Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Tying up Turkish loose ends

Better get this Istanbuli stuff cleared off the decks so that I can move on to another topic (God only knows what though). I’ll just polish off my TEFL training in Kadikoy before moving across to Mecidikoy for my first ever paid teaching gig.

So, the actual TEFL training was comprised of your standard four-week course led by a couple English trainers – one a very attractive and frighteningly commonsensical and serious 20-something women called ...erm...a name, and the other an outrageously mincing balding-but-pony-tailed old queen named Ian. The latter developed a crush on all the young men on the course and loved to regale us with stories of his former life teaching English in Bulgaria, but he presumably left his more amourous adventures till after dark with members of the local population unable to save enough to pay for a wedding with their preferred gender. He did bestow upon me, however, the priceless gift of knowing how to say 'thank you' in Bulgarian - something that helped me out of a tight situation with a corrupt Bulgarian border guard many years later. A quick Google search reveals that Ian is still plying his trade in Turkey at a university somewhere. I guess he wasn't as old as he looked in 1992.

There were maybe a dozen teacher trainees on my course altogether and all English apart from me and someone else - maybe an American. The rest of the potential candidates, I suppose, were rejected and got sent to Novy Jicin for their sins. The course itself is all a bit of a blur, as I was just looking for that TEFL Certificate and a couple months' work to finance the flight to Prague and thence to Randy St in Jablonec And Nisou (as my NZ hometown newspaper called it whenever they published my free-lance stories written from there). The Certificate never came in handy and was used to feed mice in Budova F many years ago. I believe I managed a 'C' for my efforts in any case; I was guilty of too much TTT I recall - Teacher Talking Time. I was just grateful I passed and was given the opportunity to recoup some of my course fee.

Apart from marking the most painful realisation that can occur to any young, vain and pompous git, i.e. that I was suffering from a slow burning case of androgenic alopecia, the course was only notable for one incident that has stuck on the scoured patch of my non-stick brain pan; that was when we were charged with critiquing our fellow trainees' teaching performance. I was in a group of four and the whole lot of us took turns at analysing our own conduct in front of guinea pig students and then opening ourselves up for comments from the other three. Well, I took my medicine without qualms since it was all the same to me. There was one twit though, called Chris, pictured in an earlier post outside the school, who was simply abominable in front of a class and would have made an absolutely appalling teacher. When it came to our turn to review his performance everyone remained embarrassingly silent. I therefore naturally saw it as my duty to speak up and save potentially hundreds if not thousands of future English language students. In short, I tore the guy apart until Ian decided that honesty wasn't the best policy and cut me short. Poor Chris was apopletic with rage, but as I've said in earlier posts, I wasn't the most politically, emotionally and culturally sensitive of souls in those days. Chris's later attempts to blacken my name, however, by spreading the story that I was racist toward Turks was even further below the belt though. Och well, you live and learn, eh?

In the end it didn't prevent me getting the job that the course guaranteed and that I so desperately needed to scrape some cash together. They did pack me off to Mecidikoy, however, which was about as far removed from Kadikoy as you could get in the world of English Fast.

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