You will always be an outsider

The dark underbelly of the Thailand TEFL industry

These questions lead to the dark underbelly of Thailand’s EFL industry. Let’s face it: the cowboys have invaded and they’re here to stay. Many English teachers are tourists who only want to extend travel by getting a quick paycheck. Some are fly-by-night sex-pats who have run out of cash. Many English teachers are fleeing a criminal past, or hiding from life back home.


Cheats and copycats

Text messages and talking dics

It is a problem when students are more technologically advanced than you. They can figure out ways to outsmart teachers on tests. In one particular incident, one of the smarter students text messaged the answers to another student from the hallway. However, I often switch the order of questions on my exams so, unfortunately for them, the answers didn’t match.


My teacher is a computer

The role of the computer in the EFL world

If someone is really eager to learn a language (any foreign language, it doesn’t necessarily have to be English), a computer is the ideal tool for self-study. Actually, a computer is nothing more than a modern combination of a notebook, a pen, a dictionary, a phone and a fax machine. Without the communicative infrastructure called the Internet or the software to make everything happen, a computer is basically worthless.


Japanic!

How things have changed in my absence

A lot of forum posters are claiming that Japan might not be the earner that it used to be, then again for those with a bit of hustle the market for freelance work is burgeoning. I personally believe that an English teacher overseas has to view him/herself as a miniature corporation and constantly innovate to keep up with market demands.


The magical land

Where no student fails an exam

Yes, dear readers, students in Thailand simply cannot fail exams. This probably comes as a very big surprise for the people unfamiliar with the Thai situation, but believe me, it is true. Well, it is still true at the time of writing, but maybe not for long anymore.


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.


Isaan bound

A half year in review

Not surprisingly, I am still wrestling with the administration over issues of fair pay, planning time and sensible class-size and leveling. Despite everything, I am having a great time in Khon Kaen.


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.


We're not just another brick in the wall

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."


No fries with that!

Teachers as mentors and heroes (part two)

As we ESL teachers and TESOL providers--- especially those teaching in financially impoverished countries--- strive to help others to financially improve their "lot in life", are we not, at the same time, helping to turn them into the same capitalist and consumerist pigs that have now permeated Japan, South Korea, and other developed countries?


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