Big Teacher

Have just been reading about Daniel Liebskind, yet another celebrity architect. Let me write that again- celebrity… architect. Celebrity architect???? Might not be as bad as celebrity driving instructors or celebrity hotel staff (we’ve had both of them in the UK), but come on! Is there any profession which doesn’t have celebrities? Oh, yes, TEFL teachers like me. Well, tonight’s task is to sort that injustice out once and for all.

And if the problem is lack of celebrity, the solution must be a variation on Big Brother- the greatest producer of hapless celebrities of all time. To show the requisite lack of imagination to make a modern TV programme, we are going to even steal the name and call it “Big Teacher”. Add in a bit of The Weakest Link quiz programme, stir, and there you have it- TEFL fame!

Here’s how it will work. 15 teachers and 15 students locked in a boarding school. The teachers are chosen for very different teaching styles and are a mix of native and non-native speakers. If we can get Scott Thornbury and other TEFL heartthrobs in all the better, plus maybe some D list celebrities who have been chucked through various TEFL teaching courses. The students will all be selected to have the same starting level of English, but will be all different nationalities- which will likely mean a mix of feckless Italians, Turks and Spanish who really shouldn’t be beginners still and Chinese students from the sticks who have never heard of George W Bush and learnt from a textbook from 1932.

Said teachers take turns teaching said students in group and one-to-one classes. At the end of each week all the students take a test, the results of which will be kept secret from all those locked in the school. The total money at the end of the series will be based on all the test results over the whole period, but one student and one teacher will be voted off each week before the test until only one teacher and one student survive to take home the whole prize. They could also vote off textbooks in the same way. Just like Weakest Link, the voting will therefore be based partly on getting rid of dead weight to get the test scores and therefore the prize money up, and partly on tactically trying to get rid of people who are a risk to you winning the final prize.

I think you will agree that it will be not only entertaining and good English practice for all the viewers all over the world, but will also be a realistic representation of TEFL teaching- for one thing, it’s likely to have exactly the same level of cooperation and back biting bitchiness as a typical British Council teachers’ room.

So students and teachers interested in taking part, please sign up below:

This entry was posted in EFL exams, ELT publishing, Teaching low levels, Teaching older students, TEFL, TEFL qualifications, TESOL. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Big Teacher

  1. Alex Case says:

    PS. Even though I can’t seem to drop the jokey tone, I really think it could work.

  2. Alex Case says:

    So, let me be the first to sign up as a contestant. Seriously. I could have Michael Swan and all his mates any day. And does “Humanistic Language Teaching” sound like a winners’ creed to you?

  3. Appy Linguist says:

    All the teachers would end up being all smarmy in an attempt to woo the students.

    (So quite like real-life teaching in many a language school where teachers’ hours depend on students signing up again and again…)

  4. Alex Case says:

    And so giving us all an interesting insight into real life teaching…

    But then the students would get their test results and realise they actually prefered the strict teacher who forced them to stop speaking a mixture of Italian and Spanish to each other

  5. Sandy says:

    Sign me up too, Alex. Me and my big whip – and an armful of copies of Murphy’s Grappler!

  6. ali says:

    when will you ever learn that nobody gives a toss about TEFL except for the realtively small group of old TEFLers like you lot who somehow and for whatever reason think that what you are doing is worthwhile and will somehow count for something?

  7. Alex Case says:

    English Raven gets a million clicks a year, TEFLtastic gets half a million (a small percentage of the traffic on, which is a small percentage of the traffic on EnglishClub, the site for learners with the same owner), Onestopenglish must have about a million paying members by now, etc etc. Do you think the minority might be the bitter TEFLers who make themselves and their students unhappy by taking no interest in their jobs?

    Anyhow, as I explain in the post, most of the viewers will be English language learners or other people fascinated to see how their compatriots do in a mixed nationality house

  8. Stephen Bunting says:

    Yes – I have had some ideas about getting the Bull**** Broadcasting Corporation ( as an American work colleague calls it ) to do a fly-on-the-wall series about TEFL and ,yes, I thought of rustling up one of Girls Aloud or somebody to be put through a CELTA and see how they fare. Other things could be vox pops with TEFL teachers, the reality of England for Russian, Japanese or Saudi students, life in a cowboy language school….the list goes on, but I think there’s enough for a series. As long as they don’t include me in it!!

  9. Alex Case says:

    Great ideas!

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