Thursday, March 26, 2009

The UK TEFL Scene - Hobos and Humbug

The other day I logged in to my old TeflTrade (RIP) blog-city account, just for old times' sake I guess. There I found a message that arrived about a year ago, and which I hadn't even opened. I reckon it accurately expresses the scornful opinions of many reluctant UK Teflers on the futility of their ill-chosen 'profession'.

Sandy, Great pity to lose you. We need someone outspoken: understandable that you lost heart. Too often I noticed deleted, interesting stuff which probably was due to you being threatened by British Council, schools etc. We need people like you, however. Inescapable fact is that to be an EFL teacher you have to come to terms with being poor, even in a 'good' school. Graduates now often start in jobs at £26,000+ per year (usually in a financial institution) and EFL is, quite frankly, a hobo career: OK for a year or so when young but unrealistic later on. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't all so pretentious, but the way schools market themselves is nauseating: superfluous crap masking the economic facts that the staff can hardly afford to buy a garden shed for themselves to live in! EFL as a real career is only available to one in a thousand: the occasional one who can get a university job or somesuch: even that is extremely limited and modest. Sandy: thanks for exposing the pretence and humbug. Thank you, thank you. Philo

Well said, Philo. As an example of the pretentious shit that emanates from most EFL schools in the UK, I have a prime example here, from the Bournemouth Business School International. Look at this job advert from from a few months ago -

BBSI is looking for an experienced and qualified, EFL-trained teacher of Legal Studies, International and Commercial Law. The successful candidate will have a professional study background in legal fields, and will ideally have worked within the legal profession. S/he will have a broad knowledge of law rather than be a specialist.

So, not just a TEFL qualification, but professional experience and a qualification in Law. And what sort of salary are they offering for this pearl of a job?

Salary circa £16000.00 - £17000.00 depending on experience and qualifications. Supplementary earning may be possible at the rate of £14.00 per hour.

Hmm - cracking, eh? You can expect a starting salary of just over 300 quid a week - on a par with a checkout girl at Tesco's (with none of the perks, obviously!). As Philo said above, on that sort of money, you just might be able to afford a shed to live in - or maybe the BBSI director will rent you one in his garden?

Of course, if you're more ambitious, you might want to apply for this prime TEFL post, also at that shining example of TEFL bullshit, BBSI...

We are seeking an experienced and qualified individual for the role of Senior Tutor, Law. Prime responsibilities as a key member of our strong and supportive tutorial cadre would be the supervision of those BBSI staff associated with training in law and the ongoing management of all aspects of course planning, structure, content and teaching resources within the Law Department. The successful candidate would have a professional background in the legal profession and have extensive experience in teaching Legal English to international students.

The ideal candidate will possess a Law Degree, or similar, and have a CELTA or DELTA qualification, plus at least 2 years' sound teaching experience in a quality school or college.

Salary for a Senior tutor is circa £18,000.00 - £19,000.00, depending on the candidate's experience and qualifications. Supplementary earning may also be possible pro-rata for extra hours worked.

Oh wow!! A wonderful 19,000 quid for a job in a management and supervisory role! How can you possibly resist it?! And you don't need anything more than a Law degree , a Diploma, and a couple of years of experience teaching in a "quality college" - which probably excludes any internal candidates!

So, are you ready to go for it? If so, contact this old dragon, the DoS known as Gill Casey. Yes, I know - she looks hard enough to bite your bollocks off from 30 yards, so take care! You can e-mail the old boiler on - or maybe you'd rather turn up in person? The address is Bournemouth Business School International, 26 St Peters Road, Bournemouth BH1 2LW. But just make sure you've got your armour plated y-fronts on.

Anyway, last year I had this to say about the place and the dog-shit jobs they were offering:

"... the nauseatingly self-proclaiming blurb drones on. 'BBSI has a policy of constant innovation ...' it barks, which probably means they'll give you the sack as soon as it suits them."

Has the place improved since then? Somehow I doubt it.

Remember the motto - At BBSI, Crap Always Comes First!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dave Sperling is a Pathetic Wanker - it's Official!

You have been banned from this forum.
Please contact the webmaster or board administrator for more information.

I mean, what sort of a twat's business is the old Yiddo c*nt about? This must be the Nth time he's given me the boot from his frankly bland and boring forum ... and for what?

Well, apparently I transgressed one of the unwritten rules about never making public a PM (private message). The thing is - and I'm not sure that the toosser of a Moderator realised this - that the PM I passed into the public domain was mine! Yes, I'd composed it myself! I'd first sent it to another 'collaborator' , but then decided to go public with it. Don't I have the right to decide what to do with my own messages, Dave?

Anyway, this below is the first notice of my apparently subversive behaviour:

From: Revenant
Posted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:35 pm

Subject: Warning Quote message

You are being issued a warning for posting a PM on the open forums. This is not permitted.
Revealing information with regards to names of individuals or revealing information that could identify people for the purposes of getting them in trouble is also not permitted.
Normally, these infractions can result in an automatic deactivation of your account. This time you are being simply issued a warning.
However, -any- trouble involving your account on here at any time in the future will result in the deactivation of your account.

This warning is not up for discussion or debate. Any attempt to do so will be construed as your communicating that you do not desire to comply with this warning, and your account will be removed accordingly.

So, I replied with a simple Oh dear! Yep, that's all - but that was clearly too much for the arrogant little runt of a Moderator. I mean, look at that line - Any attempt to do so [i.e., discuss, debate, tell me to fuck off] will be construed as you being naughty and not doing what you're told, you plebby little Tefler...

So I'm struck off - again! Actually, I couldn't care tuppence really, as I've got another three identities to fall back on, and anyway, it's about as exciting as a tee-total barmitzvah on his forum these days. Every time an interesting issue looks set to boil over, Dave and his gaggle of mincing moderators switch off the gas and push the whole thing off the back burner.

And, can you believe this - when I made a posting about the notorious TEFL paedophile James Fraser Darling and his alleged appearance in China (or was it Turkey?) last summer, he gave me the push AND pulled the thread! Yes, naming and shaming an infamous child-molester is not allowed, because, as the Moderator stated above, " Revealing information with regards to names of individuals or revealing information that could identify people for the purposes of getting them in trouble is also not permitted."

And who would want to get a convicted paedophile into trouble, eh? Not Dave, of course!

So, Dave - you really ARE a cunt and a wanker - well done!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Work through Easter for 299 quid a week!

Yes, if you're really quick, you might be lucky and get the chance to work your Easter holidays for the mighty sum of 299 quid a week! That's how little that well-known "unfriendly family-run school" known as the Devon School of English are offering. Look at this pitiful advert below from

We are looking for dynamic, enthusiatic [sic] and committed teachers for a 4-week Easter period from 30 March 2009 (with the possibility of extending after this period).

Mm, I wonder what you need to be 'committed' to? Making ends meet? Living on a pittance? Or just making lots of dosh for the odious Hawthorne family!? I mean, look at the attractive salary, erm, wages, on offer...

The basic timetable is 23 hours per week. Payment will be weekly at rates starting from 13 GBP per hour.

So, 13 quid times 23 hours equals ... yes, 299 quid a week! Or less than 1200 smackers a month - which, after deductions for tax and National Insurance, will give you less than 1,000 quid for the four weeks of work!! Impressive, eh?!

So, go on ... take a long hard look at this monstrous bunch of tight-fisted shysters who are offering wages that are half the national average - although probably good for a shitehole like Paignton (a.k.a. Trumpton-on-Sea). Now, which family would YOU prefer to spend Easter with - the Munsters, or the Monsters?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

TEFLing in Turkey with Tony the Trot

Yikes! It was all there a minute ago - the text, I mean - and now some bugger's swiped it! Who could it be? Bastard! You'll pay for this, you miscreant!

Well, I guess I'll just have to leave you with a very fetching portrait of good old Lev Davidovich, (looking somewhat washed out, I admit) until I can lay my hands on it. Was it you, Shaunie? Or that mad git The Baron?! Snakey bastards, both of you...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yellow Headway Fever: Protect Yourself from This Deadly Disease!

I received an e-mail the other day in praise of (well, mentioning) this blog posting of mine from the past on TeflTrade (R.I.P.), so I figured it was well worth another outing. And let's face it, why shouldn't I brazenly plagiarise my own stuff? OK, I know - only ten or 15% of it's really my own work, but let's not get too picky here, eh?!

If you're teaching EFL abroad and you work in a location where the Yellow Headway is common (Pre-intermediate level), you absolutely must protect yourself from this deadly disease. Read on if you want to avoid the killer sickness that is currently ravaging the TEFL industry world-wide.

You Get Sick

Scarlet, canary yellow and shimmering blue feathered birds flecked with iridescent green, chirp songs to greet the sunrise as you awake. But you don't really notice - your hangover usually starts that way. Then, Thor's silver hammer begins to bang-bang-bang away at your head in fury. Your eyes close from the sheer pain. The nausea increases as you struggle to get up. Your back feels so hefty, like a slab of concrete. Again you try getting up, and your muscles scream so loudly you move, or crawl, as if in slow motion. Your palm burns from the 102 plus degrees F radiating from your forehead as you brush your hair back, trying to stimulate yourself to alertness. A trip hammer thunders away inside your chest at 100 to 110 beats per minute.
Good morning. You have Yellow Headway Fever.

You Get Worse

A few days after the sudden onset of symptoms, you worsen. You become jaundiced, and watch as your skin yellows to the point you more resemble a Halloween caricature than a dying person. The destruction of your liver cells results in the accumulation of yellow bile pigments in your skin, and your heart slows to around 50 beats per minute. That rumbling in your stomach is your gastro-intestinal tract bleeding. You vomit the characteristic black blood of Yellow Headway Fever. Although things are starting to become much worse, you don't have much longer to suffer, though. Death usually occurs between the fourth and eighth day after the onset of the disease.

You Get Out

Yellow Headway Fever is an untreatable, textbook-borne disease which is endemic in language schools that utilise the much over-rated Headway series. In schools in Eastern Europe and Russia an alert caused by outbreaks of Yellow Headway Fever is currently raging. Every year, from November until mid-January, scores of TEFL deaths from Yellow Headway Fever are usually recorded.

Immunization is futile. The only possible solutions involve the teacher making a sustained retreat from the classroom, and finding a proper job - usually in his country of origin. As there is no specific medical treatment for Yellow Headway Fever, once it is contracted, care consists of treating the symptoms of the disease by preventing dehydration, reducing fever - and removing all copies of the dreaded Yellow Headway from the resources room.

Take care. Don't be a victim!

Original Source:

[First Published: Saturday, 10 November 2007]

A Few Comments from the Original Posting

'Al' left this comment on 10 Nov 07
Hey there, I think headway is a barrel of roses compared to the tripe I have to use at the moment, have you ever used the tefl phlegm that is cutting edge? shudders...............

'Sandy' left this comment on 11 Nov 07
Actually, I have used Cutting Hedges, and prefer it to Headache. But it's just not suitable for students in the ME region - too much about sex, drugs, abortion, etc etc. Headache, on the other hand, is so utterly bland it coiuld be used anywhere in the world - hence its popularity, I guess.

'A visitor' left this comment on 16 Nov 07
Given your public spiritedness, do you not think a warning about the perils of Business Arse might be in order? It can be VERY painful.

'A visitor' left this comment on 16 Nov 07
Aye, an' worr about 'All Anal Business Pairwork' an' 'Rohypnol Recipes For Tied Up Teachers' ? not to mention 'English Vocab: A 2 M'. An' fer the more pastoral care types: 'When You Weep, I Seep- A Coping Guide For Teachers of Attractive Students From Eastern Europe'. Word.

'Sandy' left this comment on 16 Nov 07
OK, MCW - give me the hard news on 'Business Arse' and I'll print it. I'll not be cowed into submission again - for a while, anyway. As for you, Shaunie, just keep on taking that medicinal mixture of scrumpy cider, red wine and black rum, and you'll soon get better. Or dead. I'm sure they'd give you a nice funeral in Finland...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The TeflTrade Conference! (Repeat)

So, it's time for one from the archives again, as I really can't be bothered to cook up something new. Anyway, now that the dreaded 'TEFL Conference Season' is approaching, here's a relevant offering from December 2006, which turned out to be quite popular at the time (the article I mean, not the year, dolthead!)

Can you believe it?! After lengthy negotiations in numerous seedy European cafes and ‘amusement arcades', Sandy McManus has pulled off a feat that is virtually unknown in the brief history of trendy Tefl teaching. Yes indeedy, coming your way soon will be the very first TeflTrade EFL Conference, due to take place on an as yet undisclosed date at the Mountain Grill Café, Portobello Road (Full English Breakfast, only four quid). The Conference will be taking place under the theme of "Spam, double egg and chips", and a wide range of Tefl gurus, groupies and junkies have been booked to appear (whilst certain others have been paid to stay away).

Just look at this for a line-up...!

Jim Screwdriver - Lesson planning and how to avoid it

Trainers and trainees often view the lesson plan as an act of writing - but lesson planning is essentially a thinking skill. In particular, it entails thinking up reasons to avoid writing one in the first place. How can teachers avoid planning more successfully? How can trainers help teachers to avoid the dreaded LP in more thoughtful ways? There'll be some concrete suggestions for helping pressed-for-time Teflers avoid making a wide range of different plans for their chaotic ‘lessons'.

Jim Screwdriver is currently an inmate at Hastings College in the UK, having recently been released from an eight year sentence at International House in Budapest, Hungary. He is adapting heroically to not being an IH inmate any more, after having unfortunately wasted most of his career in the organisation. The new edition of his block-busting book "Unlearning Teaching - Forgetting your Way to Success" has just been published, and he's nervously waiting to hear how crap everybody thinks it is.

Adrian Underpass - The Unlearning school: a way of transforming work?

How ready to unlearn is your organization? And what might happen when unlearning is not just a product, but part of the contemporary systems-based organizational operating paradigm (what??!)? In this interactive mumbo-jumbo session, the well-known and celebrated Mr Underpass will outline the principle of the unlearning organization, describe two or three practical unlearning strategies tried by an actual ELT school, discuss the possible effects of entirely forgetting your clients and staff, and look at the issue of competitive unlearning. There will be time for questions and sharing of spliffs before, during, and at the end.

Adrian Underpass was for some years director of the International Teacher Training Institute at International House in Hastings. Then he studied an MSc in Irresponsible Business Practice at the Nigerian Institute for Ethical Business Affairs, and realised how ripe for manipulation EFL was. He now works with some of the most unscrupulous EFL outfits in the country, teaching them how to screw over and humiliate their gullible employees and sell it as "Professional Development". Currently he is also masquerading as a training adviser to Embassy-CES, and this summer will be offering a course on the Pilgrims programme entitled ‘Leading as Unlearning, Unlearning as Leading - What the Fuck do I know?'.

Jennifer Joking - English as a Lingua Flatulenta: past empirical, present controversial, future uncertain (NB: sponsored by Heinz Beans)

At the start of the 21st century, English is spoken most frequently (and badly) as a lingua franca among its non-native speakers. Yet, paradoxically, it is still assumed that the non-native majority should defer to the native minority for models of acceptable usage. In this presentation, Mad Jenny will outline her obsession with majorities and minorities, show off her recent ‘research' into English as a Lingua Flatulenta (ELF), discuss the controversy that she thinks she is provoking, and go on to consider two phenomena implicated in ELF's chances of survival: global warming and methane emissions.

Jennifer Joking is Senior Bonkers Lecturer at Kings' College London. She is the author of a wide range of unreadable books about how the English Language is responsible for cultural imperialism, world poverty, and almost everything else that sensitive unemployable middle-class Brits like her enjoy wittering on about. At present she is unfortunately writing a third book, English as a Lingua Flatulenta: Gone with the Wind?

Martin Budgerigar - What grammar should we teach? And why? And how? And where?

This talk explores the difficulty grammar poses to semi-literate EFL teachers in terms of comprehension, as well as speaking coherently and doing joined-up writing. It argues that current approaches and materials neglect some of the most crucial features of modern EFL staffing problems - that few modern Teflers ever read anything more than ‘Viz' and ‘Loaded', and wouldn't recognise an ergative verb if it shat on their shoes. The talk is aimed at teachers, teacher educators and materials writers, and extensive illustrations are provided for those EFL professionals who have reading problems.

Martin Budgerigar has bored learners in classrooms all over the world for 30 years. He is the author of 'Basic Grammar for English Language Teachers', winner of the 2000 Dukes of Hazard Award for Prime Bullshit. He currently teaches English language and literature at the Lycée Bill and Ben in Ruwanda.

And finally, there's the headlining act...!

Mario Rinvolucrative !!

"We will start with a warm-up, as sensitive work is not possible without it. We shall then snog each other for a bit, and exchange our socks. Only then, after a symbolic exchange of body-fluids and skin-tissue has taken place, shall we take a close look at Ana Marbles' use of NLP (Numerous Lucrative Paychecks) in her quest to understand the very different ways several of her students failed to learn anything at all from her after three years of classes, but continued to stump up 200 Euros a month each. We will then do an active investigation of how two or three members of our group manage the minor miracle of self-correction while in full flow in an L2 that they speak, at the same time as taking a shower, reading The Bible, and walking the dog." [Woof-woof!]

"Benefits to you if you attend the session: If you already speak NLP (and I hear it as a language) you will see, hear and feel NLP techniques and insights being applied to unearthing learner process. If you don't yet speak NLP, you will meet it in warm and sickly action. If you dislike NLP and all it works then come along anyway, as I could well come a cropper and you could enjoy a comfortable sneer. Or I just might kick you in the bollocks."

Mario's first CD Rom for students, ‘Mindgames - how to psyche out your teacher', was written in collaboration with his therapist in 2000. Mario's other books include ‘Humanising your Principal', ‘Using your Mother's Tongue' (X-certificate), and ‘100 Ways of Doing Nothing in Class', His next book, ‘Unlocking Self-abuse through NLP - Integrated under-the-desk activities for intermediate and advanced students', will be released as soon as it passes the Board of Censors.

Mario Rinvolucrative was once a Hindu hamster kept by Sanjay Gandhi, but after an unfortunate accident involving some curry sauce and fried banana skins, he returned to Earth as a psycho-specialist in EFL. He will be available for book signings and mutual exchanging of socks in the post-conference booze-up at The Rising Sun. Mario cooks and gardens with more joy than skill - just like he teaches.

First Published: Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Manchester School of English (part 2)

Well, as I promised in my previous posting, I've done my investigations into the Manchester School of English, and I present my findings here. Take them as you will, but I reckon the place is definitely a bit dodgey! I've passed all this information on to the relevant state authorities, and I am entirely confident that they will either ignore or lose it.

According to the documents lodged with Companies House, the Secretary is one Afzal Ahmed, born on the 12th of June, 1960. He claims to be a British citizen and a Teacher - interestingly enough, that's exactly the same as the Director of the school, his son, Kazif Ahmed. Another coincidence is that they share the same birthday too (June 12), although Kazif was apparently born in 1989 - which makes him a very young teacher at just 19!

And what about this - the company accounts were due on December 27 last year, but are overdue. In fact, the school has never filed a tax return at all! I wonder if that could be related to the fact that they apparently pay their employees in cash, without deducting PAYE tax or National Insurance payments?!

Anyway, now for a bit of history. The MSE Certificate of incorporation is dated Nov. 29, 2007, with a company number of 6441110. The school was set up as a 'general commercial company', not by the Ahmeds, but by agents - Brighton Company Formations Ltd, registered at Midstall, Randolphs Farm, Brighton Rd, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex. It therefore seems to be one of those "off-the-peg" companies that accountants and lawyers specialise in setting up for others.

The curious thing, though, is that the following day, the 30th of November 2007, the director and Secretary resigned. Well, this might be normal in the world of off-the-peg companies - who knows? It does seem odd, though, that Afzal and Kazif were not appointed as Secretary and Director until almost six months later, on May 27, 2008.

On the same day their registered office changed, from Office 412, City House, 131 Friar Gate, Preston. Their current registered office is now the same as the school's - 86 Princess Street, Manchester, which is the Ahmed's residential address too. So, do the classrooms double up as bedrooms at night?

Could this be a dodgey setup? The Companies House website whimpers the following: "The fact that the information has been placed on the public record should not be taken to indicate that Companies House has verified or validated it in any way." In other words, their dates of birth, nationalities, and status as teachers have not even been checked - ever!

Even worse, though, is the fact that the Manchester School of English does not feature AT ALL on the Home Office's Register of Education and Training Providers - which is clearly illegal if they intend to recruit students from outside the European Union.

So, a dodgey EFL school? Visa racket? Something worse? Naah!!