Tony Gurr

Is the “Lise5 Syndrome” the NEW Zombie Apocalypse in ELT?

In ELT and ELL, Our Universities on 19/09/2013 at 8:38 am

Lise5 01

We hear you Natalie…we hear you!

Or, do we?


Many of you may know that I went through a major “change” this year…

No, not the “manopause”!

Lise5 06 (The Change)

…not just a status update on Facebook, is it?


Yes, to be sure…a major change – but one I am very happy with!

Heck, I can even “vote” in the next electionchoices, choices, choices!


I never really liked the term “gavur” (now, you see why I prefer using Urban Dictionary these days)…even when my darling wife used it as a term of endearment.

What I have found though…is that my new status is actually quite “liberating”…afterall, I can now talk about OUR schools, OUR students and OUR challenges…here in canım Türkiyem.


Some of you also know that I was on holiday…for around 15 years!

When I got back to my adopted home, a few things had changed. Many of these changes were very positivefor example, no longer will I say that the NHS back in the UK is the envy of Europe…and never will I have doubts about having surgery (minor or major) in Turkey.


Lise5 02


However, we Turks (did you hear that…) are facing a new health threat…the likes of which Brad Pitt may not even be able to help us with (or even RTE and all his “hospital projeler”).

Lise5 03

Now, I may be wrong…but we did not have the “Lise 5 Syndrome” 15 or 20 years back.

Students going through ELL programmes in our university “prep” schools back in the day just did not exhibit the symptoms we see in so many of our students these days:

  • An almost immediate allergic reaction (and nasty rash) when they see any ELT or ELL materials before 09:00 and after 16:00
  • An inability to get up for morning classes (starting at around 09:00…even those that start at 13:00)
  • Preference for playing the “blame game” (over accepting personal responsibility)
  • Unwillingness to speak English in pair work and group work tasks (unless they come with multiple-choice stimuli)
  • Frequent bouts of “forgetfulness” (esp. with notebooks, pens, textbooks…but never the cell…never the cell)
  • Reports of symptoms being passed to family “pets” (who subsequently start to consume homework sheets and project reports)
  • Viewing English as a “course to be studied” rather than a language to be “explored” and “used” (with humans)
  • Refusal to do any ELL activities if they do not mirror (exactly) “exam-type tasks”
  • Uncontrollable urge to make frequent “wise cracks” about class climate (in Turkish…via text, WhatsApp, PrivyTalks, Line, WaZapp – you get the picture)
  • Loss of logic and reflective thinking abilities (esp. with regards the value of portfolios, drafting and editing, peer feedback)
  • Making rude, inappropriate, disturbing comments in earshot of other students (things they would not probably say to their grandmothers)
  • Excessive use of the phrases – “Uff! Çok şaçma”, “Yine…bey!”,  “Bu ne, yaaa?”, “Yine? Speak to your partner, miş!”, “Aman! Nefret ediyorum, yaaa!”, “Gerizekalı! – not YOU, hocam!”

etc, etc.

Even in the so-called “top” schools around the country!


Serious (art work)

I shit you not, Sherlock…this is a serious matter!


Patient Zero seems to have been based in Ankara – but the school she was attending is protected under the Turkish National Secrets Act of 1923. Her boyfriend was found a few hours later at a prestigious private university in İstanbul. He was staggering around the school coffee shop (during class time)…but it was…too late. Far too late!

It was later discovered that he had taken a Pegasus flight that night…that plane had visited at least 12 other cities before dawn!

…pretty soon, cases were popping up all over the country. Some say the “spread” along the coastal areas was helped along by “tourists” & “back-packers”.

This is yet to be verified…

Lise5 04


Although, there are many cases of “hazırlık students” that seem to be immune to the disease and her symptoms  – enrolment in a “state” or “private/vakıf” university does not seem to be a critical factor!

Many experts believe that the Lise5 Syndrome may, in fact, be caused by a “sleeping virus” (like HSV-2) – a virus that enters the body in the first or second year of High School  (some argue Lise3 is a better guess) and stays dormant for 24-36 months.

A number of high school teachers have suggested that early outbreaks may actually start at the time students register at their first “Dershane” or “prep course” for the ÖSS (Öğrenci Seçme Sınavı or Student Selection Examination – University entrance).

At the age of 8, yani!


We many never know for sure!


However, the UN has just released the results of its most recent study into this terrifying disease. The results are a surprise to many hazırlık teachers:

Lise5 05 (Health Chart)

Many are now asking themselves – Are WE also “carriers”?


 What was Natalie saying again?


  1. I love your posts. So much fun to read them. Love the visual and how you play with the words.

    I’m so glad that this year, my classes with teens the motivation is rising! My most difficult group is finally there with me during the whole process. One of them who never ever greeted me in the corridor gave me his first “Hello teacher” and loudly.

    Yesterday I had coffee with a teacher who teaches in private school (high school) and public school (high school too). She gives the same lesson, by the way the classes in the private school (about 35 Ss) is larger than the public one (25 Ss). And she gets so frustrated that the one in public school don’t seem interested in ELL.

    Our next meeting we are going to continue our conversation about this teaching context. I urged her to take a deeper look at why they lack interesting or might be purpose or even self-steem.

    btw, some teachers here started using the zombie label. lolol

    • TY Rosie – I really liked it when I saw we were using the same “theme” this week (How many miles apart are we, again?)…

      That’s an interesting flip between your school and your friend’s private school 😉 But, I’m guessing your school is not “regular” in that sense? It’s funny, one of my best collaborations (since I returned to Turkey) is with my friend, Laurence – he does a lot of guest posts on the blog…and is at a university in Ankara. We really enjoyed our regular “chats” on a Sunday afternoon (at what we call “Sunday beer o’clock”) – our LEARNing Conversations eventually became the book we published this year! So, keep it up 😉


  2. I couldn’t help but laughed out loud when I read the excessively used phrases. This is a great post and I agree with you on Lise 5 syndrome. I personally dislike seeing students starting to go to “dershaneler” as soon as they are 7th or 8th graders. In addition to the early exams, some parents want their kids to take ballet, musical instrument or sports classes at early ages without even asking their kids. Especially teenagers at prep year of private universities tend to have such an experience. Afterall, we end up directing the experiences of our students/children and this is no good for them. Let’s not even mention how language classes are ‘valued’ compared to maths, physics, and chemistry. I wonder how things will change when dershaneler are shut down soon.

    Btw, congrats on your citizenship, hemşehrim 🙂

    • Why TY, Hocam 🙂

      Yes, even though I did this post in a tongue-in-cheek manner – it is a huge problem (not only in canim Turkiyem)!

      “Dershane Culture” – one of the worst things ever to happen to education, no doubt. Let’s see what happens…they are a powerful lobby (and, have more money than God)!

      Thx for dropping in 🙂


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