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The Bluffer's Guide to TEFL

Despite some appalling pretensions to the contrary, TEFL is dead easy. As Chomsky once said in a fit of pique, "Anyone who can press the button on a photocopier can be a tefler." With this guide to tefl jargon, you too can bluff your way to the top in tefl.

Let's get this clear from the start. Your aim is to fill up the lesson time. If this aim remains unfulfilled, your sub-aims are merely pissing in the wind. Keep on your guard for waffly arguments concerning the difference between aims and objectives. These, as with most tefl discussions, lead nowhere. If ever requested to comment on someone's lesson you have observed, the tefl bluffer should pipe up "But do you feel you have achieved your aim?" In response, you will receive a pitiful justification for all manner of guff.

Buzz Group
Usually employed in a WORKSHOP when the TRAINER has a degree in sociology from Essex University. A nasty little device employed by the legendary teacher trainer who unfurled a giant roll of paper, announced "You're going to create the biggest mind map you've ever seen" and promptly headed for the bar. Twaddle in extremis and a fine example for all tefl bluffers.

Tefl's most sacred word and the barometer for all classroom atrocities. The Communicative Approach was designed for those who can't handle grammar and who never grew out of Blue Peter. To win the hearts of your tefl buddies look critically at any coursebook activity and intone: " Hmmm, not very communicative is it?" Communicative is such a vague woolly term that it can exploited to advantage on numerous occasions. Even though no one can adequately define it, it is of course "a jolly good thing."

A Jurassic relic from the '70s when many a TEFL name got stoned and read too much bilge from the Real People Press and the Colorado Psychodrama Workbook. Nowadays, one-on-one counselling, is used by lascivious male teachers to chat up attractive female students. Steer well clear of anyone who enthusiastically endorses counselling. They need professional help.

The Eclectic Approach
Cluelessness elevated to an art form. The bluffer will naturally adopt an eclectic approach to everything.

This means 'get an answer'. Teflers do not like asking, because: 1) 'ask' has only one syllable (sorry, is monosyllabic) and therefore sounds insufficiently pseudoscientific, 2) 'eliciting' wastes more time than asking and 3) a bona fide tefler has no answers as he/she is a FACILITATOR and has nothing of value to impart.

ELT Authors
A sorry bunch of charlatans if there ever was one. Nevertheless, a budding tefler should casually drop names within tefl earshot as much as possible e.g. As I as saying to Peter and Kazza / Lizzy and Johnny / Crispin the other day..."

Error Correction
Current orthodoxy has it that "error correction is much neglected. This is the line of argument a bluffer should take. In truth, however, it is highly knackering and totally ineffective so no one bothers with it. Nonetheless, a good time-wasting activity is a bit of 'creative error correction' - the technique of inventing errors for on-board correction. A useful sleight of hand to follow MONITORING.

Feed back
In the good old days, 'feedback' was what happened when Jimi Hendrix put his guitar near an amplifier. In teflspeak, however, it involves embarrassed students reporting back with mindnumbingly dull information like "We found that 5 people have never climbed Everest, 4 people have eaten octopus and everybody thinks the teacher is a cretin."

Everything in tefl is a filler. Officially declared 'fillers' are simply less successful (i.e. less time-consuming) than other twaddle.

Grammar is anathema to teflers. Do not mention the dreaded 'G' word as this is tantamount, to declaring yourself a linguistic fascist. True blue teflers feel uncomfortable with grammar as they do not understand it. Similarly, avoid all reference to semantics as this discipline threatens the entire bedrock of tefl 'theory'.

A useful buzz word easily dropped into tefl conversations. Instant justification for sloping off to have a fag and a cup of coffee while the fee-paying customers become autonomous. If you're really lucky, they might even leave the building.

Learner Training
Everybody knows, but naturally refuses to admit, that this is a complete load of drivel. LT has been flavour of the month for over a decade which is a highly depressing thought in itself. Nevertheless, it is a cardinal sin for the tefl bluffer to knock LT in any shape or form because otherwise you will become embroiled in the sort of tedious argument best avoided. Should the subject of LT raise its ugly head, nod sagely and say something enigmatic like "Learner Training is alright in theory, the problem lies in the methodology." Do not expand on this. LT comes in handy for scoring TefI brownie points in a WORKSHOP. Regardless of the subject under discussion, bang your fist down firmly on the table and declare: "Don't forget the Learner Training!" Your audience will be suitably impressed.

Lesson Plans
Nobody in their right mind writes lesson plans unless they are being subjected to an OBSERVED LESSON. You can easily justify a lack of lesson plan by arguing that your lessons are flexible and needs-responsive. Hence, they cannot be mapped out in advance. In this context, you can espouse the ECLECTIC APPROACH.

Time-wasting par excellence. Not only does the student ask the same dull questions to his neighbour, he has to ask 18 other people as well. Why waste 2 people's time when you can waste 20?

The art of pretending to listen to foreigners murdering the English language.

Observed Lesson
Teflers often panic needlessly about these. The tefl bluffer should have a standard observed lesson up his/her sleeve to wheel out whenever observation threatens. Bluffer's tip: teach them something they already know hence making your AIMS a fait accompli. Should your part in this farce be that of an observer, your first comment should (in true post-coital fashion) be "How was it for you ?"

The Rods
Never ever attempt anything with Cuisenaire Rods unless you want to enhance your reputation as a complete prat. Should, however, your opinion be ELICITED concerning the rods, always reply that they are an underused resource. For tefl one-upmanship possess your own set of rods and whenever someone asks you for a lesson idea, think up any old tosh on the spur of the moment, sit back and have a good laugh.

Always bear in mind that self-access is ipso facto a 'good thing' because it is associated with INDIVIDUALISATION. The cognoscenti know that the proliferation of SA centres is tacit recognition of the fact that teflers are dispensable. Teflers know nothing about language because they have degrees in geology.

Often hideously referred to in it's reduced form as in "Brian, do you fancy doing a sesh on the RODS?" You may have previously associated 'session' with much downing of pints. In teflspeak, however, it is much akin to a WORKSHOP. It involves a twaddler desperately seeking CV points spouting at a captive audience who would rather be somewhere else.

Special Interest Groups
A complete misnomer. Should really be entitled 'self-interest groups'. For terminal cases only.

Student-Teacher Interaction
This is a charade associated with LESSON PLANNING and involves drawing pathetic little arrows from T to Ss or vice versa. Naturally, these have no connection with reality and serve a purely decorative function.

Tefl Couple
Those who voluntarily live, eat and sleep tefl. If you are unlucky enough to encounter such a pair of unfortunates at a social function, make your excuses and leave.

To the bluffer's Guide II

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