Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Melly Cwismass

As is usual in many schools, ( though not all ) things are winding down as teachers near that special time of year when they are expected to perform like seals in front of other teachers and or parents at Xmas concerts or parties.

Some run for the hills, some approach it head on like an inevitable train wreck and some never get asked. So far I am in the third category YIPPPEEEEE.

Its also the time of year we inevitably end up trying to teach something about Santa and Xmas to a bunch of Thai kids who know nothing about the origins of the story and holiday and whose only thought is holidays and presents and ooops there's dad drunk with his Chivas again. Actually sounds a bit like home really.

The school is increasingly decked out with tinsel, Xmas trees and the like with this years slogan ( well, I assume its different every year ) FINDING CHRISTMAS. Why they dont just look in a diary under December 25 or in Google I dont know. But apparently its lost. So if you see Christmas, please return it to Paddington Station, London.

The usual things have been happening, cover lessons given - me getting them, others not getting them. The feedback from the observations has brought on some furrowed brows " how can they say that" " thats stupid" etc etc. and well probably the whole system is stupid, especially the fact that you have to make an appointment to discuss the observation. To my mind that is always the most important to both parties. To see a person do something is interesting but also to see and then find out WHY they did it is vital. Otherwise you are only pressing your bias , your behaviour etc onto another person and putting that into their "teachers record".

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Day of Days

Ooooh, a nice dramatic title but still the same old same old.

Another week another Baht.

Teaching wise the kids have been more or less acceptable with the odd outburst of dissent but nothing too serious but today was just one of those days where it started wrong and just went downhill. The first lesson was one that basically consisted of my waiting for the kids to be quiet and when they couldnt be quiet for them to STAND still.

Of course, this eventually led to them standing the whole lesson. If it wasnt someone discovering that their shoe lace needed tying or that they wanted to dance or move about in some stupid way or play with their metal pencil case and drop it on the floor or something that.. The original intention had been to keep them quiet for a couple of minutes while I took the attendence, that escalated up to 5 minutes then up to them standing in silence then up and up and up to the full lesson. At every stage I told them why, that he was talking, that he was making noises, that he was playing and so on and giving them another deadline to aim for ( and fail to achieve ).

We then get to the end of the lesson and I think, OK, just one more time, telling them that if I say quiet, that means no talking and if I say stand still that means stand still. In the middle of this, one little git - ironically one of the more intelligent ones - decides to pack up all his things and get ready to leave. Aw for fecks sake! Not listening, not taking in anything that has gone on for the first 7 months of the year or the previous 50 minutes. What are you doing? Did I tell you to get your bag ready? Did I? Did I tell you to pack your bag? I think, he will reply with a yes or no, at that point I dont really care,any response and I would have shoved them out the door ( with a quick correction of course ). But what does he decide to do? Just totally ignore me of course, so I repeat the question again in a different way and again and eventually he looks at me. If looks could kill!

At the same time the rest of the kids were putting pressure on him, as I said when he replies you all can go. So the kids round him were telling him to say no ( or indeed yes ) so they could get out and enjoy the rest of the break.

About ten minutes in, I thought I would defuse the issue as he was starting to threaten to punch the other kids. In some ways it was like watching the old Tom and Jerry cartoons as somebodys head turns gradually red and then a steam whistle blows to let off the excess! He started banging the bag against the desk and going uh! bang uh! BANG UH

It was one of these bizarre situations, on one hand I wanted to push it further and see if he would pop and have a stroke or something but on the other hand I was going, dont do anything stupid, he could flip out and hurt me or another kid or himself. In the end, the sensible thoughts won. DAMM! One of these days towards the end of term I am going to have to push it and see what happens.

Then the next lesson is about making a paper folding book but could they cut along the lines of the design? No, of course not. Could they colour trees green and brown? No, they had to be blue or purple or yellow with red stripes. Feck.

Then of course, they ( Der mangement ) decide to choose today of all days to do the surprise observation and oh dear. First of, I realised when I go into the class I had forgotten to bring my books - I thought I had left them in the class but I had taken them back to the staffroom where they now lay, along with my lesson plan and my attendence sheet. Wonderful. NOT! And of course, that knocked me off and them turning up knocked me off so I was really off for the next 10 - 15 minutes. Add to that, the lesson was an activity based on I have no idea what they made of it. I know it wasnt one of my best. As well as that they did not stay for the full lesson. One left with about 10 minutes to go and the other with 5 minutes to go.

As it was with the last observation, the result will be a written report not a chat to discuss what went right and wrong and talk about areas of improvement. It will be interesting to see what they make of it.

Now from the Department of Only in Thailand.

I was walking back to my class in the afternoon to see a scrum of kids on the football pitch. Aw, well, nothing too unusual. Then I notice a pink old fashioned VW Beatle and then some models and a team of people doing a wedding photoshoot! Of course the kids were loving it and were running round in and out of shot. The photographer was going mental but the models did seem to be enjoying it. Whether that good humour was maintained is another matter though :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Moving towards Xmas

More odds and sods from the mad house coming up.

We all thought the rainy season had passed and we were now into the safe period where we could walk in complete safety. Yesterday proved us wrong again. With the late afternoon downpour, if you were wearing the wrong shoes you would be slipping and sliding all over the place as though you were on ice.

Most of the school is that typical shiny stone which turns to ice when wet and you see people walking around like they were 70 years old. Of course what really helps matters is that on the balconies the edge actually goes upwards trapping all the water on the walking area.

Add to that the way they contructed the walkway between the new building and the main section is another area of hazards, we should be getting danger money! They have got it set up so that there are two types of ground tiles. One is rough and provides loads of grip no matter what you wear and one is a lovely smooth one which will send you onto your arse if you dont watch out Now guess which stone they chose to make the floor of the pedestrian bridge Yup the shiny smooth one. So if it is raining, we have the choice of getting wet in between the staffroom andthe classroom or walking very slowly on the ice rink and be dry.

When you ask
many people why they are here teaching and not somewhere else they say "its not the money" and yet it seems to be those not here for the money who as soon as they are offered extra work jump at the chance and work evenings and or weekends. Strange that.

As far as teaching goes its been much of a muchness. The same old story of mangement telling we cant do this to the kids and we cant do that. We have now been told we cant issue our yellow cards as often as we have! The original idea was of course one yellow card was a chat with our headie and a red meant a chat with the parents. But of course, that changed when the headie told the kids a red card meant expulsion!! Ho hum.

This week has actually been surprisingly good though. Today I just wasnt up to it so did a quick demo on what I wanted and got the couple of smart kids in the class to "teach". I thought it might be a train wreck but surprise surprise it worked out fine and the kids enjoyed it. Normally I would have thought you could have done it for about p3 maybe p4 up but not for p2. I will continue with the experiment as much as I can and see what happens.

As is common in most of the "better" schools they have a lot of stuff for alumni and we recently had the homecoming dinner. It was really a boring evening with lots of Frank Sinatra songs - doobie doobie doo,do doobi doobie doo...... Why is it he is so popular in these things here? To mark the occasion those who attended got a free tie pin from the alumni. Whoohooo! The dinner itself was the usual thai affair of about 8 dishes all coming seperately and then being shared in the middle of the table. If you had been to one of those before you went to one of the side stalls to load up on the entrees just in case the main meals werent to your liking.

Around the edge of the dining area there were stalls selling various stuff including a Merc dealer. Yup. Oh it must be nice to be connected in Thailand.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Rules & Regulations

Well, the big meeting today was a damp squib in some ways.

The usual story of making it out to be dramatic when it wasnt. But, they are cracking down on some things - some doesnt change things for me and some do.

The boss was disappointed to see that only a couple of people were wearing the full uniform at the directors ceremony. Glad to see they were only talking about people who had the full uniform from last year but even we poor mortals who havent had it made up yet didnt quite escape as we need to make sure we have as much on as possible black trousers, white shirt - no stripes or spots, school tie.... zzzzz

Its funny how they are cracking down in our section so much but other programs get away with so much. I saw a guy come in today with a casual cotton shirt and jeans with no tie! How come he gets away with it but we dont? Hmm

The other thing is that this week, the teachers who werent teaching disapeared off wherever because the classes were cancelled. Unfortunately, it was very noticable in the matayom room so guess what. They are cracking down on it and every fucker is going to suffer now. Thanks a bunch guys. I had only 1 period in the whole week where i could go home for a couple of hours because of a free period around lunch and now, I cant go.

They have said that unless we are having lunch or doing an occasional 30 minute task, we must be in the staffroom. if we want to work in our classrooms we can but we must inform the head or assistant head beforehand!


Also, they dropped the bombshell that we are too have further observations. Now, you may be going observations, big deal. Well, yes, but they are going to do it unannounced. They are just going to turn up and observe you. No notice, they will just be there.

Oh how to make friends and improve moral amongst staff- chapter 3. Like most people, I am nervous at observations but accept them. But unnanounced? Despite them saying its all for our benefit and the school says they have to do it, it stinks of spying and distrust. Even if they gave you an hours notice or something like that it would be better.

And talking about the directors ceremony, it was as boring as something very boring indeed. IT was all in Thai and zzzzzzzzzzzzzz It was quite funny watching our lot against the thai teachers. They all had their heads up watching the ceremony, our lot almost all had heads down playing games on mobile phones, reading books, doing crosswords, marking exams, reading newspapers......

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Time Of Our Lives

Or Not.

For the last three weeks I have been trying to get the little angels to learn how to tell time.

Not an easy job when only about 5% of them have a watch and of that 5% there is only one whose watch is not digital. So this concept of dials and hands and "past" and "to" is usually quite a difficult one for them to pick up. But it seemed to be going reasonable well. But today. Today.. Oh my god, today was just awful.

I was teaching the maximum of 5 lessons today and I came out a zombie. All reason and intelligence had left me. I felt it draining away during the day and there was nothing I could do. I have to finish this unit this week and get a test in, so it was a case of sit down such up and sleep so I could recover or grind my way through it. maybe i should have let them sleep and got some myself.

About which, I caught one of mine sleeping today. Little f***** . He had actually been much improved in this new semester and had been actually seen working - on more than one occasion! But he has now reverted to type this week. I actually let him sleep. i really couldnt be arsed waking him up properly. I just got a bit of paper and dangled it in his ear but that only made him swat away an imaginary mossie and turn over. The other kids thought it was great fun but...

By the way this was in the middle of a practice listening test. A quick 10 minutes at the start of the lesson and then more practice for the test. Quick 10 minutes my arse. 9 examples and it lasted between 30 to 40 minutes in getting them quiet enough to start, for them to get their pencils out, me quickly marking it and completing it. F*** ME!

Now, who invented those self propelling pencils and thought they old be good idea to give them to 8 year olds? Eh? Who was it? Own up! Because if its you, I am going to come round and smack you a few good ones with a basball bat. The amount of time wasted with them in class in unreal. Its funny how they always need to get new lead just at the start of my class. They never seem to do it at the end. I wonder why? Hmm.

And once again, my decision this year to try and get out of P2 have proved correct. Just a shame I wasnt successfull. The end of last week and this week has seen Prathom 4 - 6 and Matayom teach a vastly reduced timetable because of outings trips and whatnot. But, what do we get at the lower levels? Nada, zilch, zero, nothing, nil........... And we were still getting covers, yes, even with teachers not teaching, I still got a cover last week. Unreal.

We got a memo at lunchtime saying that we have a very important meeting first thing tomorrow. Not sure why. In fact it is the talk of the steamie! Is it anything to do with the appearance of the head of the english department in our office today, was it a coincidence? Nobody seems to know. But whatever it is, I doubt it will be good news. And speaking of that, I will need to post tomorrow about the other "good" news we got this week.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Material Boys & Girls

During the weekend, I went to a few different tailors to find out how much it would cost to make up the school uniform. I think my famous last words were I am not that bothered about the cost.

Well, my view changed. I was quoted anything for 1800B up to 4000B for just the making up of one jacket and one pair of trousers. 4000B !!! YIKES! Fortunately, the school is getting someone in to visit the school and measure everyone up. Apparently he does really good work and best of all he is cheap, around 1000B. Which is ok, thats the price of a pair of trousers out of Robinsons.

Unfortunately tomorrow we have one of our out of hours mandatory attendence ceremonies. This one is for confirmation of the new director. no dount it will be the usual opening prayer and blessing and hymn and then speeches saying how wonderful she is and how lucky the school is to have her ya da ya da ya. I wonder how much will be in english? Whoop de whoop. 90 bloody minutes we will have to endure taking us up to almost 5pm, after which there is going to be a buffet thing. It had better be bloody good after sitting through that.

So far this week I have been teaching my little Somchais all about time. Its been one of those weeks where you are sailing along and then hit a brick wall and think once again that the marker in your hand has an iq bigger than the collective iq of the class.

Three parts to the whiteboard. One is a clock with the hands at 3 o'clock then beside that "3:00" and beside that are the words "three o'clock". So the question goes out, whats the time? ( pointing to the clock) 3 o'clock is the reply. Whats the time? ( pointing to "3:00" ) 3 o'clock is the reply. So far so good. So the next question goes out - are these the same time? Are they the same? ( pointing to all 3 ) Silence. The question goes out again, silence. I try asking some individuals, silence, I try the smartest kid in the class. He pulls a stupid face and shakes his head. Yeesh.

So, another tack. I ask them are they the same,yes / no? Put your hands up if you think no. One puts his hand up.
Put your hands up if you think yes. Every hand goes up. Aw for fecks sake. So back to the original question. Are they the same? Silence. DOH!

Why is it every kid is a drama queen when it comes to thunder and lightning? During the storm yesterday every time they saw lightning they all "jumped" out of their seats and of course when the thunder came they all shouted AHHHHH!!! like they were scared. Oh for petes sake, its not like europe where maybe you could see 3 or 4 storms in a year. It more like 4 months worth here. If they are still scared of thinder and lightning at this age, they are living in the wrong country and they will have a miserable lifetime ahead!

And oh yes, I havent had a cover lesson so far this week :)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Confessions of a rambling mind

Got you there! Bet you thought it would be something exciting, but alas and alack, no its not. Just another update at the madhouse.

Back to my favourite subject - cover lessons. Aw gawd, here we go again you must be thinking, he got a stupid cover and he is going to bitch about it, again! Well, no. Not this time. This was the first week in a long long time when I didnt get one. Amazing! We got a memo about covers basicaly saying the common sense things like follow the lesson plan the teacher missing made, use the materials they set up, dont just give them whats easiest for you etc etc.

We have now got a permanent cover teacher. Except, hes not based at the school. It seems to be the usual TIT way of doing things. He is employed by an agency and will only work at our school but he wont be at the school unless he is working. Eh? So, what happens if someone suddenly goes ill? We will still need to do covers until he arrives. Seems a bit pointless to me. If he is "ours", why not keep him at the school? Oh well.

All the teachers who passed the probationary period got a little present. Material to make up the school uniform. Black material for the trews and a lovely shade of bleuuch for the jacket, as well as a badge to be sewn on the jacket breast pocket, brass buttons and tie pin. We have to find a tailor to make it up, that comment drew a few sharp intakes of breath. Why should we have to pay, its the school uniform so they should pay etc etc. To be honest, I am not that fussed about it - unless of course I find out that it will set me back thousands of baht.

In the category of "What??!!" Part 1

One the guys - the LMY was giving it his usual when he got the material and someone paid a little trick by hiding the buttons when LMY was out of the room. He comes back in and immediately starts off Who stole my buttons, what fuckking idiot stole my buttons, its not funny stealing peoples stuff..... then he goes and gets the program director and the assistant director in !!! And starts the rants again swearing left right centre up down and round the bend! Of course by this time the buttons had been put back but under the material so he finds them. Mean time, everyone else is either telling him to calm down or just staring astonished at the view. Then of course, he cant find his badge so the rant continues. Even when he finds the badge he had folded into the material he still rants on and on.

On a scale of 1 to 10 then I have to put this on a 9.5. Its only a 9.5 as there was no physical violence involved.

Now, later on we found out that LMY had his apartment broken into in the October break, so he was a bit sensitive to things being stolen. But...... it was still an over the top reaction to a little joke and as for getting the Director and the AD in?? Come on!!

In the category of "What??!!" Part 2. One of the new teachers decided to work a bit later in his classroom this week - about 5pm - and returned to find everyone had left and the lights had been switched off and doors locked. Now, the problem was that in the staffroom was his phone, wallet, money, keys, bag etc. basically everything. Now, at this point some people might have gone back the ground floor to an office to get a key or to one of the security guards or gone to the main office or gone to look for another teacher. What this guy did was he walked out the school gates and walked the streets all night. He came in the next day and said he had to go home to sleep and change his clothes.

When people were hearing this story the reaction was pretty much the same. WHAT THE F...? Why didnt he ask a guard or anyone for a key? Why did he just walk out? Does he have no friends he could go to? Is his flat that far away that he couldnt walk there? I mean, he did have 10 hours! Why did he leave his money in the staffroom?? That was the biggest point everybody raised. Although we havent had anything going missing so far this year, it is a sad fact that it does happen occasionally.

I think its fair to say that this guy will be the subject of some fairly constant jokes about this for a long long time.

Now, for those who think that Thailand is the only place that the shit happens to EFL teachers, here is a site that corrects the view. Its from a guy back in the UK who suffers just as much as we do though the usual methods - idiotic students, managers and penny pinching. Its quite a good read, so have a look.


Monday, October 31, 2005

A Game of two halves

So, the second semester starts last week and what happens?

Well, nothing totally unexpected to be honest. Despite being told that we were fully staffed we had a couple of people leaving and yesterday I overheard someone talking to another school and so might be leaving.

So here were are back to getting covers for people again. And yes you guessed it, I got a cover. The guy who organises them is unreal. I get one, another guy gets two. Now bear in mind this is a 3 day teaching week. Others get none. What is this guy on? Is he just thinking that some people have done him wrong and thats why they are getting covers? God knows.

On our non teaching day we had a little welcome speech from the director of the school and some other high up. Quite why I am not sure as it was just the farang staff from the various programs. The speeches were bordering on bizarre, from the announcement that the director was just back from America - whoop de friggin whoop - to organise another school to twin with and the usual we hope you do well for our students to we want you to work hard but not too hard, we dont want you overworked. Hmm, maybe thats what I should try with the cover man. Hey, the director said I shouldnt be overworked, how about giving covers to other people for a change??

The guy, who I think is also a director, gave an almost surreal performance. He said that the children we teach may be from good homes and wealthy parents but they are empty, they are damaged, they are incomplete and need our love. They need us to touch them and give them love. Imagine a school administrator saying that in USA or UK. That we have to touch our kids!!

It got better. He said that he hoped that we made friends here and that we would not go out alone because since inflation was running at 6% it was a dangerous place. We should not go out alone at night!!! Well, to be fair, if you read the forums at ThaiVisa there has been a few threads about violence to farangs increasing. Even so, I still feel far safer here than I do back in my home city. It was a comment that again raised quite a few eyebrows.

I noticed that the thread about the school has almost died a death on thaischoolwatch. It was only natural.

Oh yes, I noticed this worthy cause browsing about today. Please join up.

Want to help stop the illegal trade of Khmer artifacts?

Sign the petition to encourage the Thai and Singapore governments to sign the 1970 UNESCO convention on heritage protection.


Monday, October 10, 2005

The Summer Of Our Content

And why is everyone content?

Well, its the holidays of course. Throughout Thailand that sound you hear is the sound of teachers everywhere going "Thank God" Two weeks of not hearing "Teacher! Teacher!" "Teacher Finished!" Oh how I would like to strangle whoever got that habit installed into the kids. Two weeks of peace, relaxation and doing whatever we want.

In Bangkok, people without kids are also thanking their various gods with the traffic decreasing down to zero around schools and probably a good 20% overall.

The drawback is that, if the kids are on holiday then wherever you want to go in Thailand, it will be filled with kids. I tried to book an activity holiday and got told that they were fully booked as they had got a batch of 50 kids coming for the month.

And so it is with buses and trains to popular destinations ie Chiang Mai where sleeper trains become fully booked weeks in advance for the start and end of the holidays.

To mark the end of the semester we had a large staff meeting. Where the usual thank you for all your help statements came out. We are apparently using too much paper and are over budget. So we have to be more careful in requesting the number of copies we need. Also we shouldnt be printing stuff off the internet for personal use - ooooo the horror!

Also - JM. Of course I am bitching about people leaving early or coming late when I cant do it, its my blog and I will bitch if I want! - the boss raised the point about people swiping in and then not being seen again until the swiping out time and that we were not to do it. A bit late conidering it was the last day of the do nothing period. Never mind.

If you werent doing a 4 day summer camp for Prathom during the last week you had to go on a "Profesional Development Seminar" Which had the usual dry tales of this is how you should do it - straight from a book - and not very practical at all. A couple of people tried sneaking out but the boss started sitting at the back to stop that.

The alternative was doing the camp. 4 days of "fun filled activities " It turned out to be more exhausting than normal teaching as the breaks were fewer and you had them all day. There were no free periods - well officially. There was a certain participant who decided that he would create his own free periods by going off somewhere and diappearing or by simply sleeping through the activities and not taking part in anything at all. By the end everybody had noticed and commented about it. I only sleep 4 hours a night he says, well thats all you need if you sleep another 5 durng the day I suppose. At the end everybody got 500B a day for the camp and there was more than one barbed comment about how not everybody had earned it. It was quite funny at the end that we were told the payment was all they could spare. hmm. I heard the kids were charged either 1000b or 2000B, there were about 160 kids. So, on the conservative side thats 160,000 B in income and the teachers got 20,000. The food probably cost 3000 - at most, the prizes and materials maybe another 10,000. Hmmm whatever way you work it out, it sure was a nice "little" profit for the school.

Seems to be that the most profitable business in Thailand is to run a school.

See you all after the holidays.

Oh yes, from now on, if you add a comment you will have to fill in one of these funny password tests to stop comment bots, I been getting a lot of spam comments so sorry about that.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Report Cards and Camps

Well, we are almost there.

Just one more week before 2 weeks of holidays. For the next semester its broken up quite a lot with Xmas / New Year and so on. With any luck it should be fairly painless - well, in comparison. And then the descision has to be made again. Stay another year or move on ( to another school or country ) or go home but thats another time and another post.

When we got told about the reports it was at first the usual story - we would get guidelines on what we would be able to write. Here we go again I thought Have to be positive blah blah blah. But being honest I was quite surprised at what we were being allowed to write ie we could say that his classroom behaviour was unacceptable and he had to sit in seat to stop distracting others in the lesson.

Thing is to some people, this may not seem like a big deal but its a damm site more honest than in the last place where all comments had to be positive. So the comment would need to be something like he is an active student or some such bs like that to hide the truth.

Even so we were told that a minimum mark had to be given - an E+. Not an E but an E+. Its still rated as unacceptable, so I think maybe that + makes all the difference! Saving face and all that.

Next week we have a couple of summer camps that we have to do, 4 days in total. If we are not doing the camps we are going to a 2 day seminar. Szzzzzzz! But at least it should be a comparatively easy week.

This week just about everyone has been swiping in on time and then staying for an hour and then either going for lunch for 6 hours and coming back in for the last hour and swiping out or not coming back at all and presumably giving the swipe card to someone else to swipe out - a perilous thing to do, in theory you can get sacked for that.

Next week, well wait and see.

But this week we did get a very pleasant surprise. As well as being pay day yesterday, we also got a backdated salary increase because we passed our probation. It seems that this is not just a one off and will be a permanent increase. I and everyone else dont remember reading anything in the contract about this so, as I said, it was a pleasant surprise to get this "bonus" just in time for the holidays. So, dont say everything in this blog is negative!

Now for something a bit different.

Every now and again i look at the counter stats and one of the most interesting is the browser share. I think I last wrote about this a year ago or so. At that time the IE share was about 90 % or so, ( if I can be bothered I will look up the exact figures ) and Firefox was about 8% with others about 2%. Now it seems that Firefox is gaining hold amongst you lot.

Now according to the pie chart above its 66% IE and 21% Firefox.

YEHHH! Good for you guys. Keep it up and lets kill the M$ monster!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Exams & Happenings Part 2

I am still somehow getting covers that take me up to 5 lessons a day ( the maximum ) from 4 lessons when other people in my year group hardly ever get asked to do that and extremely hardly ever do the people in other years groups who have 2 or 3 lessons get asked. Its really fucking me off big time having to do all these extra lessons while other people get away with a far lighter workload. Unfortunately there is not a lot I can do about it, I have already spoken to management and nothing has really changed.

It seems that every year I am unlucky with the timetables. The first year I had 22 periods a week and was teaching the last period of every day so I never had the chance to get away early. Almost everyone else had a day or two that they could slope away early. One teacher only had about 14 periods – you know who you are you jammy sod. The second year was much the same although the number of periods each teacher had was much the same give or take a couple. The third year was the same and so it continues this year.

Another guy has a full morning off each week. His absence is very noticeable as he always in the staffroom on every other morning so presumably he is getting someone to swipe in for him – which by the way is damm near a sackable offence as far as I can tell for both parties or swiping in and going home.

Out of the 20 weeks teaching so far, off the top of my head, I have had 4 or 5 that I have done the regular hours. Every other week I have had one or two extra lessons to do. By now I reckon I have done 30+ extra lessons – all unpaid ( they sneakily put in the contract that we teach 22 hours, so they can nab you for an extra 2 each week and they don’t need to pay you ) whereas others have only done about 3 or 4. Why? Well, the extra lessons are forced on you, you have no option, you are just told you are doing them. In theory, who gets the cover lesson is logical and fair. Its worked on the number of lessons normally taught in a week - most people have 20 but others have 18 and 16 - then the number of lessons taught that day and whether you are in the same learning group.

Unfortunately it seems that this is mostly ignored so people who teach less hours than me get fewer cover lessons, when others teach the same hours I tend to get picked. I even got picked once because they couldn’t find the person who was supposed to do it, he had buggered off for a smoke and because I was in the staffroom I got nabbed. See me, see lucky white heather, pah!

The headie is always saying that he will not give anyone with four lessons an extra cover – yeh right, its happened to me 4 times now. But this has the effect of the guys who do 4 lessons every day get virtually no covers.

One reason our teaching group gets so many covers is I think Prathom 1, 2 and 3 teachers have a more stressful job and consequently get sicker more or get “sicker” more. That unfortunately means more covers for people within the group. I have no idea about the actual numbers but it feels like this is the % of which group needs and does the most covers.

needs does

P1-3 40 45

P4-6 30 30

M1- 3 20 15

M4-6 10 10

Any time the imbalance is mentioned ( and remember its not just me, a couple of others are in the same sort of boat ), a common response is “well, I am doing 4 or 5 lessons today, so whats the big deal?” The big deal is that they are including the after school lessons that they get paid extra for. Another is ‘well I did lots of extras last year” but this isn’t last year is it? This from a guy that has probably done 4 covers all year.

At the start of the year, we were told we could do this, do that in the sense of getting the kids to behave and the way to control the classes and collect the classes from outside the classroom etc. Well, that soon started going by the wayside. A few of the other teachers basically took the point of view of either it was too much work or thought it unecessary. At the end of lessons, they just let the kids run back to their class, went part of the way to their classroom and so on. One of the first things that went is timekeeping.

There is one guy that is late ( and by late I mean 5 minutes after the lesson is due to start I reckon about 50% of the time – partly because he overruns his lessons constantly and also because he cant stop his breaks on time. He is always appearing with bottles of water or cans of drink or even still eating. For a school that takes so much “effort” in being proper, I would have thought that would have been deemed proper. Last year, eating in the corridors was a big no no and eating while collecting a class was ust not thought about. Ah well, so be it. I soon realised that it was a fight that it wasn’t worth fighting as it was never brought up in meetings that it shouldn’t happen. So I just started doing the same – although in my view not quite going as far – turning up lateish sometimes, letting the kids run out back to the class and so on. On that subject, there is another teacher that is constantly complaining that his kids wreck his classroom and he is always having to tidy it. Yeh well no shit mate, he leads the kids out at the end of the period and hasn’t the patience to wait for the tail enders before he goes and collect the next class. No wonder they wreck the place, they are just left to their own devices.

Its all about the show. Don’t ask questions, don’t try to hard, don’t care, just look good and smile at the right people.

You try and break the mould, you try and install independent thinking in the kids, you ask questions, you care and some things are guaranteed. The kids wont like you and neither will a lot of colleagues or employers and or you will go crazy with the sheer frustration of it all.

Oh yes, if you are thinking, this isnt all that dark then you would be right. I re-read everything and decide to self censor a lot of it. Strange I know but I a few folk at work have found out who I am and so discretion and valour and all that.

And anyway, I am feeling a little less depressed than last week so that helps matters, especially since I have booked my school holidays and today is the start of the staffroom makework nonsense.

I will leave you with a couple of happy words. Jolene Blalock. Grrrrrrrrr! :)

Friday, September 23, 2005

To those who were thinking you are a miserable bastard, its not that bad. yeh, ok, you were right.

I didnt get a cover lesson, in fact this week is the first time in ages I have not had one. It makes such a difference in my energy levels, especialy with the way the kids are just now.

Anyway, yes I know I promised to enter the rest of it but I really cant be arsed at the moment. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Exams & Happenings

Well, for the first time in ages, I basically just sat down and started to write something for this while I was still in work. It turned out to be a bit longer, darker and bitter than I had imagined, but right now that’s just the way I am feeling. The rest will come tomorrow – or maybe even more.

Thank god we are nearly on holiday, as we are slowing down a bit

As it seems to be nearly everywhere for some reason, mathayom is stopping before prathom, we have two more days with the kids than they do.

We are now in that twilight zone of being after exams and being before holidays. Well, I say holidays but we have the usual bullshit of having to come into work to write the reports and do summer camps before they rulers deign to let us away for a couple of weeks. Almost everyone is feeling the same in that we are all saying that the kids are basically climbing the walls and going ape shit. Whether its because they can smell the holidays or they are as fed up as we are I don’t know. My lot are bouncing off the walls.

I had planned some light hearted fun stuff for them this week but they are being such utter dicks, I am not going to bother giving them everything. I had one class today where a kid said he didn’t have the worksheet from yesterday. I asked where it was. Mai ow maa baan. Basically its at home, I notice another kid at the same table hadn’t got it out. I asked him the same. Same answer. A third kid hadn’t got anything out and before I could talk to him one of the other kids in a stage whisper mai ow maa baan. Then he repeated it. Being a naturally suspicious bastard, especially when it comes to kids, I asked him if he wanted a bet. ( I love getting sarcastic with the real shits in my class, they haven’t a clue what’s going on and it makes me feel better ! ) Sure enough, in the bag there it was. He turned round and gave that little butter wouldn’t melt to hide the guilty smarm that he was beginning to show. A quiet little search revealed they all were lying little shits.

If there is one thing I hate as much as anything about the kids, its lying. No matter the reason, to save face, to show contempt, to hide that they don’t know the answer, that they just enjoy winding up the teacher or whatever. I HATE it, I really do. So that set my mood up nicely for the rest of the lesson – why will these kids learn??

Anyway, their behaviour at the moment is just hyper bouncing off the walls stuff. Somebody somewhere is giving them speed laced with sugar, fried with batter on a stick – chicken or pork flavoured.

I have just about reached the end of my tether and am really tempted to just let them loose and do whatever they want. The trouble is, I know I would just be storing up trouble for myself when I wanted to do proper teaching.

Even the simplest task of getting them lined up and into their seats in the class is turning into a 10 minute job.

Walk in and sit down. Nope, get them out and line up again.

Walk in and sit down! Nope, get them out and line up again.

Walk in and Sit down! Nope, get them out and line up again.

Walk in and Sit Down! Nope, get them out and line up again.

WALK in and Sit Down! Nope, get them out and line up again.

WALK in and SIT Down! Nope, get them out and line up again.

WALK IN AND SIT! Jesus, there must be an easier way to make a living than this.

Then once they are inside, the goldfish brain takes over. You can tell one boy to be quiet and stop talking but then the one next to him starts or continues on!

What is it with Thais and the need for noise? Why do they need to shout at every opportunity to each other, especially if the other person is only two yards away? Is it a law somewhere?

During the exams there were the usual pathetic attempts of cheating, hiding their faces with the paper to stop me from seeing them looking at others papers. You would have thought that maybe the moving piece of white paper might catch my eye would occur to them. Nah.

Well, I say exams, but in reality it was just an exam – singular. Not Speaking, just a combined Reading and Writing one that we had to make up. Depending on the level, the exams were out of 20, 30, 40 or 50. Then the fun began. The assessment grids are split into Reading and Writing out of 5 marks each. So guess what the solution was? Just reduce everything down to 10 then split it equally between the two parts. DOH! A real scientific test of the kids abilities. Why do so many schools do this? Why not at least set up the exams so they are the same mark? This mucking around is just pathetic.

We are still a couple of people short following the recent departures and have had a couple of permanent casual people in to do some of the cover - it turns out the only casualty of the probation shake out was Mr Banger who disappeared off to a language school. This still leaves quite a few classes to be covered due to the regular "illnesses" and despite assurances from the management that I would be used as the last resort due to the number of covers i had already done - I am still getting as many as ever. I will make a bet with you right now. That I get a cover lesson tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Catching up

Its been a few days since the last effort so thought I would get my arse into gear and put something down.

In some ways, it has been fairly quite with no real excitement and nothing new to relate that hasn’t already been told a dozen times, but on we go….

In the last week we have now passed the probationary period at the school – a massive 4 months. It was something that had been in the back of mind based on the stories I heard last year about people being booted out in time for the holidays. I had hoped and thought I was ok but this being Thailand, you never quite know even if you are told you are ok. But I got the letter that I had passed and basically that means I am “in” and can relax a bit – from the sense of job security.

A couple of people didn’t though. Its shrowded in the usual mystery that is Thailand why that was. One of them got the letter late and one walked off.

Although we are just out of probation we are still in the “hostage deposit” period. (The 4000 baht a month deduction from our salaries that is taken out for the first 5 months and returned after the end of the school year.) So this guy is maybe waving bye bye to 12000 baht – assuming he doesn’t challenge the school and ask for it back. I am not sure what the position is if the school doesn’t renew your probation and says you are out. I would hope and assume that the deposit money is returned.

We are now getting into the realms of end of semester exams and winding down for the holidays and compulsory english camps we have to do. So more of that later

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Assorted Ramblings

If you read the various newspaper and forums you will see that corporal punishment it now against the law. You now can’t legally hit any kids. Errr yup. Well, unless you are a Thai teacher. Sometimes, going to my first class of the day, I see boys who are presumably coming in late and receiving a late “ticket” just inside the gate and another little line hidden from the main road where boys line up and get whacked a couple of times by a cane on the rear end. You can actually hear the sound from the other side of the road sometimes! Ouch!! I think it depends which guy is in charge of the whacking as a couple of times I have sent he kids really get whacked and a couple of times it didn’t seem to be that sore – at least judging from their reaction.

As is common which a lot of schools, there is always a circus outside with various people selling the kids stickers, pirated PS2 games, food and of course English language schools. Sometimes the language school folk take things way too far. Handing out the leaflets is a thankless job, I know, I did it for a while in a summer holiday when I was younger and the number of refusals can get you down but… I saw something last week that made me mad. I was walking behind a small kid, maybe Prathom 2, the schoolbag bigger than him, struggling his way up the street and the woman who was handing out the leaflets held out the leaflet in front of his face, when he shook his head to indicate he didn’t want it she took one of his arms and forced the leaflet into his hands and closed the hands around the leaflet. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. I really felt like going up to the woman and smacking her one. In the end, of course I didn’t and she carried on forcing the leaflets into the hands of the kids. The overall result? A few yards behind her was a growing pile of those same leaflets that the kids didn’t and therefore just dropped on the street. Stupid.

Things in the office are fairly calm at the moment, unless you count the fact that 3 people handed their notice in and one left immediately. So if anyone wants a job let me know! Over the last couple of weeks we have been observed by the bosses, this was one of the final steps before passing probation. Mine went Ok with a few comments about language level in instructions ie it was too high and the mix of activities wasn’t quite right but overall pretty positive. The one thing that amazes me is that the feedback is given in writing, you don’t get to talk with the observer – unless you want to! Umm. Seems a bit strange, especially for such a “serious” English program. Ah well, whatever.

Once we pass probation, a few things will happen, we will have to wear the school uniform on Mondays – white shirt and school tie, not really such a big deal. We stop having the “bondage deduction” taken from our salaries. And maybe most important of all, it will be more difficult to sack us.

The crackdown on downloading stuff seems to be serious. A couple of comments were overheard about removing any sort of program that will download music or movies so maybe it will be more than a couple of weeks before people start downloading stuff again.

I will now tell a tale of a teacher who joined the school not that long ago in another section. You make up your own mind whether he is an idiot, unfairly picked on, unrealistic or whatever.

He joined about 10 days ago and said he was going to resign. He was teaching M5 & 6. Not the brightest pack of cards on the table but … He is teaching 22 lessons a week of 50 minutes. Because of various activities that the kids did and a lack of enthusiasm generally for turning up, he was never teaching full classes and in some cases, no one turns up at all. The way his timetable is set up, he effectively has a couple of half days were all he needs to do is make sure he comes in at some point to swipe his timecard.

He says that he has been having trouble with his bosses as they tell him that if no one turns up, he still has to give the lesson and that if no one turns up it is his fault. But the main point of him wanting to resign is that the school will not give him the full bonus at the end of the year. He is not getting the flight allowance bonus and is being pro-rated on the “normal” bonus. He seems to think he deserves the full bonus.

Now, no school I know of will ordinarily give anyone joining 4 months into the school year the full bonus – unless you were a really good negotiator and or the school were desperate to get bodies in.

A few days later he decides that well, I am not going to get another job until October and then it will be the schools holidays so I wont be paid for the holidays and well if I stay until then I might as well stay until December and if I stay until then I might as well stay for the full year.

To my mind he was being a bit silly in wanting to resign as he seems to overall have a very sweet deal. Kids not turning up? Great Stuff. Half days? Wonderful. I wouldn’t mind that.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

TOEICs and Deadlines

Tales from the other programs continue to show what a laughable situation the education system in Thailand is.

It seems that the school is now being very careful now when they are hiring staff. One guy who got interviewed last week got the 5th degree. During the interview he was asked about the previous schools he had listed on his CV. They then got a phone and phoned the school there and then to check! He was also asked for the phone number of his university and the lecturers he had at university. Wow! In one way I suppose its quite good that they are doing this in that it should weed out all the fakie guys but then if they are that serious during the interview, they should also be serious about their program.

One teacher in Mathayom has been told that of his classes at least 75% must get an A. The reason? They all play football for the school so the school can no doubt boast that its students can excel at both academic and sporting activities. If it wasn’t so serious then it would be laughable.

No wonder Thailand scored so lowly in that international TOIEC test.

From the Bangkok Post 10th August 2005

Tests put Thais near bottom in S.E Asia


Special English-language curriculums are being drafted for staff in six major industries after tests revealed Thais have the second-worst English language skills in Southeast Asia.

The finding, compiled by educational testing services, is worrying those wanting Thailand to become a regional hub of car manufacturing, medical care, spas, cuisine and fashion.

The director of the Higher Education Commission's English proficiency development centre, Achara Wongsothorn, said in the 12 months to June, Thai students came eighth in the nine Southeast Asian countries rated by TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language), scoring on average only 201 on the cumulative 300 scale.

Of the six countries in the region rated by the multiple-choice TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication), Thai students ranked fourth overall with an average 524 of the full 990 score.

In TOEFL tests, Thais averaged one higher than Cambodians (200) and two lower than Lao students (203). Singapore topped the region (252), followed by the Philippines (234), Malaysia (224), Burma and Indonesia (214) and Vietnam (205).

In TOEIC tests, Thais averaged 524, compared with the Philippines (751), Singapore (628), Cambodia (606), Indonesia (471) and Vietnam (446).

Ms Achara said the number of participants from each country varied greatly and this could affect the overall comparison of results. For example, about 9,000 Thais took the TOEFL test but only 33 Lao. Even so, the Philippines managed to come second with about 10,000 test participants.

She said results of English tests in 2002-2005 university entrance exams also reflected Thais' poor English skills, with scores as low as 30-40 out of 100.

The poor results would seriously affect the country's competitiveness in the global market.

Deputy director Siriporn Pornsurapipat said the Thais' poor English proficiency was likely to be a barrier to the government's plan to turn Thailand into the centre of businesses under the Detroit of Asia, Medical Hub, Capital of Spa, Thai Kitchen World Cuisine and Bangkok Fashion City projects.

The centre was trying to solve the problem by drafting English proficiency improvement curriculums for personnel in six important industries _ tourism, fashion, health science, food, automobile and information technology, she said.

The centre already had similar curriculums for staff in 23 professions, including physicians, dentists and nurses, bus drivers, maids and hotel security guards.

These curriculums were free of charge to workplaces, including handbooks and other education material, but the employers must find instructors and run the courses themselves.”

And the official response to this from the government? They have set up a months deadline to come up with a plan to improve the score. Goddam. What is it with this country and deadlines. The Pm is all for doing this. This country will be drug free within 6 months. There will be no traffic problems in Bangkok within 3 months, the airport will be open in 1 year…….. Bwaa haa haa haa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe if they got off their arses and did something instead of setting up stupid deadlines something would be done. Maybe if they allowed people to fail it would improve things. Maybe if they stopped corruption in schools it would change. Maybe if they stopped the culture of cheating it would change. Maybe I should just stop dreaming. Those things will never happen. There are too many people who like the system as it is. Keep the common people stupid, feed them some leftovers at election time and then just carry on as before.

Back to my backyard. Unlike American schools where they talk about The Class of 94 or 05 or whatever the graduating year is. At this school it’s the number of years since the school started. So the class who will finish this year are Class 154. I think that kind of nice. But when it gets to class 1840 it will be a bit of a mouthful. Assuming of course the school survives that long.

An interesting story came across my ears about all the downloading that had been going on and the “slowing down the connection” in the school. Seems that somebody who has a bit more IT knowledge than me ( not too difficult I know ) had done a little research and a trace. The result was a little surprising. Yes, some teachers had downloaded music, but then so had virtually all thai staff. It turns out that one big culprit was a thai male member of staff who had been downloading gay porn movies – hundreds and hundreds of Megabites worth. Hmm. A male at an all boys Christian school downloading gay porn. Back home of course there would be outcries galore with parents demanding the teacher be fired, police investigations etc etc here, the thing will all depend how much clout he has. Some new guy? Might be asked to leave ( doubt it would even be that much ). Some high up? Probably wont even be mentioned to him. Of course if it had been found out that farang staff had downloaded porn – of any sort – it would be immediate dismissal.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Its a Job Jim But Not As We Know It!

Hey ho. Another collection of snap shots from "It’s a job Jim, but not as we know it."

Last week we had virtually a free day as it was sports day at the school. Various rehearsals had been going on for a few weeks so they could get it all sorted out on the day. Yeh right. It was the usual Thai level of organization. Lots of speeches from the high pooyings who then sat on big fat comfy chairs while their underlings brought them assorted snacks and coffees through the morning and adjusted the fans to keep them cool.

Out on the field they had cheerleaders to rouse the crowds onto higher efforts to support their team. The school is separated into different teams or houses – quite how I am not too sure. As teachers we also got allocated teams and got given t-shirts to show our loyalty to the cause of Green, Orange, Red or Blue. Of course, the cheerleaders were the gayest guys they could find in the entire school. We are talking about so gay that Julian Clary seems like Sylvester Stallone.

It seemed to be that the theme for the team banners was some sort of environmental cause. I say seems, as despite having maybe 60 odd native speakers at the school, a couple of teams had not bothered to ask any of us whether the banners make sense. Therefore we had “For the World, For the People, For the Blue” and “Save the Blue”. Quite why Blue needs to be saved I am not sure but there we go. Maybe there is not enough Blue in the world. They might have been talking about water, who knows. One of the efforts from the Greens had “Please, take care them” It was something to do with the previous banner that said “Plants are nice” or some such. Red and Orange could be bothered writing anything in English, well, if they did I didn’t notice it.

Fortunately the weather was not too hot and dry so I watched a few of the games and sports. On the actual day it was mostly athletics of various sorts on the main field and the swimming pool. It was quite funny watching the little P1 and P2s and their total lack of coordination trying to run the 50m sprint. It was like watching a race between octopuses – or is that octopi? – there seemed to be more arms and legs than there should be. Mind you it was quite difficult to count with the various limbs flailing around so quickly.

As well as that you had the Thai teachers giving them quick last minute lessons on how to start from a proper sprint position. One kid just gave up. As the others crouched down, he basically gave a sort of standing Superman pose. Hilarious!

Over at the Prathom section, there seemed to be a alternative sports day with Musical Chairs and other races like running between chairs, eating a banana as fast as possible then running to another chair and drink a glass of water as fast as possible….. Funny.

There was a report in the Bangkok post a few days ago about how Thais are getting fatter. Bloody Hell!! Surely Not!!! I just wish they had given me the research funds and it would have taken me about 5 minutes to confirm that and the reasons for it. You only need to look at the kids and their parents to see the height differences. Then all you need to do is look at what the kids eat every chance they get. Fried food or anything with sugar. As well as that, every afternoon break, the school gives them a little afternoon snack, just to make sure the little darlings aren’t hungry. This can be something semi healthy as a Yakult ( I am not quite sure if those active bacteria/yogurt drinks actually do the things they are supposed to ) to the downright heart attack in a packet specials from Dunkin Donuts. Yup, the little donuts are sometimes given donuts. Mind you I shouldn’t talk, I am not eating as much proper food as I should.

Another week, another holiday. This week it’s for the Queens Birthday on Friday. Also there may be interruptions on Thursday. Yeesh. I am supposed to be giving two tests this week and with interruptions, I might only see some classes two times. Happy Mothers Day Kids!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Rant Mode Engaged

OK, back onto full rant mode.

I am convinced that the kids in this school are actually an alien species. They are not of this earth and of this solar system. They have been sent down here in some diabolical plan of which only I seem to suspect.

The clues are obvious. The slack mouth, the wide open doe eyes hiding a lack of intelligence, the lack of ability to comprehend anything that doesn’t refer to food, the constant intake of food and specifically sugar, the inability to pay attention, the lack of physical coordination and of course the ultimate proof, their unique ability not to pick up any useful words of English despite being “passed” through each year, the private lessons, the extra lessons after school, the language school lessons at the weekend and so on. In fact by the time they graduate from some universities as an English major they might not have progressed from being able to say those ever so useful phrases like “Teacher toilet” or “Teacher videeo” and hey who knows? They might have picked up new phrases that they can use in the future like “Sexy DVD!” or “Hello hansum man!”

My theory is that they are in fact Aliens from another planet sent here to suck the life force from teachers. They then transmit it back to their home planet which is dying and cannot produce the energy it needs for lighting, heating and so on. How else do you explain the mentally drained feeling we all get after a days teaching?

I don’t know if it is my continuing depressive mood or the experience of seeing more and more backpackers or young “enthusiastic” undegreed” coming over here and working but my attitude to other teachers has hardened and got more critical. Maybe it has been the consistent griping from other expats and the international school mob here who look down on us mere English teachers.

There have been a few ( fortunately only a few ) who when they found out what I was doing decided to reply with “oh, you’re an English teacher” with the sort of tone that they had discovered something nasty on the sole of their shoe and dragged it about the house for 15 minutes. Needless to say they were put right very quickly about my so called failure and my qualifications and the blue chip companies I worked for. I wish that in one particular case that I had just twatted the guy. To say he was obnoxious is to call Tony Blair slightly greasy. He just kept on and on about English teachers being total low lifes. Of course all expats were good guys who were only here for the good of the company and their career etc and how he would never go to beer bars or Patpong like a sexpat or lowlife. The irony of his next statement obviously was too complex. He only went to the hi-so massage parlours like Poseidon to entertain clients and relax.

In all the forums I have been getting harder and harder on folks asking about whether they could just come without any experience or degree and telling them to stay home. Those who boast about either having fake degrees or asking about how to get them are also getting a terser response than a few months ago. I used to be quite open to the old life experience and enthusiasm overcoming the laws and regulations here but now I am more and more on the side of righteousness. Whether my view will change when finally I have got back my TL & WP again I don’t know, maybe not.

Just to add to the mix, we had a big meeting last week and various things came out. Some run of the mill, some dull, some ah gawd, here we go again. The 30 odd staff have been told that the 6 pcs in the staffrooms should never be used to personal use like reading emails and so on. We now have to use the 2 pcs in the small lounge.

So for all the personal and private stuff we now have to use very public ones, now I know that in some ways I am better off than in some places where they don’t even have pcs but for a school with this so called “better” reputation 2 pcs between 30 is really bad. They gave a few reasons for this – people downloading music files, visiting meeting point sites, going to chat rooms and so on. In other words some people were downloading mp3s, using msn messenger and err dating sites.

Anyway, the basic result is that people instead of being up front about personal usage, they are now being sneaky and using the pcs but hiding it by doing other things at the same time. The net result is that the staffroom pcs are now being used for a longer period of time than just the simple log in log out of email with the hide and seek with the bosses.

The other thing is that if we have to download anything we should do it during lunchtimes!! I have no idea what the bandwidth is for the school but bearing in mind it has about 6000 plus students and hundreds of pcs across students, staff, admin and so on. I cannot see how we could possibly be affecting the student computer labs connection speed. I am quite sure that we take up a miniscule amount of the total bandwidth.

Ah fuck it. In a few weeks everyone will be back to doing what they want anyway. Or at least until the next staff meeting.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Resource Links

Well, the same old same old has been going on, so in the light of no new grumbles, I thought something useful to fellow teachers might be in order.

I think thats a first ! :)

So here are a list of links for various resources and web sites of organisations etc that you might find useful.

AAIEP www.outfitters.com/com/aaiep/ The American Association of Intensive English Programs
ARELS www.edunet.com/arels/ Association of Recognized English Language Schools
BAAL www.swan.ac.uk/cals/baal.htm British Association of Applied Linguistics
BASELT www.wwt.co.uk/baselt/listbs.html The British Association of State English Language Teaching
BATQI www.u-net.com/eflweb/batqi.html British Association of Teacher Qualifying Institutions
British Council www.britcoun.org
CALICO www.calico.org/ US Consortium for CALL
CILT www.campus.bt.com/CampusWorld/pub/CILT/
Centre for Information on Language Teaching (UK)
ELICOS www.elicos.qut.edu.au/association Australia
IALL www.eleazar.dartmouth.edu/IALL/ International Association for Language Learning Technology
IATEFL www.man.ac.uk/IATEFL/ International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign
JALT langue.hyper.chubu.ac.jp/jalt Japan Association of Language Teachers
MATSDA cis.nmclites.edu/~banfi/MATSDA.Html
Materials Developers Association NATE www.campus.bt.com/CampusWorld/pub/Nate/index.html
National Association of Language Teachers (UK)
NCELTR www.nceltr.mq.edu.au/home.html National Council for English Language Teaching (Australia)
NCTE www.ncte.org/ National Council of Teachers of English (US)
TESOL www.tesol.com/ Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
TOEFL web.toefl.org/ Test of English as a Foreign Language
TOEIC www.toeic-usa.com/ Test of English for International Communication
UCLES www.edunet.com//ucles/index.html University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate
USIA www.usia.gov/ US Information Agency
World of Language www.worldoflanguage.com/

Aardvark's EFL Resources www.ilcgroup.com/aardvark/
Commercially available TESL material www.aitech.ac.jp/~iteslj/Links/Commercial.html
Dave's ESL Cafe on the Web www.eslcafe.com
Digital Education Network Home Page www.go-ed.com/
EFL: An Independent Site www.globalnet.co.uk/~efl/
ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching & Education www.ericsp.org/index.html
ESL Home Page: University of Illionois UC www.lang.uiuc.edu/r-li/esl/
ESL Loop www.webring.org/cgibin/webring?index&ring=esloop
ESL Virtual Catalog www.pvp.com/esl.htm
Pilgrims Online www.pilgrims.co.uk/
Resources for teachers of EST www.cibnor.conacyt.mx/est/est.html
TEFL Links www.aitech.ac.jp/~iteslj/ESL.html
The Training Resources Store [link deleted--possibly hijacked -Reg]
Volterre- Fr www.wfi.fr/volterre/
Yahoo! - Education:Languages:ESL www.yahoo.com/Education/Languages/
Work Abroad ESL http://www.workabroadesl.com/site/default.asp
EducationGuardian.co.uk TEFL http://education.guardian.co.uk/tefl/0,5477,480994,00.html
PowerPoint Resources: http://classroom.jc-schools.net/la/activities/pptresources.html
More PowerPoint Resources: http://jc-schools.net/write/ppt.html


Clothing: http://www.oup.com/elt/teachersclub/articles/clothing?cc=th
Food: http://www.oup.com/elt/teachersclub/articles/food?cc=th

Lesson Plans and other Teacher Resources
CD-ROM Lesson Plans www.mls.co.jp
Clip Art Collection for FL instruction www.sla.purdue.edu/fll/JapanProj/FLClipart/default.html
ESL Plans www.csun.edu/~hcedu/eslplans.html#LessonPlans
ESL Plans from California www.csun.edu/%Ehcedu/eslplans.html
ESL Teacher Connection, Michigan www.sils.umich.edu/~jarmour/etc/etchome.html
Gessler Teacher Tips www.gessler.com/gessler/teach.html
Lesson Plans from a New York teacher members.aol.com/Jakajk/ESLLessons.html
Links to ESL/EFL Lessons on the Net (ITESLJ) www.aitech.ac.jp/~iteslj/Links/LessonLinks.html
OTAN Forum www.otan.dni.us/cgibin/webdir.pl?dir=%FLesson%Plans%FESL
Searching the Web: Handout www.otan.dni.us/webfarm/emailproject/search.htm
TESL/TEFL Game: Wham! www.rede.com/eslgames/wham.htm
Word Search Maker! http://teachers.teach-nology.com/web_tools/word_search/
Linguarama Index of other exercises in Postscript http://www.linguarama.com/ps/other.htm
Worksheets, Teaching Tips, and Rubrics from Teach-nology.com www.teach-nology.com
Children Only ESL-EFL games, clip art flash cards, stories, songs for download http://www.childrenonlyesl-efl.com/
Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary http://www.m-w.com/home.htm
Games for learning and teaching English. ELT, ESLTeaching writing in English for ELT-ESL http://www.onestopenglish.com/Games/Index.htm
Free Coloring Pages http://www.coloring.ws/coloring.html
ESL go link to sites for English as a Second Language + EFL teachers http://www.eslgo.com/tlinks.html
englishbanana.com - 400+ Free Printable Worksheets - www.englishbanana.com
Resources http://perso.wanadoo.es/tobyrob/
www.efl4u.com - EFL _ ESL FUN English Teaching Lesson Worksheets
Handouts Online_ Supplementary English Resources and Materials for EFL _ ESL _ TEFL Teachers http://www.handoutsonline.com/
Kid Crosswords and Other Puzzles--November - December 2004 http://www.kidcrosswords.com/


for adults

Report Card Writing
www.rayslearning.com/report.htm free
www.gradekeeper.com Not free but click 'pay later' each time and it is

Wordsearch Generators

Testing and Examinations
Bibliography for Language Testing (Kitao) ilc.doshisha.ac.jp/users/kkitao/library/biblio/testbib.html
CILTS www.edunet.com/ciltsrsa/
College of Preceptors www.preceptors.ac.uk/preceptors
Analytical Writing (high level) http://www.ucop.edu/sas/awpe/sample.html
ESL Placement Test http://www.testingoffice.uci.edu/AE.html
Language Testing Articles Database www.surrey.ac.uk/ELI/langtest/ltfind.html
Language Testing Research Group (Lancaster) www.ling.lancs.ac.uk/groups/ltrg/index.htm
Resources in Language Testing Page www.surrey.ac.uk/ELI/ltr.html
Test Suites for Natural Language Processing (Essex) www.essex.ac.uk/group/projects/tsnlp/
The British Council: English Language Tests www.britcoun.org/english/insengte.htm
TOEFL OnLine www.toefl.org
Cambridge FCE Practice Tests http://www.flo-joe.co.uk/fce/students/tests/tsindex.htm
Cambridge CAE Practice Tests
Cambridge CPE Practice Tests

Grammar & Quizzes
Elementary Grammar www.hiway.co.uk/~ei/intro.html
ESL Quiz Center (ESLCafe) www.pacificnet.net/~sperling/quiz/#grammar
Grammar and Style Notes www.english.upenn.edu/~jlynch/grammar.html
Grammar Help www.hut.fi/~rvilmi/LangHelp/Grammar/
Grammar Links www.gl.umbc.edu/~kpokoy/grammar.htm
INTALL (Internet Aided Language Learning) www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum//test.html
Language Net www.point.co.uk/lnet/
On-Line English Grammar (Edunet) www.edunet.com/english/grammar/toc.html
Self-Study Quizzes www.aitech.ac.jp/~iteslj/quizzes/
(common errors in English) http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/
(idioms) http://home.t-online.de/home/toni.goeller/idiom_wm/
(more idioms) http://www.eslcafe.com/idioms/id-mngs.html
(anagrams) http://www.wordsmith.org/anagram/
(conversation questions, PDF format) http://iteslj.org/questions/
(language puzzle generators) http://www.puzzlemaker.com/
(complete guide to the phonetic alphabet for English) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet_for_English
ntroduction to Composition: http://bol1800-01.k12.fsu.edu/compositionpage.html
Guide to English Grammar: http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/index2.htm
Guide to Grammar and Writing http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/index.htm

Concise guide to English grammar http://englishplus.com/grammar/contents.htm

English Language Teaching Web Discussion Forums www.eltweb.com/laison/discussion_forums
ESL Cafe Job Discussion Forums http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/job/
ESL Cafe - Forums http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/teacher/
ESLEFLjobs.com Forum http://eslefljobs.com/forum/index.php
Thai School Watch http://www.thaischoolwatch.com/

Hope some of these are what you need. Enjoy.

The ranting will return, dont worry.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Have You Been Saved Yet?

This week has been a bit of a funny one as the timetable has been messed around because of various activities at the school.

Every day this week one period is completely wiped out and another is curtailed. Because we are catching up with the weekly exams it’s causing a little bit of friction in some teaching groups.

The cause? It’s a Spiritual Revival Week. For the kids it’s a case of going to a show with a few hallelujahs thrown in, singing a few simple songs with actions the kids love like putting one hand in the air, two hands, turn around and so on and so on, then getting a moral story at the end. It’s all fairly inoffensive I suppose.

For the teachers we unfortunately have to attend a lunchtime meeting just for us. When I say just for us, I mean just for us foreign teachers. Yup, we have been separated from the rest of the herd. Quite why I am not sure, might be to do with the approach used. For the Thais, it seems like a quite couple of hymns being sung, a little sermon and a couple of prayers. For us, at least today we had a good old fashioned fire and brimstone born again evangelist preacher. I will give you 3 guesses where he is from, yup got it in one. He is a good ole boy from Tennessee! I don’t think he lowered his voice to less than a fervent roar.

I am not quite sure what exact sect he represents but he came out with some very strange ideas and concepts. Apparently GOD knows everything. Well DUH! But seriously, he said that we are born innocent until we know sin. That point is different for everyone. Once we know sin we are condemned to hell unless we accept GOD into our hearts and put our trust in him. If we die before knowing what sin is, we are allowed to go to heaven. Which as far as I am aware goes against the concept of original sin that the Catholics hold dear. Anything and everything we do in life doesn’t matter, good or bad, baptism doesn’t matter, christening doesn’t matter just as long as we accept GOD before we die. Again that sort of goes against, well just about all Christian teachings I know about because they all basically go the same way, follow the 10 commandments and be a nice person.

One of the worst things that we can apparently do when judgement comes is to have what he describes as idle talk. This is quite a bad sin as sins go. He kept on going on about how when Jesus is talking to him when he dies Jesus is saying, Ii told you to spread the word of God but instead you talked to that woman in the supermarket about a movie you saw, why did you do that? So, now you know. If someone suddenly comes up to you in a supermarket and starts to ask you have you found your saviour yet that’s the reason. They don’t want to sin and not spread the word.

This guy also said he had a “normal” job before but was empty and had tried a whole load of other things but there was still a hole inside him, he had tried all sorts of things including the occult - he probably read Harry Potter – before he was saved and heard Jesus calling him to be a missionary in Thailand.

He also gave out a little gem of personal information that he has 8 kids. Bloody hell, that’s all we need. More born again Christian fundamentalists. He said that at the age of 6 his oldest son had made – I can’t remember the exact word but it was something like an acceptance of GOD. But at the age of 16 he realised that he knew sin and that the previous acceptance was an empty and worthless one. Sorry, but what sort of household is it that has kids at age 6 making acceptances of GOD and puts the fear of GOD into them? He was also prattling on about how he punishes his children by spanking them and how he felt sorry about judging them and so on.

It was originally scheduled that we would have to go four times in the week but it has been cut to twice. Just to make sure we go, we have to sign an attendance sheet to prove we were there.

All I can say is thank god. Oooooops J I have to say that sometimes I have gone to church or other religious meetings because I have been with family or friends who do believe. As you can tell, I don’t. I suppose the best way of describing my view is Agnostic - from Greek agnĊstos, (“unknowable”), strictly speaking, the doctrine that humans cannot know of the existence of anything beyond the phenomena of their experience. The term has come to be equated in popular parlance with scepticism about religious questions in general and in particular with the rejection of traditional Christian beliefs under the impact of modern scientific thought. There you go!

This guy, whoever he is, is the sort of evangelist that would never make me more interested in wanting to know more about Christianity. He turns me off it. Sometimes, when I have gone to the religious meetings, some of the speakers have got me wondering hmm, I wonder. Not because they were any less enthusiastic or fervent but they channelled that into – at least for me – a more productive message and more realistic one that says yes there are questions, yes it can be difficult but….. This guy today was be saved or go to hell – literally. Nah, not for me. Or for others. There were maybe about 25 teachers there and 5 people walked out after having had enough. I don’t blame them. It was, I suppose, morbid curiosity that I stayed, like watching a fire, a car crash or laughing at a sick joke. You know you shouldn’t but you do anyway.

I have been told that it’s a different person each day. In one way I hope it’s a new guy and in another masochistic way I hope it’s the same guy.