School's in for Summer

How to teach your first class:

* Get allocated a class of students at Elementary level. Elementary students require special skills to teach, so make sure you've had none of the necessary training or experience.

* Your students will be in their early teens, so take care to be provided with workbooks written for young children.

* Do not have time to read the lesson plan before you start to teach.

* An integral part of the lesson is the pre-recorded conversations on cassette, so it's vital you get the wrong cassette.

* For bonus points, use board markers that ran dry six years ago.

* Conduct your ninety minute lesson in a tiny, stuffy room.

* Most importantly, have no idea what you're doing.

I'm told by several people that this is the norm. Same again tomorrow.

How I spent my evening:

You've got a cassette to play to tomorrow's students - or rather, you've got five minutes worth of useful stuff, fragmented over half an hour. So you play the tape into your computer's sound card, cut out the useless bits, clean up the signal, and play the result back onto another cassette. Having first spent an hour digging out your old cassette machine and finding some old tapes for it.

It's either that or spend ten minutes of the lesson winding the tape backwards and forwards. Or just getting the class to read out the dialogues, which would be ridiculous. Um, oh.

TEFL may the last industry in the world to abandon the compact cassette. I've got some reel-to-reel machines somewhere they could use.

Ambrose Bierce defined a "career" as "the first day of a new job".


  1. A small plastic box containing spooled plastic membrane coated on one side with ferrous oxide.

    In decades past it was used mainly for creating certain kinds of sound distortion - wow, flutter, softknee compression, pink noise hiss and saturation - now made with horribly expensive pieces of software that claim to "recreate the warm musical recording sound of the 70s and 80s".

    I think that's right.

  2. Is there an 8-track version of your lesson?

  3. No, but there's a version on wax cylinder.