Coming home

It just ain't what it used to be

I remember what I told my family and friends before I left for Korea to teach English for the first time in the spring of 1997. I remember telling them about my biggest fear: To end up like everybody else. I didn't want to end up like everybody else. And what is everybody else?


The flame of hope

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.


What hope for a superficial education system?

The joys of being part of the system

Being a foreign teacher is again another superficial and costly exercise. They want to show you off like a new piece of gold jewelry or a good photograph. Relatively speaking it costs a lot to employ a foreign teacher in Thailand.


The TESOL diaspora

Making the outside world a home

I feel that the TESOL community, (if indeed there is such a thing as a TESOL community), is at a crossroads. Since so few of us have ever felt really comfortable living in another man's land, our story is not only one of alienation. It is also one of fragmentation, disillusion, and dissimulation.


My TEFL career

The ups and downs of over fifteen years 'in the game'

It's a been a long and often painful journey, but here's an account of 15 years in the Thailand TEFL business. My careers officer never once told me that it might turn out like this.


Teaching scams

Legendary scams, blacklists and the midnight run

I tested my marketability and checked the options available. My recently acquired TEFL certificate definitely opened up new opportunities. University job offers poured in from China, Japan, Latvia, Poland, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand.


I want your English and nothing more

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.


The madness to the methods

The often crazy world of teaching in Korea

Despite being sequestered on the furthest border of the Kumi frontier, nearly fifteen miles away from the closest foreign teacher, I am still surrounded by hagwon mania. These private schools are everywhere. Due to all this severe competition, schools habitually search for new angles to draw in students. At times the teaching methods advocated are only passing fads and cheap gimmicks.


Boredom in the ESL classroom

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.


Never mind fluency

Here comes the grammar teacher

I think it is quite absurd to reward students who are good at cramming grammar rules – and may not be fluent at all – and punish students who can speak English fairly well but aren’t very accurate. English is a language. The main purpose of a language is communication.


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