Can anyone realistically teach English?
Some people believe that every native English speaker is born with the ability to teach English. Unfortunately a high proportion of people with that belief appear to want to be teachers.
It's time to buy flowers again
Comparing a regular college graduation to the posh uni graduation I wrote about last year. As with all sequels it's the same but different.
Just filling space folks
Some extracts from previous week's columns, put together in my absence as I was too busy to write anything this week. Would have been better if they had actually taken good bits from the columns, mai pen rai.
Life in the fast lane revisited
An old one from last year, initially rejected on grounds on taste - dead kids don't go down well with the people in charge of the Nation Junior. Now finally sees the light of day rehashed
In front of the idiot's lantern
Taking a bit of TV from my youth and seeing how it would work here in Thailand. Also doubles as a biting social commentary on the effects of TV on a nation's youth - especially if you have a few beers before reading.
The alternative to the oscars
Having watched the Oscars and been suitable moved by Halle Berry's dress I decided it was high time for an awards ceremony for those unsung heroes of the education system i.e. the teachers. And so it came to pass that the inaugural Ajarnies came into being.
The sure sign of quality
The old ISO column from a year ago reared it's head again this week. Partly due to the paper receiving a few requests to have it reprinted (honest) and partly due to the Education Editor taking the weekend off to go to the music festival in Pattaya.
Loosely to do with education I suppose
Kids can learn a lot from their elders. Right from wrong. Good from bad. There is no God. Greed is good. The list goes on. Bullshitting is one art form that is also passed down through the generations. This week we have an example and also link it in a convoluted manner to something bordering on educational.
Living the vida loca
It's tough at the top but not as near as tough as it is where you are. As most people know being a 'dot.com' guy automatically ensure a life of luxury and riches beyond your wildest dreams. In response to this slightly exaggerated view I had several of my staff put together this week's column dispelling the myth.
Looking for jobs in the concrete jungle
There's been more comments recently about how hard it is to get a job. Part of the problem is the rather disinterested or negative attitude of some teachers who simply believe that it's their god given right to be able to land a dream teaching gig with minimal effort.
A column of two halves
Half of this column is about the government (Fight the Power) only because it's very hard to restrain myself from taking the piss when ideas such as combining a lottery with voting in a general election in an attempt to get the public to participate. The second half is a plug for the Diary pages on the website, thinly disguised as a defence of Jim's efforts which have come under attack from some do-gooders
Or are some commentators just being a tad hypocritical?
This pariah game show has had the blame for the decline of Thai social values in the last 20 years laid firmly at it's door - despite only appearing on TV screens a couple of weeks ago. Humiliation isn't part of the Thai way of doing things.
Still kicking the topic of teacher expectations around
A continuation of the previous weeks stuff. This time focusing on what and who the teacher can expect to be teaching and also the question of flithy lucre. What's in it for me?
Running a language school with no teachers
Running a school in an upcountry hamlet is not for the faint hearted. The main sticking point is how to attract teachers. Those already in Thailand are too savvy to leap at the "opportunity of a lifetime" however it's a different matter for those languishing abroad. A guide on how to use the internet to attract teachers to work in the back of beyond. Success guaranteed.
A more peculiar approach to discipline
Bizarre, but non painful, punishments were in the news and one particular teacher was in trouble. But at least she was thinking 'out of the box' ( and possibly out of her mind as well) A theory as to why no real changes in the field of teacher training take place.
Bizarre Thai student behavior
A slightly deep, for me at least, look into the psyche of learning. I begin by disecting the misonomer (or is it) " No one can teach anyone anything" and end up with a kid sticking his finger in a plug socket.
A real mixed bag
Loads of wierd stuff happening in the news during the last week or so. Kids speaking out of turn in front of the PM. Good news only on the radio and TV by government order. A business partner of the PM ( according to the Far Eastern Economic Review ) hugging his poodle on the front pages of newspapers . . . .wierd stuff is going on in this column too.
Yes, we know it needs to be done
How to keep the inspectors happy. With thoughts turning to end of semester inspections a 'cut out, memorise n' shred' Plan B for all you chalkies in Thai schools.
Seasons greetings to you all
It wouldn't be the same without the Primary school Nativity Play. Due to unknown deadlines this wasn't completed in time for last week's column. Better late than never.
A festive twist
As first seen last Easter (April 18). What's Xmas for if it's not for repeats. Repeats of movies, repeats of news, repeats of columns etc
Full marks for initiative but unfortunately zero for range of vocabulary
A treatise on the problems of learners not being able to find a suitable word amongst the millions that make up the English language and also a little word quiz for any of you with time on their hands
Slowly but surely gameshows are creeping into education
Making learning more fun by combining games shows & education. A few sugrestions for the future.
The Thai masterplan
Every week there are still stories about all things educational are going to change real soon now. A few comparisons with some notes about Victorian schooldays I found on the web. ( As you've guessed it's not easy thinking of stuff to write about every week.)
More from the cultural sensitivity files
An excuse for parents to shower their offspring with cuddly teddy bears and for the graduates to tart themselves up beyond all recognition . . . or is it? ( Actually it is and that's the idea behind this weeks ramblings)
Thoughts on a discussion forum
The ajarn.com board is pretty inane 80% of the time but how well does it compare to other TEFL boards. The results of an in-depth survey, as objective and relevent as a 30 minute session clicking on 'google'.com links can be.
Over the previous few months I’ve been accused of many things
The star of last week's LIBeL is still hounding me - a few more insightful questions from Dwight in NYC. Plus re-training hookers - Goodwill Bangkok, a charity based in, not surprisingly, Bangkok - offers free training courses for girls looking for a way out of the bar scene.
Dipping into the mailbag
I receive all sorts of emails from all over the world. The praise and the criticism I can accept - but the inane crap that some people write can be enough to drive you crazy. This week's column is a study of inanity.
Always read the small print
A not particularly accurate overview of the contracts offered to teachers in Thailand. Taken with a pinch of salt it might give you some ideas of what to expect.
And their role in language learning
My turn as an agony aunt for the masses. Compassion is just one of my many virtues.
The perils of freelance teaching
From the thrill of the chase and actually getting your first private student to the cancellations there's never a dull moment when your trapped in a living room with an 8 year old and her Chinese granny.
TEFL resources on the net
There are some great TEFL sites & homepages out there -however some people still insist on try too hard. This week a look at the TEFL research resources on the web.
Introducing this week's guest columnist
A guest column - the vast majority of which wasn't written by myself. All about the cultural differences Thai ajarns face upon going to and then returning from a western country to study
Whatever will Mom and Dad say?
Why do TEFL teachers have a bit of a dodgy image? Not only with their 'real' teacher counterparts but with society as a whole. I explore what it's like to come out and tell the world ( or a packed bar at least ) that your proud to be a TEFL teacher.
Knocked out in thirty minutes
Too long, too bitter, twisted, cynical and sarcastic to be included in a paper that has a few dozen Thai readers - so the newspaper version was edited quite a lot.
padding out your resume
'Teach', 'English',' Language' those magic words in cursive writing will work wonders for your job prospects. Were all TEFL courses created equally?
What is the degree daddy of them all?
Devaluation by degrees. In Thailand if you want any position higher than 'Assistant Photocoping Supervisor' then you now need an MBA. And the only thing that trumps an MBA is an 'International MBA' even if it was taken at the local agricultural college
Not quite rejection proof
Previously rejected on the grounds of dubious choice of material was watered down & published. Make up your own mind.
When Thai parents rule the roost
Another reference that will be oblivious to anyone who didn't grow up watching Blockbusters on ITV. What to expect when the exam grades of overfed kids don't reach parents' expectations. Someone has to take the blame
Keeping the teacher's pecker up
An insight into educational viagra (otherwise known as lesson plans) an idiots guide to keeping your boss & students satisfied by your performance under pressure.
There's one born every minute
A bit about how to sell language courses ( or anything else for that matter) to Thais
All the latest from Thailand's TEFL world
Quite a bit of sarcasm, cynicism and childish finger pointing this week - just for a change. Dodgy exams at a well known private uni, dodgy textbooks in schools and dodgy English in an American bank - so it's understandable that the emails of complaint centred on the botanical classification of the humble stringbean, isnt it?
Inspired by The Boss
Written a couple of months ago when listening to my Bruce Springsteen MP3 - 12 albums ( but no 'Born to Run' - on a CD for 100 Baht ) All about reinventing the past, how BKK transforms people - it's pretty deep stuff
(Dis) credit where it's due
To fill you in on the background, the PM is probably about to lose his job for failing disclose his assets - his main defence seems to be his secretary screwed up, he is also the Education Minister. The italic portions are taken from a Bangkok Post report.
Death by TV presenter
Channel surfing on a Saturday night. Banal VJ's exist in Thailand too. Not one of the better attempts but it's not easy thinking of borderline educational stuff every week
Investigative journalism at its very best
A true life tale of a school controlled by the Sud Efrikan mafia or something similar.
Close encounters of the British-American kind
Imagine being trapped in a lift with Freddie Kruger, double your fear and you'll know what it's like to be on the skytrain with a loud yank.
Comparing and contrasting cultural diversity
Comparing the ritual that is know as " Welcome Freshy time " by students in Thailand and "Freshers' week" by those in the UK.
What does the system all mean?
The average Thai student isn't going to make much of an impression on the IQ scale. I know uni students who boast about their 104 IQ because it's better than average. I hate to tell them most dolphin's IQs are higher. Not hard to see why E.Q. is so popular here.
At last a column with some substance
I'll sometimes throw in the odd 'substance heavy' column if I can't think of anything mildly humourous to say.
Shoes are polished and uniforms are in pristine condition
It's the first day back after the summer holidays, uniforms are donned and the ritual countdown to the first class of the new school year begins . . . begin
Are Thai MBA courses worth the money?
I'm friends with the ( Thai)Head of English at a Thai college which has just started an MBA program - it's a waste of money and she feels sorry for her students. That's what gave me the idea for this offering.
A trip down memory lane
For some reason I decided to see if my old school's had websites. Delight turned to disappointment when I discovered that their contents were less than riveting.
The incredible journey and how it all unfolded
A semi biographical tale of the journey from supermarket shelf stacker to respected teacher
Why I chose Thailand of all places
Stuck for something to write so a bit about myself - most of it true, figure out the embellishments for yourself
You know how Thais just love their gadgets
"How to get Thais reading something other than the manual for their new Nokia?" A rhetorical question answered by taking the humble book hi-tech.
JC's travels in Thailand
As part of the Easter celebrations - what if Jesus, one of the first teacher trainers, had visited Thailand?
Teachers are trained to watch for signs. There are many different signs the
Teachers' warning signs - ignore them at your peril. Cynical and negative - so no change there.
Travels in a far-off and less-travelled Asian country
Not originally intended as a LIBeL column. Too long, only 90% finished. Badly edited - still full of errors - when it appeared in the paper.
Those terrors of the staff-room
With apologies to Stan, who knows it's nothing personal. A few of the characters you're guaranteed to meet in a BKK language school.
Let's all have a good moan why don't we
Complaints from language school teachers. You've heard 'em all before I'm sure.
OK folks, stand by your beds
when ministry of Ed. dignitaries visit schools - strange things start happening i.e. classes are taught properly!
Returning to the topic of ISO numbers for a moment
Making the best use of those valuable school days - by cancelling classes in order to standardise students cheering ISO style.
Heading out into the great wide open
A users guide to what to expect when 130 pre-teens hit an out of season 3 star hotel.
What a school needs to do to get that treasured number
This seems to be the most popular column so far because many people have mentioned that they identify with it's sentiment.
The sheer joy of multiple choice
Over reliance in Thailand. All roads lead to a,b,c or d. When speaking to Thai students it's often best to give them a choice of 4 responses to each comment you make.
Entering into the dangerous world of fashion
Easy to do, been done before but this was my take on the theme