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 The American Association of Intensive English Programs
ARELS Association of Recognized English Language Schools
BAAL British Association of Applied Linguistics
BASELT The British Association of State English Language Teaching
BATQI British Association of Teacher Qualifying Institutions
British Council
CALICO US Consortium for CALL
Centre for Information on Language Teaching (UK)
ELICOS Australia
IALL International Association for Language Learning Technology
IATEFL International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign
JALT Japan Association of Language Teachers
Materials Developers Association NATE
National Association of Language Teachers (UK)
NCELTR National Council for English Language Teaching (Australia)
NCTE National Council of Teachers of English (US)
TESOL Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language
TOEIC Test of English for International Communication
UCLES University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate
USIA US Information Agency
World of Language

Aardvark's EFL Resources
Commercially available TESL material
Dave's ESL Cafe on the Web
Digital Education Network Home Page
EFL: An Independent Site
ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching & Education
ESL Home Page: University of Illionois UC
ESL Loop
ESL Virtual Catalog
Pilgrims Online
Resources for teachers of EST
TEFL Links
The Training Resources Store [link deleted--possibly hijacked -Reg]
Volterre- Fr
Yahoo! - Education:Languages:ESL
Work Abroad ESL TEFL,5477,480994,00.html
PowerPoint Resources:
More PowerPoint Resources:


Lesson Plans and other Teacher Resources
CD-ROM Lesson Plans
Clip Art Collection for FL instruction
ESL Plans
ESL Plans from California
ESL Teacher Connection, Michigan
Gessler Teacher Tips
Lesson Plans from a New York teacher
Links to ESL/EFL Lessons on the Net (ITESLJ)
OTAN Forum
Searching the Web: Handout
TESL/TEFL Game: Wham!
Word Search Maker!
Linguarama Index of other exercises in Postscript
Worksheets, Teaching Tips, and Rubrics from
Children Only ESL-EFL games, clip art flash cards, stories, songs for download
Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary
Games for learning and teaching English. ELT, ESLTeaching writing in English for ELT-ESL
Free Coloring Pages
ESL go link to sites for English as a Second Language + EFL teachers - 400+ Free Printable Worksheets -
Resources - EFL _ ESL FUN English Teaching Lesson Worksheets
Handouts Online_ Supplementary English Resources and Materials for EFL _ ESL _ TEFL Teachers
Kid Crosswords and Other Puzzles--November - December 2004


for adults

Report Card Writing free Not free but click 'pay later' each time and it is

Wordsearch Generators

Testing and Examinations
Bibliography for Language Testing (Kitao)
College of Preceptors
Analytical Writing (high level)
ESL Placement Test
Language Testing Articles Database
Language Testing Research Group (Lancaster)
Resources in Language Testing Page
Test Suites for Natural Language Processing (Essex)
The British Council: English Language Tests
Cambridge FCE Practice Tests
Cambridge CAE Practice Tests
Cambridge CPE Practice Tests

Grammar & Quizzes
Elementary Grammar
ESL Quiz Center (ESLCafe)
Grammar and Style Notes
Grammar Help
Grammar Links
INTALL (Internet Aided Language Learning)
Language Net
On-Line English Grammar (Edunet)
Self-Study Quizzes
(common errors in English)
(more idioms)
(conversation questions, PDF format)
(language puzzle generators)
(complete guide to the phonetic alphabet for English)
ntroduction to Composition:
Guide to English Grammar:
Guide to Grammar and Writing

Concise guide to English grammar

English Language Teaching Web Discussion Forums
ESL Cafe Job Discussion Forums
ESL Cafe - Forums Forum
Thai School Watch

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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Another Brick In The Wall

This is another test to see if the old picture upload will work yet. It has nothing to do with my old school at all, ever, honestly.

This week and next are heavily disrupted with holidays for Kao Pansa ( spelling ?) - basically the retreat of the monks - and a Spiritual Revival Week for the kids. Basically more christian brainwashing for the kids to screw them up even more. Unfortunately, this combined with a shortening of our exam timetable means that our weekly exam load has increased and we need to do a couple this week before the end of the 1 st part of term. Its not that bad at the end of the day as we are up to date and we are only scheduled to do 1 a week anyway. Others were supposed to do 2 a week and are having trouble trying to fit them in in time.

Mind you, its the same old joke, we are going through all this trouble to create, give out, mark and record papers and then we will pass them all anyway.

I tried a reading exercise with the kids today. Absolute bloody shambles, they needed their hands held all the way through. I can see an average score of about 1.3 out of 5 appearing. Its not that difficult. Its the level of

"My name is David and I am six years old."

How old is David?

The total "story" is 5 sentences long and they are not long sentences either. Its going to be so frustrating trying to get them to improve. One class just literally sat there and Mai Kow Jaied the whoel lesson. Well, not true. One went Mai Penn (Spelling?) - cannot do. Yet other classes took 5 minutes.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

If I Ruled The World

I suppose I shouldn’t have asked the question.

What have we done to deserve this – for lack of a better word – system? What could we do, what should we do?

In practical terms we as teachers have very little input. In some schools we come in, get told what to teach, what book – if we are lucky and there is your pay, now get out. In others it’s a bit better, they ask questions and listen and then do it the same old way of not failing students etc etc. It is exceptionally rare for a normal school to actually think properly and logically about what needs to be done - from the schools perspective, from the parents and from the pupils. Even the big “International Schools” can be fucked up when the franchise owners decide to maximise profits and forget about education. Look at Dulwich in Phuket. It is now the International British Curriculum School. Hmmm.

So enough of the moaning, if I ruled the world what would I do?

An unlimited supply of Cider and Viagra / Alka Seltzers depending on the circumstances! Peer to peer programs to be made legal……

But seriously, in no particular order here are some random thoughts

Visa / Work Permit / Teachers Licence

Make the Teachers Licence transferable. I mean EASILY transferable. Make the form a little book like the work permit where all you need to do is take it to your school. Get them to go with you to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry stamp it after recording the change of school.

Make the Work Permit EASILY transferable and make the visa for teachers last 13 months, not just to the end of the contract. Why that extra time? Well because a lot of schools give 11 month contracts so that the holidays in April are unpaid. This means teachers have to go out of Thailand to get new visas. Even if the contract is 12 months, a lot of teachers start new schools just after the 12 month period. That means again a lot of unnecessary travel and expense.

Can anyone tell me the sense in the huge rush all the various agencies and schools have to go through in may / Jun because so many have to reapply for documents and permits they had the previous year. It’s all work for works sake.

If anyone is suspected of producing duff documents, the Ministry and or the school should contact the University to check the authenticity. If the degree is proved to be duff i.e. a Khao San copy, the degree should be seized and used for comparison on other suspects. The teacher should not be forced to pay for letters from the embassy or extra letters from the university or whoever.

If the Ministry says it will accept documents one year for a Licence it should have a damm good reason for turning round the next year and declining one.

Even these small changes would make a great impact I suspect on reducing the fear factor for schools, the stress level for teachers and would help to make a lot more teachers legal.

The school should give a clear list of documents that are needed at the contract signing stage to give the teacher enough time to get it ready to be processed.

The teacher should have original documents! It’s a bit of a no brainer but its strange the number who arrive without their original certificates and have to wait for them to be sent over here.

If the school think they have a got a bit of an anally retentive twat who insists that John Robert William Lewis is not the same person John R W Lewis then they should tell the person to fuck off and process the damm thing or go to someone else for a second opinion without fear of it being rejected just because the first anal twat did.


Listen to the teachers. Have a discussion, listen. Some of the ideas may be good, some may be bad but actually listen. Then take the good ones on board and actually do something.

Give the teachers’ real worthwhile training. Help them to improve.

Tell the parents NO! Revolutionary this but what the hell. Tell the parents some kids are not going to cope in the particular English program and bump them down to the next level. Tell the parents kids will fail. Don’t allow cheating. Tell the Thai teachers to ditch the microphones and get out from behind their desk.

Try and start making the kids think for themselves instead of the ritual of copying from the board and from each other in exams.

Back up the teachers ( where appropriate ) on parent v teacher arguments.

Make schools places of learning not just where you meet future business partners of the future and network.


It’s a job so treat like one. Its not a holiday, you didn’t go out on the piss every night back home and came in stinking of booze, did you? ( If you did then you really should look at yourself ) Don’t do it here. Chuck the 3 month holiday / working for beer money folks back out onto the street or into organised low salary / volunteer programs. This would help attract more teachers, who quite frankly would never consider working here because of the joke image it has.

When I went back home and told people what I was doing they thought I was wasting my time and basically my time here was just one long holiday. It’s that sort of perception that has to be changed and the only way it will is if the bigwigs here get the heads out there arses and look ahead, not 6 months, not 1 year but 5 years, 10 years ahead.

The fearless leader is all for making this place a regional hub of this that and that other. I tell you. If Cambodia, Laos or Burma ever decide ( or get enough help ) to overcome their past and get seriously developed, Thailand will be a dot in the rear view mirror. And that’s not forgetting about Singapore, Malaysia and of course the big giant in the north who could swallow all of Asia if things go their way.

Oh yes, I heard that another person resigned today. Another one bits the dust and another one gone, another one gone, another one bites the dust!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

More Paperwork Groans

Another week another batch of moans and groans in the office. Much of it is the usual stuff with paperwork for licences and permits and the lack of transparency in the processes.

As well as the usual rubbish that we have to put up with from the actual officials, there does seem to be extra nonsense going on in the school office, which in theory is on our side. Getting any sort of information is difficult, we aren’t being kept informed of any sort of progress. Where is my application? Er, not absolutely sure. I think I have the Teachers Licence but I haven’t seen any confirmation of that yet. Where is the Work Permit? Haven’t a clue. Every time I ask its “its being processed” Others are having even more of a problem with the old middle name problem with the old this is ok, no this is not ok two step. There are a few folk that are starting to wonder if this place is worth all the agro and by that I mean both the country and the school.

I haven’t really moaned about the kids in a while so here we go, part of the problem is that we have basically rich or semi rich parents who pay a bag of money to the school and therefore expect their kid to be fluent in English after the first week. In one of my classes I have a kid that is trouble with a T. At the start of the term he sat with the others, did nothing and fought and had to be sat on his own, then he has repeatedly then refused to sit with the others again, choosing to sit on his own. Since then he has done about 2% of the work of everyone else. He invents new ways of sitting or using the combination of desk and chair. One leg on the chair, one through the chair, one arm through the chair, banging the desk against the wall etc etc. As well as that he talks to the rest of the class, gets up and walks around, makes various noises, shouts random words and generally makes a nuisance of himself. Even the other kids in the class are aware of his problems and think he is crazy. Apparently he also has an older brother who has just as many behavioural problems. What happens? Nothing. The school continues to ignore the problem, continues to accept the parents money, the parent continues to waste money thinking he is learning English and the poor teachers get left with the mess to clear up.

In another class that is comparatively small, I have them split up so that there is no one sitting next to each other. Of course the obvious then happens, they talk to each other across the room almost completely oblivious of me trying to teach them. Today I was trying to teach them weather. I ask what’s this and amongst the answers I get back are pizza, woman and 7-11. Its not just the case that they don’t know, its that they are willfully being little shits. The really really annoying thing is that when they want to work – which isn’t that often - they can do the stuff, they can speaka da engleesh. The only time when they are semi quiet is when they are copying stuff down from the whiteboard or doing worksheets. But that isn’t why I am supposed to be here, why any of us are supposed to be here. Christ, if all the school wanted was people to teach them writing or worksheets they would just hire Fillipinas or following Fearless Leaders’ idea, getting them from India at quarter of the cost. And yet, they still want us. They want us and don’t want us.

You can see the same sort of attitude from Prathom right up to the highest levels. The refusal to listen, to think logically, think or act independently. That’s why so many people have problems getting work permits if the slightest thing is wrong. The folk in the Ministry are shit scared of actually making a decision that possibly James Robert William Smith that’s shown on the passport is the same person who is on the degree certificate as James R W Smith. As it is, the various embassies are making a lot of money from people who have to turn up to get a letter confirming that they are the same person.

How will this change? I don’t know, there are too many important people who would lose money and too many who would lose face and a few that would lose both. There are too many attitudes entrenched and heads in the sand. I suspect very few people do and none of them are in a position to change anything.