Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘ESL’

Corruption, Bribery & Graft in the Busyness of ELT…

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 02/06/2018 at 6:59 pm

Say NO To Corruption (TG ver)

In Turkish there is a little saying that, at first sight, looks quite innocent – ‘…bal tutan parmağını yalar’!

In English, it translates literally as ‘he who holds the honeypot will (always) lick his finger’  but is more commonly explained as ‘anyone in charge of distributing things of value will always take something for himself’.

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Sadly, this saying has become so ingrained in the Turkish psyche that the majority of us think nothing of using the phrase on a day-to-day basis. Indeed, many of us have come to see the message behind the saying – corruption is ‘inevitable’ and (perhaps worse) even OK – as natural! After all, if we were ‘in power’, we’d find jobs for family members (look at how Trump has filled the White House with his spawn, in-laws and cronies), help out our friends in business and (even) build a nicer ‘house’ to entertain guests…wouldn’t we?

Shoe box (TG ver) (1)

We saw a blatant example of this in 2013 when canım Türkiyem glimpsed (for a few weeks) the biggest corruption scandal the country had ever seen…at the highest levels of government. OK…the claims may have been hushed up pretty sharpish (with a couple of sacrificial lambs) and the evidence dismissed on the ‘technical grounds’ that it was obtained via illegal wiretaps but the bottom line was that almost half the population didn’t even blink an eye!

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Sam Varkin has described how corruption, bribery and graft can and do hurt a country:

‘It skews the level playing field; it guarantees extra returns where none should have been had; it encourages the misallocation of economic resources, and it subverts the proper functioning of institutions. It is, in other words, without a single redeeming feature, a scourge’.

However, he also notes that this is not how it is perceived by its perpetrators: both the ‘givers’ and the ‘recipients’ (it takes two to tango…and corruption can never work when one party says ‘NO’).

‘They believe that corruption helps facilitate the flow and exchange of goods and services in hopelessly clogged and dysfunctional systems and markets (corruption and the informal economy “get things done” and “keep people employed”); that it serves as an organising principle where chaos reigns and institutions are in their early formative stages; that it supplements income and thus helps the state employ qualified and skilled personnel; and that it preserves peace and harmony by financing networks of cronyism, nepotism, and patronage’.

Rubbish!

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Corruption is all about theft and abuse of power..carried out by unethical and immoral individuals. And, THEY know what they are doing is wrong!

This is why I get so upset when I hear about it happening in education – a business sector (yes, it is a business…no escaping that fact these days) that acts as the backdrop and early environment for every single young person in a country. Education needs role models beyond reproach…some might say ‘angel-like’ mentors that can guide young minds and ensure they learn about and stay on the straight and narrow!

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The good news?

Rotten Apple

In education, across canım Türkiyem, the givers and recipients are a SMALL group of ‘rotten apples’ that tarnish the good reputation of their schools and universities as well as their own organisations (if they are suppliers to those schools).

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What can be done?

Well, there are a number of steps that can be taken immediately:

1. All suppliers to schools and universities can affirm (or reaffirm) their commitment to programmes of anti-corruption by publishing their own policies on bribery and graft.

2. Schools and universities themselves can build similar policies into their codes of professional practice and job descriptions. They can also ensure that there are strong checks and balances in place to ensure fewer irregularities when making purchases from suppliers.

3. Suppliers need to especially vigilant when offering additional professional development support to schools and universities as ‘package solutions’ and make sure that these ‘grey areas’ are not interpreted as ‘bribe-driven gifts’. This is true of conference visits that involve foreign travel, flights and hotel staysthe best way is to simply avoid them altogether!

4. School and university decision-makers make sure that they are last in line…when sharing the ‘honey’ attached to purchasing arrangements and that teachers are first in line when making decisions about those purchases (e.g. textbook and materials selection).

5. Schools and their suppliers should have zero tolerance for staff / affiliates / distributors that break any and all of these anti-corruption programmes by (a) ‘naming and shaming’ the individuals involved in the communities in which they operate, (b) reporting all infringements to the authorities, and (c) ensuring these individuals are not re-employed within the sector.

Stop Corruption (row of apples) TG ver (1)

I’m guessing that all of us, with the exception of those few ‘rotten apples’, will applaud and support steps like this – without reservation.

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I just wonder how many will…

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How long does it take to LEARN English, hocam? – The “10,000 Hour” Upgrade…

In ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 21/02/2014 at 9:55 pm

There is a lot of talk around canım Türkiyem these days about how many hours are needed for students to LEARN or “speak” English. In fact, we have even invented new acronyms to help us do this – classroom contact hours are now frequently referred to as GLHs (or “guided learning hours”).

What a queer turn of phrase – when what so many schools really mean is “bums on seats” and ears “pointed at” the teacher!

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TELLıng theTRUTH (Ver 03)

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These discussions have been “aided” by wider (mis)understanding of the CEFR (the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment)– now, you know the reason for the abbreviation!), and its six levels of proficiency from A1 to C2.

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Now, not everyone is a fan of the CEFR – mostly because it has been skillfully co-opted by ELT marketeers eager to sell their wares (by pasting on a EU logo onto whatever they are flogging)!

However (and in truth), the CEFR is refreshing change from the “fuzzy labels” of the past – “intermediate” or “upper-intermediate” or even “pre-faculty” (in academic contexts).

More of the same (my dogs)

I never did really know what these terms meant anyways!

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Besides, the CEFR was originally designed to improve levels of “transparency” – always a “fan” of that (as is Julian)!

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Fasülye (Blog new ver)

YES…there is a “prize” for any non-Turkish speaker that can work out that one!

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In a way, it is impossible to accurately calculate the hours needed to LEARN a language – as it depends on factors such as the learner’s language background, the intensity of study and levels of individual engagement, the learner’s age and motivation (even “gender” – yes, girls do generally kick ass in the right environment), and the amount of study and exposure outside the classroom – in addition to the quality of TEACHing (we sometimes forget this one) …and how many iTunes downloads a student clocks up each week!

Many ELL professionals, for example, think it’s a total waste of time to even try and run a “time and motion study” on language LEARNing.

Afterall, it’s the “quality” rather than the “quantity” of hours that matter…isn’t it?

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So, what do we “know”:

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GLHs (Hocam post)

Yep, that bloody acronym…again!

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I really, really, really have my doubts about the recommended GLHs for C2 – most higher-level learners do not get to this level based on classroom GLHs alone (“talent” is a key factor, as is extended contact with native speaker-like environments – ….or taking a “spouse”…)!

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C2 Level (Hocam Post)

Also, the right kind of “interest” or “engagement” is soooooooo importantmy wife has been an EL learner for 27 years (her first “second” language was French) and I do not think she would mind if I said she would probably struggle in a more “academic”  ELL environment – she would, however, wipe the floor with most native speakers on matters of a spiritual nature, reconnective healing, and…counselling workaholic EDUcators!

But, that’s for another post…

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For many hazırlık centres or “prep schools” at university level in Turkey the distinction between B2 and B1 is of more interest. This is because, in terms of the CEFR, most Turkish universities have selected a hazırlık “exit requirement somewhere between B2 and B1.

We see this more clearly when we look at IELTS equivalencies for these CEFR levels – somewhere between IELTS band 4.5 and 6.5 for those of you more familiar with IELTS.

Yes, you heard me…there are some “bodies” here in canım Türkiyem that believe that a student with a Band 5.0 in IELTS…can go onto a full-time, English-medium…undergraduate programme!

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Handle the truth

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BUT, maybe we should just avoid talking about IELTS…for now!

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You know me sooooo well!

I never did listen to my lawyers that much…

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Most “hazırlık centres” in Turkey are still to define their programmes and progression systems in terms of CEFR (the labels, we use…at least!) – TOEFL scores or IELTS bands are the more common form of currency when discussing what it takes to “graduate” from hazırlık into “freshman year”.

Top ranking universities in the UK currently all require an IELTS band of 7.0 and other “respectable” UK universities ask for an IELTS band of 6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in each module) for international students applying to their undergraduate programmes. These universities will also accept a band 5.5 for entry onto their “foundation programmes” – …the equivalent to hazırlık.

If you want to live in Australia (forEVER – …speak to my wife before you do that!), you have to make sure you have an IELTS band of 7.0 – remember this!

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However, let me introduce you to my little friend:

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Gladwell

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Yeah, I know some (very smart) buggers have been having a dig at Malcolm Amcaof late!

But, you know what, I like this 10K thunk of “his” (…and Anders Enişte).

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I was going to do an analysis of the 10,000 hour “rule” for ELL – but someone beat me to it…someone I love to bits!

Sarah Eaton, a wonderful ELL Consultant from Canada – and…

…fellow “Jedi blogger

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I have mentioned Sarah a fair few times on allthingslearning – and she has often extended more than a helping hand to little ‘ole moi with my bouts of bloggery!

Sarah did a great paper on the time required to become “an ELL expert” – and published a version on her own blog (Literacy, Languages and Leadership).

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In her paper, she suggested a number of “scenarios” (you know how I loves me “mini-cases”):

Scenarios (no years)

Now, I know we ELL professionals are not that well-known for our “math skills” (I hate that my English is being “corrupted” by those guys “across the pond”)!

BUT, get your calculator out…NOW!

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Bet you didn’t!

The calculator thingy…that is.

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Scenarios (years)

Bet you (real “cash” money…this time!)…you are thunking something like this

Expletive (one)

…right now!

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I got thunking to meselfwhat if we did this for our hazırlık schools…here in canım Türkiyem!

I did, you know!

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Here goes!

This is what you WILL thunktrust meI’m a TEACHer:

Expletive (four)

Don’t believe me?

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Hazırlık (01)8

Told you so!

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The solution?

Well, I guess we need to look at our tried and tested quality / improvement strategyyou know the one, çoçuklar:

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ELT Strategy

Yeah…right! Worked in the past…YES?

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Let’s crunch the numbers…with a calculator!

Double the number of contact hours (sorry, GHLs!)…and…let’s throw in a “summer school” – why not!

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Hazırlık (02)

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You know what I am thunking, YES?

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Expletive (sixteen)

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YOU, too?

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Ask the studentsgo on, I dare you!

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Expletive (too many to count)

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So….what is the answer…Tony Paşa?

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Scroll up!

Yes, UP!

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What do my dogs say!

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