Monday, December 30, 2013

Disgusting Bar Room Conversation Regarding Three-Ways

This was a conversation that Crazy Bob and another Vodkaberg alumni and I had in Dubai a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Christmas, what's that? Some kind of infidel holiday?


We got the following e-mail at work today: 

Teachers are expected to abide by local custom and treat December 25th as a normal working day with no deviation from pacing schedules.
It is considered inappropriate to raise the following subjects, and it is expected for teachers to prevent on-going discussions should they be raised by trainees:
1.       Christmas
2.       Nativity
3.       Carol singing (or singing Happy Birthday)
4.       Wishing anyone “Merry Christmas”
5.       Classes, or activities in classes, on any festive season themes
I hope this e-mail will be taken in the spirit with which it is intended - to protect teachers from causing unnecessary offense to citizens of their host country. 

So that's where all my decisions in life have brought me; this is the culmination of all I have chosen: Christmas is fucking illegal. 

Anyway, how am I? 

Money is piling up at an astounding rate; enjoyable experiences, not so much. 

I'm working in the evening now, 3:00pm - 11:00pm and it's slightly more bearable than working in the mornings, but this is still one of the worst jobs I've ever had. I'm paid enormous amounts of money to go in and stand around while the students refuse to work, for the most part. Five 40-minute classes per day now (after doing a large amount of nothing the first three months I was here) but we have to sit around the office when we're not working.

And as I said: I live in a trailer park. 

So what would YOU do for $8000 a month?  

Got my first two-week holiday in February; the Girlfriend and I are going to the Maldives in one last attempt to work something out with our relationship. I'll be working on Christmas and New Year's, but that's hardly anything new so I don't think I'll sit home and cry or anything. 


You can read CHRISTMAS IN BANGKOK for FREE on Amazon this week:

Or you can just read the original story here:

And here are some other old international Christmas stories you can peruse. 

So what am I going to do?  

I'm going to Dubai next weekend, but on Christmas day I think I'll watch this: 

or this is a reliable holiday choice:  

Merry Christmas, and to all a good night!

COMING: Disgusting bar conversation with Crazy Bob RE: Three Ways. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Interview with the TEFL Tradesman

Whoops, I've kind of been neglecting to talk more about English teaching, here in the English Teacher X blog. Here's an interview I did with Sandy McManus last year. 

Sandy McManus is like ETX -- a venerable veteran TEFLer. Half-Irish, half-Scottish, and all mad, he vents his rage about the worst aspects of the TEFL industry on his blog,

How long have you been teaching, and where?

My first teaching post was in Spain in the mid 1980s, and since then (25 years ago!) I have worked in France, Turkey, Russia, and a few other places in the Gulf. Now I’m back on my native soil (hometown, in fact). All bad pennies roll back home, I guess.

What made you decide to become a teacher in the first place?

Lack of ambition, I suppose; combined with a desire to keep travelling, moving around the world, and generally not settle down. Yes, I was in thrall to my itchy feet! I also had a keen desire to experience the constant anxiety that is a feature of the genteel poverty of the less employable middle classes, rather like Mr. Micawber in Dickens’ great classic, David Copperfield. So it was literature too that got me into this game!

Which places did you like the most, and the least? 

I do harbor an ambition to return (retire) to Spain one day, as I enjoyed the teaching and the lifestyle there so much, but please don’t mention this to my wife, as she is entirely fed up with so much globe-trotting. I would never go back to the Gulf countries, unless you paid me ultra-handsomely and allowed me to do virtually diddly-squat all day.

Who have been your most venal and incompetent employers?

Which ones aren’t?

Which students have you found the most difficult and thankless to teach? 

The rich and the stupid (in many cases, especially in the Gulf, they exist together in the same body – very handy!). I enjoy failing the ultra-wealthy ones and humiliating the dimbos – it’s one of the few perks of this job. Actually, I don’t really object to lazy students – they make my job so much easier!

When and why did you decide to start the TEFL Tradesman website?

I think version 1 kicked off in early January 2005, when I actually found myself with enough free time on my hands to start a blog. I had long had a burning desire to dump on this profession’s shysters, ridicule the whacky so-called “methods” of teaching, and highlight the many degenerates and social retards that typically haunt the staffrooms of the least desirable “schools,” and setting up a blog seemed the best way to do it. It’s gone through a few different versions and mutations since those early days – usually due to threats of legal action or physical violence – but my current site dates from 2008 (or maybe 2009) I believe. To date I have suffered no acts of grievous bodily harm, and no financial misfortunes have befallen me via the courts. But there’s still time, I guess!!

Where do you stand on the issue of having sex with students?

It’s better lying down than standing, I reckon, although the anal variety, so I am told, can be successful in the upright position when tackled with care and integrity. No, actually my wife was one of my students, so how can I possibly be against the idea? However, shagging a colleague’s students is a complete no-no, as it only provokes jealousy in the staffroom.

Who's the most fucked-up teacher you've ever met? 

There are far too many to mention, but most of them have found their way into the TEFL Tradesman blog at some time or other, either as a composite or an individual portrayal. The ugly British Council bulldog? She’s there, along with the alcoholic Director of Studies and the callous, dismissive small-time school Proprietor who actually thinks he’s running the next …

What would be your main advice for someone who wanted to get into TEFL?

See a doctor, or ring The Samaritans. It’s a very nice way to see the world for a couple of years or so, but no more than that – a ticket to ride. Working in a language school in the UK must be the suckiest job imaginable, which is why I avoid them and am so keen to pan them. If you do return to your native country and want to remain in teaching, you should train properly and become a state school teacher or college lecturer. Otherwise, you condemn yourself to a lifetime of insecurity, bad pay, and socially inept colleagues.

What are your hopes or plans for the future? 

I no longer have hopes – “those who live on hope die of hunger,” I believe an important American once said. Now I just expect the worst, and remain pleasantly surprised when things turn out well. So I just plan to survive now – until I can retire at the ripe old age of … ooh, 50?

* * * 
Of course for more lowdown on TEFL as well as a dozen or so interviews with real teachers, check out the 2013 edition of ENGLISH TEACHER X GUIDE TO TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD. 
Get it here as an e-book on Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Smashwords 
Get it here as a paperback at Amazon / Createspace

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hacks Hacking Hacks

As I am bemused by the attempts to use the term ALPHA to apply to rootless, drunken misanthropes, roaming around fucking drunk sluts and supporting themselves with dodgy internet ventures, so am I equally beginning to be amused by the attempts to use the term HACK to denote a superior way of accomplishing things. "Life Hacks" "Travel Hacks" "Hacking Your Job" "Hacking Ukrainian Babes" and so forth.

This usage seems to have originated with Mr. 4-Hour Work Week -- when I was a kid we just called it cheating, but there you go -- I understand that it's supposed in this case to mean something like an easy shortcut to productivity.

But again, did anybody bother to look in the dictionary?  Apart from idea of using a computer to gain unauthorized access, and the idea of cutting, chopping or slicing crudely, we have some of the following definitions of it as a verb:

to damage or injure by crude, harsh, or insensitive treatment; mutilate; mangle: The editor hacked the story to bits.

to reduce or cut ruthlessly; trim: The Senate hacked the budget severely before returning it to the House.

More damning, using it as a noun gives us some of the following wonderfully on-the-nose definitions:

a person, as an artist or writer, who exploits, for money, his or her creative ability or training in the production of dull, unimaginative, and trite work; one who produces banal and mediocre  work in the hope of gaining commercial success in the arts: As a painter, he was little more than a hack.

a professional who renounces or surrenders individual independence, integrity, belief, etc., in return for money or other reward in the performance of a task normally thought of as involving a strong personal commitment: a political hack.

an old or worn-out horse; a jade

A few other definitions of interest as verbs:

to make trite or stale by frequent use (as in hackneyed)

to take a poor, awkward or ineffective swing at the ball (especially in tennis) 

and of course:

to cough harshly in short, repeated spasms

Just a little semantic thought-of-the-day from ETX. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to my hack writing projects.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Safety Message

Everybody thinks terrorism when you mention that you work in the Middle East; but in point of fact you're at WAY bigger risk of getting killed in a car accident than to of getting involved in an awful compound massacre.

People drive like fucking lunatics. Some combination of bottled-up aggression, sexual frustration, cheap gas, and extensive empty highways cause the residents to love driving fast. The young guys particularly love drag racing and drift racing. The Kingdom has one of the highest rates of death from motor vehicle accidents in the world.

We are called upon in my job here at the Big Corporate Entity to give safety messages to the trainees; these often involve exhorting them to drive safely.

Here was this week's safety message.

Rest in peace, Paul Walker. He drift races with the angels now.