Some clips of Flight of the Conchords. "Business Time" and "Jenny" are partcularly great. Two very talented and funny Kiwis!

Flight of the Conchords

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The British Council Gets the Boot (Russian)

That last bastion of the empire the British council is beating a hasty retreat from Russia.

This what the EL Gazette has to say about the sorry sage. Full marks to the EL Gazette which is now recommended by the TEFL Blacklist. I may be wrong but they seem to have developed a real cutting edge of late and are reporting stuff that normally just gets ignored. Obligatory reading for anyone interested in the seamy side of TEFL.

You can find the EL Gazette by clicking here.

THE BRITISH Council is to hand over its nine regional centres across Russia to local partners, typically state-run institutes of higher education, by the end of this year. This reduces the Council’s presence to Moscow and St Petersburg, but with direct teaching operations there suspended.

Martin Davidson, CEO of the British Council, insisted in a press statement that it is still very much committed to improving Russian access to British culture and education. The Council points out that centres will effectively be under new ownership but will continue to run a similar range of services, for example teaching-resource libraries, with support from London.

The move is hardly surprising, considering the Council’s increasingly beleaguered position in Russia. In December 2006 the teaching centre in Moscow was forced to close its doors after a long-running dispute over its legal status; in March 2007 a senior manager from the Council was one of four diplomats recalled from Russia amid wellpublicised tit-for-tat expulsions of embassy staff. Strained Anglo-Russian relations have implications well beyond the work of the Council in the Russian regions. UK language teachers entering Russia have faced a more complex and time-consuming visa process, a development condemned by Amy Cartwright from the Association of European Businesses.

The closures are consistent with the British Council’s latest European strategy, unveiled in March 2007, which aims ‘to free up resources currently tied up in physical premises and give millions more people around the world access to educational opportunities … through partner organisations and increasingly through our own online sources’. In addition to existing web-based products such as Learn English (www.learnenglish.org.uk), the Council aims to introduce new internet services in early 2008, revealed Paul Webb, senior English language consultant in Moscow.

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Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain


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