Thursday, July 30, 2009

NEECU

That's North East England Collegiate University, which is such a poor disguise, I don't in know why I bother, except that I've got into the habit of not blabbing my employers' names all over the Avenue.

Anyhow, here I am on their pre-sessional. End of the first day, and it's looking hopeful so far. We get two days induction, which is quite an interesting investment on NEECU's part, and means one goes into the actual teaching next week with a fair idea of what's what, as opposed to the usual vague emails and first morning classroom debacles.

The other teachers all seem ok, except for the usual middle-aged TEFL lady who pretended, over a coffee first thing, that she couldn't understand the name of my accommodation block, "Pine", because of my accent. I bit-off a reply about hoping her students speak more clearly than me, and said (somewhat peevishly, looking back), that I hadn't lived in the north east for most of my life so my accent couldn't be that strong.

She did nothing to raise her esteem in my eyes a bit later by declaring that she hated smart boards and had never met a teacher who didn't. I said that I loved them. She expressed shock that not all the teachers were accommodated together, which meant that we had to share accommodation with students, and that her kitchen "stank" of Chinese cooking. She's one of these, will say nothing without it's a complaint. Mind you, the instant karma got me when I got back to my "flat" (four en-suite single rooms and a shared kitchen), where someone was simmering bits of fish. It's one of those smells, like cannabis or shit, molecules of it must linger around in your nose and you can smell it for hours.

The idea is, I work here with it's kind timetable, (five mornings and a couple of afternoons), and get my Dissertation done in the evenings. So here I am. And writing a critique of commercial coursebooks, whilst working for an organization which doesn't actually use them, which rather buggers up my research ideas - interviewing students to see what they thought of coursebooks... I might have to change horses again, but we're not in midstream now, the bank is approaching very quickly.

The trouble is, if I interview students and teachers about use of coursebooks in an environment in which they aren't using them, then it's unreal, and that's the very heart of my critical approach, that coursebooks are inadequate because they are unreal. "Keep it real,man." The more I think about it the more I think that "Is the avoidance of “inappropriacy” bought at the cost of intrinsic interest in ELT coursebooks?" is not a question I can reasonably ask in the circumstances. I should have foreseen this, but didn't. Bugger.