Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Good news, bad news

My objectives in writing this blog don't include the desire to run everything down, so I took some time today to find a good article about EFL after I read the first one. The first one is about privatization of English language education. The second, more upbeat is about a homestay program in Iowa.

The JET program was suposed to function as a method for bringing bright, young native speakers of English to Japan to live in communities and teach English in schools. The program has failed to live up to its expectations for a plethora of reasons, but boards of education still want foreign faces in their classrooms. Some schools have resorted to contracting "teachers" out from various English conversation schools, says and article in the Daily Yomiuri Online. Education from the lowest bidder. There we go. Reminds me of "Armageddon" when Rockhound, Steve Buscemi, says as they are about to blast off to blast the incoming 'steroid...
You know we're sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn't it?
You know we're trying to help thousands of kids enjoy their learning experience enough to invest time and effort in developing their English language skills with one homesick unemployed business school grad provided by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn't it.

The second, more upbeat article was one about a homestay program in Iowa. That kind of experience is so good for learners, I wish every kid in the country could have some kind of experience like this abroad. I took a group of college students to Dubuque, Iowa once, and it was just a great experience. The kids matured so much in one month, and they also managed to learn some English along the way. In the scheme of things a month is pretty short, but the experience that they had was one that they will never forget, and will hopefully serve as a base that they can build on.

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