Sunday, 30 November 2014

Unimaginable space and luxury in the sky.

Ever wondered what is 'upstairs' in a big modern airliner?
Here's a peek upstairs in an Etihad A380. The service will begin in December from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow.

I don't think I'd buy a ticket even if I could afford it. All this space for 2 people for a 7 hour flight. The money that it cost would buy a lot in Africa or Asia. I am slightly sickened to think this could be above me while I'm content with sardine class. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Lurkin' in Larkin's footsteps

I've been teaching a lot recently in Hull. The place has perennially had a reputation as being a sleazy down-at-heel sort of city. I, however, think it's a great place. The tastiest, best value Chinese restaurant in the world. A whole quarter devoted to museums. A world class marina. The list goes on...

Another attraction for me is that it is the place that the poet Philip Larkin chose to live. I have been teaching in the Mercure Hull Royal Hotel which has a Larkin connection. Before being taken over by the Mercure group this hotel was The Royal Station Hotel. Larkin used to take his lunch here sometimes and met several of his Oxford colleagues here over the years. The hotel is one of the few places specifically mentioned in a Larkin poem.

Whilst at the reception last week I asked the receptionist if they still used sheets of letter headed notepaper for guests. She affirmed that they did and passed me two crisp sheets of good quality paper. The reason I had asked was that Larkin mentions "The headed paper" in his poem "Friday Night at the Royal Station Hotel" which I think is a very poignant, if short, example of his work.

On returning home I typed out the poem and printed it on one of the sheets. I think the result was worth framing. Therefore, I will award myself an early Christmas present and get it mounted and framed.

Here is the poem for you to read...

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Breaking into the inner sanctum of TEFL teacher training courses.


I've been giving CPD presentations and facilitating workshops for peers and new EFL teachers for many years now. I first passed along some knowledge while working in Thailand in early 2004. So I feel, at this 10 year anniversary time, qualified to comment on teacher training courses. I did a Cambridge CELTA in IH Newcastle in 1999 and followed that up with a CELTYL at the British Council Bangkok in 2005. Since then I've been constantly involved in CPD either for myself or in providing knowledge in my own specialist areas. 

I have delivered input sessions on CELTA courses at the English Language Centre, York and now train prospective EFL teachers in Hull and Manchester. The input sessions are delivered by the same person and contain much the same content. Yet the courses I now teach on are sometimes seen as less 'valuable' by some teachers, and indeed employers. For far too many years the British Council has recognised only Cambridge or Trinity as being capable of delivering introductory, and indeed diploma level, TEFL courses. 

Having now taken two certificate level TEFL courses and one diploma course from Cambridge and another diploma level currently being studied for with Trinity, I can say with some weight of evidence that there are other course of equal 'worth' being taught out there. 

I tend to think there is some snobbery at work and will personally work hard to level the playing field from now on. To this end a colleague and I have seen a gap in the market, and let's be honest it is a market, and we are currently putting together a teaching business English introductory level course for those wishing to embark on a new career, perhaps from a business background. 

I will keep you up to date as we progress with the project.