in any way. As a school, the owners have never participated in any blogs or any gossip of any kind on the internet. This black list is truthful, and accurate. We do not send the documentation, photos, video, or witnesses to anyone for protection of their identities and respect to families and protection of their privacy. If you know where one of these teachers are, we will be happy to turn the information over to the proper authorities to deal with the situation. 

I want you to think about something. Why would a school put a black list up, and show the candidates unethical behavior to make the school look bad? Because there is something more important to us than “looking bad” or “appearances”. Our reputation is not near as important as the safety of our students, families and staff. It is our duty, to expose in unethical behavior of any kind by anyone who is trying to be or pose as a teacher. Anyone who feels that this is unique, is quite wrong. These situations go on all over the world, but, the schools do not expose or say anything because of their need to protect their reputation. A reputation something that feeds the ego, truth feeds the soul. IN the end, only one leaves this world with you that has any value.
  

These teachers (candidates) are guilty, and it is up to them to prove their innocence. We have no problem waking up every morning and liking what we see in the mirror. No one can walk in our shoes but us. If one of these teachers goes to another school, and does the same thing, by stealing, drugs, intimate relations with a student, or child molestation, and we did not warn the public, and schools of what we know, then we are just as guilty of the crime that they commit. IF our black list saves just one child, or one family of suffering and pain, then I  have done my job as a human being.
  

What you decide is up to you. Either way it is your own personal choice. Whatever you decide we respect what you are considering. 

The sections in bold are my doing. Never gossip on the internet? I think most people who have followed this will believe that to be a blatant lie. They don’t send the evidence? Well their web site doesn’t explicitly say they will, but it does imply as much. What about the reward? That is an offer that seems to have dissolved when it came to the crunch. The teachers are guilty until they prove their innocence? They claim to be proud Americans….their pride doesn’t seem to extend to the principles of american law, upon which the country is founded.

So in short, no evidence, no reward, no understanding of the concept of justice. There are many sentiments in their email that I don’t disagree with. However, when read in context with what is known of them and the teachers in question, I would suggest to the LCS that at this moment in time, they have quite some way to go to ‘prove their innocence’.

UPDATE 2: 

I have also found an email allegedly written by the owner of the LCSE, via This Guy Is Teaching Abroad, posted on a blog which seems like it may be a little bit hostile towards those folks down at the Laughing Coyote School. An except…

When I find you, hell will look like heaven, and now Im not alone. YOU are a wanted man, and BUBA is waiting for you, but only after the Mexican law gets done with you, and that will make state prison look like Disneyland. IF you make it to the jail. Here or the USA, you are wanted, and your crimes are now federal. GET out of my COUNTRY, or you will never have another chance to see the light of day in your country. Im on your tail, and you will not see me coming but you will know when I have arrived, because the pain you have caused will go back to you 10 time fold. NO deals, too late. Anything goes. I WILL FIND YOU!!

In summary, Pablo believes this teacher to be full of hate, evil and sin. Unlike himself. Even though he seems intent on hunting down, torturing and killing the teacher concerned. Words fail me.

Photobucket

Read Full Post »

TEFL Tips – Expectations

I’ve posted this sort of info before, but it was a while ago, and worth expanding on. I’ve posted a few tips to give an idea of what is involved in being a TEFL teacher, but this one is a key one for Business English teachers! How much work, how much pay? Expectations are often higher than reality. Obviously if you choose to work in a school, this won’t apply quite so much. But for a teacher who chooses to go from company to company plying his or her trade, it can take a while to build up a full set of classes, and even longer before you build up a full set near your home at a rate of pay that you (learn to!) like. I got there after about 18 months I guess. I could have gotten there earlier, but I was largely happy bumbling along. A few hard facts though – when you start out, you’ll have to take any job you can get. Right now I’m not interested in travelling anywhere that’s more than 30 minutes from home, for anything less than 180 pesos an hour. Preferably 200 pesos or more. When I started (and if my circumstances change tomorrow…) I took jobs that involved travelling 2 hours there, 90 minutes of class and 2 hours back – for 90 pesos an hour. I think most jobs should pay 120 pesos an hour now though. But that was hard work. Having so much time taken up in travelling also meant I could only do the one class in the evening. You’ve also got to accept that your classes are going to mean early mornings (7am to 9am) and fairly late evenings (5pm to 8pm). So no, it doesn’t always help you keep an active weekday social life!

Photobucket

I keep an office document which calculates a load of data regards my work and pay, and fills out a monthly chart for me. If you want to know what is possible, with a little time, a little networking, and a little luck, here it is. January was pretty good for me, considering I has no classes at all for the first week. A total of 68 hours earned me 11,409 pesos – an hourly rate of 168 pesos. That hourly rate is a little low this month, because I have 2 classes I don’t charge so much for. They had no cancellations, the high payers had plenty! I lost about 20% of my earnings to cancellations and spent 118 hours travelling.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read Full Post »

TEFL Tips – Expectations

I’ve posted this sort of info before, but it was a while ago, and worth expanding on. I’ve posted a few tips to give an idea of what is involved in being a TEFL teacher, but this one is a key one for Business English teachers! How much work, how much pay? Expectations are often higher than reality. Obviously if you choose to work in a school, this won’t apply quite so much. But for a teacher who chooses to go from company to company plying his or her trade, it can take a while to build up a full set of classes, and even longer before you build up a full set near your home at a rate of pay that you (learn to!) like. I got there after about 18 months I guess. I could have gotten there earlier, but I was largely happy bumbling along. A few hard facts though – when you start out, you’ll have to take any job you can get. Right now I’m not interested in travelling anywhere that’s more than 30 minutes from home, for anything less than 180 pesos an hour. Preferably 200 pesos or more. When I started (and if my circumstances change tomorrow…) I took jobs that involved travelling 2 hours there, 90 minutes of class and 2 hours back – for 90 pesos an hour. I think most jobs should pay 120 pesos an hour now though. But that was hard work. Having so much time taken up in travelling also meant I could only do the one class in the evening. You’ve also got to accept that your classes are going to mean early mornings (7am to 9am) and fairly late evenings (5pm to 8pm). So no, it doesn’t always help you keep an active weekday social life!

Photobucket

I keep an office document which calculates a load of data regards my work and pay, and fills out a monthly chart for me. If you want to know what is possible, with a little time, a little networking, and a little luck, here it is. January was pretty good for me, considering I has no classes at all for the first week. A total of 68 hours earned me 11,409 pesos – an hourly rate of 168 pesos. That hourly rate is a little low this month, because I have 2 classes I don’t charge so much for. They had no cancellations, the high payers had plenty! I lost about 20% of my earnings to cancellations and spent 118 hours travelling.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read Full Post »

TEFL Tips – Gerunds

What’s a gerund you might ask? It’s a word ending in -ing. Swimming, running, smoking…etc! What’s difficult about it? Well of course it seems obvious when to use a gerund when you are a native english speaker. More complicated it is when you don’t! It isn’t always called a gerund for starters. There are three common uses of the gerund.

  • In continuous tenses – I am running. I have been running. I had been running. I will be running.
  • Whenever a verb follows a preposition – Complete this form by signing youe name at the bottom.
  • When following a normal verb. I enjoy listening to music.

That last one is tricky. When you have two verbs together, the first verb is conjugated into the correct tense. The second verb will either take the base form (be), the infinitive form (to be) or the gerund (being). How do you work out which one? The base form is easy – that follows a modal verb (can, could, would, must, shall etc.) Some verbs must be followed by the infinitive (you can’t say “I want working at Wal*Mart”) whilst some must be followed by a gerund. Some verbs can take either form with no change of meaning (commonly, emotion verbs – “I love to watch TV in the evening” and “I love wathing TV in the evening” are both fine) whilst a few verbs can take both forms after them, but with a change of meaning. “I stopped to smoke” means something very different to “I stopped smoking”

Have I got any sympathy out of you yet for the poor English students of the world??

cartoon.jpg

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »