One of the funniest, and rudest, TEFL teachers I met on my travels was The Lord. He had never left Ecuador but his English pronunciation was better than a lot of people in my local pub back home, plus he had dirtier jokes.
A few people who have read my book mentioned that they liked The Lord so for my second excerpt here's the moment when I first met him. It starts in chapter 2 - The Secrets of Teaching - when I got my second TEFL job in Quito.
During my second week I got
another job. The director of Harvard Institute, Mark, who was built like a
heavy weight boxer but was as friendly as a whistling postman, was delighted by
my English accent.
|Almost like the views of the |
Panecillo from the classrooms.
“Most of our native
teachers are American,” he said in his deep voice before sipping a coffee.
“It’s nice to see some English blood.” He smiled as he leaned back in his
“I think I’ll keep
my blood if you don’t mind.” Mark let out a low deep laugh and banged on the
“Good, good. Well,
we need a new conversation teacher to help in class with the other teachers,
from three in the afternoon until seven, four classes a day, and also Saturday
mornings. You just need to chat with them in English, get them speaking and do
“Great! What books
do you use, what materials?”
“You can do what
you want; normally the teachers make up the lessons. Can you start next
“You will teach all
ages here. You will enjoy it. They are good people.” And he was right.
I turned up on
Saturday morning with no idea what I was going to teach.
“Your first class
is with The Lord,” said Mark. I pictured a wise bearded man teaching English
“Don’t look so
worried. Alex is his first name. Come, I’ll introduce you.” I followed Mark as
he bumbled down the corridor, kids stomped about and teenagers whispered and
pointed at me.
“This is Barry, the
new conversation teacher,” Mark said, leaving me in the capable hands of The Lord.
“Hey man, nice to
meet you, what’s up?” he said, lifting his dark shades off his pale face. He
wore a black suit, white shirt, and bright yellow tie. He cupped my hand and
shook it hard.
“Hey, is it Alex or
“Call me what you
want. The ladies prefer The Lord. Welcome to my world.” He swung his arm out
towards an empty classroom. Being on the seventeenth floor, I loved the view of
El Panecillo in the distance and Centro Historical underneath.
When The Lord found
out I was from London, he clapped his hands and pulled his tie.
“Wow! What do you
think of my whistle?”
The Lord had never
been to an English speaking country but his English was excellent, and he could
control his class. During the lesson, none complained or muttered and all were
engaged. Even while I did my part they behaved well, apart from a few random questions
at the end.
girlfriend?” asked one girl. A couple of others giggled and the boys jeered.
“Yes, I have a
“She’s in England
with her family, next question.”
“Why she no here?”
I glanced over to The Lord, who was equally as keen to know the answer. “You
love her?” she added. Another jeer broke out from the audience.
“Okay, let’s change
the subject,” said The Lord.
“Can you dance?’
said another girl. Maybe it was a mandatory question for all new gimpy English teachers.
“That’s enough now,
let’s continue with the exercise,” The Lord said, and they stopped. They
listened to him.
“How do you have
that control over the kids?” I asked in the break.
“It takes time. I’m
Ecuadorian and they respect me, also I know what they are saying. Did you hear
them making fun of your accent?”
“You need to
improve your Spanish, but first you need to learn the important words, come by after your last lesson and I’ll write a
I thought he was
going to give me a rundown of a few ways to cope with the Spanish verbs, but
instead he wrote out a list of the top twenty swear words.
“When you hear the
kids saying these, send them out. They’ll think you know perfect Spanish. One
day you’ll become as good a teacher as me.”
“Great, how can I
“With more words
like this, but English ones, I love them.”
I'd like to thank everyone who has bought a copy so far. Sales have been great and Teaching English in a Foreign Land has been in and out of the best seller charts for the Essay and Travelogues section, and in the Latin America best seller charts for about a month now. So cheers!
Labels: book excerpts, ecuador, how to get a TEFL job, New to TEFL, nonfiction travel literature, secrets of teaching