Create your own course

Okay…here we go.

Everybody step right up to the Toe Express. I have just accepted a new posting here in Taipei that is allowing me to create the next wave in ESL.

Create your own course.

In the not too distant future, I will be asking you to think of a way to use your own special talents to assist high rollers to speak English. It could be a 2 1/2 hour per week class for 10-12 weeks kinda thing, at your convenience…bearing in mind the more convenient you are, the more chances of your course selling. Or it could be a weekend seminar in Kenting…or it could be a tour of SA on the BT…You submit a proposal and if approved, we’ll offer it to our membership…huge, eager membership…we market it and help staff it…they buy it…you run it…

Stragbasher…a sailing course would be ideal…for an example of thinking outside the box. I am going to set up a bowling night and will need “teachers” to captain a pair of lanes, deducting pins for speaking English…

Other examples are a theatre camp and a scuba course…all in English…

We want paridigm shifting of the F1 kind…

No ideas are crazy and the only stupid ones are the ones you don’t try. That said, I bet this crowd’ll soon put that theory to the test.

Have fun, but I want this to be a serious thread about how to create and promote your own uniqueness in a high end market.

Do as little or as much as you want. You will be paid above industry standards with generous incentives and bonuses. Don’t ask me the details of these remuneratoric issues…I haven’t even begun to think about them…feel free to make suggestions…just finish what you start. I need at least 50 mini koffee klatches if you will, to take place by year end. Right now you can begin by discussing it here with me. This is where I will draw my talent pool from. Let’s get brainstormin’…I have to create a team, a very large team of freelance English Guides. The more you put in, the more you will get out. The best and the brightest will be sent on working vacations around the world…eventually…

This is it guys…why I came to Taiwan in the first place…it’s taken me 3 years…but I’ve found it. And if you happen to be joining us from behind the red curtain…feel free to make suggestions as well…our membership seems to extend beyond certain political boundaries. I may have to change the thread to ToeInternationalizes.

As I said…


What company do you work for? Who’s backing you?

Interesting Toe Save. So, the purpose is still ESL and the students will be gaining more proficient use and understanding of English at the end of the day. Your idea is using different topics, “fun topics”, “life” topics, to help the students improve their English usage and skills faster than more traditional methods?

I’m guessing these students are adults, professionals, university grads?

And what will their English level be at the start of the course?

Maoman, I am working for BDC…Business Digest Club…but they dba as a number of other entities. I actually found the gig as advertised right here at Forumosa.

Isieh, ya…you are getting the idea…I want to break a few molds here. Primarily, I want the teachers to create confidence workshops…to begin to undo 2000 years of learning to fear mistakes. Language is Art, not Science and rote learning techniques will make good spellers, but terrible conversationalists.

Our task is simple yet daunting…we must get the students to think in English…that voice in our heads must use English. How we do this is by creating conversation and exposure to the language. We want to provide an English environment in the heart of a Chinese speaking community.

As for the statistical make-up of the class, it will be business people…high end…CEO’s and on down. We sell the CEO’s on the concept (my job) and they put all their upper management thru our programming. No phonics…no “A ah ant”…they should be conversational or close to it before coming to us. As we place them, we will probably recommend buxibans and institutes to help them achieve basic reading skills. Cold readings are one way in helping shy students develop their “legs”. If they can read, they can speak, that’s always been my opinion…so we’ll take em. I am thinking out loud here, so take it for what that’s worth.

Europa, I think that should answer you as well?


I have been developing a technique that uses movies and or television as a way to build an English environment. Using a few fairly sophisticated techniques I teach them how to make optimum use of that environment. My system relates to every aspect of a learners self. His senses, emotions and body as well as his sense of humor and his sense of rhythm and fun. There is no reluctance to use Mandarin in my program provided that it is used sparingly. Mine is a good system for people who want a more visceral, emotive, dramatic, spontaneous experience of the language. Thanks.

I’m thinking that creating a Western/English/American environment which facilitates thinking and acting in Western/English/American ways means some how getting these people out of their “island” mentality. You’ll have to find people, westerners, that can help them experience a “Western living” (whatever that may mean) in some way. How do you create an immersion program that will benefit these people that they can’t already access with their money? That’s a difficult question. But certainly Forumosa can help out I’m sure :slight_smile:.

So right now, you’re grappling on focusing this not-yet-developed program for BDC aimed toward hi-powered business executives. Are you a BDC ESL program director tasked to create this? Are you seeking individual Forumosans to help you, work with you, or work with BDC individually? Are you looking for program ideas, people to staff/hire, “non-traditional” teaching techniques, new content etc? At the end of the day, what do you hope to achieve and how can we help?

Maybe taking this to PM may be better? I dunno, I’m just throwing out some thoughts to help this brain-storming session. This is an interesting topic.

I have an awesome system that has taken me about five years to create. All I need is students.

If it’s art not science, in which art paradigms is your revolutionary method?

What have you to say to the thousands of linguists and language-related professionals who work within the scientific field and who have advanced EFL methodology to its contemporary, exciting state? They’re wrong?

Perhaps “breaking the mold” simply means asserting you know better. Who needs science if it’s art, huh?

[color=red]What EFL qualifications do you and your partners have?[/color]

The point is not that he does or does not know anything about ESL. The point is that he has a connection to well healed students. There were a couple of things he said about language learning that seemed out to lunch if you ask me too, but he distinctly said that he would leave it up to us to run the program. That sounds fair enough to me.

Most of them obviously need healing - you’ve evidently got no experience in teaching English to adults or else you’re denying reality. Many students refer to such ideas in class themselves, sometimes rather bitterly! I’ve had students complain openly about being beaten by their English teacher in school, about childhood experiences affecting their performance in class - at least they are capable of communicating that openly, unlike many of them! Are you claiming you can get almost any Taiwanese student to freely participate in class the first time you meet them? Every English teacher knows they are in general scared of making mistakes and we all know why - their education system. ESL qualifications don’t necesssarily take into account the psychology of the particular culture involved. Experience teaches you that. Qualifications, however, can add to your teaching techiniques, so of course they are an advantage - but only one among a number of them.

First of all, mod please flounder/flame the bickering.

This is great guys…exactly what I was hoping for.

To try and answer a few technical questions:

Yes, I am the new Director of what is loosely being called The English Corner for BDC. I have been tasked with creating a forum for ESL professionals to stretch their wings as it were and really experiment with lesson planning. We’ve always said, well if it was my school, blah blah blah…well…to a certain degree, we will provide you with an opportunity. We will provide venue, students, marketing support and pay you. You are a freelancer. Its up to you to generate heat about your project. There will be massive amounts of feedback both public and private and training seminars where we help each other collectively become better English Enablers.

My credentials are what they are…make what you will of them, I got the job. Suffice it to say, I am wide open to discussion on this subject.

Europa is really getting to the meat of the matter. Culture predisposition to shyness…how can we combat it?

Personnally, I plan to use theatre techniques as my “art paradigm”. If you can figure out how to make guitar or sculpting into an English experience…we’ll give you the opportunity.

If my ideas seem whack, please, point out the whackiness and let’s discuss it. As for Forumosan’s contribution, if you want to try it out, fantastic. If you want to simply participate in the discussion, I would be very happy to have your input. If you want to criticize, please do so constructively. Keep the bickering, the personal insults and the spelling cops in the IP forum. I am glad there has been such an interest in this. I was really hoping this gang would find it interesting.

Hey guys…I haven’t even started the job yet. I am currently phasing out the old and phasing in the new. It’ll be a few weeks before I have systems and numbers up and running. In the meantime, I think this fear factor is worthy of further discussion.


I don’t wish to wade into a philosophical battle here. However …

My $0.02 is that an ESL program’s goal is not to make the student an expert in that second language. The goal of ESL programs is to make a student proficient in communicating sufficiently well enough so that a native speaker can understand that person’s meaning. What this means is that grammatical errors are more likely to happen and will even be tolerated to some extent so long as the end result is the native speaker can understand the meaning of the words spoken. It’s a question of form vs. substance. Form is grammar, substance is meaning. You do not need “proper” grammar to achieve perfect meaning.

What does this have to do with Toe Save’s initiative? His students are older, probably much older – 40s, 50s even 60s. You will not teach this kind of student the same way you would teach students in kiddie buxibans. One’s language learning ability at that age is much slower than younger students and thus more difficult for the teacher. So, that means you’re going to have to “think out of the box” when it comes to teaching these kinds of students. No amount of credentials is going to matter. What matters is whether or not your “teaching toolbox” can achieve the result the student wants which I will likely guess is not to be perfect English grammarians.

A lot of Taiwanese feel that they way to gain confidence is by developing skills, being perfect, knowing everything and never making mistakes. It is a recipe for disaster for language learners especially, because nobody knows everything and everybody makes mistakes. Confidence that is based on skill development and self acceptance is much more realiable because sooner or later you will make a spelling or pronunciation mistake and some asshole will be waiting there to use it as proof of your general lack of inteligence. Anyway one of the first things that needs to be established with adult learners is that mistakes are OK. In fact they are more than ok, they are an opportunity to learn something. It is my opinion that mistakes should be corrected but gently and unobtrusively.If the students tape record the class they can hear their mistake and the correction later. No need to make a big deal of it in class.

Nervousness is also reduced if you can direct the conversation around to topics that people can actually get into. Contrived, pointless conversations will make anyone self conscious.

English only environments are also nerve racking and counter productive. Frequently the fastest, most direct way to teach something is to teach it in Mandarin.It is especially gratifying to the student if he knows that he can come to you with “Yong Zhongwen zhenme jiang…?” questions and get an answer.

Finally Toe, in my my opinion theatre training is perfect because for a moment the student gets a chance to be someone else. People can sometimes be more expressive and less anxious if they are acting a part.

In case you are wondering about my formal qualifications Toe, don’t. I have absolutely none. Not in ESL and not in Mandarin. I do however have rather a lot of experience both teaching and learning second languages.

I think it is a sound idea.
The point is that the “students” will already have a basic to good, but competent grounding of English and all the work of teaching the basics of grammar and phonics will have already been done and achieved through the students former attendance at English classes elsewhere.

Placing English and the learning of English into the context of an interest, hobby (ie sailing) or even just in an occupation is an excellent concept.

Learning in this way removes the boundaries of a formal or “intense” environment and sees the participating members, both students and teachers, enjoying a mutual interest whilst using English as a mode of communication.
I believe that students will be able to learn English on more of a subconcious level through the constant and informed use of English which is applied to a certain activity through fluid communication.

Thinking outside the box? It’s about time new ideas were banded about.

To those who criticise: (I’m not flaming you, think of itas constructive feedback :slight_smile: )

It simply means “breaking the mold.” Or are you just asserting you know bugger all and couldn’t come up with anything better?

By all means criticise, but make it constructive and relevant.

They’re not wrong, just different. But neither is Toe Save wrong. What’s wrong is not trying out new ideas. What’s wrong is remaining stuck in a rut and not trying new options and solutions in any activity or any industry. This applies to ESL as much as any thing else.

Even if it doesn’t work, at least someone has managed to get of his backside and do something worthwhile and try to turn an idea into reality.
Could be a worthwhile lesson to all you armchair critics out there.

Oh boy…now the pressure’s on. Thanks DM.


Teaching is an art, not a science. One of the best once said to me that teaching was like acting; it’s a performance for the benefit of the students. The difficulty is taking this “scientific knowledge” and delivering it in a way that the student can digest. This is where experience is King.

On the one hand you say it’s “an art, not a science”; but then you talk of “scientific knowledge”. Which is it?

You want constructive criticism. Two of the above contributors, including the program

On the one hand you say it’s “an art, not a science”; but then you talk of “scientific knowledge”. Which is it?[/quote]

You still don’t get it do you? You think that your language knowledge credentials, the “scientific knowledge” (get the “”?) means you can teach. It doesn’t. End of story.

[quote]You want constructive criticism. Two of the above contributors, including the program

E-clectic I am beginning to think that perhaps you have more education than experience or common sense. You read my last post and the only thing you find to mention about it is that I have no “formal” qualifications. Do you, by some leap of logic, understand this to mean that I have never studied ESL methodologies or theory? I am currently reading “Memory, Meaning and Method- A View of Language Learning” by Earl Stevick. Ever heard of it? The man has been teaching ESL for FIFTY years. And the way he descibes it he has achieved at least temporary conversational ability in at least eight languages. He has some degree or other that he obtained half a century ago, although he doesn’t talk about it much. You however talk about nothing other than qualifications. In the preface he quotes a Swahlili (one of the languages he studied) proverb - “It isn’t dawning. It isn’t dawning. It has dawned” When is it going to dawn on you dear that we could care less about your qualifications unless you have something constructive and practical to contribute to the conversation?