what foreign teachers don't want to hear
Many foreign teachers forget that they're not in Kansas anymore, and demand that their hosts adapt to them rather than trying to find a middle-ground where a reasonable compromise can be reached. If many foreign teachers are the problem, (and they are), then they are also the solution.
The optimistic goodbye and our living legacy
I've had some great times in Asia, especially Thailand. Times I will never forget. But when it's time to leave, it's time to leave. And we all know when it's time.
Touch their hearts and their minds will follow
Let's leave the academic stuff to Thais. Leave all of this pedagogical, impersonal, pompous-ass, Ivy-league, academic mumbo-jumbo for their own people. As westerners, let's teach them some real English.
Human beings first, English teachers second
Most of the students marched lockstep into the manager's office and demanded another teacher. Fair enough. I stepped aside. Was I ready for the seriousness of this class? Absolutely not. I had absolutely no intention of treating this class, or any writing class, with the seriousness that the students demanded. I am a human being first, an ESL teacher second.
What every teacher, student and administrator should know
When I hear of students complaining that they're bored, my first response, at least to myself is, "So?" My next response is, "I really don't care." Which is true. I can't see why I should. I can't see why anybody should care. Education is the solution to boredom. Education offers opportunities for the student that staying ignorant doesn't. It's that simple.
ESL ghosts of the past
There's been so many bad experiences, I don't know where to start. Forget the times I was ripped off hundreds of dollars from unscrupulous Korean hagwon owners and Taiwanese recruiters. That might take too long and it's another column entirely. I'm still trying to forget the time when one of the nine million Mr. Kims barged into my class and, in front of the students, told me in Korean what a horrible teacher I was.
Hey teacher, leave those kids alone
I'm learning that ESL teaching is a useless endeavor unless there's a special student in your class. Someone who makes you care and feel. I'm learning that a wall around you, although useful at strategic times, is dangerous when students are relying on you to connect with them and deliver "the goods."
ESL teachers as linguistic imperialists and neo-colonialists
ESL teachers should be viewed as mentors and heroes, selflessly taking the time to improve the lives of our students. People like Julian Edge and Larry Smith should be ashamed of themselves. They spit in the face of every dedicated ESL teacher.
Universal applications of ESL teaching approaches and methods
For those of us who have taught ESL in at least three of four different countries realize a major problem. All ESL teaching is local. What works in Thailand can get you fired in Korea. I know that from experience.
Don't listen to those barstool experts!
Having been warned-- or advised-- that appearance is very important here in Thailand, (just as important as Japan, Korea, or Taiwan I suppose), I set out on job interviews. Most of the advice for teachers on the Thailand websites struck me as either superficial or downright absurd.