Thursday, January 29, 2009

Great Moments in TEFL History, The Lost Videos

Obviously I was drunk when I was searching for these videos, because it turns out they're easy to find.

Easier to find then my current salary, at any rate -- the ruble hit 35 to the dollr today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Great Moments in TEFL History, Part 1

My first exposure, and likely most people's first exposure, to the concept of teaching English as a foreign language was in the 1981 film STRIPES, starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, PJ Soles, et al.

Bill Murray plays John Winger, the hero, a lazy and disaffected cab driver who decides to join the Army after his (inordinately hot) girlfriend leaves him. Hilarity ensues, of course.

His best friend, Russel, played by Harold Ramis, is actually a teacher of English to recent immigrants. In an early scene, we see him teaching his students the lyrics to "Da Do Ron Ron Ron".

Shockingly, an entire fifteen minutes of searching on Google failed to turn up any video clips of this, so you'll just have to learn to use your imagination.

I did, however, find this transcript of the film's second scene with Russel's class:

[when Russell is teaching English class]

Russell Ziskey: Okay, I know you're anxious to jump right in and start speaking English, but there's a couple of things I need to know first, because I've never done this before. So, how many of you would say you speak English fairly well, but with some difficulties?


Russell Ziskey: A little English?

[a man raises his hand]

Russell Ziskey: Yes? You speak some English?

Man learning English: Son of bitch. Shit.

Class: [in unison] Son of bitch. Shit

And my life was destined never to be the same.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Either / Or, Neither / Nor

Man, I don't know what worries me more, as DOS, when we get new teachers: the wild-eyed, off-balance middle-aged guys or the young kids who look like they shouldn't even be left alone in the house without a babysitter.

Got one today, looks like he hasn't even hit puberty yet. Twenty-two! I have genital warts older than that . . .

Monday, January 26, 2009

That Whole Man / Woman Thing

I was just looking through the archives of the blog run by Harry Hutton, another itinerant English teacher abroad -- Chase Me Ladies, I'm In The Cavalry.

Recommended. Anyway, he made a short post about how more or less difficult it is to meet women in different countries:

Russia is also amazing for what women will put up with. The gulf between the women there -stunning, often highly cultured- and the men -complete slobs- is astonishing. Any man who chews with his mouth closed and doesn't gob in the streets will stand out like a fur coat on a pig.

The trouble, of course, being that those guys who spit in the street and chew with their mouths open often have a lot of money. English teachers chew with their mouths open and don't have a red cent, most of the time.

Some Russians amusing themselves. (Not safe for work, unless you happen to work in a retail pornography shop of some kind.) Look at that dopey little dork those two luscious babes are with. Wonder what his secret is? Hard currency, probably.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fucked Again

Blah blah blah, lead-up lead-up lead-up, pithy observation, sardonic generalization, blah blah blah --

Punch line:

So I got back to Russia and discovered, as I walked to passport control, that the number on my passport no longer matched the number on my visa.

You see, I'd gotten my passport renewed, and just sort of assumed that the number on it would be the same. As, apparently, did my school.

So I was stuck on the first plane back to Frankfurt (and charged $900 for the pleasure.) I spent four nights there getting it all straightened out, paying 60 Euros a night for a hotel, and then spent $650 getting a flight back here.

Also fucked: the exchange rate, which is now 32 rubles to the dollar. In terms of dollar savings, my salary is now worth about 30 percent less than it was.

I really feel a sense of impending doom. But I suppose I'm not the only one.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

America in Crisis

Last day of my American holidays -- it's an American tragedy all right, a true cataclysm:

People can no longer afford to buy a lot of overpriced useless junk they don't need. The stores full of useless junk stand mostly empty.

Purveyors of useless junk are in a panic. "How can we afford to buy overpriced useless junk ourselves, if no one buys our useless junk?" they scream. "We can barely afford to drive our SUVs down to Starbucks for $5 cups of coffee!"

God help us all.

So I return tomorrow to Russia -- where more of the same awaits.

(It's even more satisfying to see this in Russia, where eight years ago toilet paper in a public restroom was a pricey luxury and most people lived on vegetables grown at the dacha. How soon they forget.)

I'm so relieved I didn't waste my life starting a family or pursuing a career.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New

It's always a bit of a shock to come back to America -- the cleanliness, the abundance, the obesity.

But there are things to like -- electrical wall outlets are plentiful and well-located.

Okay, sure, 2008 sucked ass on many many levels, but at least the zombies didn't rise. Small favors.

Best of 2008: The TV program THE SHIELD. And that's about it. Oh, and that Rhianna song. That was okay.