Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Dont Look Back In Anger Part 2

Well, it seems that there have been various rumours being circulated around the school about me. Its great to have secret sources :) A top white house aide said today.... :)

The way in which I left probably gave a good launch point certainly. But, unfortunately again I am not going to comment, just yet, to give the school another chance to write back to me and reply to the fax and letters that have been sent about the money they owe me.

So to quote Laurie Anderson

"just pay me what you owe me"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dont Look Back In Anger Part 1

I suppose as the time draws near for returning home a little retrospective is called for.

Why did I choose to come here and teach? Well, basically I wanted to work abroad somewhere before I got too tied down, too old, too scared, too trapped. For a lot of people the thought of moving job is scary. It is ranked as one of the most stressful things a person can do in their life. Add in moving – which is also one of the most stressful add in moving halfway round the world and you can see why a lot of people wont do it.

Why did I start writing the blog? Basically I just needed an outlet to get rid of some frustrations. It wasn’t intended to be for a mass audience, it wasn’t intended to please others, it was just a way for me to keep calm. I already was writing on my web site about work but wanted another site where I could say what I wanted and use sweary words without folks at home getting too upset.

Does this tale have a happy ending or did I just steal the Oasis song for the hell of it? You will need to wait and see, as will I, because it may or may not depending on certain people. Cryptic? You bet. Maybe I will tell all, maybe I wont.

Four and a bit years ago, I was looking to see which course I wanted to do I looked around and basically came down to two choices. One was the CELTA which meant Bangkok and the TEFL International TESOL down in Ban Phe opposite Ko Samet. At the time my thinking was that if I was going to do this thing, give up my good job at home and move away from my friends and family, I was going to do it properly. I was going to do the course in Thailand and see what it was like – the country, the work and living there.

I had been to Thailand before on holiday and had an idea of what it would be like, but of course, living somewhere and being on holiday are two different things. So, I did all the research, looked at all the internet pages – just how on earth people research this sort of stuff before the internet? – and got scared. This was the time of the TEFL flame wars on, Daves and a few other sites. The wars were brutal, I mean no holds barred downright brutal between the two main protagonists, Bruce from TEFL International on one side and Leigh and James from Text n Talk on the other. I ended up asking Bruce to cut out some of this and for both sides to calm down and have intelligent discussion and was basically told to piss off to another web site that was more civilised!

Surprisingly after that, I still went ahead and booked a place in Bruces course. I figured as much as the CELTA name was well known it was based in Bangkok and had and still has a reputation of being a serious, driven course with not much fun. You learn a lot but it’s a slog. The TEFL Int course seemed to be a course that although hard and needed serious attention was still fun to do. Add in the thought that if I stayed in Bangkok the possibilities of distractions at night- ok, yes that sort but I was also thinking of cinemas, pubs, shopping etc etc could deflect my attention from the course. I figured that in a small place like Ban Phe I would be there and concentrate only on the course. Oh how innocent I was. It turns out that there could be just as many distractions in that small town as Bangkok. Oh well.

The course itself was really good and I learnt a lot. The course obviously covered all the main areas like class management, teaching techniques, phonology, grammar etc etc The size of the course was twelve people including me which I think is about the right size. Its big enough to get a decent group dynamic, get lively discussions, allow everyone a chance to take art in activities, a mix of partners ( which if you don’t like someone is very important! ) yet small enough to feel you are a group without splintering into cliques. A big group could mean you never get to really talk to a lot of people, some activities take far longer allowing boredom to creep in and of course there is less attention from the trainer. So twelve was about right.

Of the original twelve, I think I am the last one to actually work as an English teacher. There is still one person working in Bangkok, but they are in a non teaching job. Four went home after a year, one went to New Zealand to do EFL ( yes really ), one went back to Japan and the others I lost touch with directly but every now and again bumped into people that knew what was happening and said they had gone home or moved to another country to work.

The job hunting support wasn’t as big as they advertised – it mostly consisted of a folder in the common area with cut outs of the Bangkok Post and a few faxes from schools looking for people - but it was still enough for me and a couple of others to organise a job while we were still there.

So onto my first job….