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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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Haba Playschool Seocho in Seoul, Korea

Totally plausible and often heard complaint about schools in Korea. This one appears one to avoid. Bargepoles out troops. Posted on the "nominate a school for blacklisting" section. Any comments?

Haba Playschool Seocho in Seoul
habaseocho1@korea.com
www.ihps.co.kr
2F Donga Villart, 1678-1 seocho dong, seocho gu, Seoul

"I finished working 2 weeks before the end of my contract as my brother was getting married back in the UK. Before I decided this I sat down with the Principal, Director and Supervisor to discuss it. This was about 2 months before I was leaving. I didn’t want to lose out on my severance pay so I wasn’t going to leave early unless I would still get it. They agreed they would pro-rate my severance and I would get 11 months worth. Before I changed my flight I asked about 5 times, just to be sure we all understood each other.

Two weeks before I leave I start asking when I’m going to get all my money. I was leaving Korea and moving to China so I needed it all sorted before I left. I was put off and put off with “yes he (Mr Jung) is thinking about how to do it.”

As I’m about to leave on the afternoon before my last day I’m called in for a meeting and knew what was coming when I saw my contract out on the table covered in yellow highlighter.

I wasn’t finishing my contract so they refused to give me a penny of severance pay and they weren’t obligated to pay for my flight home so they were going to take the money out of my final paycheck.

He also said that I had never paid my 300,000won housing deposit and refused to give me that money back. I showed him my bank book proving I had but he wasn’t having any of it.

Conveniently they had no recollection of any of our previous conversations concerning these matters and denied ever having told me it was okay. They were well aware that I had a new job in China and had to go back to the Uk to sort the visa and didnt have the extra month to fight them for the money.
The Labour board also said there was nothing they could do as it was only a verbal contract and technically I broke my contract.

Looking back I should have gotten it in writing but had no previous reason to think they would screw me over like that. They had been trying to get me to re-sign so maybe it was payback for not doing so. Or just a quick way to save some money.

Dont trust them!"
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Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain
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Friday, September 26, 2008

United English in Queretaro - A Reply!

The Inspector has never ever been to Mexico and after watching the film "Man on Fire" has no intention of ever crossing the Atlantic. This response to the blacklisting of United English in Queretaro, Mexico is well written and your beloved sleuth feels it deserves a wider audience .All comments are welcome:
Blogger bluspagetti said...

Inspector McHammered: "United English in Queretaro, Mexico is the epitome of education for profit. The school’s Swiss owner, Mr. K, is truly a leader in unethical business practices in Mexico’s growing TEFL industry. Mr. K takes a predatory approach to hiring teachers with no certification and no experience. The school’s website uses fake testimonials, non-existent schools, and falsified certifications. Teacher contracts are more devious. Work Visa applications are carefully orchestrated and paid for my Mr. K himself who has cleverly found a loophole within the local immigration office. Teachers are usually issued Student visas, participating in the UE teacher training program. Teachers receive no training. Moreover, the school’s “European System” curriculum closely resembles an educational Ponzi scheme. TOEIC exams scores are manipulated to show incremental increases and give the appearance that students are learning English"

Bluspagetti: I saw this post and I just had to reply, as I’ve been working for United English for almost nine years now (March of 2000 start date). I usually don’t subscribe to posts of this nature but this one is particularly well written and it would be a shame if someone were to actually believe it.

Before I start with any rebuttal, let me first explain the basic business model of any private educational institution and, for those of you new to business in Mexico, what you can expect when you come to this generally pleasant country.

In any private academic model, we have two interdependent, yet polar opposite aspects: academia and business. Neither can survive without the other, but – like supply and demand –each pushes on the other until equilibrium is reached. Which does a manager concentrate on? Which gets more attention? Both answers are subjective and based on numerous other factors like season, market and economic conditions. It is the successful school manager that understands the constant fluctuations of these factors and responds to them quickly. Sometimes, the manager has to make decisions that, to the layperson, fly in the face of what seems to be good for the students. Mr. K. knows this and much more.

Now, I think the most efficient way of dealing with Inspector McHammered’s post is to take the arguments one by one. His remarks will be labeled with an “IM” and mine with “BS” (no pun intended).

IM - United English in Queretaro, Mexico is the epitome of education for profit.

BS – You could not be more right about that. God bless capitalism. Profit is what gives a school existence. Like I said, it is a business and without profit, none of us would have a job.

IM - The school’s Swiss owner, Mr. K, is truly a leader in unethical business practices in Mexico’s growing TEFL industry.

BS – Giving no specifics on what IM considers “unethical”, I can’t comment. In my time at the school I’ve never seen anything that I would consider unethical. I might do some things differently, and they might even be better. But the boss is always the boss, albeit not always right.

IM - Mr. K takes a predatory approach to hiring teachers with no certification and no experience.

BS – I don’t even understand what IM means here. What is a “predatory” approach to recruitment? But for those of you who think you might not be qualified to teach, by all means apply at United English. I’ve seen teachers who didn’t have much experience do very well because they respond to the students well and the students respond to the teacher. Basically, anyone is given a chance to do well. Some do, some don’t.

IM - The school’s website uses fake testimonials, non-existent schools, and falsified certifications. Teacher contracts are more devious.

BS – I’ve never seen that. In fact, teacher contracts usually slant in favor of the teacher rather than the school. As far as the non-existent schools, the company is actually a franchise and some fold, just like any other franchise. But testimonials are still used from schools that no longer exist.

IM - Work Visa applications are carefully orchestrated and paid for my Mr. K himself who has cleverly found a loophole within the local immigration office. Teachers are usually issued Student visas, participating in the UE teacher training program.

BS – What’s wrong with that? Yes, the visas are under a student category but this is due to the fact that Mexico has a law that says that only 10% of the staff of any company can be foreign. This is impossible for a school that boasts that all of the teachers are native speakers. True, Mr. K is clever. I don’t know how he figured it out, but he did. True as well, Mr. K pays for these visas. Most other schools don’t. Kudos for Mr. K.

IM - Teachers receive no training.

BS - Not following the visa specifications. But teachers do receive training for their jobs.

IM - Moreover, the school’s “European System” curriculum closely resembles an educational Ponzi scheme.

BS – Not only is this false, but it’s impossible. A Ponzi scheme usually offers abnormally high short-term returns in order to entice new investors. The high returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises (and pays) require an ever-increasing flow of money from investors in order to keep the scheme going (Wikipedia, 2008).

United English is a sole-proprietorship. There are no investors.

IM - TOEIC exams scores are manipulated to show incremental increases and give the appearance that students are learning English.

BS – I’ve never seen that, either. UE gives the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) three times a year to give the students and idea of how they’ve progressed. Some students score lower the second time they take the test for whatever reason and that is communicated to the student. I’ve communicated it.

Let me iterate that this post will do absolutely nothing for me personally. I will not benefit from spending the 30 minutes doing it. I just have a problem with these quasi-transparent blogs where someone who was actually fired from a school (oh, he didn’t mention that, did he?) can say anything he wants with total impunity.

Reference

Ponzi Scheme (2008). Wikepedia. Retrieved September 24, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme

September 26, 2008 2:59 AM

The Windsor Swindler

Worth a look and remember to ask questions and get everything in writing BEFORE you sign up to anything with any language school or TEFL course, as you will often find yourself in shark infested waters. This is the chap that was selling TEFL courses as Trinity certified when Trinity had booted him out. Some poor souls were awarded Mickey Mouse certificates!

http://windsorswindler.blogspot.com/

He is featured on the TEFL blacklist at:

http://teflblacklist.blogspot.com/2007/02/windsor-tefl-courses.html
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Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

ABC Foreign Language Training School

Posted on the "Nominate a School for Blacklisting" section. This is how they describe themselves:

"ABC Foreign Language Training School is a national chain school.
It has accumulated plentiful teaching experience for more than ten years, fostering almost ten thousand excellent students. ABC School has branches in three cities: Shanghai, Beijing and Harbin."

Another tale of woe follows. Any comments good or bad? .........................

Where to begin? Awful organization: the Chinese staff and foreign staff essentially work in different worlds with little or no communication, scheduling is completely random, they ask you to cover shifts at the last second all the time, and mandatory meetings on your off-days, OFF THE CLOCK.

The text books are so Chinglish it is painful. They are so ridiculous and boring that the students dread just the sight of you picking up. The school managers encourage teachers to bring a lot of cultural activites and games into the classroom, but provide absolutely NO suggestions or materials at all. This is a company that will basically hire a warm body. The foreigners and Chinese staff are essentially that.

You will be given no supplies such as paper, markers, erasers, and the printers/copiers never work. Most of the teachers would buy their own paper, print their own material, and bring their own markers (this gets very very expensive).

This school will also promise you a "clean Western" apartment, but will try to get you the cheapest and dirtiest apartment possible. They also try to throw other random teachers in your house, even temporarily to sleep on your couch!

The school will not pay for any of the administrative legal costs of working in China. Visas, health exams, etc., all at your own expense, endless hidden fees are always the burden of the teacher.

They claim that they give paid vacations, but this is rarely the case. Many times we had to come in and have "office hours" on national holidays.

When I quit they threw a fit and tried to have me kicked out of China. I'm now suing them for the money they owe me, and at our first court date at the arbitration department, ABC sent a representative that said that I "never worked for them, nor did I sign a contract with them." They basically denied my ever working there. Unbelievable.

All the teachers were miserable there. Don't do it!
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Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Saekyung College Yeongwol, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Posted on the "Nominate a School for Blacklisting" section. Any comments?

"I am posting information about this college on the internet so as to warn any and all individuals interested in obtaining employment in Korea about Saekyung College and its corrupt business tactics.

The management system in place at this private college is manipulative and deceitful in regards to its day-to-day dealings with foreign English instructors.

Saekyung College is privately owned; however, it receives government backed grants from the people of Gangwon-do to stay afloat. Unfortunately, the college has misused its newly acquired grant money to actually refurbish its dilapidated facility without actually meeting the requirements and mandates set forth in the agreement made between Saekyung and the government of Gangwon-do.

In regards to foreign English instructors, Saekyung College has already hired and illegally dismissed two foreign instructors out of three employed during its first year of operation.

Contracts are not honored or respected, and working conditions change daily. The current management system in place has existed since July; and during its first year of operation, there was literally no management system in place for nine out of ten months.

Communication does not exist, as English is not spoken at the college...even in the Foreign Language Village and/or by Korean professors supposedly holding PhD's obtained outside of Korea. In other words, Saekyung College's Foreign Language Village is currently managed by a Director who cannot speak English. He claims that he was a professor of Economics in the United States; however, his spoken English is equivalent to that of a five-year old child's. Therefore, how could he have been a professor at prestigious universities in the United States of America? He couldn't have been, and he wasn't.

If you are interested in obtaining employment with this independent college, understand that you will be deceived into thinking that your employment status will be that of a college professor. However, you will be issued a work visa with the status of English instructor. You will not be regarded or treated as a professor at the college. You will simply be a native English-speaking conversation teacher.

In addition, the college will endeavor to make you create and design curriculum and reading material, despite the fact that a budget is in place for the acquisition of such material. If you visit the facility, you will instantly notice a large amount of reading materials and English-based learning products. However, none of the material is actually applicable to the learning environment with its intended goals (Business and Tourism English). Someone at the college simply purchased a packaged set of English products without actually analyzing the overall content of those materials.

When it comes to the payment of salaries and overtime worked, Saekyung College often pays late if not at all. Salaries are supposed to be paid via the budget allocated in a grant provided by the government, with contracted stipulations in mind. However, expect to not be paid for overtime worked. The college does not like to spend money, and expect to see a college in complete demise if you intend to visit the facility for further review.

My advice: avoid the corruption and deceit. Yeongwol is not hospitable towards foreigners, and Saekyung College simply lies to get what it needs...warm, white bodies in place to serve as maniquines on display for the government of Gangwon-do.

Finally, I worked there for almost one year and was unjustly dismissed in my tenth month of employment. This was done so as not to pay severance at the completion of my contract. In addition, I have had other potential applicants contact me in regards to a lack of information about this college on the internet. They have been lied to during the interview process, as Saekyung has claimed that no other foreigners have been employed at that location before. Visit the college's website. You will find white, western faces.

Distorted communication, lies, deceit, manipulated pay, non-payment for services rendered, and blackmail are all standard business tactics currently used by those in management at Saekyung College."
_________________________________________________________
Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain
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Berlitz Moscow, Russia

Posted on the "Nominate a School for Blacklisting" section. Any comments?


"I nominate Berlitz Moscow for blacklisting since the company has advertised a teaching job in Perm, Russia for the past 2 years when no such job actually exists. This recruiting effort is a classic bait (Moscow and Perm) and switch (Berezniki) tactic, i.e. http://www.berlitz-russia.com/en/about_berlitz/jobs_careers/

Q. Where is Berezniki?
--------------------------------
A. Berezniki is a small Communist mining town which is North of Perm. All teachers are recruited for Moscow or Perm and then are informed they will be going to Berezniki immediately once they arrive in Moscow. They are flown on a 1950s Aeroflot aircraft from Moscow to Perm where they are then driven 3 hours by car to Berezniki. Berezniki suffers from extreme isolation and poverty. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berezniki

Q. Why should Berlitz Moscow be blacklisted?
-----------------------------------
A1. An instructor is expected to fulfill a rotation in the city of Berezniki for 26 weeks out of the 52-week year without prior notification (not in contract) before arriving in Moscow.

A2. An instructor is expected to fly back and forth on 1950s Aeroflot aircraft between Moscow and Perm every three weeks.

A3. Berezniki is dangerous to go out at night, as it has three local prison populations that release prisoners regularly into Berezniki. Also, Berlitz tells the instructor not to go out of the hotel.

A4. There are no laundry facilities in Perm, instructors are expected to wash all of their clothes in a bathtub and are allowed only one suitcase on the aircraft due to weight restrictions.

A5. Instructors are placed in a hotel for 3 weeks and expected to be on-call for the company across the street from the hotel from 6AM to 10PM. Most scheduled courses result in cancellations.

Q. Why am I telling us this?
----------------------------------------

A1. I witnessed at least two instructors going through severe isolation sickness; one actually was close to a nervous breakdown while I was there due to constant schedule changes and the isolation.

A2. I spent 3 weeks in Berezniki, when I returned to Moscow I confronted Berlitz Moscow management with the breach of contract and notified the consulate much to the chagrin of the company.

A3 When I quit for breach of contract, I was given my last month's pay, was driven to my apartment and told to pack immediately and I was driven to the Moscow rail station.

A3. When I informed Berlitz Moscow of the contract breach I also mentioned that I was terrified of flying 7-10 times a year on an Aeroflot 1950s aircraft; I was told to see a psychiatrist by the manager.

Unfortunately, September 14, 2008 confirmed my worst fears and made me grateful that I quit when I did otherwise I might not be here today to tell you this: i.e. Aeroflot-Nord Boeing 737-500 for Aeroflot, flight SU821 from Moscow Sheremetyevo to Perm (Russia) crashed into a railway line southwest of Perm about 3:10 AM MSK (5:10 AM local time, or 13 September 2008, 23:10 PM UTC). Perm's police said the crew attempted an emergency landing due to an engine failure. AFP reported 88 including 21 foreigners killed at 5:15 AM Perm time. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroflot_Flight_821

This is the same route that a Berlitz Instructor is expected to fly 7-10 times a year. Please stay away from this company, I personally witnessed that the center manager has no conscience and sees all instructors as her chattel. No one at Berlitz International ever answered my emails despite this horrible situation and repeated requests for assistance.

I do my research before speaking and this is what the research says about Aeroflot:
http://www.planecrashinfo.com/Airline/AL%20Aeroflot.htm

Shame on Berlitz Moscow for not honoring its contractual terms and endangering the lives of its foreign instructors with this shabby behavior and continuing to post a job in Perm that does not actually exist."

_________________________________________________________
Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Flying Teachers, Zurich Switzerland


Posted in defence of another school of Zurich. The poster can't resist taking a pot at another school though. Why? Defend your own school but not by attacking another saying it's worse.

"If you want to Blacklist a Zurich school try Flying Teachers - with a huge staff turnover and a massive interest only in making money, not in their teachers".

Any comments about Flying Teachers, Zurich - good or bad?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Wall Street Institute Istanbul, Turkey

Posted on the Wall Street Institute, France section, but I've it placed under "Turkey". Any comments? It's very well written and totally credible.

"I just finished a year in WSI in Istanbul in Turkey. You know, I have mixed feelings about it all. I must say in terms of what they said would happen, did happen - pay was always always on time, and if the 1st was on the weekend when the office would be closed, then we would always get paid on the Friday before. I really don't think that any other school in Istanbul ever was so punctual.My biggest gripe personally was the pay - it was a starting rate of 1500 YTL a month which is about 1200 USD a month, which was okay, but it was very difficult to save anything especially at the start of the year, but towards the end of the year it got a little tight because of inflation; and also it seemed a little miserly because of what some of the other schools - just this month it has been put up to 1850 YTL as a starting rate, and it goes up again if you have experience / qualifications. There was none of the rubbish about if you get a no-show you don't get paid - I mean, there are international franchise rules about that and they should stick to them.I mean, the contract stipulated that we weren't supposed to have private students, but I was actively encouraged by my manager to get some - we were being employed illegally by the company because nobody except one or two people had work permits because they took such a long time to come through and nobody from the government came and checked either.What was annoying was the way the course was sold by the salesmen, one of the guys was a complete dick but he got paid the most, because he lied the most.We didn't get too much mouth from the students as teachers, because in Turkish culture, it's like Chinese culture - the teacher is revered, but some people who were really paying a lot of money to be there, would complain to us, and I knew exactly who to send them to!They would sell to people who could only come every two or three months, so would study English about six hours a month. One time I had someone come who hadn't been for six months, and had been studying like this on and off for two years thinking that this was perfectly ok for her English (because she had been reassured by the sales staff that it would be - that the system would allow for it) and she was really awful - I did a level check with her and she needed to be dropped down almost back to where she started two years ago; she was understandably annoyed and well, I didn't have to deal with it, because she was spewing off in Turkish, but the Turkish staff had to because of a really badly sold contract. The pay they gave the Turkish staff at reception and the tutors in the lab was really crap - we had such a high turnover, and they got some really bad shit from students who were complaining to them about things not living up to their expectations - I remember one women go absolutely ape-shit (does that have a hyphen? anyone?) at reception because the salesman had told her she could get a lesson, anytime, with as little notice as she wanted; I mean she was crazy, and I think her English got worse with us but she was just a product of the course being badly sold because of the commisions they get.Another incident that soured me with the Turkish management was one student was very late for the lesson, and I refused to do it with him, and directed him to reception to book another encounter. I mean he wasn't best pleased about it So far, so good.Once he leaves, the centre director speaks to me and has a huge argument with me about not taking him in - he's the manager of a big company, he could get us lots of sales, he's my friend (five minutes of the lateness was because of having a cigarette with the Director, followed by a promise that he could do the lesson even though he was late), thus, you made me look a fool, he can only come every six weeks because he lives in another city (actually closer to four other centres than this one) blah blah blah. I was so annoyed at him, because I used to have some respect for him - I thought he would put the educational achievement of the students above money - but that event just made me really dislike him - because it was all about money, money, money for him.And you know the student, came, two weeks later (miraculously bucking the six week problem), and he said that I was right, that it was pointless doing the lesson in thirty minutes because we needed the time to do it properly! In our centre, I was really lucky that I had a sympathetic native centre manager who actually cared about teaching English, vociferously complained about the pay to the upper management. It was generally a really pleasant atmosphere to work in. At the end of 12 months there, I was absolutely sick of the same lessons again and again and again, and that's why I didn't stick around for another contract. It is the McDonalds of English Language teaching; but you know, I saw some real progress there by some of the students, it was quick, but it was solid - it wasn't just going to fall away because they really worked hard; and I guess that made it worth it.Every country is different- I can't really talk about France - I would recommed WSI in Turkey to a new young ESL teacher, to get some good experience, but it's not hard, and after about seven months, I was really getting bored in classes, and I used to dread certain units. It's certainly not mentally taxing. And the pay reflects that - but they pay on time. And sometimes that's more important."
_________________________________________________________
Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sandy McManus - Speak Out Now!

I would like all EFL teachers to voice their support for Sandy McManus (founder of The TEFL Blacklist) by sending messages to the blogger who is responsible for attempting to silence him. Sandy has done more than anyone to expose the charlatans at work in EFL
Tell the swine to back off. He is at:

http://sandymcmanus.blogspot.com

You need to speak out and NOW.............. otherwise (muttering incoherently) I'm next in line.

BTW. Anyone spotted Paul Lowe?

_________________________________________________________
Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain
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English Grammar

Your intrepid sleuth read this on the BBC website and thought you might find it of interest and a change from the usual stuff. Comment away as much as you want - after all you are THE experts, aren't you?
_________________________________________________________

Grammar just ain't what it used to be, it seems. When we explained the difference between "fewer" and "less, following Tesco's policy shift on this matter, readers told us what grammar rules they see being flouted or find confusing. The list was a long one. Here are the best.

1. The one that really annoys me is how people suddenly seem to confuse "have" and "of", as in: "I could of learnt how to write properly." There's no excuse for it!
Pete, Sheffield

2. The phrase "for free" is becoming commonplace and is used often on television and it's wrong. It should be "for nothing".
Mary, Basingstoke

3. That guardian of our language, the BBC, is full of solecisms these days; just one example: 12 pm. There is no such time; "meridiem" as in am ("ante meridiem" means "before noon") and pm ("post meridiem" means "after noon") means midday. The 12th hour is neither before nor after midday. So please, BBC use either midday or noon with midnight the correct term for the other end of the day. This is not being pedantic; in these days of 24-hour days, it is often not readily apparent what time 12 pm might be.
Mervyn, Usk, Monmouthshire

4. If you do something to change a situation, then you "effect" a change. If your circumstances are changed by an action, then the change has caused an "effect". You cannot "affect" a change in something, nor can you be "effected" by one.
Rob, Lyme Regis

5. I get annoyed at the reckless use of apostrophes, for example, the plural of CD can't be CD's.
Shahed Alam, London

6. Many people, including public speakers, incorrectly use "I" instead of "me". For instance, they would say "She said some very kind things about George and I", thinking that they are being polite or grammatically correct. An easy way to remember which to use is: if you would say him or her on its own, use me; if you would say he or she on its own, use I. For example, "She said some very kind things about him".
Lorraine, Aylesbury

7. Incorrect use of reflexives make my blood boil. I think that for someone to say "yourself" and "myself" when they just mean "you" or "me" is possibly out of a false sense of politeness, or maybe the insidious effect of TV soaps, or both. Those who use it correctly can give "themselves" a pat on the back.
John Self, Wisset, Suffolk

8. How about "none of them is" and "none of them are"? Most people would use the latter whereas the former is correct. "None" is short for "not one" therefore "not one (none) of them is" would be used. Most newsreaders still get it right though - on the BBC anyway!
Emily, Bristol

NOTE: Fowler's Modern English Usage says that "none" is not short for "not one" and although using a singular verb is more common, using a plural verb has also been an acceptable option since the reign of King Alfred.

9. Similar TO, different FROM, compared WITH. Not "to" used for all of them!
Susan, Brisbane, Australia

NOTE: Fowler's Modern English Usage says: "The commonly expressed view that 'different' should only be followed by 'from' and never by 'to' or 'than' is not supportable in the face of past and present evidence or of logic." It adds that "compare to" is to liken and "compare with" or "compare to" is used to point out similarities and differences. The BBC News website style guide differs with Fowler's on this last point. It says that when pointing out differences, "compare with" should always be used.

10. Here's one they often get wrong on BBC news! BBC reporter: "Then they opened fire on us". This is incorrect. In military terms there are two methods of shooting at an enemy, controlled-fire and open-fire. I.E. you are not opening anything so using the past tense of open is incorrect. The correct expression should be "Then they open-fired on us"
JWTH, Belfast

11. I find the increasing, incorrect use of "literally" annoying.... "I literally went blue with anger!!" "Really?" I ask.
Ned, Wallingford

12. The proper use of "its" and "it's" seems to confound many people, with "its" being a possessive and "it's" being a contraction of "it is". I've seen this mistake made even in some rather lofty publications...
Eric, Berlin

13. It annoys me when people use "due to" when they mean "owing to". But then I'm a pedant.
Guy, London

NOTE: The BBC News website style guide says "due to" means "caused by" and needs a noun, but "owing to" means "because of" and relates to a verb. Hence, "the visit was cancelled [cancelled is the verb] owing to flooding" is correct. So too is "the flooding [flooding is the noun] was due to weeks of heavy rain".

14. As a secondary teacher, I'm beginning to despair when it comes to "they're", "there" and "their"; not to mention "to", "two" and "too". Why are we so afraid to correct these simple mistakes which make all the difference at a later stage?
Alexandra, London

15. There is also confusion over lend and borrow. I keep hearing school children asking "to lend your pencil" when what they actually mean is to "borrow" the pencil.
Ian Walton, Bedford

16. I cringe when I hear BBC reporters say "amount of people" when it should be "number of people"!
Jill Thistlethwaite, Leyburn, UK

NOTE: Fowler's says "amount" is used with nouns that are not countable, such as "amount of forgiveness" and "amount of glue" - but "number" is used with countable nouns, such as "number of boys" and "number of houses".

17. I don't like it when people say: I can go there "by foot" instead of "on foot"....the right preposition to use is ON.
Daniela, Urbana, IL

18. The usage that I find particularly irritating is that of a single noun with a plural verb, for example: "the team are happy with their victory", or "management have congratulated the workforce on the recent increase in productivity". Team is a singular noun so it should read "the team IS happy..." or "the team members ARE happy", the same applies "management HAS congratulated..." Also, what has happened to the word "versus", abbreviated "vs"? Now all we see is "v"; it is even read like that in sports announcements.
Lucia, Horndean, UK

NOTE: The BBC News website's style is that sports teams and pop/rock bands are always plural.

19. A classic confusing rule is the one that states that one is supposed never to end a sentence with a preposition. While this is easy and appropriate to follow in most cases, for example by saying "Yesterday I visited the town to which she has just moved" instead of "...the town she has just moved to", it becomes troublesome when the verb structure includes a preposition that cannot be removed from it, as in "At work I am using a new computer with which my manager recently set me up", which cannot correctly be changed to "...I am using a new computer up with which my manager recently set me".
Philip Graves, Stockholm, Sweden

20. Stadiums, as a plural of stadium, rather than stadia.
C. Matthews, Birmingham, UK

NOTE: Fowler's says that when dealing with modern sports grounds, rather than ones from the classical world, the plural is "stadiums".

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Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain

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JUNG JIN KUG (JJK) ACADEMY, Korea

Posted on the "Korea section". Any comments?

"I'm not sure where to put a post about an academy not yet mentioned, but I'd appreciate if you put it under a separate heading "JUNG JIN KUG (JJK) ACADEMY BLACKLIST" . Terrible place to work. It's tiny and filthy (nothing gets cleaned ever; they mop ONLY with water) the staff are surly and the boss is abusive. For example: No pension given, although it's South Korean labor policy. No medical insurance given, although its South Korean labor policy. Steers you (uninsured) toward incompetent doctors. I've gotten only 1/2 sick day the whole year; the contract promises me 3 (I asked to take one, when I had tonsilitis/laringytis and was denied, and yelled at for asking.) Fourteen vacation days were promised, and ten given (all chopped into small holidays mandated by the director.) These are all ILLEGAL practices. Practices by JJK Academy that are LEGAL but insufferable are: you get a tiny, uninsulated apartment. The director is nosy and abusive, I have been yelled at multiple times by the director and his wife both. The school is a mess, schedule-wise, and I've never been told what I'm supposed to be teaching. NO training given. They're doing poorly, so there is NO discipline in order to keep the students. STAY AWAY!!!"
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Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The TEFL Tradesman - Trouble at t'mill

It seems that Sandy McManus' blog The TEFL Tradesman has gone for good as a consequence of some vendetta carried out, probably by one of the usual suspects mentioned at http://sandymcmanus.blogspot.com.
If anyone has any idea who could be behind this attack please let your noble sleuth know.
The recent sequence of articles on the blog about the risks to children from pedofiles were very good.
Just let me know Sandy, if you want them preserved, and I'll post them on The TEFL Blacklist as they deserve a wide audience. (leave them in the third left-luggage locker from the left at Victoria station, number 999).
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Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain

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United English in Queretaro, Mexico

Posted on the "nominate a school for blacklisting section". Any comments?

"United English in Queretaro, Mexico is the epitome of education for profit. The school’s Swiss owner, Mr. K, is truly a leader in unethical business practices in Mexico’s growing TEFL industry. Mr. K takes a predatory approach to hiring teachers with no certification and no experience. The school’s website uses fake testimonials, non-existent schools, and falsified certifications. Teacher contracts are more devious. Work Visa applications are carefully orchestrated and paid for my Mr. K himself who has cleverly found a loophole within the local immigration office. Teachers are usually issued Student visas, participating in the UE teacher training program. Teachers receive no training. Moreover, the school’s “European System” curriculum closely resembles an educational Ponzi scheme. TOEIC exams scores are manipulated to show incremental increases and give the appearance that students are learning English"

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Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain

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