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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

TEFL International Resolution

Bruce Veldhuisen and I have officially resolved our dispute and both have made statements regarding this matter which appear below:

Over the last several months, I have been posting on various websites about my unhappiness with TEFL International. And I believe I had a point. While my first trainer was very good, I had problems with my second trainer and I failed some of my assignments. In my frustration, instead of trying to resolve the issue with TEFL International, I read some websites, jumped to some conclusions, and began making threats. I am afraid my emotions got the best of me and I never gave TEFL International an opportunity to resolve the problem. Now Bruce has contacted me and offered a resolution that we both find acceptable. I would like to thank Bruce and TEFL International for making the effort to resolve this issue despite my attacks. I can recommend TEFL International as an honest and professional organization.

Brandon Fike

I would like to personally apologize to Brandon. The fact is the course he participated in was below our normal standards. It was a combined course (partial distance learning, partial face-to-face) offered for a customer in Bangkok. Information was not given to the trainees and this caused miscommunication and then frustration. Obviously we wish every course was perfect. I would like to thank Brandon for overcoming his anger and allowing us to find a fair resolution to his dissatisfaction—something we always seek to do with the occasional unhappy customers.

Bruce Veldhuisen

Monday, July 28, 2008

Communicative language teaching

Overview of CLT
As an extension of the notional-functional syllabus, CLT also places great emphasis on helping students use the target language in a variety of contexts and places great emphasis on learning language functions. Unlike the ALM, its primary focus is on helping learners create meaning rather than helping them develop perfectly grammatical structures or acquire native-like pronunciation. This means that successfully learning a foreign language is assessed in terms of how well learners have developed their communicative competence, which can loosely be defined as their ability to apply knowledge of both formal and sociolinguistic aspects of a language with adequate proficiency to communicate.
CLT is usually characterized as a broad approach to teaching, rather than as a teaching method with a clearly defined set of classroom practices. As such, it is most often defined as a list of general principles or features. One of the most recognized of these lists is David Nunan’s (1991) five features of CLT:
An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language.
The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation.
The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language but also on the Learning Management process.
An enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning.
An attempt to link classroom language learning with language activities outside the classroom.
These five features are claimed by practitioners of CLT to show that they are very interested in the needs and desires of their learners as well as the connection between the language as it is taught in their class and as it used outside the classroom. Under this broad umbrella definition, any teaching practice that helps students develop their communicative competence in an authentic context is deemed an acceptable and beneficial form of instruction. Thus, in the classroom CLT often takes the form of pair and group work requiring negotiation and cooperation between learners, fluency-based activities that encourage learners to develop their confidence, role-plays in which students practice and develop language functions, as well as judicious use of grammar and pronunciation focused activities.

[edit] Classroom activities used in CLT
Example Activities
Role Play
Information Gap
Language Exchanges
Pair Work
Learning by teaching

However, not all courses that utilize the Communicative Language approach will restrict their activities solely to these. Some courses will have the students take occasional grammar quizzes, or prepare at home using non-communicative drills, for instance.

[edit] Critiques of CLT
One of the most famous attacks on Communicative Language teaching was offered by Michael Swan in the English Language Teaching Journal on 1985[1] Henry Widdowson responded in defense of CLT, also in the ELT Journal (1985 39(3):158-161). More recently other writers (e.g. Bax[2]) have critiqued CLT for paying insufficient attention to the context in which teaching and learning take place, though CLT has also been defended against this charge (e.g. Harmer 2003[3]).

The Communicative Approach often seems to be interpreted as: if the teacher understands the student we have good communication. What can happen though is that a teacher who is from the same region, understands the students when they make errors resulting from first language influence. One problem with this is that native speakers of the target language can have great difficulty understanding them. This observation may call for new thinking on and adaptation of the communicative approach. The adapted communicative approach should be a simulation where the teacher pretends to understand only that what any regular speaker of the target language would, and should react accordingly.[4]

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pin yin practice

I'll try to convert this into Han zi/characters later but for now I just want to get the pin yin right.

Ni hao.Wo jiao Brandon. Wo shi yi ge Mei Guo ren zai Zhong guo.
Wo jiao Ying yu zai yi ge (?) da xue. (It's an interesting) gong zuo.
Zui jin, wo (often) xue xi Zhongwen dan shi wo bu zhi dao ru guo wo zai
(making much/any progress).Wo de ai hao shi kan (kan) dian ying, kan shu
he surfing the internet (shang wan?). Wo ye xi huan (travelling).
Wo de zui xi huan (de) dian ying shi: Batman Begins, The LOTR Trilogy,
The Elephant Man and the Shawshank Redemption.Mei tian hen duo
Zhong guo ren shuo/wen wo, "Ni ke yi shuo Zhong wen ma?"
(to which I reply/say), "Yi dian!". Ran hou ta men xiao!

ni hao.wo jiao Brandon.Wo shi yi ge zai zhong guo de mei guo ren.wo zai yi ge da xue jiao ying yu.zhe shi yi ge hen you yi si de gong zuo.zui jin,wo jing chang xue xi zhong wen,dan shi wo bu zhi dao wo shi bu shi zai jin bu.wo de ai hao shi kan dian ying,kan shu he shang wang.wo ye xi huan lv you.wo zui xi huan de dian ying shi: Batman begins,...mei tian ,hen duo zhong guo ren wen wo :"ni ke yi shuo zhong wen ma ?" wo hui da shuo:"yi dian dian "ran hou ta men jiu xiao le.

Holistic English

All expats in China are crazy article link

Short passage from "Industrial Society and its Future"

18. Modern leftish philosophers tend to dismiss reason, science, objective reality and to insist that everything is culturally relative. It is true that one can ask serious questions about the foundations of scientific knowledge and about how, if at all, the concept of objective reality can be defined. But it is obvious that modern leftish philosophers are not simply cool-headed logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack these concepts because of their own psychological needs. For one thing, their attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent that it is successful, it satisfies the drive for power. More importantly, the leftist hates science and rationality because they classify certain beliefs as true (i.e., successful, superior) and other beliefs as false (i.e., failed, inferior). The leftist's feelings of inferiority run so deep that he cannot tolerate any classification of some things as successful or superior and other things as failed or inferior. This also underlies the rejection by many leftists of the concept of mental illness and of the utility of IQ tests. Leftists are antagonistic to genetic explanations of human abilities or behavior because such explanations tend to make some persons appear superior or inferior to others. Leftists prefer to give society the credit or blame for an individual's ability or lack of it. Thus if a person is "inferior" it is not his fault, but society's, because he has not been brought up properly.

19. The leftist is not typically the kind of person whose feelings of inferiority make him a braggart, an egotist, a bully, a self-promoter, a ruthless competitor. This kind of person has not wholly lost faith in himself. He has a deficit in his sense of power and self-worth, but he can still conceive of himself as having the capacity to be strong, and his efforts to make himself strong produce his unpleasant behavior.[1] But the leftist is too far gone for that. His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Example of a Chinese job ad

Jul 22 4 white foreign teacher needed asap8000-12000per month
if your skin is white,it is ok

Employment Type: Full Time
Will be Assigned to Teach at: K-6 Grade
Salary: more than 8000 Chinese Yuan
4 white foreign teacher needed asap8000-12000per m

ESL sites (work in progress) that I use...

(Incomplete) Reading List

1.) Out of Control - Kevin Kelly
2.) The Colour out of Space - H.P. Lovecraft
3.) Histories - Herodotus
4.) Faust parts I and II - Goethe
5.) The Critique of Pure Reason - Immanuel Kant
6.) The Complete Works of Plato
7.) The Complete Works of Aristotle
8.) The New Atlantis - Sir Francis Bacon
9.) Pragmatism - William James
10.) The Varieties of Religious Experience - William James
11.) The Philosophical Dictionary - Voltaire
12.) Finnegan's Wake - James Joyce
13.) Morals and Dogma - Albert Pike
14.) Philosophical Investigations - Wittgenstein
15.) Society and its Discontents - Freud
16.) Muses, Madmen and Prophets: Rethinking the History, Science and Meaning of Auditory
Hallucinations - Daniel Smith
17.) The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind - Julian Jaynes
18.) Travels - Michael Crichton
19.) The Social Construction of Reality - Peter L. Benger and Thomas Luckmann
20.) Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited
21.) Neuromancer - William Gibson
22.) Simulacra and Simulation - Jean Baudrillard
23.) The Four Books of Sentences - Peter Lombard
24.) The Rape of Nanking - Iris Chang
25.) The Problem of China - Bertrand Russell
26.) On (the) Egyptian Mysteries - Iamblichus
27.) The Enneads - Plotinus
28.) A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
29.) The Sea and Poison - Shusaku Endo
30.) The Devil's Gluttony - Morimura Seiichi
31.) At the Mountains of Madness - H.P Lovecraft
32.) The Call of Cthulhu - H.P. Lovecraft
33.) The Shadow out of Time - H. P. Lovecraft
34.) Beyond Good and Evil - Nietzsche
35.) The Life Divine - Sri Aurobindo
36.) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
37.) The Goodman of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe
38.) Geographica - Strabo
39.) The Problems of Philosophy - Bertrand Russell
40.) The Dao De Qing - Lao Tzu
41.) City of God - St. Augustine
42.) A History of Philosophy - Frederick Coppleston
43.) Monadology - Leibniz
44.) The Philosophy of History - Hegel
45.) The Secret Teachings of All Ages - Manly P. Hall
46.) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions - Thomas Kuhn
47.) Elements - Euclid
48.) The World as Will and Representation - Schopenhauer
49.) The Kybalion
50.) The Sefer Yetzirah
51.) Industrial Society and its Future - The Unabomber
52.) The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology - Raymond Kurzweil
53.) The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe - Roger Penrose
54.) Cosmos and History - Mircea Eliade
55.) The Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell

The Unabomber on "Control of human behavior"

Control of human behavior

143. Since the beginning of civilization, organized societies have had to put pressures on human beings for the sake of the functioning of the social organism. The kinds of pressures vary greatly from one society to another. Some of the pressures are physical (poor diet, excessive labor, environmental pollution), some are psychological (noise, crowding, forcing humans behavior into the mold that society requires). In the past, human nature has been approximately constant, or at any rate has varied only within certain bounds. Consequently, societies have been able to push people only up to certain limits. When the limit of human endurance has been passed, things start going wrong: rebellion, or crime, or corruption, or evasion of work, or depression and other mental problems, or an elevated death rate, or a declining birth rate or something else, so that either the society breaks down, or its functioning becomes too inefficient and it is (quickly or gradually, through conquest, attrition or evolution) replaced by some more efficient form of society.[25]

144. Thus human nature has in the past put certain limits on the development of societies. People could be pushed only so far and no farther. But today this may be changing, because modern technology is developing ways of modifying human beings.

145. Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy, then gives them the drugs to take away their unhappiness. Science fiction? It is already happening to some extent in our own society. It is well known that the rate of clinical depression had been greatly increasing in recent decades. We believe that this is due to disruption of the power process, as explained in paragraphs 59-76. But even if we are wrong, the increasing rate of depression is certainly the result of some conditions that exist in today's society. Instead of removing the conditions that make people depressed, modern society gives them antidepressant drugs. In effect, antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual's internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable. (Yes, we know that depression is often of purely genetic origin. We are referring here to those cases in which environment plays the predominant role.)

146. Drugs that affect the mind are only one example of the methods of controlling human behavior that modern society is developing. Let us look at some of the other methods.

147. To start with, there are the techniques of surveillance. Hidden video cameras are now used in most stores and in many other places, and computers are used to collect and process vast amounts of information about individuals. Information so obtained greatly increases the effectiveness of physical coercion (i.e., law enforcement).[26] Then there are the methods of propaganda, for which the mass communication media provide effective vehicles. Efficient techniques have been developed for winning elections, selling products, influencing public opinion. The entertainment industry serves as an important psychological tool of the system, possibly even when it is dishing out large amounts of sex and violence. Entertainment provides modern man with an essential means of escape. While absorbed in television, videos, etc., he can forget stress, anxiety, frustration, dissatisfaction. Many primitive peoples, when they don't have work to do, are quite content to sit for hours at a time doing nothing at all, because they are at peace with themselves and their world. But most modern people must be constantly occupied or entertained, otherwise they get "bored," i.e., they get fidgety, uneasy, irritable.

148. Other techniques strike deeper than the foregoing. Education is no longer a simple affair of paddling a kid's behind when he doesn't know his lessons and patting him on the head when he does know them. It is becoming a scientific technique for controlling the child's development. Sylvan Learning Centers, for example, have had great success in motivating children to study, and psychological techniques are also used with more or less success in many conventional schools. "Parenting" techniques that are taught to parents are designed to make children accept fundamental values of the system and behave in ways that the system finds desirable. "Mental health" programs, "intervention" techniques, psychotherapy and so forth are ostensibly designed to benefit individuals, but in practice they usually serve as methods for inducing individuals to think and behave as the system requires. (There is no contradiction here; an individual whose attitudes or behavior bring him into conflict with the system is up against a force that is too powerful for him to conquer or escape from, hence he is likely to suffer from stress, frustration, defeat. His path will be much easier if he thinks and behaves as the system requires. In that sense the system is acting for the benefit of the individual when it brainwashes him into conformity.) Child abuse in its gross and obvious forms is disapproved in most if not all cultures. Tormenting a child for a trivial reason or no reason at all is something that appalls almost everyone. But many psychologists interpret the concept of abuse much more broadly. Is spanking, when used as part of a rational and consistent system of discipline, a form of abuse? The question will ultimately be decided by whether or not spanking tends to produce behavior that makes a person fit in well with the existing system of society. In practice, the word "abuse" tends to be interpreted to include any method of child-rearing that produces behavior inconvenient for the system. Thus, when they go beyond the prevention of obvious, senseless cruelty, programs for preventing "child abuse" are directed toward the control of human behavior of the system.

149. Presumably, research will continue to increase the effectiveness of psychological techniques for controlling human behavior. But we think it is unlikely that psychological techniques alone will be sufficient to adjust human beings to the kind of society that technology is creating. Biological methods probably will have to be used. We have already mentioned the use of drugs in this connection. Neurology may provide other avenues of modifying the human mind. Genetic engineering of human beings is already beginning to occur in the form of "gene therapy," and there is no reason to assume the such methods will not eventually be used to modify those aspects of the body that affect mental functioning.

150. As we mentioned in paragraph 134, industrial society seems likely to be entering a period of severe stress, due in part to problems of human behavior and in part to economic and environmental problems. And a considerable proportion of the system's economic and environmental problems result from the way human beings behave. Alienation, low self-esteem, depression, hostility, rebellion; children who won't study, youth gangs, illegal drug use, rape, child abuse, other crimes, unsafe sex, teen pregnancy, population growth, political corruption, race hatred, ethnic rivalry, bitter ideological conflict (e.g., pro-choice vs. pro-life), political extremism, terrorism, sabotage, anti-government groups, hate groups. All these threaten the very survival of the system. The system will be forced to use every practical means of controlling human behavior.

151. The social disruption that we see today is certainly not the result of mere chance. It can only be a result of the conditions of life that the system imposes on people. (We have argued that the most important of these conditions is disruption of the power process.) If the system succeeds in imposing sufficient control over human behavior to assure its own survival, a new watershed in human history will have passed. Whereas formerly the limits of human endurance have imposed limits on the development of societies (as we explained in paragraphs 143, 144), industrial-technological society will be able to pass those limits by modifying human beings, whether by psychological methods or biological methods or both. In the future, social systems will not be adjusted to suit the needs of human beings. Instead, human beings will be adjusted to suit the needs of the system.[27]

152. Generally speaking, technological control over human behavior will probably not be introduced with a totalitarian intention or even through a conscious desire to restrict human freedom.[28] Each new step in the assertion of control over the human mind will be taken as a rational response to a problem that faces society, such as curing alcoholism, reducing the crime rate or inducing young people to study science and engineering. In many cases, there will be humanitarian justification. For example, when a psychiatrist prescribes an anti-depressant for a depressed patient, he is clearly doing that individual a favor. It would be inhumane to withhold the drug from someone who needs it. When parents send their children to Sylvan Learning Centers to have them manipulated into becoming enthusiastic about their studies, they do so from concern for their children's welfare. It may be that some of these parents wish that one didn't have to have specialized training to get a job and that their kid didn't have to be brainwashed into becoming a computer nerd. But what can they do? They can't change society, and their child may be unemployable if he doesn't have certain skills. So they send him to Sylvan.

153. Thus control over human behavior will be introduced not by a calculated decision of the authorities but through a process of social evolution (rapid evolution, however). The process will be impossible to resist, because each advance, considered by itself, will appear to be beneficial, or at least the evil involved in making the advance will seem to be less than that which would result from not making it (see paragraph 127). Propaganda for example is used for many good purposes, such as discouraging child abuse or race hatred. Sex education is obviously useful, yet the effect of sex education (to the extent that it is successful) is to take the shaping of sexual attitudes away from the family and put it into the hands of the state as represented by the public school system.

154. Suppose a biological trait is discovered that increases the likelihood that a child will grow up to be a criminal and suppose some sort of gene therapy can remove this trait.[29] Of course most parents whose children possess the trait will have them undergo the therapy. It would be inhumane to do otherwise, since the child would probably have a miserable life if he grew up to be a criminal. But many or most primitive societies have a low crime rate in comparison with that of our society, even though they have neither high-tech methods of child-rearing nor harsh systems of punishment. Since there is no reason to suppose that more modern men than primitive men have innate predatory tendencies, the high crime rate of our society must be due to the pressures that modern conditions put on people, to which many cannot or will not adjust. Thus a treatment designed to remove potential criminal tendencies is at least in part a way of re-engineering people so that they suit the requirements of the system.

155. Our society tends to regard as a "sickness" any mode of thought or behavior that is inconvenient for the system, and this is plausible because when an individual doesn't fit into the system it causes pain to the individual as well as problems for the system. Thus the manipulation of an individual to adjust him to the system is seen as a "cure" for a "sickness" and therefore as good.

156. In paragraph 127 we pointed out that if the use of a new item of technology is initially optional, it does not necessarily remain optional, because the new technology tends to change society in such a way that it becomes difficult or impossible for an individual to function without using that technology. This applies also to the technology of human behavior. In a world in which most children are put through a program to make them enthusiastic about studying, a parent will almost be forced to put his kid through such a program, because if he does not, then the kid will grow up to be, comparatively speaking, an ignoramus and therefore unemployable. Or suppose a biological treatment is discovered that, without undesirable side-effects, will greatly reduce the psychological stress from which so many people suffer in our society. If large numbers of people choose to undergo the treatment, then the general level of stress in society will be reduced, so that it will be possible for the system to increase the stress-producing pressures. In fact, something like this seems to have happened already with one of our society's most important psychological tools for enabling people to reduce (or at least temporarily escape from) stress, namely, mass entertainment (see paragraph 147). Our use of mass entertainment is "optional": No law requires us to watch television, listen to the radio, read magazines. Yet mass entertainment is a means of escape and stress-reduction on which most of us have become dependent. Everyone complains about the trashiness of television, but almost everyone watches it. A few have kicked the TV habit, but it would be a rare person who could get along today without using any form of mass entertainment. (Yet until quite recently in human history most people got along very nicely with no other entertainment than that which each local community created for itself.) Without the entertainment industry the system probably would not have been able to get away with putting as much stress-producing pressure on us as it does.

157. Assuming that industrial society survives, it is likely that technology will eventually acquire something approaching complete control over human behavior. It has been established beyond any rational doubt that human thought and behavior have a largely biological basis. As experimenters have demonstrated, feelings such as hunger, pleasure, anger and fear can be turned on and off by electrical stimulation of appropriate parts of the brain. Memories can be destroyed by damaging parts of the brain or they can be brought to the surface by electrical stimulation. Hallucinations can be induced or moods changed by drugs. There may or may not be an immaterial human soul, but if there is one it clearly is less powerful than the biological mechanisms of human behavior. For if that were not the case then researchers would not be able so easily to manipulate human feelings and behavior with drugs and electrical currents.

158. It presumably would be impractical for all people to have electrodes inserted in their heads so that they could be controlled by the authorities. But the fact that human thoughts and feelings are so open to biological intervention shows that the problem of controlling human behavior is mainly a technical problem; a problem of neurons, hormones and complex molecules; the kind of problem that is accessible to scientific attack. Given the outstanding record of our society in solving technical problems, it is overwhelmingly probable that great advances will be made in the control of human behavior.

159. Will public resistance prevent the introduction of technological control of human behavior? It certainly would if an attempt were made to introduce such control all at once. But since technological control will be introduced through a long sequence of small advances, there will be no rational and effective public resistance. (See paragraphs 127,132, 153.)

160. To those who think that all this sounds like science fiction, we point out that yesterday's science fiction is today's fact. The Industrial Revolution has radically altered man's environment and way of life, and it is only to be expected that as technology is increasingly applied to the human body and mind, man himself will be altered as radically as his environment and way of life have been.

Out of control