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Posts Tagged ‘ttt’

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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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.

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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… 🙂

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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??

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Now it is important to note that I am talking about grammar, nothing sexual. Thank you. It’s something that stumps most students, even quite advanced ones. I do remember when I trained as a TEFL teacher, the one thing that confused me was this ‘Active and Passive Voice’ malarky. But then, I’m not sure I was paying attention at the important times!

So what is it, and why is it confusing? Well have a look at the two sets of sentences below and see if you can work out the rules, without looking at them – I’ve put them below the cartoon!

  • a) The police arrested Baldwin and charged him with assault but a judge later acquitted him.
  • b) Baldwin was arrested and charged with assault, but he was later acquitted.

 

  • a) Paperazzi pursued Tom Cruise at high speed through the tunnel in Paris where a car crash killed Princess Diana.
  • b) Tom Cruise has been pursued at high speed through the tunnel in Paris where Princess Diana was killed.

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The rules? It’s simple really! To make a sentence passive (the second sentences) you swap the subject and object, insert the verb ‘to be’ in the correct form (or sometimes the verb ‘get’) before the verb, which you must ensure is now in Past Participle form and the use the preposition ‘by’ to introduce the ‘agent’. You may be able to omit the ‘agent’ (the police and the paparazzi) if the agent is unknown, unimportant, obvious or if you simply don’t want to identify the agent. Got that? 🙂

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