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Reasons to be an ESL Teacher


Here it is! The blog dedicated to my amazing students who have given me a reason to get up in the morning and go to work. These are the students who are truly special, wonderful human beings and I will never, ever forget their love and kindness.

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Thank you, guys. This post is for you, the students who:

1. invite me out for coffees randomly.

2. treated me to a meal to celebrate me getting my Permanent Residency visa.

3. surprised me with an amazingly decadent chocolate cake on my birthday at school, and we celebrated with the whole class. They even got me a “singing” candle! *tears of joy*

4.  knew when I was stressed out or down, and brought me chocolates just to cheer me up. *thank you thank you thank you*

5. sang karaoke with me ūüôā

6. wrote funny stories with me in them to make me laugh.

7. dressed up for Halloween even though 99% of the students in class didn’t.

8. made the excursion to the Fremantle Prison and fun and memorable one.

9. gave me plenty of hugs and “I love you”s.

10. wrote such lovely messages in my Christmas card – and the student who actually bought the card and went around getting everyone in class to sign it without me even knowing. What a lovely surprise!

11. invited me to stay with them if I ever visited their country. Brazil, Colombia, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, here I come!!

12. gave me hand massages (and even a shoulder massage once!) Hehe. Sometimes, you do get spoiled in this job!

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I’ve only been teaching properly (as in, being paid to do it) since the beginning of this year, but I have taught enough of a variety of classes and students to have seen some pretty, er, interesting stuff going on in the classroom.

Here is a list of some of the more memorable things I’ve observed:

1. The student who uses Google Translate to translate “blowjob” and “suck my dick” into all the languages of the students in the class, who then goes up to them randomly and says it. This is how I learnt to say it in Korean and Japanese (not to be repeated here).

2. The student(s) who constantly compare an English grammar point or word to that in their language, and try to argue as to why it should be in English exactly the way it is in their language. Erm, no. It is a completely different language. That is why it is different.

3. The student(s) who constantly protest to every single thing you ask them to do.Turn to page 58? Why?? No!¬†Do a running dictation (an effort to make reading more interesting for them)? No.¬†Teacher, I’m too tired. I don’t want to get up. Ask your partner these questions / find someone who… activity? Teacher, I don’t want to talk to them. Can I just read my book while everyone else is doing this activity in class? Ad infinitum.

4. The student(s) who never bring a pen or pencil to class. And basically borrow mine. Every. Single. Lesson. They’re not forgetful; they’re lazy.

5. The student(s) who try to tell you how you should be teaching the class. “Teacher, we should be doing this, we should do that, etc etc.” Oh, really? Well why don’t you just take centre stage and be the teacher then? I’d be happy to fall asleep in class, use my mobile phone, or ignore you and talk to my friends instead.

6. The student(s) who come late to class because they’ve been shopping, and disrupt the lesson by bringing out all the new clothes they’ve just bought and showing them off to their friends.

7. The student(s) who try to conduct their lingerie retail business in class while you’re trying to teach.

8. The student(s) who do not go to the bathroom during the (frequent) breaks, but then decide to do so right in the middle of an important grammar point.

9. The student(s) who just refuse to participate in an activity, usually a game, that you’ve spent hours planning, creating, copying and cutting up for them in order to make it more fun for them to practice the new knowledge they’ve learnt. Instead, they just sit there looking miserable, or having a conversation about something else completely, in their native language.Because they think I spend ages sitting at my desk cutting up and laminating stupid little pieces of paper for my own amusement.

10. The student(s) who complain about covering the same grammar point again, but who never ever seem to get it right, either.

EDIT:

Here are TWO MORE things that I forgot to mention:

11. The student(s) who wail, “I wanna go hoooome!” when there’s two hours of class left. Yeah, thanks heaps for helping out with the general morale of the class.

12. The student(s) who bring junk mail catalogues for Priceline and other shops, who then proceed to peruse these during class time and actually have the audacity to say, “Teacher, these perfumes are so cheap! Have a look!” Right in the middle of class. I have taken so many of these catalogues away in my class, it’s unbelievable. Where are their manners? These are ADULTS we’re talking about! I wouldn’t dream of behaving that was in a class!

* Note: It probably sounds like I’m disgruntled (lol) which I am NOT. I will follow this post with one about all the lovely things students have done for me – of which there are many!

Adults in the ESL Classroom


As an ESL or TESOL teacher (English as a Second or Other Language), you would want to have a class that looks like this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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Sadly, this is not always the case. Especially if you teach in the evening, this is what you end up with:

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Meanwhile, this is me:

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Man. It is a difficult job sometimes. It just takes it out of you.

* P/S: This post is meant to be humorous and is not meant to offend anyone.

* P/P/S: In case you’re one of my students reading this… “Hi!” and “This post is not about YOU, it is about the others. Honest.” LOL.

Retail Rudeness


You know, working in retail, you sometimes meet really bizarre people.

By bizarre I mean bizarrely rude.

Sure, you usually meet a stream of quite lovely people. In fact, even if someone looks a little fed up, I just put a big smile on and make a silly (sometimes self-deprecating) joke and they usually break into smiles and forget their fed-up-ness.

But some people, you just cannot get through to.

Here are some of the downright rude people encountered by myself and my colleagues over the years. Just another day at work, guys. Right?

1. Defensive Diana 

This is the lady who hates being greeted by or making small talk with sales assistants. For example:

Me: “Hi there! Have you been into¬†*store name*¬†before?” (we sometimes ask if customers look a bit lost).

DD: “YES. I. HAVE.” (glares)

Me: “O…kay.” (scuttles away)

2. Insulting Ingrid

This is the lady who for some reason needs to say something mean and insulting to the sales person. This actually happened to my colleague who is a lovely, lovely lady, but on this particular day she had a few small breakouts on her face due to her period – nothing out of the ordinary or even anything people would normally notice or point out. Everyone gets them, right? But for some reason, this is what happened:

Colleague: (observing customer trying out products as though customer is familiar with them) “Hi! I see you’ve used some of our products before!”

II: “No, I never use your products, that’s why my skin doesn’t look like yours.” (referring to my poor colleagues minor breakouts).

Colleague: “…” (walks away, puzzled)

3. Grumpy George

This happened to me yesterday. I just got back from my 30-min lunch break. As I walk into the store I see a man squinting at the shelf of moisturisers. I smile at him and hurry into the back room to dump my bag, put my apron on and re-emerge help him out.

Me: “Hi there, how’re you going?”

GG: (ignores me)

Me: “Do you need any help with skincare or moisturisers?”

GG: (sarcastically, without looking at me) “Oh, no. I don’t want to put you out.”

Me: “Okay!” (walks off)

I could probably have tried some more, ignoring his sarcasm and hostility and trying to sweet talk him. But I really do not need to take people treating me rudely. I mean, come on, perhaps I didn’t serve you straight away when I saw you but I had my BAG and no apron on, having just finished my break. Take a chill pill, hey? Sales assistants are not your slaves.

4. Basket Case Barbara

Sometimes, customers walk around the shop with their hands full. We offer them baskets to pop their things in and free up their hands to touch, pick up, and smell stuff and make it more convenient for them to shop. Occasionally, though, there are weird customers who do this:

Me: “Hi there, would you like a basket to put your things in?” (holding up basket to customer)

BCB: “Yes, please, thank you!”

And…she proceeds to put her stuff in and walk off, expecting me to follow her around the shop carrying her basket as she picks up other items and puts them in. At times I can’t help thinking they do it on purpose. But what I try to do is then sort of hold it up and smile and sort of go, “here you are” and hope they take it. Sometimes, they are just absent-minded and become very apologetic which is fine. But yeah. Once or twice, I’m pretty sure they did it on purpose – and took pleasure out of it.

5. High Maintenance Harriet

These are the customers who spend 2 or 3 hours at the shop, expecting you to spend all that time with them and them alone, and take them around and demo EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT on them. Never mind that there might be other customers who need a hand with something. No, you must take them on a personal tour of the shop, tell them stories about the history of the company and all the merchandise, give them suggestions on what to wear on their anniversary / first date, how to seduce their other halves (what songs to choose for their striptease), and basically plan their wedding as well. Often, they walk out having spent either $9.95 or nothing at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I love tending to customers and hearing their stories and giving them advice and suggestions. But not for TWO. WHOLE. HOURS.


First of all, let me address the main issue here: I haven’t posted anything on this blog since April.

It’s a horrible, horrible state of affairs. But I do have an arsenal of excuses at the ready and I’m not afraid to use ’em!

First off: I got a new job, after being told “see ya!” by my previous employers due to the fact that numbers were low and they had to shut down the class, and then basically close the whole campus.

What I am on about is that I am a TESOL teacher now (yes, a proper one), and I used to work at the Fremantle campus of Language Academy A. However, that campus no longer exists – in fact, I’m pretty sure the owners of the building sold it and that it now operates as a backpacker’s with its own attached bar.

So, I was pretty much left in the lurch. Luckily, at the suggestion of a friend, I sent my resume in to another school, Language Academy B, even though they were not advertising any teaching positions at the time. Voila! In less than 24 hours I received a call, went for an interview, and got the job. Woo hoo! The pay rate at Language Academy B (henceforth to be known as LAB) was much better, too. Score!

Next, I bought a car. I had to deal with all the mess of getting an Australian (WA) Driver’s Licence and insurance for the car, etc etc. Not to mention paying for the damn thing.

Finally, I decided I was still too poor and that I could work a little harder. Unfortunately, at LAB, they only run classes from Monday to Thursday, 5 hours a day. As a casual worker, I get paid for the hours of actual teaching time. Which is? 20 hours a week. I wanted more. Understandably.

So, I applied to another place, Language Academy C (LAC), and also got the job, teaching evenings from Monday to Wednesday. This meant I was pulling 14-hour workdays from Monday to Wednesday between LAB and LAC (including the time between the two different sessions, of course).

So, I have been tired.

However, there was something I heard on the radio that made my blood pressure rise a little.

Now, I have always been particular about grammar and spelling and using words correctly in English. From the time I was young, it always frustrated me when people confused the usage of “then” and “than” (and I don’t mean English language learners, I mean so-called “native” speakers), or when people say “should of” instead of “should have” (*cough* Aussies *cough*)… or when some people decide that “alot” is an actual word in the English language. I have struggled with these kinds of issues for a long time.

I suppose the fact that I am treated like a non-native speaker due to my passport (which is not from one of the six approved “native English speaking countries”: England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and occasionally South Africa) annoys the hell outta me. I have to “prove” my English is good enough by taking expensive tests (and scoring a perfect 9.0 out of 9.0).

Having had “native” speakers¬†patronisingly¬†tell me my English was “really good” (no shit, it’s probably ten times better than yours, homie) when I was at Uni also annoyed the crap out of me.

Anyway. Back to the thingy I heard on the radio. I think it was one of those teeny-bopper, Top 40 type of stations with a bunch of screaming, squealing morons presenting the show. They had a segment called “Famous Cousins” where people called in to tell them about a famous person they were related to. A pretty interesting topic, I have to say.

One girl called in to say that she was Usain Bolt’s cousin. Holy shit! That is the most awesome thing I have heard. That was not the issue. The issue was that when the caller mentioned something about Bolt’s mother, one of the presenters (the girl presenter) got all excited and said, “Really? Ooh I want to hear all about the woman who sired the fastest man in the world!” (Note, this is not verbatim, but the word in bold was definitely said by her).

Sired? By a woman? Of course, I picked this up immediately. I started bitching and having a fit of road rage over it.

I believe sired is reserved for men and their seed. Women, on the other hand, are the ones who bear¬†children. It would be like saying you want to know about the man who bore Usain Bolt. It just doesn’t work. It’s biology, pure and simple.

And language, of course. Observe this entry from the thesaurus:

“sire”

1. A father.
2. The male parent of an animal, especially a domesticated mammal such as a horse.
3. Archaic A male ancestor; a forefather.
4. Archaic A gentleman of rank.
5. Archaic Used as a form of address for a superior, especially a king.
tr.v. sired, sir·ing, sires

To father; beget.

Idiots. HERE’s what I think of your English, you so-called native speakers! <insert appropriate gesture here>.

Til the next instalment. Toodle-doo!

New Hobby


…Fishing!!

I have always wanted to actually catch a fish myself, and, if it was edible, cook it and eat it.

Finally, I have done just that.

I went fishing with Mr. Mo a few weeks ago in Fremantle, and the weather was perfect. No wind, cool ambient temperature. It was around 8.30pm and we decided to just go for a quick fish at the E Sheds. Yes, I know, not the place to fish, but still decent.

We caught 5 fish; but all were inedible (trumpeter!). Still, it was so much fun.

What made it less fun was a bunch of stupid teenage boys (or maybe they were in their 20s but they sure acted like juveniles) who were using a net to catch fish. This was not the problem for me. The problem was, they emptied their net all over the ground Рdozens and dozens of writhing fish, their silver bodies glimmering against the black asphalt Рand what did they proceed to do? Pick each one up and launch it back into the water with a hard kick. Basically, they were practicing their footy skills on those poor little fish.

Stupid people; they’re everywhere, evidently.

Anyway, despite that awful sight, I still had a good time. It’s always a thrill when your line gives a couple of hard jerks and you’re reeling something in that’s fighting back. I can’t believe how much fight even the littlest fish have! Imagine when I actually get good at fishing and can start taking on marlin and other fighting fish!

A few days later we fished off a jetty in Mandurah. Aaah, now there’s a perfect fishing spot! I caught two fish, a herring and a bream. Mr. Mo didn’t catch anything this time (lol) but his sister did and she generously offered us her herring to take home, which we did.

I was terribly excited about eating fish I caught myself for the first time. We took these home and cooked the bream first  (with lime, butter, salt and pepper in the oven Рmm, mm!), after Mr. Mo expertly cleaned and gutted it.  A week later we grabbed the two herring from the freezer, Mr. Mo cleaned and filleted them, and I pan-fried them Hungarian style (according to a recipe I found online), with salt, pepper and flour. It was delicious!

Can’t wait to go fishing again… in a couple of weeks, down south in Pemberton! Woo hoo!!

Yeah, I know. I’m living the life. Heh.

*Note: I still haven’t gotten around to actually cleaning and gutting the fish myself but… as long as Mr. Mo is happy to do it, I’ll, er… let him. Hey, at least I can tie a hook onto fishing line and stick the bait on the hook nice and securely, getting gross prawn juice all over my fingers!

Blonde Ambition


This post is about childhood ambitions, or ideas we had about our future selves.

I have to ask: did anyone else think they were going to grow up to become a blonde, white woman?

Yes. I did just ask that.

You see, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, I was certain that when I grew up, I would be a blonde, blue-eyed white woman named Robecca [sic]. It wasn’t because I yearned to be Caucasian and hated my dark hair and olive skin. Nor was it because I planned to have surgery or bleach my hair.

I just assumed that’s what I would grow up to be.

Don’t ask me exactly why I assumed that; suffice to say, daily exposure to my mum’s Cosmopolitan¬†magazines and American TV shows made my putty-like young brain believe that white was normal. White was status quo. White was people. And that it just eventually happened to you.

It’s funny how, despite being far wiser about these things (and happy with my naturally tanned skin and deep brown hair), that white is still viewed by the world at large as being the status quo. I mean, if someone was half-white and half-Asian, they are identified as Asian. Same with black. Or Australian Aborigines. And so on.

Why? Because being white is seen as being of ‘pure’ “race” and even a single drop of another “race”‘s blood means contamination and expulsion from the White-Only club?

Discuss.