33 country fast food strike - TEFL lesson

33 country fast food strike - TEFL lesson

A lesson plan around the "Fight for 15 campaign" and a recent international one-day strike in support of US fast food workers fighting for better wages.

Lesson plan should take between 1 and 2 hours depending on levels of class discussion.

Teachers may also wish to play students this clip, which contains an interview with a fast food worker discussing why he intends to strike. The clip can provide practice with accents as well as understanding graphs and charts.

If at any point the above clip becomes unavailable on youtube, please PM the Angry Language Workers and we can email you a copy directly. Similarly, if you find any typos in the lesson plan, let us know so they can be fixed!

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May 27 2014 15:14

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Hieronymous
May 27 2014 17:17

Sorry to sound like a dick, but this lesson plan is as bad as anything on Dave's ESL Cafe. It's admirable that you all want to put teaching materials together, but even the content of this lesson is intellectually dishonest; its implicit conclusions are disingenuous too. It reads like a Berlin Rosen press release, or something put out by a Change-to-Win PR wonk at the headquarters in DC. After the shameful, disgraceful collusion of SEIU goons and Chicago pigs to detain and arrest Jose “Zé” Garcia on May Day, why would you continue to promote SEIU's ideology?

Case in point: this AP photo went viral:

but the actual content is pissed off workers, confronting both the NYPD pigs and SEIU pigs who together had erected temporary metal barricades to prevent the protestors from occupying a McDonald's (the whole event's itinerary had been pre-approved by the pigs). The purpose of the event was so that Democratic Party politicians could regale the crowd with their campaign promises. Yet apologists for the SEIU's class collaboration, like Josh Eidelson at liberal mouthpiece Salon.com, continue to flack for the union. Unity & Struggle have an excellent first-hand account of this incident called "Chicago’s SEIU Arrest and the Story of a Stock Photo".

Ready-made lessons are way too teacher-centered. It's what Paolo Freire called the "banking model" of education. The teacher has all the answers and the students are the empty vessel to be filled with all the master's wisdom. You know, the sage on the stage; or, if you have a little partially-digested Pedagogy of the Oppressed under your belt, the guide on the side. But never the co-learner, in the reciprocal relationship that defines a healthy pedagogical approach.

Here are the weaknesses:

    1. The paltry pre-reading activity is all about the student's consumption habits. It assumes that ESL student has a favorite fast food restaurant. I've taught EFL/ESL for 25 years and most of my immigrant students buy ingredients and cook their traditional food. Most with kids indulge them with fast food, while eating their ethnic food themselves. If you're going to discuss consumption and eating habits, why not discuss processed food and it's negative health effects. You might be surprised when you hear tales of horror of ESL students who've worked in food processing factories.
    2. Why not simply elicit from the students what kind of work they've done, then see from there if any worked in the service sector. The latter is way too broad to limit it just to fast food, but that can be teased out in discussion. And come on comrades, using the word "joint" to describe a business comes off as way too hipster. And if you're going to be ideological, why not include working class struggle in the pre-reading discussion?
    3. The ESL publishing industry is based on lowest-common-denominator assumptions about student needs. A healthy curriculum, instead, is based on needs assessments, where the goals and objectives are used to create lesson materials that grown organically from those student needs. So if this lesson is intended to be a catch-all, what are the purported language needs of the students? Without an approximate level, what determined the vocabulary (abbreviated as "vocab") you chose? What's their first language -- and why would they want to support, even abstractly, the PR campaign Berlin Rosen is running for Change-to-Win and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations?
    4. Not to advocate for a prescriptive approach, but where's the grammar? What are the language functions being taught? Read and regurgitate factoids (that are mostly numbers)? That's what the comprehension questions sounds like. And again, to call these protests -- which are a combination of press conference and campaign rally for Democratic Party politicians -- a "strike" is disingenuous. So asking the students if they'd join them if they were held in their countries imposes an absurd paternalistic American-centric liberalism on countries that might have militant traditions of class struggle.
    5. The facts are simply flawed. The Seattle minimum wage will be phased in over the next several years. Companies with over 500 employees have 3 years; ones that offer health care have 4 years. The SEIU cut deals where some union contracts (at sub-minimum wages) preclude the new citywide minimum wage. The Seattle minimum wage is so multi-tiered that it's a pathetic joke. Anyway, SeaTac (the town of 27,000 where the airport serving Seattle and Tacoma is located) would have the highest minimum at $15 an hour if it didn't have 2 tiers, one for airport workers and another without the minimum who work exclusively on the Port of Seattle property. In my opinion, the whole minimum wage campaign is a front for the Democratic Party, to claim credit when Obama raises the minimum to $9.

To assume that working class ESL students don't know about the working conditions in the service sector is naive at best -- and paternalistic and condescending at worst. They work in the industry and have a lot to teach you, the activist ESL teacher!

A truly radical pedagogy would equate ESL teaching as a low-wage, benefit-less service sector jobs and draw commonalities with ESL students working in similar sectors. That would build solidarity in the classroom.

Caiman del Barrio
May 28 2014 15:09

Excellent post H. I mean, is merely changing the topic of a class (even if it is to a 'workers' issue) equatable to a free education? I reckon most students would mooch out of this class having determined that their teacher is some sort of extremist, and there's a fairly high possibility that they would have deliberately exiled from their country of origin due to a dislike of them damn commies anyway. Shouldn't we be encouraging students to exercise independence and a critical appraisal of their surroundings, rather than propagandising at them? I sort of detect a whiff of Leninist 'consciousness raising' about this whole project, which makes me uncomfortable.

Having said that, as a TEFL, I'm basically a reluctant warrior for the cultural sinkhole of America-centrism, so yeah. I would really like to discuss alternative, immediately applicable models of alternative/freer pedagogy that go beyond the propagandising methods used here.

H do you have any lesson plans or anything else to share? Can we set up some sort of alternative pedagogy online reading group/workshop or something?

Hieronymous
May 28 2014 16:43
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
H do you have any lesson plans or anything else to share? Can we set up some sort of alternative pedagogy online reading group/workshop or something?

Thanks. Yeah, I really am trying to synthesize Vygotsky's theory -- mostly his Zone of Proximal Development -- and Freire's practice. That latter is much more problematic than the former (see ultra-left professor at CSU San Diego, Rich Gibson's critique: "Paulo Freire and Pedagogy For Social Justice").

Some of the best proponents of a "participatory approach," taking the best of Freire's ideas, are Nina Wallterstein and Elsa Auerbach, who have been active in ESL/EFL/Literacy in New England for decades. They've updated their excellent 2-book expression of the use of this approach (available from Grass Roots Press in Canada):

    Problem-Posing at Work: Popular Educator's Guide
    Problem-Posing at Work: English for Action

The first is an excellent overview of this approach, outlining how the participatory pedagogical approach is based on a thoroughly student-centered strategy, using the students' workplace and social class needs to create lessons -- and which also give examples of including a critique of global capital. But in way that draws on the students' life experience -- doing their own problem-posing -- rather than being pedantic. The second book is actually a textbook for English learners that's decent, but when I use it I mostly just plagiarize and adapt parts I find useful. It's simply impossible to have one-size-fits-all lesson plans.

My strongest passion is activating schemata in pre-reading activities. Here I'd recommend the thoroughly researched (taking from latest functional brain magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] studies) How the ELL Brain Learns by David A. Sousa.

I'm totally down for an online reading group. I have facilitated workshops on pre-reading activities, using Sousa's research, and would love to have feedback on these presentations and share ideas with other language teachers.

Additionally, I've taught Vocational ESL and created curriculum for the SEIU as a freelance part-timer for a decade, so I know how much the rank-and-file hates the pro-management bias of the union. In nearly every shop where I've taught, a decertification drive would take off like wildfire. That's why I think glorifying anything SEIU/Change-to-Win touches ends up -- often unintentionally -- as apologetics for their class collaboration.

Hieronymous
May 29 2014 23:23

I just got a PM asking me to self-censor any comments on this thread, so as not to offend the person who created this lesson plan.

Where does this groupthink come from? Perhaps beyond exporting pro-boss unionism and pseudo-strikes, American culture is also influencing the world with anti-intellectual McThinking™.

[deleted by H]

Ed
May 28 2014 21:48

So I feel like I might as well step in here as I'm part of the small group of friends in a pub who decided to embark on this political project (though this particular lesson isn't mine).. basically, Hieronymous, I think a lot of the points you make, specific to this and more generally, are very valid. That said, I think you (and Caiman) are also making a lot of assumptions which are quite off the mark, particularly overestimating the amount of political importance put behind these resources.

Like, both of you seem quite caught up with the idea that these are supposed to be like resources to 'teach' communist politics as well as English (which is fair enough, as the bulk of what's been posted so far have been lefty lesson resources so I get why).. in reality, they're really just resources made by lefty TEFLers of interest to lefties.

I like the idea of lefty TEFL plans because I'm a lefty who worked in TEFL and I'm very lazy.. but the rest of the blog is intended to be made up accounts of struggles (like this one!), working life etc. That's the side of it that more interests me as I personally don't see much political 'potential' for lessons as I only think there's political potential in resisting work rather than doing it, regardless of approach. Like, you mention "building solidarity in the classroom" but I'm not even sure what that would look like apart from maybe students helping teachers resist school management (funnily enough, we might have a report about this exact thing from one of our group very soon!).. So when you and Caiman talk about progressive pedagogies for me it's cool but kind of over-stating the importance of TEFL.. Like, I think progressive teaching is interesting and important but it's not particularly where I want to spend my time. That said, others in the group feel differently and one of the articles being talked over is actually exactly about progressive teaching practice.. as you can see, we're a mixed bag!

Last thing, your feedback is massively appreciated (and tbh, I would like you to get more involved, at least informally, with the project.. same goes for Caiman actually, but he's probably request payment!) but I think at times you forget yourself (or at least are unaware) in your comments.. for some in the group this is their first political project and all of us, me included, have much less experience in the job than you. So making self-consciously dickish (hence "sorry to be a dick but..") comments about the quality of less experienced colleagues' work is always something to be checked, in my opinion..

Hope that clears things up..

Ed
May 28 2014 21:56

Hieronymous, if you have a complaint about a PM, send it to an admin. Otherwise, discussing contents of PMs on the forums (and especially backing them up with straight up insults) is against the forum guidelines. Between this and your post in the other thread, your behaviour in bordering on bullying.

Edit to add:

Hieronymous wrote:
I would bet my next measly paycheck that all of you are in the same organization. Also, I agree with commieprincess that lessons like this are full of "massive chunks of shit."

Sorry, this has to be addressed more directly. As far as I know none of us are in the same organisation (two Solfed, I'm ex-Solfed, others aren't in and have never been in any organisation); so I suppose you'll be sending us your next paycheck?

Also, (mis)quoting from a PM in order to insult someone is against forum guidelines (and also just really childish). Please refrain from doing it again.

commieprincess
May 31 2014 11:47

.

Chilli Sauce
May 28 2014 22:54

Personally, I think this whole discussion could do with deleting.

I'd then encourage H, if he wants to comment, to consider how he might do so in a constructive, comradely way. As a teacher, he should be aware that lecturing and shouting at people is rarely effective.

Hieronymous
May 28 2014 22:58
commieprincess wrote:
Can I request that last part of hieronymous' post is deleted?

Censor away. If you need to get it deleted, don't say it in the first place. It wasn't a misquote, it was a direct cut-n-paste.

The content of the campaign that the lesson plan refers to is based on a joint effort of the U.S. Democratic Party and their union foot soldiers to act as a cover for the Obama administration and his attempt to offer up a paltry $9 an hour minimum wage.

It is a direct attempt to channel the most recent radical moments -- from the 5,000,000+ immigrant workers in the anti-Sensenbrenner General Strike on May Day 2006, to the Republic Windows and Doors factory occupation, to the mini-mass strike in Wisconsin, and finally to the varied Occupy actions -- into the deadend of the ballot booth. Teaching that it is something other than reactionary to working class immigrant students in any country of the world is intellectually dishonest.

If you disagree, you can simply argue your case without appeals to censorship.

Hieronymous
May 28 2014 22:59
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Personally, I think this whole discussion could do with deleting.

I'd then encourage H, if he wants to comment, to consider how he might do so in a constructive, comradely way. As a teacher, he should be aware that lecturing and shouting at people is rarely effective.

WTF?! Where does this urge to censor come from?

Fleur
May 29 2014 01:13

Unlike other posters on this thread I have no knowledge or experience of teaching English as a second language, however I have taken classes to learn French as a second language and as far as I can see this is far better than a lot of the turgid lessons I've had to plough my way through. I can't speak for anyone else in my classes but I didn't attend these language classes to become a fluent commie, I just went to learn the language. I would have probably been OK with commie language lessons, as long as I was learning the basics of everyday communication skills, a lot of people I was with probably would not have been.

I appreciate the politics around the Fight for 15 campaign are far from perfect but given, from my experience, that a lot of the discussion in classes are centred around current events in the news, something topical like the strikes in the fast food industry would be far more interesting to talk about as a student than, say Kim Kardashian's wedding. And I can't see anything in the lesson plan which would preclude expanding the subject to include criticisms of the campaign, should the conversations advance.

I am assuming that most people learning a second language, like me, do not do it within a radical organization or a union, but do it in language schools, either private or within the state education system. (I did it through a Québec school board.) As such, I believe that the teachers are, by and large, employed on a semester-to-semester, short-term contract position, and are generally very precariously employed. I also assume that the materials used have to be OKed by the management, who are most likely not going to be happy with the teaching staff setting lesson plans based on overtly radical material, especially those schools whose clientele are largely paid for by employers. You could be the best radical language teacher in the world, but you most likely won't be having your contract renewed.

Maybe the de facto assumption that everyone has a favourite kind of fast food is a little western-centric but the assumptions that immigrants aren't fast-food consumers is a little sweeping too. After my classes, a bunch of us would pile down to Tim Horton's (it's a fast food joint,) all of us immigrants and myself being the only person amongst us who had moved here from a Western European country.

As far as I know, and guessing from the their name, the Angry Language Brigade, are an British group and are probably teaching English to people based in the UK. In British schools/education the word "vocabulary" is almost always shortened to "vocab" in much the way as gymnastics is shortened to gym.

And before I can be accused of groupthink, I would like to point out that I have never met anyone involved in this project. I just feel that you are making unfair criticisms. I don't see that these lessons plans are designed to teach radical politics. They're designed to teach English, which is what most people turn up to English lessons to learn.

Hieronymous
May 29 2014 20:12
Ed wrote:
Like, both of you seem quite caught up with the idea that these are supposed to be like resources to 'teach' communist politics as well as English

Fair enough, Ed, but you're assuming that Caiman and I are saying this, which we're not. My point is that it seems odd for a new, inexperienced teacher to "try out" a heavily ideological lesson plan on libcom. There are better places to get constructive feedback, mostly importantly from students in the classroom. Again, this lesson about Berlin Rosen's media campaign is strange, since the action happened already but the rhetoric in the lesson treats it as an upcoming event.

So this is directed specifically to the teacher calling her/himself Angry Teachers Brigade: how did it go? What feedback did you get from the students? Or is this the revised lesson, after having taught the class? And is Fleur correct and is this is a lesson for a corporate language school in the U.K.? If so, why make a lesson plan about something emanating from the Democrat/labor partnership in the U.S.? Wouldn't that be like me making a lesson plan for students at my corporate EFL chain in the U.S., discussing the Labour Party and their inspiring affiliation with TULO (The Trade Union & Labour Party Liaison Organisation)? If these ESL students were refugees from the Balkans, they might proudly point out that Labour is affiliated with the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia in their own homeland -- which was the ruling party of Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1990. It could make for one of those "small world" moments and all of us commies -- or ex-subjects of real communism -- could sing the Internationale while drawing hammer and sickles inside happy faces on the whiteboard.

Ed wrote:
. . . I'm a lefty who worked in TEFL and I'm very lazy.. but the rest of the blog is intended to be made up accounts of struggles (like this one!), working life etc. That's the side of it that more interests me as I personally don't see much political 'potential' for lessons as I only think there's political potential in resisting work rather than doing it, regardless of approach.

Here I disagree and wholeheartedly agree. Blogs like that are what's really needed; they're fantastic. But I don't identify as a "lefty," because -- not to split hairs -- I'm not on the leftside of capitalism. I'm simply a worker against work, like you. The whole time I've worked in this sector, I've always been willing to share any piece of a lesson with any other teacher who wanted to use it. And likewise. I've never used a whole lesson plan from someone else because we all have not only different learning styles (Gardner's Multiple Intelligences theory), but that's reflected in different teaching approaches too. I've been doing this so long that I'm a zero-prep teacher. I go into the classroom with the lesson plan in my head and any materials from whatever source I find in my daily readings -- or prior lessons -- and I simply teach. From those Auerbach/Wallerstein books above I learned great techniques for eliciting from the students what their needs are. If they want to talk about movie stars and spectacular consumption, I try to mirror discussion questions back to them based on what they get from it emotionally. Most end up admitting that it's a kind of addiction. Fair enough. I'm not preaching. If they want to talk about union pseudo-strikes and multimillion-dollar media campaigns, I ask if they're swayed. Usually they are intelligent and see through the bullshit and find these spectacular events no different from how they see the Kardashians. If they like the processed garbage at McDonald's, they keep eating it. If I counter that with a 2-minute clip from Super Size Me and they think twice about putting noxious ingredients -- willingly -- in their bodies, I've done the best I can, which is to encourage them to think critically.

Ed wrote:
Like, you mention "building solidarity in the classroom" but I'm not even sure what that would look like apart from maybe students helping teachers resist school management (funnily enough, we might have a report about this exact thing from one of our group very soon!)..

Here's an example of what it looked like for me and a dozen of my co-workers. We went on an indefinite strike in 2008 at a non-profit EFL/ESL school in San Francisco. I'd say over 90% of the 170+ students honored the picket lines and stayed out with us. Not only that, but they self-organized. It was in a heavily Asian neighborhood, so the Thai students got all the Thai restaurants to put up our strike poster in their windows; Chinese, Japanese and Korean students got the restaurants of their ethnicity to do likewise. Spanish-speaking students -- mostly from Central & South American and Spain -- literally canvassed people walking down the street and went over the talking-points about the strike. Others got staple guns and rolls of tape and blanketed the neighborhood's vertical surfaces with our strike fliers and posters. So much so that when I was talking with a guy I knew, who worked downtown in the same building I used to, months later he quoted the strike facts back to me. I was amazed and asked how he knew; it was because he lived in that area and saw the fliers on telephones poles commuting by bus to and from work everyday. Even the Palestinian-owned cafe that was our de facto union hall put the strike poster prominently in their front window.

When the strike fizzled after 4 days and we lost, the students visited another EFL/ESL school en masse and negotiated a group discount with the director, then self-organized a campaign where they literally walked down the halls of my (soon-to-be-former) school with piles of transfers forms to encourage all the other students to move to this new EFL/ESL school. So even though we lost the strike, the school lost over half their students and still couldn't hire enough new teachers -- so they had to raise the wage $5, and still couldn't find enough experienced ESL teachers.

Ed wrote:
So when you and Caiman talk about progressive pedagogies for me it's cool but kind of over-stating the importance of TEFL.. Like, I think progressive teaching is interesting and important but it's not particularly where I want to spend my time. That said, others in the group feel differently and one of the articles being talked over is actually exactly about progressive teaching practice.. as you can see, we're a mixed bag!

I can't stand most of the self-righteous liberal moralists who practice "progressive pedagogies." That's why I'm more interested in his followers -- like Ira Shor, Elsa Auerbach, Nina Wallerstein, and others -- than Freire himself. I think Rich Gibson is right, in that despite some brilliant insights about educational practice, overall the Freire industry is a fraud.

Conversely, Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development -- in refuting Piaget's deterministic stages of learning hypothesis -- captures the true social nature of learning process of all humans. From the time as infants we learn to point, though mastering simple tasks like tying our shoes, all the way to comprehension of abstract scientific, mathematical and philosophical concepts.

My response was much too long, so I'll finish with something I picked up from reading Gilles Dauvé (and which he later elaborated on during a discussion): bourgeois school is "a specialized place which cuts off learning from doing." There's the rub: meaningful education combines learning and doing.

I'm sincerely sorry if I offended. I'd rather take up Ed's offer to have an open discussion.

De
May 29 2014 11:30
Fleur wrote:
I just feel that you are making unfair criticisms. I don't see that these lessons plans are designed to teach radical politics. They're designed to teach English, which is what most people turn up to English lessons to learn.

Thanks Fleur for your contribution to this thread. I didn't want to make any comments as I've never been very political and am not familiar with forum interactions (which, from the experience of these past few days, I find a bit nerve-racking to be honest).

I'm a (non native) English teacher involved in this project and I can say that the idea started just because a bunch of us were a bit fed up with the general approach to stuff like gender issues in TEFL, being precarious all the time etc...the lesson plan thing is supposed to be something extra that might / mightn't be of interest but as a teacher I don't mean to lecture my students about politics (I literally have zero experience in politics) but I also acknowledge that by bringing certain topics into the classroom you end up lecturing them somehow. That's why I guess my lessons are mostly about grammar rather than politics. Well, also, I love grammar.

Caiman del Barrio
May 29 2014 12:12

Fair enough Ed, I do see why my tone wasn't entirely constructive, but I think the criticisms stand. The last thing I'd like to do is discourage people from sharing lesson ideas and I think it's an excellent idea in principle (tbf H said that too). I am however, very interested in notions of freer education and I think any sort of anarchist/radical teacher should consider that. I personally feel utterly powerless to find a libertarian praxis for my teaching.

My general point can be boiled down to one specific question, which people would do well to answer, rather than huffing & calling for the debate to be shut down:

What about this, save the topic (and the educationalist criticisms made by H), is any different to a standard eg IELTS class? Change the title and the reading to, say, stem cell research or robots and you have a normal, boring, didactic TEFL class.

And yes, with my current financial situation, I would require payment. I have a longterm draft proposal for a TEFL cooperative school saved in Word, but it would require a level of security that I don't personally have.

On a meta sidenote, I find Chili's complaints and calls for censorship utterly bizarre and part of a pattern of his on Libcom where he responds aggressively to any sort of criticism. I'm not sure what exactly he or the rest of the collective expect when they put material out into the public sphere: a ticker tape parade? Some sort of medal? It'd be good if just once Chili responded to the point by point responses his words get, rather than continuing to believe that he is automatically right in every instance.

Chilli Sauce
May 29 2014 12:20

--Nevermind, it's not worth it.

Caiman del Barrio
May 29 2014 12:52

Amazing that H's in depth post, including a detailed account of a strike, some pointers on pedagogical praxis and even a goodwill apology, gets a down vote from the ruffled feathers of...well, it's pretty obvious.

Caiman del Barrio
May 29 2014 12:59
Ed wrote:
So when you and Caiman talk about progressive pedagogies for me it's cool but kind of over-stating the importance of TEFL.. Like, I think progressive teaching is interesting and important but it's not particularly where I want to spend my time.

Sorry Ed, but you're gonna have to do better than that, especially if you consider that this is response to reasonable criticisms made of your lesson plans. You don't have to go all 'jailer of the mind' to recognise the problems inherent within the teacher-student relationship, and the specific cultural dynamics that often make TEFL pretty corrosive.

And if the only object of these lesson plans is to share materials, and it's mere coincidence that they're all (attempts at) communist propaganda, then can I share my class about The Smiths (even though I've yet to find a class who haven't concluded that The Smiths are inferior to One Direction/50 Cent/Shakira etc)? wink

Ed
May 29 2014 14:20
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Fair enough Ed, I do see why my tone wasn't entirely constructive

I'm glad you see that but if that's the case then I don't understand why you're carrying on in that same tone. Like, how do you expect people to stop "huffing and puffing" when you describe their work as "normal, boring, didactic" or make snide remarks about people who don't want to be insulted demanding a "ticker tape parade". Or just come out with straight out personal attacks on one of the posters for believing "that he is automatically right in every instance"?

Seriously, do you not see how negative your behaviour is? Do you not see how your attitude is not 'comradely critical' or a springboard to chat about tactics/approaches but actually entirely destructive? And take into account that this is a group of workers, some with political experience, others without, in an industry you work in (and where people have actually said they would appreciate your involvement), who came together while involved in a successful campaign in their industry and have another campaign ongoing. Honestly, if you think there's nothing between 'ticker tape parade' and your dickish remarks, then quite frankly that's more reflective of your personality (and perhaps your own personal animosity towards Chilli Sauce) than anyone in the group.

Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Sorry Ed, but you're gonna have to do better than that, especially if you consider that this is response to reasonable criticisms made of your lesson plans. You don't have to go all 'jailer of the mind' to recognise the problems inherent within the teacher-student relationship, and the specific cultural dynamics that often make TEFL pretty corrosive.

To be honest, mate, I have no idea what you're talking about here. I realise it's become very important for you to 'win' this argument but if you re-read what I said you'll see that I agree with you (I think I described it as "interesting and important").. however, it doesn't interest me so much that I'd dedicate the very little time I have for political activity to it.. I prefer to spend it on the campaign above or the other one which is still ongoing or digitising and archiving a journal which has a lot of personal importance to me.. that's not to say you shouldn't do your thing, or that others involved in the blog won't, it's that I sadly almost certainly won't.. I'm glad that someone is doing it though, even if they are spending longer than I'd like acting like a dick on libcom..

Caiman del Barrio wrote:
And if the only object of these lesson plans is to share materials, and it's mere coincidence that they're all (attempts at) communist propaganda, then can I share my class about The Smiths

All of your premises here are wrong, Caiman. That's not "the only object", it's not "mere coincidence" that they are lefty-themed lesson plans and they're not attempts at "communist propaganda". The object is to share lefty-themed materials and they are mostly for other lefty teachers. Now Hieronymous is right, that's very teacher-centred, certainly a problem in itself, but it's a very different type of criticism to being a boring attempt at Communist propaganda..

Last thing..

Quote:
with my current financial situation, I would require payment. I have a longterm draft proposal for a TEFL cooperative school saved in Word, but it would require a level of security that I don't personally have.

Pull the other one, mate..

no1
May 29 2014 14:55

You teachers are so passionate about teaching!

commieprincess
May 29 2014 15:10
caiman wrote:
can I share my class about The Smiths (even though I've yet to find a class who haven't concluded that The Smiths are inferior to One Direction/50 Cent/Shakira etc)?

That would be great! And your students are right. wink

Can we please move this on? What De was talking about is far more interesting than people just being being mean-spirited for whatever reason.

Caiman del Barrio
May 29 2014 16:04

Ed you're very quick to attack me but check out Chili Sauce's ridiculous calls for "this thread to be deleted" (!!!) and his sour grapes over legitimate criticisms being made. If you have a spare five minutes, go ahead and check his posting history over Libcom, see if he's ever apologised in good faith, ever taken any criticism in good faith or ever said he was wrong. It'd be interesting to see that, cos usually he just seems to post up stuff of varying quality (some of it good, some of it less so) and react angrily when his inherent right to be, um, right is questioned. You can make criticisms of me too if you want, and you'll probably be right, but I try to account for myself and take people seriously when they criticise me, rather than doing some macho pride act and calling for stuff to be censored.

As for this, I'm confused:

Quote:
To be honest, mate, I have no idea what you're talking about here.

I don't believe you, of course you understand exactly what I mean.

Quote:
I realise it's become very important for you to 'win' this argument

No it isn't. It's important for me to develop a libertarian pedagogical praxis that's immediately applicable for TEFL, like I say in my first post.

How can you say that about me and then ignore Chili Sauce's every contribution? lol.

Quote:
if you re-read what I said you'll see that I agree with you (I think I described it as "interesting and important").. however, it doesn't interest me so much that I'd dedicate the very little time I have for political activity to it.. I prefer to spend it on the campaign above or the other one which is still ongoing or digitising and archiving a journal which has a lot of personal importance to me.. that's not to say you shouldn't do your thing, or that others involved in the blog won't, it's that I sadly almost certainly won't.. I'm glad that someone is doing it though, even if they are spending longer than I'd like acting like a dick on libcom..

Nice one mate, admin playing all "calm down kids", before calling posters a "dick" cos they criticised his mate. How are you with badly behaved kids, out of interest?

And yeah, your response to political criticisms of your project being put into the public sphere is to say "they're interesting, but they don't interest me". That is utterly weak bullshit and I think you know it.

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Last thing..

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with my current financial situation, I would require payment. I have a longterm draft proposal for a TEFL cooperative school saved in Word, but it would require a level of security that I don't personally have.

Pull the other one, mate..

What's laughable about this?

Soapy
May 29 2014 18:44

nvm, i think angry language workers didn't really do anything wrong, don't deserve any flaming really

commieprincess
May 29 2014 17:47

Ah, balls to it, never mind

commieprincess
May 29 2014 17:55

I'm struggling to keep up with who's a Leninist preacher, who's a liberal, who thinks ESL students all eat copious amounts of chicken nuggets, who thinks they never eat chicken nuggets.

Good post, Soapy. But nothing about this lesson plan is inherently unrepresentative of the interests of fast food workers. If a teacher wants to push the discussion in a certain direction, change the discussion questions, etc that's left wide open.

Having said that, how do you think it could be changed to represent the interests of fast food workers?

Chilli Sauce
May 29 2014 18:04

Caiman, you do realize I have one published post on this thread, right?

I'm also not sure you're in the best position to be talking about sour grapes. Unprovoked, you've quite obviously let a personal gripe bleed over into quite an unrelated discussion on an unrelated thread.

Anyway, I'm going to agree with commieprincess, if folks have actual suggestions for this lesson, I'd personally be happy to hear them. I could imagine some interesting ways that discussion could be moved on from what's contained in the current plan - and I wrote a whole post with some of my own ideas, but never submitted it due to the generally vitriolic tone of the entire conversation.

jef costello
May 29 2014 18:21

Saying the thread should be deleted because you think it is crap isn't really censorship.

In terms of the lesson plan I have a few points. I don't teach TEFL but I do teach English to non-native speakers.

First of all, it isn't a lesson plan, it is a resource, and it isn't a bad one. The text chosen is not a bad starting point. However the vocab and comprehension questions are not particularly exciting or interesting. Beginners won't get very far with the text and to be honest students that can read the text and do the exercises are likely to find this quite dull. As a 10 minute filler it is ok, but from a teaching point of view it is, as has been said, just like the resources from the language books, most of which are written by non-teachers or people without up to date pedagogical knowledge. A lesson plan would explain how to use it and expand upon it.

Radical resources can be helpful,; but as has also been said it is the teaching method, not the resource that is important. Communication is vital for learning languages (yes, my training was big on communicative language teaching) but by encouraging them to communicate and work together you not only improve their learning you actually teach them cooperative ways to work. That is why fuckwits like Gove like lists (apart from a complete inability to comprehend that having undergone something means you understand it!) because it is individual, it is rote and requires no thought. It is the idea of the teacher as supplier of knowledge. On a general note I reward students for good work rather than punishing for bad (a shockingly current practise) and if I do give them a bollocking it is for showing a lack of respect to the class (for example talking while someone else is. Giving open ideas and letting them make choices and evaluations is actualy quite revolutionary. Students are tyrannised by the idea of the correct answer and placed the control that gives to the authority that decides on this.

I think H is being a bit of a dick, but some of his points are correct. The other thing is that TEFL training is (or was) so variable, some people I know who did TEFL worked very hard and can teach, whereas others didn't learn the first thing about teaching. And H, I don't know how anyone can be a zero prep teacher. I have pulled a fair few lessons out of my arse but I can't imagine never preparing anything and managing to teach decent lessons.

Hieronymous
May 29 2014 20:10

Here, briefly, is where I'm coming from. I work 2/3 time, Monday through Friday, at a Europe-based EFL chain with 500 teachers at 18 schools. The hourly pay, which includes an hourly contribution to city-mandated health care, is just about $25 -- which is a poverty wage in San Francisco. But that hourly wage has 3 tiers, depending if it's classroom teaching, prep, or admin paperwork. Obviously, I put the latter 2 on my timesheet, but do as little of them as I can.

My second job is for a union, tutoring ESL to workers who are getting a stipend to take community college classes. Being that unions in the U.S. have deep pockets, this pays well but the work is intermittent. In the past, I've also taught VESL to these unionized workers at their job sites. Ironically, these union workers' dues -- along with those of ex-Change to Win union workers in UFCW -- go to Berlin Rosen, the lefty PR firm that runs Democratic Party elections and union lobbying efforts like Fight for 15 and the Clean and Safe Ports (for the Teamsters) for port truckers at U.S. ports. And that flow of dues money from the rank-and-file to PR firms -- like Berlin Rosen -- and Democratic electoral campaigners, amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. In the 2008 election, the SEIU contributed $80,000,000 to the Obama campaign alone. Workers in these unions know this and resent it deeply.

My third gig is volunteer VESL teaching at a women's worker center in Oakland's Chinatown one day a week. It's here that I actually do thorough -- and continuously during the term -- needs assessments, working with the students to identify ongoing goals and objectives, and from there the curriculum flows. It's here that I pour my heart and soul (and countless hours) into developing finely-tuned lesson plans (which I'd be happy to share the pieces from with any other teacher). Nearly all of these students are middle-aged Chinese women who work (or formerly worked) in 4 sectors: garments, electronic assembly, hotel housekeeping, and homecare (mis-organized by the SEIU). Workers in the first two are on the decline, throwing these women into a labor market they're ill prepared for. The latter two sector are unionized, yet the women aren't always pro-union. Although if they work for HERE they're more likely to be sympathetic because they have O.K. wages, but decent benefits.

The worker center staff took a completely pro-Occupy position, which was easy since Occupy Oakland's Oscar Grant Plaza was just 4 blocks away. The staff created a highly-politicized lesson plan for my VESL class about the non-profit's (that runs the workers center) position on the Occupy Movement. It was very pedantic and I was told that the timing was "crucial" and I had to use their lesson. As you might imagine, it was awful. Students repeated the unsympathetic spin from the Chinese-language media. Saying that they didn't support Occupy because the camp was "dirty," there was "drinking and drug use," etc. Without defending Occupy, I tried to get them to identify the demographic from seeing the camp first-hand. They told me it was mostly young people, of all races. When I asked about their own children, many had kids of the same ages. I asked what problems their own children faced when finishing school (either high school or college). Most said debt, so I referred to the staff's fact sheet in the lesson that pointed out that the average student obtaining a bachelors degree graduates with a debt of $26,000 (as of 2014, it's up to $33,000!). I could see a deeper understanding in their eyes, and they understood that the Occupiers could be their kids, with the same worries about unemployment, debt and a hopeless future. I offered to literally take the class to the camp, as a field trip during class, to refute the media lies about the danger of the camp. Something had worked, because they loosened up and saw the broader class concerns and spoke of the Occupy Movement more sympathetically. This transformation was fucking amazing and even astounded me!

I had a similar experience during a 7-week hotel worker strike/lockout in San Francisco in 2004-2005. The U.S.-based corporate EFL chain I worked in at that time was on a block that bordered the biggest of the 10 hotels that got locked out when 4 others went on strike. It was the balmy end of summer and all the windows in our air-conditionerless building were wide open to cope -- and we could hear the cacophony of the picket lines. These middle class European and Asian students were contemptuous of the workers disturbing their language tourism. Fortunately, a student grabbed the workers' fact sheet while passing the picket and brought it to class. I used it to create an impromptu lesson on the demands of the strikers. The students knew how expensive living costs were in San Francisco from direct experience, so even here I could see a shift as these kids with a financially successful future as the elites in their home country started to show sympathy with the locked out hotel workers. None of the students ever saw me, but during breaks and lunch I'd slip out of the school and walk the picket line in solidarity. Thinking back on it, I should have suggested a field trip to the picket line so the students could practice their conversational English by talking to the hotel workers themselves.

So to return to my previous post, learning must be meaningful to the student's own needs and desires, but works most effectively when learning and doing are combined as part of this process. .

Fleur
May 29 2014 18:25

Can I just say at this point that I've had lessons on the history of maple syrup production, the structure of the National Hockey League and fuck knows how many discussions on going to the shops, so anything slightly more relevant to my interests would have been good. And like most other language students, I was at the time, as now perfectly capable of further investigating topics myself which interested me, given that the 2 hour lessons didn't allow for much detailed discussion. But, as I said before, I know nothing about teaching languages.

However, I would like to lend my support for the Angry Language Brigade, who appear to me to not be a group teaching communist theory in a second language, but a group organizing around struggles within their workplaces, and have already won one of these struggles. Well done to everybody on that one.

De
Welcome to the forums.

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not familiar with forum interactions (which, from the experience of these past few days, I find a bit nerve-racking to be honest).

You think? (Try not to let it put you off. People are nice around here most of the time smile )

Steven.
May 29 2014 18:55

Yeah, let's keep things civil, please. I'm going to ask that there is no further discussion on people being unhappy about the tone of discussion up to this point (i.e. the back and forth between Caiman and Chilli), let's draw a line under it.

admin: draw a line under it means stop talking about it. Subsequent off topic post removed.

And if people want to constructively discuss libertarian teaching methods, or a constructive way of improving the above lesson plan etc please feel free.

As Hieronymous is an English teacher, just a pedantic note on what is a linguistic pet peeve of mine: "toxins" are biologically produced poisons, like bee or scorpion stings. You may not like what goes into McDonald's burgers, but I very much doubt they would bother putting in "toxins"!

Hieronymous
May 30 2014 03:09

.