The employer is responsible for providing a safe working environment for staff.
In the physical workspace, the teacher should not be physically or verbally harmed in any way.
Kicking, hitting, being jumped on etc are unacceptable, and the offender needs to be punished.
In the online workspace, the teacher should not be expected to work with an unreasonable amount of background noise.
TAs and senior staff need to be more proactive in both recognising and addressing these problems.
The situation is clearly very stressful for all involved.
Let’s work together and make classes a fun, happy and, most importantly, appropriate place for learning.
Any student in a noisy environment should have their mic muted.
Any student who interrupts the class on a regular basis will be placed in the Waiting Room. Repetition of the offense will result in the student being barred from the class.
I have happy to report that my centre has taken action, and changes were implemented within a few hours of this posting. My Manager is pretty amazing that way – your help and input can not be overstated. Thank you.
Just because you’re having online classes, with different teachers, (lucky you) doesn’t mean you should stop expanding your knowledge of weird and wacky English expressions, and let me tell you, you won’t find many of these in those cotton-pickin’ textbooks.
English speakers use animals as:
metaphor (my neighbour is a pig)
simile (she drinks like a fish)
idiom (look what the cat dragged in)
adjective form (he is rather bovine – like a cow, she moves with a feline grace – like a cat)
Today, I’m going to introduce you to expressions featuring animals, some of which may not be suitable for polite company …hey, you want to learn REAL English … that’s how we speak !
Now, without further ado …
ANTS: Ants in your pants – when someone can’t keep still, is always moving about which can be very irritating.
BATS: Bat-shit crazy – NOT used in formal, standard English. This is more common in US English to describe someone who is acting very strangely.
CATS: To let the cat out of the bag – to tell a secret, to tell something you were not supposed to disclose.
DOGS: Gone to the dogs – someone or something that was once respectable but is now dirty, useless etc.
ELEPHANT: Couldn’t hit an elephant – implies that someone is very bad at something for example, if they had a rifle they wouldn’t be able to hit a very large target.
SIDEBAR: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance,” are the famous last words of John Sedgwick, an officer in the Union army in the US Civil War. He meant that the enemy was so far away, they couldn’t possible hit a massive target let alone a single man. Sedgwick was, ironically, shot and killed by the enemy. Read more here:
FISH: Like shooting fish in a barrel – refers to something that is so easy, no effort at all is required to be successful.
At this point, time to stop and reflect, practice what you’ve learnt. What expression fits ?
He used to be a respectable professional, but his wife left him he began drinking and now he’s _______________________________
The bloody woman next to me on the plane just wouldn’t sit still. She had ___________________________________
I’m never teaching that class again ! The kids are all __________
This job is so easy, it’s _________________________________
Oh ! I knew they had a secret. Now the _____________________
Don’t worry about Peter, he’s so bad, he _______________________
Ready for some more ? OK, let’s kick it !
GOLDFISH: Living in a goldfish bowl – a life with no privacy, everyone can see what you do, all the time.
HORSE: A dark horse – someone that has hidden talents or abilities
INSECT: Go away, you little insect – not polite, used when someone is making you feel very uncomfortable, or is harassing you.
JACKASS: You jackass ! – again, very informal signifying a silly or stupid person.
LION: Taking the lion’s share – taking the biggest amount of something.
MONKEY: Too much monkey business – too much madness or uncontrollable behaviour
Practice makes perfect so … kick it !
You spent $100 on that Relox watch, made in China ! _____
Being famous is awful, everyone taking photos all the time, it’s like _____________________________________
I can’t work for this company anymore, I don’t trust them, ________________________________________
As the CEO, he took ___________________________ of the bonus.
I don’t want to buy those cheap fake sunglasses, go away you _________
Wow, Julie wrote this ? It’s so good, she’s a real _________________ always so quiet in class.
OK, enough for one blog, I’ll continue N – Z if there’s any interest, I’ll continue N- Z even if there isn’t any interest. Now I gotta prepare for two online classes and a speaking placement test, drink tea (I am English, don’t forget) and hope my internet doesn’t act like a jackass and pack up on me.
// sel____ // tal________ // unu_____ // valu____ (costs a lot of money)
// wea______ (if you can buy the Mona Lisa, you must be extremely wea_____) // Xenop_______ (do not like people from other countries) // ye__ – _____ (lasts for 12 months) // Zamb___ (person from Zambia)
In a previous blog I tried, against my nature, to show a positive side to Zoom teaching. Teachers, TAs, admin staff are kept in employment, albeit with significant pay cuts, while the students are able to practise their English skills … should they choose.
I’m trying to keep this light-hearted, but all anecdotes are true, based on my experiences of Zoom. CUT TO last year, our first period of lockdown.
I can’t turn my light on, I’ve got no power
First up, back in the early days, teachers went to campus and used laptops to hold Zoom classes. The first five or ten minutes were spent waiting for late-comers, asking people to put their cameras on, then to KEEP their cameras on, ditto mics. One character, a teenage boy was sitting in darkness … this was a daytime class and Sai Gon in the day in bright, big time. Said teenager claimed that he had no electricity in his house, therefore could not put on the lights.
Do you sense a ‘however’ coming on ?
However … his laptop was working (sure, maybe it was running on battery). His wifi was working, but, the smoking gun … a slither of bright light from the corner of the room. Yes, said young gentleman had drawn his curtain and was ‘claiming’ he had no power.
Do you sense another ‘however’ coming on ?
However … I had an ace up my sleeve for, off-screen but next to me was my manager. I updated Mr No-Power on this development. A native teenager lying to an English teacher is not so unique. But would he lie to his Vietnamese manager. Damn right he would.
Just the tip of the iceberg. My camera’s not working
The teacher asks, politely requests, a student to put the camera on. This is after the class has seen a slide giving class rules AND a video in Vietnamese explaining what is expected. It is expected that students will put on their cameras. CUT TO a black screen, and yet another (here is where a teacher needs the patient of a whole temple of Buddhas) invitation to turn on the camera. Student claims camera is not working. Unfortunately, student had turned ON the camera and we could all see, in glorious Technicolor, the student, bold as brass (but thick as a brick). The mistake was then realised, and the student could be seen reaching for the lower corner of the laptop, and camera fades to black.
But that’s just one or two rotten apples, right ?
Are you kidding ? I teach IELTS which is the serious subject; a good grade here is a passport to a different country, to study, to live, maybe get exposed to different points of views, philosophies and outlooks. So you would think the students would be really motivated, right ?
Think again, pucko !
I had one IELTS class with about eight or nine students, including professional people and even a doctor. Guess what … despite the rules being reiterated, the Vietnamese-language video, I end up speaking to eight or nine black screens. Every lesson.
Doesn’t your campus kick ass ?
Kiss ass rather than kick ass. They go, half-heartedly through the motions, make rules but lack the balls to enforce them.
The reasons are clear. Firstly, this is not a state school, the students are CUSTOMERS … they generate revenue. It is a business axiom that the customer is always right. A business needs to keep and expand its customer base. My campus wants customers to return, to tell their friends, schoolmates, family members, each and everybody, they produce Disneyesque promotional films of photogenic children saying how they love learning here, and how they love their teachers (ya never see the fat ugly kids with buck teeth do ya).
Oh, man, you must be puttin’ me on ?
I wish ! You can look for yourself on YouTube, though not too soon after eating; there are stomach-churningly nauseating. Furthermore, the punters are locals, they are Vietnamese. I’ve seen some YouTube videos of a South African man explaining a similar situation in China. When push comes to shove, the natives support each other. Always. Teachers are a dime a dozen, they come ‘n’ go, and who can blame them ? Customers are more valued, they will always take precedence over a foreigner (that is how we are designated). Ready for one or two final delicacies ?
But teenagers are famous for their good behaviour
Haha, yeah good one. Just a brief entrance here. I had one class, back at campus, with some teens. I began saying hello to each student. Some would just stare at me, refusing to say a word. Then they initiated a new game; I would call a customer and rather than answer immediately, the teen would say, “Me ?” with terrible over-acting, faux surprise. This carried on with every subsequent teen. Finally, a teen, let’s called her Mary, copied her classmates, to wit:
Me: Mary, what’s number 3, please ?
Mary: Me ?
Cue the Beethoven
Me: Is your name Mary ?
Me: Then answer the question and stop wasting my time.
I went on to explain that I will do everything to help anyone who really wants to learn. However, those who just want to insult me and disturb my lesson … well, let’s Samuel L. explain:
Finally, (though you can guess this one could run and run), another IELTS class. I was given a real motley crew of unmotivated, unanimated, lifeless schlimels (if you don’t know what that means, look it up, I ain’t doing all the work for you). One schliemel was a teenage boy, a poster-boy for gormlessness. He informed me, by chat box, that his mic wasn’t working. Now, IELTS is all about speaking and practising, it ain’t just watching the teacher, it ain’t TV, dig ? You’ve gotta join in or you are wasting your (parents’) money.
Did you strike down upon him with great vengeance and furious anger ?
I farmed out that hit. Stopped the lesson and let everyone see that I was contacting Customer Care who, in turn, phoned gormless schliemel. Lo and behold, the mic miraculously started working. The guy would have been happy to sit and listen for an hour or two without contributing anything. After, he could go away and laugh that he hadn’t done any work.
If the job sucks, why d’you do it ?
Good question. I’ve spoken to many teachers, in various countries, and the answer is generally, ‘What else can I do ? It’s my profession’. And, at the moment, I don’t need to tell you, travel just ain’t as easy as it used to be.
Is there anything good about it ?
No. OK, I’m pulling your leg. A minority of students are sweet, respectful and polite. They really want to learn, and I can see the progress week by week. Occasionally, very occasionally, an adult student can become a friend, while the younger kids provoke avuncular feelings. Very rarely, one gets to meet a Princess. But these, as stated, are the minority.
Followed by a game. I shall show photos of five of my friends, along with some personality adjectives and occupations. The class simply have to guess my friends’ job and what kind of people they are … and justify their decisions.
Tonight’s class will focus on the town of Green Bank, Virginia (which is a southern state in the USA). Green Bank is a very small town. The population in 2019, according to Wikipedia, was 182 yet it has become famous as the town without Wi-Fi. Wireless internet is banned and mobile phones (cell phones USA) are unable to make or receive calls, nor can they send texts. The reason …
Telescopes can be used for light or for sound. The above picture shows the radio telescope, which is 485ft tall, at Green Bank. It listens out for sounds from space. You may hear electromagnetic radiation in the class video.
Light and sound travel in waves. A star will emit light waves but electromagnetic radiation can also travel by radio waves. Giant telescopes are situated in areas with low light pollution while radio telescopes need to be in areas without Wi-Fi or mobile telephone, which can cause interference. You may have experienced this on an airplane when you are told to switch off phones during take-off and landing.