This just in from NY Times: Education ain’t just an Asian problem

ON A WINTER DAY five years ago, Doug Lemov realized he had a problem. After a successful career as a teacher, a principal and a charter-school founder, he was working as a consultant, hired by troubled schools eager — desperate, in some cases — for Lemov to tell them what to do to get better. There was no shortage of prescriptions at the time for how to cure the poor performance that plagued so many American schools. Proponents of No Child Left Behind saw standardized testing as a solution. President Bush also championed a billion-dollar program to encourage schools to adopt reading curriculums with an emphasis on phonics. Others argued for smaller classes or more parental involvement or more state financing.

For more click here.


How to teach English (without losing your mind)

So nowadays, the teaching of English as a second language (ESL) has become a lucrative industry, not just for native speakers of the language, but also for those for whom English is a second language, such as Filipinos.

Thus, a lot of Filipinos have entered into the ESL industry, without nary a thought about what they are getting themselves into.

So as a service to these Pinoys, I have compiled a how-to which I hope can help you.

1. Prepare. Just because you know how to speak English doesn’t automatically mean that you are qualified to teach it.  Teaching English means having the foll9wing: teaching methods, teaching techniques, English language proficiency, correct pronunciation and so on.

2. Have a dictionary handy by your side. And I don’t just mean a cheap, small, pocket dictionary that only has about 20 words in it. I recommend the Oxford dictionary or the Merriam Webster dictionary, both of which are very realiable references.

3. Have a thesaurus. Please refer to number 2 for explanation.

4. Know the history and the culture. Know how English developed, and know the kind of English being spoken now (global English, Western English, Filipino English, etc.) and be able to distinguish between each one.

5. Go to trainings and seminars. This will help you immensely with your teaching.

6. Read. If the last book you read was a Harlequinn or Mills and Boons book, brush up on your reading.

I will have more later.

Jobhunting Pinoy Style: Now I got me a job (yay!)

So I now have me a job.

As all job applications go, this one was  a doozy.

My friend texted me before the New Year to tell me about an academy looking for English teachers.

I thought what the hell. I have plans, but while I’m waiting for the plans to come through, I might as well get me some cash.

The application is as follows:

1. Submit your application letter, transcript and certificates.

2. Take a TOEIC exam. I’d heard about TOEIC exams. Korean students practically lay down their lives to get a high score in these exams. I took it and I found it hysterical. This is what you die for?!? Piece of quiche!

3. I had an interview.

4. I had a training (this consisted of observing teachers teach English as a second language).

5. I got the job.

But this is not the exciting part.

The exciting part is getting your health card certifying that you are fit to work with students (insert smile here).

This consisted of the following procedures:

1. Go to your local health center.

2. Look for the man who looks like he can more or less tell you how to obtain a health card, amidst the long queues of men and women belligerently and confusingly trying to process their own documents before the deadline.

3. When you have found said man, said man, after much inquiry will direct you to a handwritten poster on the wall (in pentel pen ink) about the directions.

4. Go back to said man to ask for form as poster has indicated on wall.

5. Leave the building in a huff when said man refuses to give you form to fill in since you don’t have a 1 x 1 photo ID card (No ID card, no form).

6. Go to nearest photo studio to have your photo taken.

7. Struggle to keep your last shred of sanity when the power goes out.No power, no picture, no developing of picture, no form.

8. Wait a few minutes for the power to come back on.

I say jump...jump for my love... 🙂

9. Realize that you must beat the deadline since there is a 10am cut-off and thus you must go there before 10am. It is now 9:45am.

10. Power goes back on so you rush breathless to the health center.

11.  Ask man again for next step in health card processing.

12. Go to x-ray department and be relieved that you don’t need to have an x-ray since you already.

13. Get annoyed at the lady behind the immunology/serology/fecalysis counter when she looks at you funny when you jump around in joy, brandishing stool in a canister,  because you have beat the deadline.

14. Go back at 3pm to have your physical examination, which consists mostly of a lady in a white lab coat examining your fingernails.

15.  Go to next floor to get your health card.

16. Repeat after 6 months.

I now am a proud owner of the government health card that certifies that I am fit to teach foreigners English.:-)

I rest my case.

Sundays with the DVD Junkie: Reading ain’t in in the P.I.

So I had this seminar today at the city’s Convention Center on the importance of reading and how to motivate your students and how to sell yourself more through a new and improved CV or resume.

As is wont in these cases, I overprepared and assumed that since there will be professionals attending I’d have to sound more professional than usual.

I was expecting a lot of participants from diverse professional backgrounds so imagine my surprise when there were even enough to fill the hall and that most of them were not even responsive to my lecture.


When I was talking about the importance of reading and how increasing one’s reading prowess makes one a better teacher, employee and a better person, there was no reaction. I’d realized that the assumption that Filipinos are not readers is true, and that if that is the case, then we were doomed.

I had more luck with the CV/resume lecture in the afternoon. I hope that was better.

I’m so exhausted and saddened by the state of Philippine literacy that I am going to make myself feel better by reading a book and by watching Mylene Dizon’s “100” which is now out on DVD.

Cheers everyone!