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English Teacher X

I wanted to travel the world and meet interesting people. Instead, I became an English teacher abroad. . .

Updated: 2018-04-21T12:43:52.171+03:00


The End


Fifteen years ago, on or about February 1st, 2003, I sat in my cruddy but beloved apartment in Samara, Russia and used a battered Pentium 1 desktop given to me by a student to make the first posts on an Angelfire website, marking the beginning of the English Teacher X website.And for fifteen years I chronicled my observations of life as I saw it, from the twisted surrealist vantage point of an expat abroad, in a world that changed tremendously during that period of time, from the first optimistic bursts of globalism to its current last wheezing gasps. So now it is with some regret that I must announce:This is the last blog post I will make.  Why? Well, the question is more, "Why not?"Fifteen years is a long time to do anything, much less write the same blog. I've been running out of steam for a while now, obviously; not just because I'm getting older, but because I've already said everything I wanted to say. Not everything I've got to say, perhaps, but everything I wanted to say. Anything else I said would likely just be a variation on what has come before. I thought for a long time about how I wanted to end it. I could end with a sick joke; a hoax suicide, for example. I thought maybe in the spirit of keeping the blog a comedy, I would end it when I married the Girlfriend.  I thought about turning the blog over to somebody else -- Crazy Bob, for example -- or opening it to "guest posts" from anybody.But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that English Teacher X just had to vanish into the night and the fog.  allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">I'm uncomfortable with the internet now. (And perhaps with life in general.) It's a strange humorless place now, where everyone has a strident political agenda; Nazis on one side and on the other a world where everybody eats avocado toast and never say anything offensive. There's little place for lumbering dinosaurs like myself to air my private parts. allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">So what will become of X? Well, look around you. He might be anywhere. He might be that drunk angry guy teaching in the next office, stinking and red-faced. He might be that happily married, quiet fellow with the foreign wife and the cute kid.  allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Maybe he went out in a blaze of glory, some kind of balls to the wall orgy of drugs and sex and hate.  allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Maybe his foreign hosts finally hunted him down and destroyed him.  allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Maybe he became the quiet old guy living with his cats, always meek and polite before dying quietly with the kitties licking his face.  allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Maybe he's all of those, or none, but one thing is for sure ... English Teacher X abides. English Teacher X will be teaching, here, there and everywhere, and this blog will stay here, an eternal monument to all those moments in time that would otherwise be lost in the rain.   allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">I won't be answering e-mail at the yahoo address; it became overwhelmed with spam. You can leave messages for me here, I might answer them. Goodbye folks. I sincerely thank you for reading.Be careful out there!   allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen=""[...]

Edumacation: The Year in Review


I always wanted to be an astronaut.When I was 12 or 13, however, the unlikeliness of that began to make itself apparent. I wasn't nearly hard-working enough, and I wasn't particularly good at math or science. Then the Challenger space shuttle exploded in 1986, putting that option even further away.I wasn't sure what I wanted to be instead, but I did know two jobs that I felt I was very unsuited for, and would not enjoy doing:Police officer, and teacher.Those jobs required a strong combination of sadism and masochism, I thought. They needed to sacrifice a lot to serve the community, but they also probably needed to take a sick delight in forcing people to follow the rules.I think about that a lot now.This school I work at, a branded "international curriculum" boarding school, probably started up with the best of intentions. They probably thought that the hardworking kids of the wealthy would flock here as they readied themselves to go study abroad for college.What they found, however, was that there was tremendous demand for a place with no admission requirements or strict academic standards where parents could drop their unruly, disrespectful offspring and never have to worry about them again.This school is extremely expensive, situated a short drive from the capital and Tianjin, two of the largest and wealthiest cities in China. All the kids were born in the years since 2000, when China began its meteoric ascent to the rank of global economic leader and superpower. These kids were raised in a kind of luxury, and with a freedom and an access to information, that their grandparents could only dream about.So what went wrong? allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="560">I got a bit of a dressing-down from my manager for referring to the kids as "feral" but that's actually one of the kinder descriptions of them I can think of. Even most of our good students are utterly lacking in boundaries and self-control. If they feel like smacking somebody, or hugging them, or scratching their crotch, or shouting an obscenity, they don't even hesitate. I have to micro-manage virtually every aspect of their behavior; most of them wouldn't even bring their books to class unless they were rewarded or punished for it in some way, much less do their homework or classwork.(I use Class Dojo for this. I reward good behavior with videos at the end of class, and bad behavior with standing or lunch-time detentions.) allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="560">A few highlights of the last year and a half:- students shouting "shit" "fuck" and "bitch" in class, or saying "fuck you" to me, or flipping me off -- this happens nearly once a week, sometimes twice- a level of hallway rough-housing and bullying so intense that many students would ask us if they could hide in the teachers' room- used condoms being discovered in a science lab- students frequently insulting how "black" other students are, or how "gay," usually to their faces- a student who simply slept through every class, and when anybody tried to wake him, he would scream at them to leave him alone; apparently he would stay up all night playing games on his phone. At a parent teacher conference, his meek, timid mother tearfully told us he behaved the same way at home and she had no idea what to do about it.- another student who got in so many fights with other students that the administration attempted to send him home for a month -- only to be told by his parents that they didn't want him back, because they were frightened of his temper. He ended up having to sit alone in a room all day for a month.- a student who began crying hysterically and slapping himself in the face after a comment from another student- several students decided it might be fun to crawl though open windows at lunch-time and use the ledge to walk to another classroom -- on the 2nd floor.Now[...]

Profiles in ESL Teaching: Aunt Peg, the TEFL MILF


We can all agree that sex is pleasurable, right?

So one kind of wonders why when you look at the ranks of people who fuck a lot, you tend to see a lot very unhappy folks, and folks who die young.

But if we're looking for examples of a person who led a long fulfilling life yet fucked around a lot, and also taught ESL at a few points, we can look to charming, lovely, no-nonsense "Aunt Peg."

By Photo courtesy of, used with permission (see here) - specifically, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Juliet Anderson was 38 years old in the late 70s when she made a name for herself in the Golden Age of Porn as the first "MILF" type with her "Aunt Peg" persona. (Although in those days, there were plenty of women over the age of 30 in porn, whereas now being 22 makes you an old bag.)

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Prior to that she worked a variety of jobs, including teaching ESL in Japan, Sweden, Greece, and Mexico. She started teaching English while living in Japan with her American lover, who was in the Navy.  She went in and out of porn throughout her adult life, as a performer and producer, but also working as a sex therapist and relationship counselor as well as running a guest house and doing child and elder care, while also doing live stage shows that combined burlesque, dance, and comedy.

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She, by all accounts, remained a "sex positive" person throughout, even while occasionally admitting to getting burned out on the creation of porn movies. She says she never once faked an orgasm on a porn film, even in the days of bright lights, boom mikes, pauses to change film canisters, and huge crews. Sex for her, you see, and the "healing power of touch" became her antidote for the Crohn's disease she suffered from, and a childhood in which she spent undue amounts of time alone in the hospital.

Loving tribute to "Aunt Peg" on Cinema Retro

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There were giants in the earth in those days ...

She died in January, 2010, aged 71, and with that the world lost a gracious and classy lady. RIP, TEFL MILF Aunt Peg.



Seems like pretty much everyone I know is despairing about the state of the world and the future now.

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Perhaps it's just the company I keep, but the internet would tend to support this general sense of doom and gloom.

But one does need to keep things in perspective.

I'm 48 and a half; the global events in and around my life haven't been entirely pleasant , including standouts such as the Vietnam and Afghan wars, September 11, the Ethiopian famine, and so forth.

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But let's take a look at the first 50 years of the 20th century.

Let's see, we had:

  • World War I (a war of unprecedented destruction which also completely re-drew Europe)
  • The 1918 flu pandemic that killed 3-5 percent of the global population
  • The terrifying environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl
  • The Great Depression
  • Hitler, World War II, and the Holocaust
  • The rise of Stalin with his Purges and engineered famines that also killed millions. 
During that period we had presidents such as Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, who with the Teapot Dome Scandal, are generally considered among the worst.

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So, THOSE were some rough years. The nearly half-century of my life has been a comparative cakewalk, and of course that worst thing that has happened to me personally is like, losing my sunglasses in the Galopogas Islands or something.

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Russia Town


So you go out of the South Gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing, and you turn left. Walk straight for about 45 minutes towards Ritan Park, and something strange starts to happen.You start to see signs in Russian.As the signs grow more fequent, you'll begin to see white older women with purple hair and leopard skin tops, and burly grey-haired older dudes with gold chains and man-purses and take-no-shit glares.You've just walked into Russia Town.The Russians you see will rarely be the hip 21st century kind; they'll be rough provincial ones, and in fact you'll often see Kazakhs, Tajiks, and Uzbeks there. This area - basically a couple of blocks surrounding Ritan Park -- is the last gasping remnant of an area of Beijing that has subsisted since the 80s and 90s, when China was one of the few places that Russian tourists could easily visit, and Russian tourists were usually looking for an angle to make a profit on.There are a handful of Russian, Georgian, and Ukrainian restaurants there, and some big shopping centers that cater to a clientele of people who are usually buying large amounts of clothing wholesale, usually to take back to remote areas to sell at outdoor markets or small shops. Appropriately, there are a number of cargo and shipping agencies also, and two hotels full of Russians, Tajiks, and Kazakhs. One of the hotels is cheap (where I occasionally stay) and one is expensive (where I stayed once, with the Girlfriend.) The shady Chocolate Nightclub offers a Russian dance show full of saucy babes, if you're down for a night at a clip joint.Don't eat at this one, it kind of sucked. There was colorful, moldy, delapidated old-style covered market nearby, quaintly labelled the "alien's market" that sold various kind of cheap made-in-China geegaws -- phone cases, suitcases, sunglasses, as well as green tea and such, but that closed last year.The big wholesale shopping places down there will probably close next; that kind of informal import-export  paradigm is dying out, of course. "We'll go to China and buy some jeans for $10 and bring them home and sell them in the parking lot for $15!" is definitely a sad waning echo of the 90s and early 00s. Online retailers like AliBaba will deliver direct to the Russian rinok, these days, and soon those will be closed too, even in places like small-town Siberia.So, while it lasts, enjoy it. Go to Ritan Park on a nice evening and watch the tai-chi and kung-fu enthusiasts working out there and then stroll around the area, and maybe you'll even spy a hot young Russian babe. Have a nice bowl of borscht and a beer and some brown bread, and enjoy a present which is, as ever, rapidly fading into the past.[...]

Serious Moonlight: A Footnote to the Last Crazy Bob Story


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Reform School X


Who would have thought I'd grow up and begin to understand the perspective of this guy?

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Well at age 48, here at the international school in somewhat-outside-of-Beijing China, I finally do.

I finally get it.

The school here has begun to decide on its direction. Unlike last year, when it was basically a warehouse for rich kids, it is now leaning into its role as a genuine reform school.

Lunch time detentions. Monitored evening study. Uniform inspections. Phones only available one hour a day. They stand up and sit down at the beginning and end of class while we inspect them and take away their water bottles, toys, head phones, stuffed animals, etc.

As mentioned, we're dealing with all the lost souls who got kicked out of the Chinese state schools -- and that includes not just generally bad students, but autistics, people with special learning needs, and general eccentrics and weirdos.

I came to this job thinking it would be a good springboard into international curriculum schools, but now I'm kind of wondering exactly why I thought that would be a good idea.

Do I really want to spend the last decade of my working career trying to teach spoiled rich kids not to throw tissue on the floor or put their feet on the desks?

I mean of course the only other real option to make a decent salary is Saudi, and while they're equally careless and indifferent, I don't think I got quite so much hostility there. Nobody ever told me to fuck off or flipped me off there, but they do here quite often.

So I begin to understand the evil teachers and principals from the comedies of the 80s. I really do.

How long until I'm doing ,,, this?

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(He mentions his salary of $31,000 a year, which in 2017 dollars would equal about $72,000 -- which is about 20,000 a year more than I'm clearing here.)

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But then again ... I'm in detention too ... for my many sins ... and I'm just getting paid for it.

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The Last Crazy Bob Story (Or: The Stench; Or: Are You There God, It's Me, English Teacher X)


Time: six weeks agoPlace: The island of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Bob was sufficiently horrified by this event that he's begun to talk about going straight and giving up the lowlife.  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[...]

My Definitive Guide to Making Money from Blogging and E-Book Publishing


I've been blogging for nearly 15 (!) years now, and I confess I still don't understand a damn thing about stats, traffic, or making money from the whole venture.I have never had advertising or affiliate links on the website, and I've never really done much to advertise it. I posted some sort of viral advertising joke links on Dave's ESL cafe back in about 2002 - 2005, but since then have done practically nothing, yet traffic rose steadily even after I moved to Saudi in 2009. (Probably mainly thanks to frequent mentions of my work on some popular PUA and Manosphere sites.) I only very, very occasionally comment on other people's blogs, and I don't think I've done that at all since about 2014, yet in 2016, when my blog postings started to level off to once a month rather than every 5 days, I suddenly got an enormous spike in traffic: Yet I never saw myself mentioned anywhere, except for a few disdainful mentions of me on Reddit. Even those "manosphere" guys had lost interest at that point and thoroughly disowned me. (Thank God.)I have self-published English Teacher X books on Amazon since 2011, and those made some money. The biggest years for those was probably 2012 - 2014, when I was making maybe $300 - $400 a month from them, but then sales in the last couple of year have fallen off to maybe $50 a month, if that.And then the last couple of months, when, as we see, my blog traffic has fallen off tremendously, there has been a sudden mysterious increase in my book sales. I made about $100 off ETX books last month and seem on course for about $200 this month, if not more.Why?Fuck knows! I'm still completely out to sea on all this. Why do people buy them now? And why did people buy them then? The first book is increasingly irrelevant in the world of modern English teaching, and the book about Russia is now EIGHT years past happening, yet it's already sold 10 copies this month. (Up from 6 for the entire month of June, for example.)I'd been meaning to re-edit them, improve the formatting, and update the covers, but I've been very busy with this job, my dad, and studying for a Master's degree, and never got around to it.So why?You tell me!I still write porn, and I'll update about that soon, and I'm only a little more knowledgeable about that. I always made at least 2 - 3 times more money doing that, of course. I'm glad people buy the ETX books though, and generally seem to like them, and in honor of International Teacher's Day: available FREE on Smashwords, until further noticeThe collection of my first three books about English teaching, now available for $1.99 on Amazon.  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Next week: Crazy Bob's Disgusting Sex Story from Indonesia, probably. He's almost broken down. [...]

On Top of the Mountain All Covered in Shit


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That is the top of Mt. Rijani, in Lombok, Indonesa.

What you don't see is all the shit up there, left by the dozens and dozens of trekkers who make the hike up to the crater rim in the busy tourist seasons.

You also can't see me and Crazy Bob, although we were there. That was me holding the phone.

I'm 48; Bob is almost 37. We were at least 10-15 years older than most of the people up there, but we did it.

So that was the admirable, above-board part of the holiday.

The four days previous to that, we spent on Gili Trawangan, which seems to be the current destination of choice for the stylish, good-looking young backpackers. (I had been doubting they still existed, but there they were.)

Here, we were maybe 15 - 20 years older than most of the people, but we did it; we drank beer, hung out at beach bars, took mushrooms, all that.

And of course, Bob had a perfectly repulsive sexual experience, leading to one of our better Disgusting Bar Conversations.

Bob was enthusiastic about it at first; he greeted me with, "You're probably going to want to blog about this."

But as we hiked the mountain and he considered it, he began to feel more rueful.

First, he voiced concern that I only portray him as a guy who fucks ugly and fat chicks.

"I think you should let people know that Bob has sex with good-looking women, and not just occasionally. And not just whores and fat chicks."

"I'll put that in," I promised.

Then the day I left, he sent me a text message.

"I'm having some strong reservations about Bob featured in such a truly low (his actual nadir) circumstance. Perhaps Bob should just discuss this even as a repulsive hypothetical possibility. The sheer grossness of it is almost overwhelming."

"Bob, we owe it to the public. I can put up a donation button on it, perhaps." I retorted.

He wasn't convinced. "I think the public can be sated in less revolting ways."

This might well be one of the last Crazy Bob stories; we're both getting older. I might stop blogging soon. He might die, or reform and stop doing gross shit.

So I leave it to you, all of you out there.

Raise your voices as one to the heavens, just like at the end of Peter Pan where he wants everyone to say that they believe in fairies.

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Shout it out loud, in the comments section: WE WANT TO HEAR IT BOB! YOU'RE OUR FAVORITE THING! WE BELIEVE IN YOU!

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Bar nothin' ...

Human Weakness


I'm in Bangkok for a couple of days, prior to flying to Bali for the last part of my summer holiday.

I was all set last night to get drunk and head down to Nana Plaza and bang a whore, something that I almost always enjoy.

But I slipped.

I mean, I was jetlagged, okay. It was raining a bit.

So I stayed in ...

 ... and played video games.

But at least I didn't do any porn, okay? At least I didn't do any porn.

I still woke up feeling pretty ashamed, though.

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For the last few years, my worst compulsions are video games and porn.

I know, right? What can I say?

I've been under a fair bit of stress the last couple years, mainly having to participate quite a lot in taking care of my Parkinson's-stricken father, as well as doing a master's degree.

But instead of popping prescription pills and eating a lot, like most Americans
my age, I'm on porn and video games.

The porn is the worst; I'll write about that in another entry. Suffice it to say I'm now one month porn-free, and feeling fairly proud of myself.

Now, the video games; bascially it's only one, the survival game Don't Starve, and I don't think I ever play for more than an hour or two at a time. So I"m not nearly as bad as a lot of people with that shit. But still, it's one of my first "go to"s when I'm feeling stressed.

I'm hardly completely sober; I drink on occasion, but in general it just makes me feel like shit and I don't enjoy it much. On the rare occasion I go out to bars, I'm usually bored and irritated. My colleagues at the last two positions have invited me out quite often; I rarely envy them when they come to work hungover with lost phones and black eyes. (How many black eyes and lost phones can a guy have in a life?)

I mean really, though, if you're going to have addictions, porn and video games are pretty good ones. They're cheap, not all that bad for your health, and easy to maintain. (But that makes them harder to kick, of course.)

So that's the state of my weakness at this moment.

I mean, you don't choose your compulsions, right? They choose you.

I'm working on it though, man, I'm working on it.

GF Update


All right since everybody seems to be dying to hear it:

Yes, I am still with the Girlfriend, she has come to China several times.

After seeing all the difficulties at the school I work at, however, she is not very enthusiastic about leaving her job and moving there. (Teachers for the new semester are making sometimes half the salary that I'm making.) Plus her mother and grandmother need some support in Russia.

She wants me to come back to Russia; there are international schools in Russia, mainly in St. Petersburg and Moscow, that pay a decent wage in the usual international school bracket of $3000 - $5000 USD a month, but currently my qualifications aren't quite there.

(There's basically no way I would go back to working in chain language schools and I've never liked doing private lessons, though it can pay well.)

Failing that, she suggests I buy an apartment in Russia (they can be had in the $40,000 range) and just live with her on the holidays while working in Saudi until I can retire.

Russia in general is completely different than it was when I was there, and people who think you could just over there now and effortlessly bang a bunch of hot chicks, or even easily find a nice normal girlfriend, probably have their heads up their asses. Girls I know who used to be ardent sluts and English groupies now spend a lot of time posting angry things on Russian social media about Syria, America, and the values of patriotism, sobriety, family, and nationalism.

Russia has some advantages beyond sluts, of course -- history, some nice albeit cold natural attractions, and currently a low cost of living if you have dollars.

I think of moving back to Russia, though, and it just gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. Whether it's just that I dislike jingoism or it just makes me think of endless drunkenness and hangovers, I'm not entirely sure.

But I spent a lot of time there, and it was cold and dark, dark, dark . . .

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Most young people, of course, think of themselves as both immortal and indestructible.Even into their 20s and 30s, many people feel that by sheer force of will they can somehow hold off the physical, social, and psychological effects of aging.Hell, I myself, described by one friend as a "Peter Pan motherfucker" entered my 40s with that belief, in light of the tremendous improvements in my health that accompanied drinking less and sleeping more and (probably) the heat-shock proteins of the warmer climates I was living in. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">I turned 48 recently, however, and let me tell you, by that age, you realize you can't avoid it, and that you are getting old, and getting old fast. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Each minute bursts in the burning room,   The great globe reels in the solar fire,   Spinning the trivial and unique away. (How all things flash! How all things flare!)   What am I now that I was then?   May memory restore again and again   The smallest color of the smallest day:   Time is the school in which we learn,   Time is the fire in which we burn.-- Delmore Schwartz, Calmly We Walk Through This April Day(The whole poem is here, "Calmy We Walk Through This April Day.)My hair has been greying for years (although it's still mostly brown) but it's also now starting to thin at the top in a Nicholas Cage sort of way: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Mainly in the last year it's been my eyes; I now need reading glasses. That certainly makes a body feel old. As I said in a Tweet long ago, you know you're too old for the club when you need reading classes to see the menu My knees are starting to bug me; I have had problems with both shoulder impingements and plantar fascitis (pain in the feet) in the last year, although massage and specific exercises are helping them.I'm currently in Thailand; a week here and then 2 weeks in America, where my father has just moved into his own apartment, mainly so he'll have more money to spend on pizza and porn and pay-per-view UFC. He also didn't like the assisted living place because he felt everybody there was too old. Mainly true, as most of them were in their 80s and 90s and he's a mere lad of 77.After that, I have a trip to Indonesia planned with Crazy Bob; we got it into our heads we needed to do a volcano jungle hike.I'll let you know if we survive. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[...]

The Saudis vs. the Chinese


I was hoping for a 180 degree switch from the difficult Saudi students I had, but that was not to be. There are a lot of similarities between the Saudis I taught for 5 or 6 years and the Chinese kids I teach now.

There are a couple of big similarities:

1. Highly motivated not to study -- The students I've taught in both places are or were not there by choice; their families sent them there. The Saudis were 18 - 24 or so, the Chinese kids I teach now are 12 - 15, but they're at a similar level of maturity, and don't see that anything they do now will much affect their future. Students in both cases would spend a lot more time and energy trying to cheat, copy, or distract the teacher with various ruses than if they actually just did whatever meager work is assigned them.

2. Utterly sick and exhausted -- In both cases, I'm teaching kids who are living away from home for the first time, and are completely unused to taking care of themselves. In addition to being homesick, both groups will generally stay up all night playing video games and shitting around on their phones, and eat nothing except junk food if allowed. Therefore, keeping them awake during class is one of the biggest tasks.

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The big difference however, is:

Chinese kids are really emotionally needy.

 This is exhausting me far more than the rowdy, disrespectful ones. Most of these Chinese kids rarely see their parents and got very little attention from them, and come across as very neglected. Showing them some kindness gets them following you around like puppies and trying to hug you every morning and things like that.

The Saudis all came from huge families and (if nothing else) had a tremendous sense of community and national identity; they surprised me with their confidence and, all things considered, seemed to be pretty well-adjusted.

These Chinese kids, however ... well, I'm pretty sure the term "basket case'" is not politically correct but I can't think of another one. Autism spectrum, ADHD, and dyslexia are just three things the Chinese school system doesn't seem to believe in, so those kids get kicked out or fail out of the state schools and then -- if they have the money -- end up in places like this, one of the international curriculum schools that actually have very few international students.

I compared this school to a reform school in the last post, but maybe it's more fair to call it something like the Island of Misfit Toys.

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Anyway, summer vacation starts next week, and I'm planning to come back in September for the next school year to finish the 2-year contract.

That's the plan, anyway ...

TEFLpocolypse 2017: Two Shits and a Fuck You


As I finish the first year of my contract, the future is still precarious here in China.Last week was a tough week; I got a "fuck you" from one student and two "shits" from another one. The "fuck you" was from a fairly typical kid here -- actually pretty smart, but huge and weird looking and uninterested in absoultely anything other than watching movies in English. He never completed any of his class assignments and skipped half the tests, and his grade point average was about 25.The admininstration was actually going to punish him severely but he fooled everyone -- his parents were shipping him off to Australia that very week. I think we can safely say he had the last word.The other one was a little girl of 12 who looks 8 and frequently rubs her crotch when bored. Many of our students refuse to sit next to her. She never completes any of her class assignments or tests, just copying what she can and leaving the rest blank.Actually, the kids have made a lot of progress this year. We've mostly stopped them from banging each other's heads against the wall, anyway.See, where I work is bascially kind of a reform school, an expensive boarding school with no particular entrance requirements, populated mainly by rich kids whose parents can't or don't want to deal with them. Very few of them care about making good marks, I suppose on the grounds that they are already rich and they will continue to move up through the grades regardless as long as their parents keep paying.As if all that weren't enough to make me doubt whether the job is worth the hassles, there are various administrative problems. Quite a few of the teachers I work with -- way more than half, about 75 percent -- aren't returning after summer. Some weren't offered new contracts; others are just leaving. A couple that were offered new contracts found they included more work hours and less holiday time,  different insurance, and no increase in salary. One guy who was promised a contract suddenly found the offer rescinded at the last minute. By all accounts, admin is paring down the staff to a skeleton crew.Now, I like China -- this is being written in a hotel room in Shanghai with the above view.  But is it worth it? I have contracts from the two colleges in Saudi I applied for back in 2015 waiting for me in America -- I guess the Mideat hiring freeze is over. (It's about the same salary as I make here, though.)This job, however, is my foot in the door into the world of 'international schools' -- many of which are equally shoddy and not especially 'international' but there are a lot of them, in many countries, and the pay is usually good.  I'll have my Master's in Education finished next year and I can get more international school qualifications, like the IB, in Beijing while I finish up the second year of this contract.Saudi just leads to more Saudi, of course, in general.Once again, X is isolated and uncertain.So what else is new? allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[...]

Baby Baby Baby


You know what my overwhelming impression of the expat scene in Beijing is? Baby carriages. I don't actually live in Beijing, I live an hour or so away, but I visit frequently. As I write this I'm having breakfast in a popular expat breakfast nook. There are about nine tables occupied by expats; five of them are couples with small children. And I'm talking young-ish expat couples -- Americans, Italians, and Russians by the sound -- not a Chinese wife nor a bloated former whoremonger father in the bunch.This trend is also in view at my workplace; most of my colleagues are married and have young children or babies, and only a couple of them are married to Chinese women. (The ones that are married to Chinese women tend to be married to ethnic Chinese raised in a western country.)There are some former hellraisers in the bunch, guys who have been in China a long time, and they talk about the old days with me over quiet after-work drinks. The usual stories: "Whores and English groupies everywhere." "Drunk every night." "All the teachers were bedraggled old whoremongers or young dudes on the prowl." "Our salaries were low but everything was dirt cheap."And then around 2009, 2010, 2011, things changed, they tell me. Also a familiar story -- it became harder to get Chinese work visas without qualifications, while more and more qualified non-alcoholic teachers poured into Chinese international schools as it became harder to earn a good living teaching in America, England, and Australia. The cheap and cheerful and boozy hutongs were bulldozed and replaced with shops and malls and modern apartment blocks.Of course, I am now viewing the world through middle-aged goggles, and the amount of time I've spent studying for my Master's Degree in Education has limited my going out, but as I walk around, what do I see?Baby carriages and healthy sober good-looking young couples.And they are untroubled by the ghosts of the drunken old whoremongers and off-the-rails young party dudes.But where did they go, the ones who couldn't or wouldn't sober up? What country do they hide in? The lucky ones who have pensions probably retired to Thailand (which, when I visited in February, looks to be turning into the world's largest retirement home.)And the others? Probably working out in the sticks someplace, away from major cities where there are a lot of expats.But what will the boozy  whoremongers do in a bold new world without booze and whores? allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[...]

Self Help


They had plenty of self-help books when I was a kid, but I sure didn't know about them.The modern era of self-help probably started with Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1934, although books about how to improve your outlook date all the way back to the ancient Greek philosophers.But me, I read Stephen King novels and comic books, mainly. Around the time I hit my early teens, I was aware I wasn't particularly happy with myself. I was a bit pudgy, had bad skin, braces, and was moody and unfriendly.There were no good role models around me. I lived in small-town Southern America. People were fat but had great teeth, or they were dumb jocks. I considered them phonies at worst, completely ignorant at best. (My father was mostly absent, spending most of his time working in Brazil during my formative years.) There was no internet then. And only 3 television channels. I was aware that books were the place to look for answers, so I began poking around them for tips for betterment. Superheroes in the comic books weren't much help; they generally got their powers through accidents, being born different, or after being motivated by some horrific tragedy. I looked elsewhere, and found inspiration in men's adventure books.Now, really, they weren't much more realistic than the super hero comics. They tended to feature lone men battling the mafia, terrorists, or both, while living by their own codes. Tough, independent, and occasionally outright assholes, they nonetheless captured my imagination.They traveled widely, banged a lot of hot babes, and fought evil. What's not to like?You need to be more like these guys, I thought.Well, I never got around to fighting evil, but otherwise, I didn't do too bad.From this book, I got an exercise routine that I liked. My dad lifted weights, but I disliked it then and I dislike it now. Hawker used a bodyweight workout, which I considered another sign of how awesomely independent he was. He didn't need no stupid gym.Now this one, I actually was inspired by the bad guy, who was an assassin called Vancouver. He was so awesome he lived alone on an island in the Philippines, where he had actually put a price on his own head so that the local natives would try to kill him constantly, giving him lethal opportunities to work out on them. (The first scene has him killing three of the local natives, who are of course pygmies, and he does it while blindfolded.)Well, this badass only drank water. That was mentioned specifically; he only drank water.Being as there was no way to put a price on my own head, I started drinking only water.My skin cleared up and I lost weight; prior to that, like most early 80s kids, I'd drunk about a liter of Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper per day.It was a fucking revelation, I tell you. I felt a lot better just from that.Anyway, sadly, I eventually fell under the influence of the anti-self-help masters, like Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson, but I still traveled a lot and banged a lot of babes, though I've still never gotten around to fighting any evil.Maybe one of these days, huh? allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[...]

TEFLpocolypse: Endgame


There's a story -- most likely not accurate -- that the early indigenous people, when they first saw the boats of the Europeans crawling over the horizon, simply couldn't see them. Their brains just didn't register something so far out of their experience and frame of reference. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">(Perhaps they were just choosing not to swallow the red pill, eh?)Now that's probably crap, of course. This article suggests they were too busy surviving to react until the explorers got close enough to deal with, for example.Most certainly, even if they saw the ships, they had no idea they were the beginning of the end of their civilization.Now, I think of that whenever I look at my smart phone. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">The end of my job, and most jobs, as we know them, is just sitting there in our pockets.I visited the city of Xi'an last week during a long weekend, to see the Terracotta Warriors. See, the emperor thought he could take his army with him to the other side, in the form of 8000 clay statues, but little did he know their heads would fall off and they'd just end up a tourist attraction.Xi'an is not a very cosmopolitan place, and few people speak English; but that doesn't mean a damn thing anymore, because their phones do. Taxi drivers, hotel employees, restaurant personnel -- they all talked to us with their smart phones. There are apps now that not only instantly translate text, but translate voice to text (and vice versa) and can scan a word and change it to spoken or written Chinese. And not just crude sentences of a few mangled words, either -- our taxi driver managed to bark a few gruff words of Chinese into his phone and have it produce, "Shall we return to the hotel now?" in a beautiful British accent. I mean, of course, most jobs will be eliminated in the very near future by software and robots anyway. Porn and masturbation robots will even eliminate the need for the world's oldest profession. In a world where you can buy a Scarlett Johansen robot for $50,000, who needs humans anyway?   allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[...]

They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha


Instant Message conversation:  

 Crazy Bob: So i ask you, X, if someone had told you in 1976 that you would be living in X place in 30, 40 years would you have greeted the news with wonder and awe?

ETX: I would have said, "You mean I don't lose my mind and live in a cardboard box? Far out!"  

So, how many people -- colleagues or former colleagues -- do you know who are in mental institutions, or recently released from mental institutions?

I know three.

Is that a lot?

I don't know.

I'm 47 years old, and have worked with dozens of people, probably hundreds at this point, so maybe it's not that strange that three people on my Facebook feed are institutionalized.

(Not close friends, incidentally, just former colleagues.)

 According to statistics, about 1 in 5 people in America experience serious mental illness in their life. The percentage of people who end up institutionalized is harder to figure, because many end up in jail instead.

Of course I know a tremendous number of people who are barely clinging to sanity, but three of 'em, well, they just couldn't fake it anymore.

(Crazy Bob is still pretty crazy but he's having some health problems that have slowed him down a little.)

I have long postulated that crazy people are drawn to the TEFL lifestyle.

But the world being what it is these days, maybe it's no longer a good place for crazy people to hide.

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TEFLpocolypse 2017: Take Shelter


It almost seemed too good to be true, this contract in China, considering the ongoing TEFLpocolypse.I was offered a job with barely a ten minute interview, there were no particular hassles about my qualifications, and the terms are pretty much equal to my first job in Saudi -- $4000 a month plus accommodation and 3 months paid vacation time. Almost too good to be true, and turns out it kind of was. Two of my colleagues were up for contract renewals recently, and this week found out they wouldn't be offered new contracts. There are perfectly good teachers with qualifications, who are in China with spouses and kids.  Now they're scrambling to find jobs. Word is that the school is going to be hiring more bilingual Chinese teachers next year, and the contracts for international teachers will involve about 20 percent more teaching and 20 percent less salary. The rumors are flying around the office, of course. Private international schools are being legislated against, and there's a story that it will now be impossible for a foreigner to work in Beijing for more than 5 years. (I can't find any immediate confirmation of that online.)  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">This is definitely one of the hardest jobs I've had, in terms of the students. Everything I'd ever heard about Chinese kids -- that they were respectful, orderly, studious, quiet, and well-behaved -- is absolutely incorrect here. Management is a wreck; pretty much every single management position was vacated at Christmas, and new people are struggling to figure out what's going on. Something like a half-dozen teachers left at Christmas, fed up with the terrible students, inconsistent management, and the isolated location. (We're in a new development an hour from Beijing, basically in a construction zone, so most of the teachers had spotty internet service and constant noise. I'm at the front of the compound so haven't suffered that much, and truthfully most of the ones that left were people with a lot of experience teaching back home but not much time abroad, ergo had unreasonable expectations. Like civilization and stuff.) But after a rocky start and a conflict with the dotty old lady who was my immediate superior, who also left at Christmas, I;m actually kind of enjoying teaching the spoiled, neglected little shits now. I use to train them like Pavlov dogs, and it works a treat. Still it seems this job won't last more than the 2 year contract I have now, ending summer of 2018. My teaching philosophy nowadays is basically "take the money and run" anyway. X remains if not fearless, than at least resigned, in the face of a profession, and a world, that is rapidly burning to the ground.  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">"The world is not the same as it was. Mutants ... they're gone now."[...]

X at the Shaolin Temple


We had a one-week holiday the first week of October, only about five weeks after I started this job near Beijing, China.I went to the Shaolin Temple.Of course.Yeah, a few tourists, sure. It's not too difficult to get there from Beijing; about 3 hours on the high-speed train to Zhengzhou, and then a bus to Dengfeng and a taxi to the Shaolin Temple. (Unfortunately this was during a Chinese national holiday, which means the better part of a billion and a half people were on the move, so the 1.5 hour trip from Dengfeng took more like 3 hours.)To describe the Shaolin Temple as "cheesy" would certainly be accurate. It's kind of like a kungfu Disneyland.But you could also use "fucking awesome" and "well worth the trip."Some students practicing a move that would probably be about the most useless and dangerous thing you could possibly do in a fight.Hey, get a room you two!Live simply and die with a big monument; that's Zen baby. In addition to the Shaolin Monastary itself and the martial arts training center, there is a Pagoda forest and a handful of other temples; for your 100 yuan entry fee, you also get Mount Song and the surrounding area, which is pretty fucking cool itself. You can see the cave where Bodhidarma meditated, bringing Zen Buddhism to China. (Of course I didn't take a picture of that, you think I'm culturally insensitive?)The authenticity of the actual temple is pretty dubious; it's been blown up and rebuilt about a half-dozen times, and most of the stories about its founding and history are more likely legend than reality. (Shaolin Temple wikipedia entry.)  But, tourist attraction though it is, it is still a working center where martial arts is taught and studied.Now probably a lot of you alpha-man-osphere doofs out there are going to chime in that the Gracie Family or Conor MacGregor could kill every living soul in the Shaolin Monastary in about a minute; but I would have to ask, could Conor MacGregor put his leg perpendicular to the ground next to his head, and then do a split onto his testicles?   allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">I thought not! Shaolin Kungfu, according to the legend, was developed by the Bodhidharma after meditating for 9 years; understandably feeling a bit stiff and achy, he began imitating the animals around him (tigers, cranes, mantises, monkeys, etc) for the sake of his fitness.The reality of course is probably nothing even close to that, but there are so many legends and stories about it all it doesn't much matter anymore. And of course, you watch a video like that, you think: Oh, man that's the perfect sport for a middle aged dude. I have been doing Shaolin Kung Fu workouts off of YouTube videos since I was a young man of 40 back in 2009; one of my bucket list desires was to actually study kungfu in China. For the last 8 years I have been trying to arrange it. Even with the abundance of money and free time I've had since 2009, I hadn't managed to get it worked out.  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Until now. Mission accomplished, baby. (And yes I am aware that kung-fu is not really the correct word for Chinese martial arts, but even the schools tend to use it that way, so step off.) Plaque near the training center warning against factionalism within schools of kungfuI stayed there for a total of 4 nights, at one of the small guest [...]

Profiles in International Education: William Powell, an Anarchist and a Scholar


Everybody does dumb shit when they're young.But has ever a generation had their stupidity so carefully and often ineradicably documented as the internet generation?People seem to be a bit more cagey about protecting their identities on the internet in the last few years, but between about 2005 and 2010, people were allowing their real names to be attached to all kinds of horrendously anti-social and even criminal behavior on the internet for all to see. (Note to kids -- don't Facebook your crime.)Sometimes it was just carelessness and lack of foresight that caused this; sometimes it was pure narcissism and desire for fame. (I'm sure Tucker Max and Neil Strauss are anxiously awaiting the day their new children will Google them and run screaming from the house.)In the old analog days, becoming famous for doing something bad was much more difficult, actually.But people still managed to do it.A teacher named William Powell died last year.He was a respected educator and international school administrator who worked across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. He was one of the founders of Education Across Frontiers, a teacher-training organization. He was a pioneer in inclusive special education programs for at-risk youth in international settings, as well. He is the the author of numerous books about progressive teaching philosophies and methodologies.One little blemish on his otherwise admirable and squeaky-clean record.He wrote an insurgency and terrorism manual advocating open revolution against the US government.It was called the Anarchist Cookbook, written in 1971. (Link is to a Wikipedia article about it.)There were plenty of copies of this floating around small-town America in the 70s and 80s. I knew a kid who had one. As of now, they are very easy to locate on the internet, even on Amazon. (I hesitate to link to them as I don't want to be on any more watch lists than I already am.)In it you can see recipes for explosives and improvised weaponry, formulae for illegal drugs such as LSD, and a hodgepodge of information about revolution, resistance, and assorted dirty tricks and violence.(Yeah, see, before the internet, we had to use books to get information. I know, right?)The book has been endlessly banned and villified, and linked with all kind of  terrorists and criminal acts as well as just plain old suburban angst. Even the author quickly disclaimed the book, after becoming a father and a Christian, but it was too late; he'd sold the copyright to the publisher, and couldn't get his name taken off it.Written by William Powell when he was a teenager at the end of the counterculture era of the late 60s, it was mostly written after perusing military manuals in the public library as well as counterculture "zines", and in addition to being now terribly out of date, many of the recipes were known to be dangerous and inaccurate anyway.  For example, Powell included a formula for bananadine, a psychoactive drug derived from banana peels; unbeknownst to him, this was something between an urban myth and a practical joke. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">(Actual anarchists weren't too happy with it, either.)Still, I seem to remember that my high school classmate English Teacher Q managed to make gunpowder using a recipe in the book,a few household substances and a few chemicals lifted from the high school chemistry lab, so it certainly isn't completely harmle[...]

International Reaction to the Trump Election


Reaction amongst my Russian friends to the election of Trump is generally positive, as you might imagine. 

My mostly platonic and theoretical mistress was especially pleased -- her husband is an ardent patriot and they watch no news sources other than state-controlled ones. 

"Its good that he won," she said to me by instant message. "Hillary was a straight way to war." 

Pterodactyl Girl was a bit more irreverent.

"Oo tebe novi president Donald Duck!" she exclaimed by instant message. She likes him better than the last president, whom she referred to as Barack Obezyanka, which would translate as something like "Barack the Little Monkey."

My girlfriend's response was perceptive -- "They're all oligarchs, it doesn't matter."  

My Chinese students are more perplexed. 

First there was some confusion when they mistakenly looked up the word "Tramp" in trying to understand Trump. The pictures and articles they were directed to astounded them. 

Then they ask, "Why is he so angry? He's a rich man, what is to be so angry about?'

"Good question," was about all I could say to that. 

I work with a lot of Australians and New Zealanders; they mostly shook their heads and laughed.

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The Changing Face of English Teaching, Part 3: Peruvian Pussy Fest


In Fall of 2014, I went down to visit a friend who was working teaching English in Arequipa, Peru.It was a real pussy fest.A pussy fest for the Peruvian guys fucking all the female American teachers of English. .I drew this cartoon like 13 years ago: But the current trend seems to be that the young, hard-partying and student-fucking English teacher is nowadays more likely to be a she.When I first started teaching, ESL was a boy's club. And a pretty degenerate, unkempt boy's club at that.There were a few female teachers, of course; maybe about 1 out of every 5 or 6.Now it seems like at least half, or more than half, are females.Down there in Peru, most of the teachers at the school my friend worked at were female. (And actually not unattractive, at least the youger ones.)The same is true at my last job and this job. The guys are older, often married, and the females are the party animals.Part of the reason is that the same kind of hard-charging guy who used to get into English teaching instead got into being a "digital nomad" with affiliate links or drop shipping or whatever, usually under the auspices of the "manosphere." (And now, it seems, instead of humorless, indignant, stastics-obsessed PUAs, they are now humorless, indignant political pundits.)Leave it to the ladies to take up the slack!One of the teachers down in Peru was a good-looking blonde from the Midwest, at a Halloween party, she bemoaned the student loans that were looming over her.I suggested she go to the Middle East or Vietnam, where she could save some money.She said, "Dude, I like MEN!" Just a matter of time before we start seeing "Penis Paradise" websites and e-books, eh? allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[...]

A Minute to Breathe


Where else but China are you going to hear people greet each other by saying, "Hey, wow, that's a cool filtration mask you've got!"(That's just a cheap one but you can get all different colors and styles and filter types.)Maybe you've read about the 5-day pollution emergency going on around Beijing. Nothing new, really; the other teachers say last year was a lot worse. In general November and December was pretty nice this year. (There were at least as many nice days as bad days.0But for the last five days it's looked about like this:Schools have technically been closed since the weekend, but since we're a boarding school outside of the city, quite a few kids ended up staying here. We just recently installed air filters in all the rooms, and mostly we've been sitting around with the kids watching movies. (A couple of my colleagues out enjoying cigarettes in the pollution emergency.)I have to say, although I'm in general fond of the apocalyptic, after five days of this, I'm feeling pretty shitty. It's really one of the creepiest and saddest things I've ever seen -- people walking around bundled up like they work in an asbestos factory, the sun a little forgotten smudge in the middle of the opaque blanket of pollution.  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Of course I have an air filter in my apartment, and then I recently bought a hand-held pollution sensor which I have all kinds of fun playing with. (It goes off the chart if you fry bacon next to it, I found.) Here's the reading last Sunday, standing by an open window, about 12 times higher than acceptable levels:  I noticed that my air filter can pretty much handle only one room at a time, so if you live in China you're probably wise to have one for each room:   allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />The main culprit is coal, apparently, which is used for most of the electricity generating, although the cars and industry certainly contribute. So all you Trump supporters eagerly awaiting him to gut America's environmental regulations, bring back industry and use coal again?  All this can be yours! allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[...]