November Calendar

Learning to Teach (Better) with Penny Ur (OBE)

She’s back! This month, four fun-packed, informative webinars from the foremost purveyor of up to date ELT obsolescence. Lots of useful tips on how to carry on teaching in the tried and trusted PPP, grammar-based way that Penny herself remains so fully committed to. You’ll be confidently reassured that all the research is rubbish and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a methodology that demands the impossible of students. Carry on slogging through the coursebook!; keep those Concept Questions coming!; and above all, never forget: the teacher knows best!

Learn how to

  • use the latest, digitalised drill-and-kill exercises
  • create your own baffling phrasal verb tests for no particular reason
  • project pages from Murphy’s Grammar in Use on the night sky
  • time “free conversation practice” for just before the bell goes
  • write challenging dialogues about everyday British life and have them recorded by unemployed actors in regional accents
  • unobtrusively wake up sleeping students

and much, much more.

On completion of the course, for an extra $59 you’ll get a worthless Certificate if you answer 2 easy questions about the present perfect.

Teach abroad as an English language assistant for the British Council  

Applications for the 2018/19 academic year open on 6 November 2017. If you’re one of the lucky successful applicants you’ll pay for your flight, accommodation, travel insurance, visas, and so on and then receive a miserable monthly salary in return for the privilege of being a member of one of the most snobbish, ethically questionable UK organisations of the lot.

You’ll work in one of BC’s lucrative commercial ELT operations which in 2016 earned them a tax-free income of approx. £1 billion. These activities have led to accusations that the BC keeps valuable commercial information to itself; that its one-third share in the IELTS biases its testing and certification policies; that it competes with an unfair advantage to train teachers for overseas governments; and that its not-for-profit status means that the income it gets from English teaching is exempt from corporation tax in many countries, unlike its competitors.

But never mind; it’ll look great on your CV, you’ll get a free British Council RP phonetic wall chart to decorate the hovel where you’ll live, and if posted to Caracas, you’ll have free access to the BC’s Rudyard Kipling Memorial Library, though getting there can be a bit tricky after dark.

TESOL Kuwait  

Another chance to see these twin pillars of the ELT establishment strut their stuff! Just in case you missed their wonderful presentations on Being the Best Teacher You Can Possibly Be in 1977, this is a special “Forty Years On Anniversary Ruby Re-run”, where not a single word has been added or taken away from the original scripts.

And what better venue than Kuwait for two of the richest men in ELT, both multi-millionaires with a string of best-selling coursebooks to their names, to celebrate!  When their session draws to a close, dozens of falcons owned by the country’s leading families will swoop over the auditorium, scattering $1,000 bills over the audience, while keys to the limited edition Bugati Veyron are presented to the speakers.

Meanwhile, outside, life goes on for ordinary teachers, migrant workers who form two-thirds of Kuwait’s population. They work long hours for low salaries, have precarious working conditions, and almost no say in what or how they teach.

On 5th August 2017, a class action civil lawsuit and also criminal investigation against the State of Kuwait were opened in Kuwait for claims of decades of unpaid wages of thousands of foreign teachers, allegedly driven by a policy of discrimination. The Court ruling also issued a protective order against public threats by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education overtly intimidating workers into not seeking access to Justice with the international Judiciary.

9 thoughts on “November Calendar

  1. ‘Promoting ELT – Changing Wallets, New Anachronisms.’ One small leap for TESOL, another giant step for climate change.

    This year’s motto: I CAN’T WAIT FOR KUWAIT!


    1. Ur is human, Nunan is divine.
      Christmas is coming, Jack is getting fat, Please send Penny to Mount Arafat.
      Next year’s motto “We can’t wait: Fuck the State!”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear sir, I have been reading some of your blog entries this year. While there is some interesting debate at times – and I can by no means claim to know you – this last post leaves me feeling you must be a rather bitter and sad soul, as well as clearly a tad jealous of someone else’s success.
    Will keep reading for now, but why live off rubbishing other people?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can’t see your reply which came by email, but of course you may. Not sure who the chap you mentioned is. Would be great to hear you talk things or people up more often. Not falsely, of course.


    1. I deleted my reply to your first comment because it was based on a mistake – I thought you were referring to the penultimate post.


    2. Dear Paddy,

      I reply to your comment that I must be a rather bitter and sad soul, as well as clearly a tad jealous of someone else’s success, and your question “why live off rubbishing other people?”

      Coursebook-driven ELT is at the heart of a global market for English language learning worth around US $200 billion. Over twelve million teachers form the front line of this massive ELT industry, “supported” by school management, publishing companies, examination boards, government depatments, non-profit making institutions like the British Council and teachers organisations like IATEFL and TESOL. The industry is based on the commodification of education, where both teachers and students suffer the dire consequences of a ruthless focus on “efficiency” and maximising profit.

      Behind all the talk of the power of learning to transform lives, preparing a new generation to participate in the global community, etc. lies an approach to English language teaching that flies in the face of robust research findings on how people learn languages, and is defended from criticism by the small minority who benefit from it. This small minority includes most of the leading figures in the ELT world who promote themselves as experts, who write books on teaching English as an L2 and who tour the world giving conference presentations and teacher training courses which are badly-informed, uncritical, and misleading. In my opinion, a great deal of what many of these highly paid people say is baloney, and in the menu on the right of this page you’ll see a section dedicated to them. They’re high-profile, successful members of the ELT establishment, or bloggers who support them, and my attacks on their published work have led to a lot of personal attacks on me, like your own response to this post, an attempt at satire which some readers “got”.

      “It’s not what you say; it’s the way you say it that we object to”, is an often voiced comment. I accept that many don’t like the way I express my criticisms, and I accept that I’ve sometimes been unecessarily harsh, and unfair. Nevertheless, what I say is not popular, and I think it’s true to say that most of the ELT blogging community would prefer not to hear it. While I’m prepared to make more effort to refrain from harsh, hurtful, or unfair comments, I’m not prepared to stop voicing my criticism of the way the ELT industry is run, and, in particular, of the way highly-paid teacher trainers, whose books on how to teach English offend the most basic standards of scholarship and critical acumen, continue to go unchallenged when they talk baloney.

      I’m not jealous of other people’s success, period. I don’t live off rubbishing other people, either. While I’m mainly concerned with criticism, I do sometimes talk things and people up, and I’ll try to do it more often.

      Figures from 1st paragraph come from British Council English Effect Report (2015)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In reply to Paddy.

    I have only recently discovered Geoff’s blog and what I have noticed is, so many comments are aimed at the character of Geoff, which says so much about the Factual Realities of what Geoff has to say. A question for you: Could you not find anything in what he wrote to challenge other than your perceived Emotional interpretation as to his motives. He makes some excellent factual arguments if one is aware of what goes on in the world of EFL. The choice of Kuwait as a venue, in light of Kuwait’s human rights record and working conditions plus its negligible involvement in the world of EFL, in fact it has a very questionable history where foreign language learning is concerned, is questionable. Of course one could argue this is a good reason to promote EFL and TESOL Kuwait seems to have a dedicated group of people, small as it might be. As for the British Council, which I have had personal contact with, Geoff makes some very valid points, particularly their status abroad. So it would also be perfectly valid to gather from his post that Geoff has a range of professional knowledge of his subject along with a strong social conscience. One final point, the name of this blog makes it quite clear what its purpose is, hence it would be disappointing if it did not live up to the name.


  5. Dear Russell, I think my reply above to Geoff covers most of what you say. Except the title: the latest blog article is on housing and land use! 😉


  6. At Paddy.
    Scrolling through the thread I see nothing which answers my question, and just a classic case of logical fallacy. Every time Geoff is challenged he has, from all I have read, accepted and acknowledged criticism when he feels it is factually valid. You did challenge his motives, your emotional interpretation, and did not make any comment on the validity of the subject of the thread. That is a Factual Reality which you are refusing to acknowledge. Your initial post is quite clear in its intention, a personal criticism of the author as opposed to a critique of the subject. As I said, if Geoff is writing about ELT one would be disappointed if there was no critique however that does not mean one cannot be pleasantly surprised if he posts on subjects other than ELT, as you clearly were. 😆


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