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

Friday, April 27, 2007

International House - A Mole Emerges!

gjA great post for you all to read written by a, clearly well- informed, mole. The info given by Barnabus, the burrower, is copied below, and is essential reading for all those readers following the International House saga. I think it proves that The Inspector did indeed touch a raw nerve at IH.

You can read the full IH thread by clicking here.
Barnabus Butterbalf said...

"I worked with IH affiliates (yes, they are affiliates not franchises) for 9 years. In total I was employed at 7 IH affiliates.
I came across a couple of good centres, a couple of mediocre ones and some utterly appalling ones.
The general feeling I got was that IH was in decline, moral and managerial decline. When I first started working at an IH affiliate there were structured points within the affiliation agreement which gave the teacher a fair deal. One such example was the minimum annual leave entitlement. However, with the now not so new director taking over (that's the affable Mr Carrier, of course), these points were either watered down or dropped all together. Thus you now have IH affiliates such as Kuala Lumpur offering only 18 days annual leave a year and making the teacher work 5 and a half days a week for a pathetic local salary which is laughed at even by local Malaysians.
The reasons for this were soon clear to anyone prepared to do the tiniest amount of research. Firstly, IH wants affiliation money. It is a business after all and a greedy one at that, so it has been encouraging expansion through taking on board centres with woefully poor and exploitative conditions. These centres were not keen on improving their conditions, especially when they had just started paying a rather sizeable affiliation fee (a huge fee for some economies), so the IH directorate gave the nod to allow them to establish whatever conditions and teaching contracts they liked.
Another important and often overlooked situation concerns the inner managerial decision makers. Who are they exactly? Well, we have the director of IH San Sebastian who just happens to preside over the most notorious IH affiliate in Spain with 6 day working weeks and low salaries for teachers living in one of the most expensive cities in Spain. Lovely chap though Mr Lcunza is, especially when he has just had dinner with his bank manager. Ah yes, there is also the director of IH Mexico City, the place where teachers are crying poverty. Yes, these and others like them are the people making all the affiliation decisions in the IH world.
So, from personal experience of certain IH centres I worked at what can I say? Of the good centres we can count in some of the affiliates in Southern Poland. These affiliates would be good places for the first time teacher to spend a year with. Their in-house training is very good indeed, although the salaries they offer, although adequate to live on, are below the market rate. So any teacher shouldn't bother with them for more than a year. Another very good IH affiliate I taught with for 2 years has now disaffiliated. It did this owing to the IH name losing credibility, the watering down of the agreement, and, more precisely because IH allowed the establishment of other new IH affiliates in the same city. These new affiliates were serious competition and offered both the teacher and the student a far inferior quality in terms of remuneration for the teacher and facilities for the student. This particular IH affiliate had worked very hard for years to build up the IH name to be well-recognised and highly thought of in its city. But with the arrival of the new affiliates the quality and reputation dropped rapidly and student numbers dropped owing to new competition and a reduced confidence, the only way forward was to disaffiliate and start again under its own name.
I won't mention the mediocre affiliates I worked at, but will merely mention the name of one which appears all over the net as being one of the worst schools in existence ( I mean anywhere, not just IH. It epitomises everything that is wrong with IH: International House Kuala Lumpur - just do a google search, and while you're at it, look out for a picture of the debonair Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing (Warning: do not do this while eating)
I could go on and give pages of details about my experience as a teacher and Director of Studies with the IH affiliates I have worked at, but I'd prefer to save them for the moment, in the belief that when I turn them into a bestseller, I'll recoup some of the cash that IH exploited me and countless others for.
So, Mr anonymous, with regards to your comments about IH, you are clearly posting some of the most nonsensical garbage I have ever seen, but I do thank you for providing an abundance of mirth and joviality to my day."


Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Monday, April 23, 2007

Kramar's School of English, Slovakia - Part 2

If ever there were a justification for the existence of The TEFL Blacklist this is yet another example. Read on................... - you can check out the original posting by clicking HERE.

This is one of Sandy's very early blacklistings and here we are nearly a year later (Sandy having reportedly been spotted in Japan, looking for a certain Canadian gentleman) and poor old Matthew wishing he'd done a swift Google on Boris.

Here's what Matthew has to say..........................

"I am not at all surprised Boris Kramar made it on this blacklist. I’m just pissed I didn’t think to Google “TEFL blacklist” before I fell for his crock of crap.

He screwed me. Things worked out because I had people in Slovakia, but if it hadn’t been for that, I’d have been up shit creek without a paddle.

He promised a visa, a job, a place to stay. He delivered nothing, and then promised to help me find alternate placement. After he dropped the initial bomb in my lap, he dropped off the scene, never to be heard of again.

Anything you hear about sexual harassment also, BELIEVE IT. He asked for pictures of my girlfriend, which just blew me away. He’s a dirty old man, and I’d only ever hope to meet him to kick him in the nuts for all the sorry lies he told me and my girlfriend’s family. I don’t like people lying to me or screwing with my future. God help him if he’d managed to get me there and teaching before I figured out he was a fake and a failure. He’s both–avoid him like the plague.

Also, a special note to my fellow Americans: he preys on us, because he knows we can’t pop over for a visit. STAY AWAY!!! If you want to teach in Slovakia that badly, go through the municipalities, or Dave’s ESL Cafe, or something reputable. Do not trust the Internet. Check around, and DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!

If he or anyone under any strange name shows up to deny these allegations, I’ve got contact info of reputable people in the area in Slovakia who will tell you just how unsavory a character he is.

Best wishes in your TEFL adventures!"

He advertises on and they are proud to publish his testimonial....................
"Many thanks for your great job you've been doing. Thanks to your pages I got a teacher last year and I've been very satisfied with him. Kramar's School of English, Slovakia. "

Do a quick Google and you'll see lots of other job boards advertising his posts.

So Sandy's original article is still around on Saint Sperling's. Well a leopard doesn't change its spots so Dave has presumably been too busy counting his money to notice that Sandy's old posting had slipped through his net.

The rock group "The WHO" must have had dear old Boris in mind when they recorded the song "Boris The Spider". Here it is, possibly not the greatest work of art but who (sic) cares.

Boris The Spider
Look, he's crawling up my wall
Black and hairy, very small
Now he's up above my head
Hanging by a little thread

Boris the spider
Creepy crawly creepy, crawly

Now he's dropped on to the floor
Heading for the bedroom door
Maybe he's as scared as me
Where's he gone now, I can't see

Boris the spider
Creepy crawly creepy, crawly

There he is wrapped in a ball
Doesn't seem to move at all
Perhaps he's dead, I'll just make sure
Pick this book up off the floor

Boris the spider
Creepy crawly creepy, crawly

He's come to a sticky end
Don't think he will ever mend
Never more will he crawl 'round
He's embedded in the ground

Boris the spider
Creepy crawly creepy, crawly


Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland

  1. The Index
  2. Most Recent
  3. Nominate a School for Blacklisting

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The TEFL Whitelist

What TEFL programs would you recommend?

The Inspector was asked this very question only today, which is an interesting one to answer as he is often accused of only being up to mischief. The standard reply is usually that the number of schools listed on The TEFL Blacklist is tiny, considering what a massive global business TEFL/ESL has become and there are many fine places to train to teach or to learn English.

The Inspector is thinking of creating a TEFL Whitelist in the near future for that very purpose. There are loads of decent schools around, about whom, one hears nothing. The Inspector has no problem at all with the idea of schools making profit, but some of the horror stories listed on The TEFL Blacklist really do need to be aired somewhere and thanks to the whole blog revolution, free speech is still thankfully alive and kicking.

The TEFL/ESL profession is split between devils and angels. The trick is in spotting the difference between the two.

The angels go into TEFL/ESL with a genuine love of people and full of enthusiasm about giving and usually have a great sense of wanting to experience a new adventure and a different culture. For those people, money is not the main thing and they often find themselves being exploited.

The devils go into TEFL/ESL either because they love the power trip or because they want to make money - or both!

One of the main hypocrites is Dave Sperling whose ESL Cafe money machine is heavily moderated. The moment any comment appears that Dave's advertisers dislike, it gets removed. Dave's ESL site is however viewed as being akin to a neighbourhood "cafe" which gives the impression of a friendly place to get honest impartial advice. Some of the forum comments about different countries taxation systems etc. are worthwhile reading but once dodgy schools are named then you can't see the wood from the trees.

Cactus TEFL are another organisation professing to offer impartial advice, which is absolutely not the case as they earn a commission from each course they sell.

Watch out for the possible birth of the TEFL Whitelist. It'll be a tricky one to set up as it would need to be completely impartial which is no easy feat to pull off. The Inspector is working on the concept and if he can find a system that works it'll be up and running soon.


Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Friday, April 20, 2007

Cactus TEFL (still up to their old tricks)

Yes they are still doing it. The Guardian are promoting Cactus TEFL as a holier than thou place to seek impartial advice. I can't believe that money isn't changing hands.

It's based, as told in the Cactus TEFL posting, on paid advertising dressed up as informed journalism and a knowledge of how search engine optimisation (known as SEO) works. The Inspector's best guess is that Richard Bradford of Cactus TEFL is behind this deceit and he is also probably the Mr Anonymous writing all that propaganda crap in defence of International House, for whom Cactus TEFL acts as agents.

This is what he had to say about International House London:
"IH is a quality organisation and always has been, with IH London always packed with happy students and happy teachers"
For someone who professes not to have any links with IH isn't that way over the top (unless that is you're being paid a commission)
This is what you can see still on The Guardian's TEFL news page:

Living the dream
Moving abroad to teach English is an exciting prospect,
but you need to do your planning properly, says Jenny Johnson
…………….Taking a Tefl qualification is one of the first things to find out about as there are not many destinations left these days where unqualified teachers walk into jobs with no training. In any case, it is preferable to have some idea about what you are doing before you walk in to face your first classroom of eager students.

If you surf the web for organisations providing Tefl courses, you will find literally pages and pages of search results. If this is too bewildering, you can save yourself a lot of time and possibly an expensive mistake by going straight to an advisory service such as Cactus TEFL, which will help you find a suitable course.

………………..Jenny Johnson is head of Cactus TEFL

There is naturally a hyperlink to the Cactus TEFL site which is why they have such good web rankings. No more no less. Do NOT be fooled into believing their claptrap.


They make a commission on each course they sell but come over as some kind of free impartial advice service, just the sort of slick marketing one might fall for - hook line and sinker!

This kind of hidden publicity, which should be clearly labelled as such makes me sick.

Richard Bradford should be ashamed of himself. Label such bullshit as advertising and at least show some integrity. Oh and while we're on the subject stop sending The Inspector threatening abusive messages.

I am so totally ********* off by some of the anonymous things I've been getting lately that I feel a "Richard Bradford" posting coming on (says he wiping his brow). Who the hell are you, Richard? I think a little bit of research about your past would be a worthwhile exercise. It'll certainly be good therapy for The Inspector whose dicky ticker has been playing up lately during these worrying few months he has spent on the run from Lady Florence McHammered.

I've just about had enough of Val Ferret and cloud cuckoo land. Time to press on with the round the world trip methinks.

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Thursday, April 19, 2007

TEFL-trade and Sandy McManus are on the move!

Sandy McManus has gone. It is looking omininously as if his cover has been blown. It's an occupational hazard for those of us who operate behind enemy lines. Paul Lowe who has figured in many an article on The TEFL Blacklist is number one suspect behind the attack on Sandy. The Sandy McManus blog at is an attempt to stop Sandy exposing his less savoury business ventures such as the fake Trinity scam.
For all those readers who are unaware of the fact, Sandy created the TEFL Blacklist, although he has since moved on to pastures new (or shall we say, less dangerous grazing), so all threats of litigation, and leg breaking regarding the various postings on The TEFL Blacklist should be directed to Inspector McHammered of the Lard.
As a consequence your noble sleuth may well be on the move himself!
Sandy will no doubt reappear in good time. You simply can't keep a good man down.

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The McDonald's Libel Case.

This is in response to the numerous requests I get to pick up the phone, e-mail, write, send a pigeon or whatever to blacklisted schools. Well it's not exactly an even playing field out there and I've better things to do than fight some corporate monster, armed with a huge legal war chest to bully and threaten anyone who dares speak out against them.

The case below was described as David versus Goliath and was considered a PR disaster for the corporation concerned, as the judge decided that McDonald's had "pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which their food did not match"; had exploited children in its advertising, and paid low wages, "helping to depress wages in the catering trade".

McDonald's spent over £10 million for nothing in their petty battle against two penniless people. Yes that's right, £10 million just for the pleasure of shooting themselves in the foot!

Some of the people, who send The Inspector abusive messages would do well to listen to the wisdom of Voltaire who said:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

If anything written here can be shown, beyond reasonable doubt, to be false it will be removed, as has already been shown on a number of occasions.


McLibel: Longest case in English history

Steel and Morris
Steel and Morris on Tuesday -
15 years after being served a libel writ by McDonald's

The European court ruling that two activists should have been allowed legal aid in their libel battle with McDonald's is just the latest of many twists in the longest case in English legal history.

The case goes back to the mid 1980s and a public campaign attacking aspects of the fast food industry.

In 1986 the London Greenpeace group - separate from the international Greenpeace movement and including Helen Steel and David Morris - produced leaflets attacking McDonald's.

The leaflet, called 'What's wrong with McDonalds - everything they don't want you to know', did not hold back.

Among other things, it accused the corporation of encouraging litter, mistreating animals and workers and destroying rain forests.

In 1990 McDonald's served libel writs on five volunteers in the group, beginning a battle often compared to that of David - and Helen - against Goliath.

The inequality of arms could not have been greater
European Court of Human Rights, commenting on the difference in resources between McDonald's and the activists
It demanded that they retract the claims in it and apologise - or go to court and prove that all the allegations were true.

At the time, McDonald's economic power outstripped that of many small countries, with worldwide sales of about $30bn in 1995.

Three of the activists decided that, with no legal aid, they could not fight the massive corporation. They backed down and apologised.

But two - Ms Steel, 39, and Mr Morris, 50, both from Tottenham, north London - refused to do so.

Ms Steele was a part-time bar-worker earning a maximum of £65 a week, and Mr Morris was an unemployed postman who was responsible for the day-to-day care of his son, then aged four.

The inequality of arms, as the European court noted, "could not have been greater".

'£10m legal bill'

As they had no legal aid and not much money of their own, Ms Steel and Mr Morris had to fight the case with only occasional unpaid help from lawyers - mounting their own defence and own representation.

McDonald's, on the other hand, was represented by leading and junior counsel, experienced in libel law, and by one or two solicitors and other assistants. The corporation's legal bills were estimated at £10m.

Steel and Morris raised an estimated £40,000 from public donations to pay for witness airfares, court costs, expenses and so on.

Transcripts of the trial ran to about 20,000 pages and about 130 witnesses gave oral evidence
In 1991 they made their first attempt to demand legal aid in the European Court of Human Rights. But the court ruled that, as the defendants had already put up a "tenacious defence", they could not say they were being denied access to justice.

Further legal wrangling took another three years, and on 28 June 1994 the full libel trial finally started in the High Court in London.

Transcripts of the trial ran to approximately 20,000 pages; there were about 40,000 pages of documentary evidence.

Some 130 witnesses gave oral evidence - 59 for the defendants, 71 for McDonald's. Ms Steel gave evidence in person but Mr Morris chose not to.

On 13 March 1995 McLibel became the longest ever British libel trial.

David Morris and Helen Steel outside court in 1997
David Morris and Helen Steel outside court in 1997

On 11 December 1995 it became the longest civil case (as opposed to criminal) in British history.

On 1 November 1996, it became the longest trial of any kind in English history.

Damages ordered

And it wasn't until 19 June 1997 that the judge, Mr Justice Bell, delivered his 762 page judgment. The judge rejected claims that McDonald's was to blame for starvation in the Third World or had used lethal poisons to destroy vast areas of Central American rainforest.

But he also decided, in what was seen as a PR disaster for the corporation, that McDonald's had "pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which their food did not match"; had exploited children in its advertising, and paid low wages, "helping to depress wages in the catering trade".


McDonald's says both it and the world have moved on since the case
He ordered Mr Morris and Ms Steel to pay £60,000 damages, reduced later on appeal to £40,000.

McDonald's has not sought to collect this money, and the two have vowed not to pay.

But the case did not end there. Two months after the verdict, Ms Steel and Mr Morris lodged an appeal.

This ran from January to March 1999 - and it didn't end there either. In July 1999 they pair asked the House of Lords for leave to appeal further - which was rejected.

So in September 2004 they launched an action against the UK Government at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, this time saying the lack of access to legal aid breached their rights to a fair trial as guaranteed under article 6 of the Human Rights Convention.

Law already changed

On Tuesday, the court agreed. The British government has three months to appeal the decision.

But it is possible the UK libel laws may have to change.

The government says it is considering the judgment, but recent changes in the law mean that legal aid is now sometimes available in exceptional cases.

McDonald's made little comment, except to point out that the allegations made by Steel and Morris related to practices in the 1980s.

Source: The BBC

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

International House (again) !

The folks at International House seem to be getting a bit het up. Your beloved Inspector is busy dodging the bullets.
Check the International House posting out by clicking here
There is a prize of a litre of organic fermented yak's milk for anyone who can guess the identity of the Mr Anonymous who is getting so angry.
I seem to have touched on a raw nerve.


Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland

  1. The Index
  2. Most Recent
  3. Nominate a School for Blacklisting

Billy Connolly

The Big Yin (Billy Connolly) is now the video link. For all his transatlantic cousins, who might not have heard him....enjoy!
The clips shown have now been moved to The Movie Archive and can now be seen by clicking here.

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Global Vision International

A provisional blacklisting only until The Insector has completed his research. The omens are not good however.

The recipe:
  • A weekend TEFL course
  • A UK Limited company that hides the fact in its small print
  • An impression of a charitable organisation
  • Exciting destinations
  • Expensive courses, expeditions, misssions to teach EFL to the needy
  • Oh and last but not least NO PAY.
Does that not sound like the ultimate dream business scam?

If you are young innocent and possibly fresh from university, it feels to The Inspector a bit like.......... come into my parlour said the spider to the fly!

There again as you all know The Inspector is an old cynical fart so he may well be wrong. Let's wait and see but in the meantime do read the small print and study the prices!

You can have your bank account emptied at:

Global Vision International
3 High Street
St Albans,
AL3 4ED,


Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland

  1. The Index
  2. Most Recent
  3. Nominate a School for Blacklisting

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Eva Cassidy

The inspector has introduced some Eva Cassidy videos, who is (tragically - was) simply astonishing. If you have any suggestions for future videos, just let him know!
The clips shown have now been moved to The Movie Archive and can now be seen by clicking here.

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Monday, April 02, 2007

Criminal Record Checks in England - TWIN School

That old scourge of the TEFL underbelly Sandy Mcmanus has an interesting article on the TWIN outfit which sounds an absolutely dreadful place to teach EFL, (even if only half the allegations are true). That's actually a tale for Sandy to tell in his own inimitable style, I was more intrigued by a few mentions of teachers working without Criminal Record Checks and whether the organisation (TWIN) were breaking the law.

The short answer would appear to be "no", as TWIN appears to be under no legal obligation to carry out CRB checks, as private language schools are not under the control of the Department for Education and Skills in England (who deal more with compulsory education). An apparent glaring loophole you will no doubt mutter, BUT.....................

This organisation is British Council approved. and if they are employing teachers who are in contact with children. this would appear to be a clear breach of The British Council's code of good conduct, which clearly states:

Child protection

Employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that
they do not employ persons with recorded offences
against children in positions which will bring them into
close and/or regular contact with under-18s.

The Inspector would advise anyone working for TWIN who knows of teachers being employed (and teaching under 18s) WITHOUT a Criminal Record Disclosure (CRB enhanced disclosure), to register a complaint with The British Council without further delay.

Will it take a scandal for this loophole to be closed? At least The British Council can take action and hit TWIN where it hurts.... in their pocket.

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Berlitz, Switzerland

Well I never! Click HERE to watch the movie and you will see that even Berlitz in Switzerland have a sense of humour. I assume the chap in the video is an advanced Berlitz student.

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Rotten Tomatoes and Passion Fruit

The Inspector has added a lot of new fangled whistles and bells to the blog. The videos for example are all randomly displayed based on keywords, so a school on the TEFL Blacklist might unwittingly find its promotional crap being displayed here. International House's Madrid video has been displayed - whoopee!, "Schools" previously unknown to The Inspector have unexpectedly popped up onto his screen. For example, an outfit called "I to I" has already been spotted where some smarmy git drones on about their 20 hour distance course (wonderful only for their cash flow of course not that he admits it). Rest assured readers that "I to I" (pronounced eye to eye) will feature on the TEFL blacklist very soon. Consider the videos an eclectic collection such as a coconut shy or a rotten tomato section or even surprisingly a gallery of wonder. Please do not assume that everything is endorsed by The Inspector who on the contrary considers this new feature as a kind of TEFL spider's web.

Each day will bring someting different that The Inspector either wants to take the p*ss out of or finds moving.

The theme for the moment is the singer Eva Cassidy. A truly incredible loss to the world. Hardened as he might be by the recent onslaught from Lady Florence McHammered, There are only two sounds that will cause the Inspector to burst into tears: George Bush and Eva Cassidy!

The news section has been put up on a trial basis. Cactus TEFL has been spotted so yet another opportunity for throwing rotten tomatoes. The type of news displayed will depend on The Inspector's mood at the time (usually irreverent). At the moment of writing the news features Switzerland, where the Inspector is currently staying whilst on his eighty day journey around the world.

Send any feedback to the "nomination" page.

The Inspector will review the changes on a regular basis so do let rip if you feel like it.

There is also a links section which has been provisionally added. You might get a chuckle or two out of them. Who knows the Inspector might even add the odd worthwhile link.


Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland


Swiss Spaghetti

Watch this movie. It seems that Switzerland has struck lucky once more. The annual spaghetti crop has proved to be a bumper one. This is the biggest one for over fifty years!

Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland