I’d love to believe that the collective efforts of TEFL bloggers and website owners were working towards building a tefl internet where a word or two on Google will be worth more than asking people you know for recommendations for TEFL qualifications, schools and countries to work in, and teaching techniques and materials to use. Unfortunately, I think the present and near future reality is not so ideal.
Starting with a simple and practical example, would you be better off spending 20 minutes searching on the Internet for suitable worksheets, or should you spend that time trawling through the teachers’ room bookshelves and asking other teachers? If my own experience and the people who arrive on my blogs looking for something that isn’t there are anything to go by, I’d leave that keyboard alone.
And now to the more complex question of trying to find out something about, for example, training with and/or working with TEFL International in Thailand. What are the chances that an Internet search will give you the information you need? The answer is clear…
…as mud. The best I can manage is “It depends” or “My gut feeling tells me that…”. Whenever there is a clash of opinions there are things from both sides that are clearly twisting things, then there is the occasional nutty teacher and even more occasionally a nutty school owner. All those are fairly easy to spot, but that’s only 10% at most of what you will find. With most of the rest there seems to be no way to judge whether you should pay attention to what they say, ignore it or even make a point of doing the opposite.
To handle the Thailand part of that question first, could I have got something useful from asking “Bangkok- is it for me?” before I went? I’ve met people who could’ve given me the right answer (“For you, six months is about your limit”), but I’m not sure I ever could’ve got that answer on the net.
And to turn finally to TEFL International- saints or sinners, or a little bit of both? They certainly have their defenders, which is more than can be said of Paul Lowe and Windsor TEFL, but their tone is often as defensive and hysterical as that of their many attackers, so it’s difficult to take either side at face value. The recenton TEFLtradseman does at least convince me that some of his critics are nutty, but that doesn’t really help me understand who I can believe. Here’s hoping that he gets back to me agreeing to answer the interview questions I have sent him soon, and clears this particular puzzle up once and for all….