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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.
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'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
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..."
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
The art of pretending to listen to foreigners murdering the
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 ?"
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.
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.
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
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