Posts Tagged ‘mexico’


Just over two years ago, I put this site/blog to one side. My career as an English teacher in Mexico had ended. What more did I have to say on the subject? I had new projects to explore and develop. But life often works in circles and very soon I will be returning to Mexico, resuming my interrupted career as a TEFLing toe rag in Tacolandia. So it’s time to breathe new life into this corner of the web and continue where I left off.

I have a number of plans for this blog. Shortly, I will be placing it with a new host, with a brand new sparkling template and its own proper domain name. I shall expand it – I have lots of ideas including lesson plans, online lessons and plenty of useful resources for students and teachers alike. Bits and pieces on TELFing and life abroad teaching English. I also aim to be a little more Latin America centric, although Mexico will remain the prime focus. A Facebook Page to accompany it? Maybe. But most of all, I’m looking forward to posting regular articles, exploring and poking fun at language. The English language in particular.

Did you previously read this blog? Was the RSS feed still in your Google Reader list? Welcome back. A first time reader? Just a plain old welcome for you.

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Septic Tanks

The most oft asked question for a Brit teaching English in Mexico City is….what’s the difference between British English and American English? The answer I give depends largely on my mood at that moment. Perhaps I’m feeling like a smug, superior little Englander, in which case I’ll tell them that the difference is we Brits speak English.

Or perhaps I’m in a humble, post empire mood, in which case I’ll tell them that British English is now the junior partner in this global language of ours. I might even go further with the junior partner argument. But no, I’m simply not qualified, nor was my education expensive enough, to be able to argue with a man of such high post as the Prime Minister of the UK.

If I’m not being daft, I’ll simply tell them that the Americans have made some obvious improvements to the spelling of the language, such as removing the random ‘u’ in many words. Humor, not humour. I may suggest that American English is the older variety of the two. And that American accents are generally milder than the many British variants. Some of which are so coarse and unintelligible as to leave the impression you’ve just been conversing with a drunk caveman.

The common use vocabulary is essentially the same, with just the occasional word tripping us up. Brits were mystified when Ronald Reagan described Libya’s Colonol Gaddafi as flakey. Did we hear right? The US just bombed Libya because their leader has some sort of skin ailment? Us Brits need to be even more careful when over the other side of the pond. Declaring that you wouldn’t mind a fag would raise a few eyebrows. In certain parts of the bible belt, it might cause a raised shotgun and request to leave the premises.

But really these are all minor differences, of the sort which exist not only between the two nations, but within the borders of each country. The real difference? I’m inclined to believe that British English is so much more fun. This may, of course, simply be my British bias, and because I’ve been exposed to British English just that little bit more. But British slang seems so much more random, mystifying and varied. Cockney Rhyming slang has no equal. British slang also tends to have a little more wit to it. Of course, this is all entirely subjective opinion. The septic tanks may beg to differ. Wankers… 🙂

There’s more subjective opinion on this weeks Americana podcast by the BBC, which is always a good show, and will explain my expletive at the end of the previous paragraph. It’s too good a word to let pass by without use. You can use on friends in jest, or non friends to offend. You should probably assume that I’m using it in the former.  This weeks episode, Big Cities and Small Towns features just a little bit of slang based audio journalism at the end, which I’ve posted below.

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Everyone fancies packing their bags and wandering off to live in another country at some stage in their lives. I’m pretty sure for a lot of the good citizens of the UK that ‘stage of life’ starts at around 10 years of age and continues until the 80th birthday. Or death. Whichever comes sooner.

How easy is it? Really, it’s very easy. You just save a bit of cash, pack your bags, buy a plane ticket, get on plane, get off plane, book into a hostel or somewhere cheap until you get more permanent digs. Arrange to do a TEFL course with a reputable provider, and providing you have a little savvy and aren’t completely illiterate….voila. You’ve done it.

Don’t read too much into the negative stuff you find on the web, and don’t worry yourself too much about the tales of red tape that accompanies virtually every online forum you’ll stumble across. Corruption is everywhere, and as a result, you’ll be able to work a way round the bureaucratic mess.

For Mexico I highly recommend Teachers Latin America. It’s run by a guy called Guy. Which is a good introduction to homophones – he should use it more often as an intro to the world of grammar. Maybe he does, and I missed it when I did the TEFL course. Book a course with him and let me know. He’s a helpful chap anyway, and will guide you through the maze of accomodation, employment and socializing as well as how to actually pass on your native language skills to Mexican students.

Letters of recommendation are cheap and easy. I could waffle on about the merits of the course material etc. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. I took the course just over five years ago, and I’m still here, still teaching English, and still in touch with Guy. And happy enough to write up a recommendation once in a while.

This time, the ‘post of recommendation’ is to celebrate the unveiling of his new website – which was long overdue! Although I shouldn’t poke fun, seeing as I did offer to help design a new one about a year or so ago and never got round to it. He’s also (re)starting a blog. He had a pretty good one that died a couple of years ago at the hands of some unruly Terror Bytes, but hopefully this one will stay the distance!

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