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Via Lingua Corinth/Anglo-Hellenic BE CAUTIOUS

 
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southeastjerome



Joined: 09 Jan 2007
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:35 pm    Post subject: Via Lingua Corinth/Anglo-Hellenic BE CAUTIOUS Reply with quote

Hello, everyone. I recently had a poor experience with these outfits, and as there is a lot of discussion on these boards about them, I figured I'd offer my perspective. I'm perfectly willing to concede that my experience might have been atypical, though that seems unlikely. Anyway, this is a copy of an e-mail that I sent to someone who asked me about Via Lingua/Anglo-Hellenic:

"Thanks for taking the time to write back. You're
actually the second person to have contacted me
through Craigslist about this (third if you count the
scammer who is trying to "hire" me as a representative
for her Dubai-based textiles company). I'll do my
best to address your questions.

Via Lingua Corinth claims to work with a recruitment
agency, Anglo-Hellenic, and as you said, they give the
impression that they'll secure work for you. In fact,
they go so far as to say that 85% of their trainees
find work in their chosen location by the time they
finish the course. I can only judge based on my
class' experience, of course, but there were 7 in my
class and only two of us found work by the time the
course ended--one in Hong Kong and the other in Cairo.
Those of us who wanted to work in Athens not only
don't have jobs, but never even had the chance to
visit schools before the end of the course.

I'll back up for a second, though, and tell you about
Via Lingua itself. Via Lingua Corinth actually
consists of two individuals; there's the lead trainer
and director, Peter Beech, and his assistant (she's
the one who primarily oversees our practice teaching
and advises us). So despite all of the talk on
teflcorinth of a staff of trainers, there are only two
of them. Further, teflcorinth.com depicts various
rooms of the training center, including a lounge,
computer room, library, classrooms, etc. I swear I'm
not making this up, but those pictures are actually of
the same three rooms but from multiple angles! The
entire training center consists of: the main classroom
(perhaps a 16 x 22 room), a closet bathroom, a
kitchenette, the lounge/computer room, and Peter's
office (which doubles as the second classroom). There
were 7 of us, and we were constantly falling all over
one another. The training center had many textbooks
and resources, but generally we all used the same few
books and so it was always a struggle to get the
resources you needed to prepare. I can't imagine how
it would work with, say, 12 people. The same can be
said about the computers and the printers and
scanners. The school provides only two computers,
though if you have a laptop you can cram around the
table and plug into the network--why they don't buy a
wireless router is beyond me.

The training itself is somewhat better, though I still
felt as though it lacked substance and consistency
(more on that later). For people who don't know squat
about grammar or the language that they speak, the
course is great because it is very grammar heavy.
Even if you know your stuff you'll find the grammar
sessions useful, though throughout the course there's
such a huge disparity among knowledge levels that
you'll eventually feel held back. As for the teaching
practice and instruction, it is VERY theory-oriented.
You'll spend way more time talking about what you'd do
or say in various hypothetical situations--in fact,
you'll frequently engage in various role-playing
activities or make and compare lists--than you will
actually doing, well, anything! On average, each day
you'll spend 3 hours listening to lectures, at least 4
hours planning lessons, and 45 minutes teaching. I
NEVER needed all of my lesson planning time and was
often bored, though without fail some people were
consistently never prepared to teach. I suppose that
it depends on the person, but that place becomes
extremely claustrophobic very quickly when you're not
keeping busy--and unfortunately I was usually not very
busy.

The other aspect of the training, or rather the
assessment of your work, that I found troubling is
that it was wildly inconsistent. You are graded on a
five-point scale, ranging from Unacceptable, Needs
Improvement, Competent, Very Competent, and Exemplary.
I found this system to be frustrating and unfair.
It was frustrating because I received Competent grades
for nearly all of my lessons, even though the quality
of those lessons varied quite a bit. Therefore,
either some of my lessons should have been graded as
Needs Improvement or worse or as Very Competent or
better. But certainly they should not all have been
graded so similarly.

The system was also unfair, due in large part to how
others were graded. Again, I received many Competent
grades (all but two, which were Very Competent), and
yet I saw others fumble and stumble through their
lessons and receive the same grade or better! Part of
this, unfortunately, is caused by the grading system.
You usually teach in teams, and so your peers are
asked to grade you. You are also asked to grade
yourself. I nearly choked when I heard some of the
grades people gave themselves, yet the trainer seemed
very susceptible to the power of persuasion and often
agreed to the grades. For those of us who have a clue
and who hold ourselves to high standards, this system
is not advantageous. I feel as though I could have
received much higher grades if I had only repeatedly
and unabashedly, as several people did, given myself
higher grades. Instead, I ultimately refused to take
part in the silliness, which I think alienated me from
some of the others.

Phew! You might want to grab yourself something to
eat, because I'm just getting started with this
stuff....

The final aspect of the training and evaluation
process that I found unsatisfactory is that the
trainer very much prefers you to play a teacher rather
than to actually be one. I'm the kind of guy who
wants some students and a piece of chalk, and I'll be
happy to rely on my ability to design and execute an
efficient and useful lesson. However, my scores were
repeatedly docked because I did not use various pieces
of classroom equipment (including a cassette player
and VCR of all things) and because I did not use
enough "variety." By variety, the trainer means
games, pictures and various other fireworks. I kid
you not, no matter how good your lesson is or how much
you accomplish, you absolutely will not receive high
marks unless you incorporate these things into your
lessons, even if you are teaching an adult class. One
particular incident still really steams me: I spent
the first 45 minutes of a lesson teaching a grammar
point, and it was all book work. However, by the end
the students knew the grammar point inside-out. My
partner, however, spent her 45 minutes distributing
multiple choice questions about light subjects (what
is more important, love or money?) and engaging in 2
minute superficial conversations about each question.
At the end, she spent a good 5 minutes assigning point
values to the answer of each question, and then asked
the students to add their totals to determine,
supposedly, the level of their motivation. The
results demonstrated a few things for me: first,
Greeks CAN add, and apparently they are ALL equally
motivated. Amazing!

It sickens me to think that I received a Competent
grade while my partner received the highest grade
possible. The trainer is supposed to consider the
difficulty of each lesson, but according to the
trainer my lesson was just as difficult as my
partner's was.

One other issue I had was that the trainer seemed to
dock you points for not having consulted with her
prior to your lessons, even if you didn't need to. On
the other hand, those who spent countless hours
working with her received better grades than those who
didn't, regardless of the quality of the lessons.

This sort of thing happened again and again, and while
you'll almost certainly pass the entire course with
the same grade as everyone else, it is extremely
frustrating nevertheless. You don't ever get an idea
of what you're doing well and what you need to improve
on because the person who assesses you has very
specific tastes and wants to see very specific things
from you. If you don't deliver, you'll keep hearing
about it and suffering from it, no matter how good
your lessons are.

With all of that said, this course is still a means of
earning a TEFL certificate. There are probably better
schools out there or, if you take a course in the
States, cheaper ones. I took the course in Corinth
because I thought that it would give me the best
chance at finding work in Athens. As I'll describe
shortly, that expectation was dead wrong.

Concerning the social aspect, there were only 7 of us,
and I happened to take the course with my girlfriend.
There was one other guy, a Brit, who was a great guy
and we got along great. So between him and my
girlfriend, I was OK. The three of us stuck together,
and the remaining four girls, all in their early/mid
twenties, stuck together. We all lived together,
crammed in the downstairs of Peter's house (heh, so
much for the "seaside apartments"), and so inevitably
we all became a little tired of one another. I will
say that that had much less to do with an imbalance
between men and women as much as it had to do with
some really annoying personalities from which you had
no escape. There were several trips that the girls
took with Angeliki that the rest of us could have
joined in on, but we took our own trips instead,
mainly just to get away from the others. You spend
nearly every waking moment with or very near your
peers, so if you don't like them, it becomes really
tough to get through your days. It also doesn't help
that you spend so much time at class that on weekdays,
you have neither the time nor energy to do anything in
town after class. Vrahati is also somewhat of a dumpy
town with little to do and little to see. The beach
is nice (when you have time), but unless you want to
eat out or drink, there's not much else to do there.
If you want to travel to archaeological sites, you'll
need to go to Corinth first, which is always a pain
because the bus schedule is scaled-back on weekends.
As a result, you need to allow yourself an extra hour
or more simply to compensate for the time it will take
you to get to/from Corinth from/to Vrahati.

Anyway.....

Anglo-Hellenic, the recruitment agency, is operated by
no other than Peter's wife, Angeliki. She has no
supporting staff or office; Anglo-Hellenic is her
thing, and she operates from home. The way this is
supposed to work is you show up, tell Peter and
Angeliki what you want to teach and where, Peter
assesses you throughout the course, passes information
on to Angeliki about your skills and abilities, and
she makes calls based on all of that. In reality,
they barely listened to what I had to say, they rarely
spoke to one another, and Angeliki made only a couple
of calls on my behalf. Perhaps even more frustrating,
she was rarely available for consulation, despite the
fact that we lived downstairs from her! Midway
through the second week, when I realized that
Anglo-Hellenic wasn't going to DO anything for me, I
tried daily to consult with Angeliki. We spoke
several times and she claimed to have some things
lined up, but she never provided me with any names or
phone numbers, and she never arranged any meetings.
As the final days approached and I had absolutely
nothing to show for my experience, I stressed the
urgency of the matter to Angeliki, but she seemed
unphased and in fact became even LESS available for
consultation. Half of the time I went to see her she
was sleeping, out for a swim, getting ready to go out,
etc. She was even gone for two days to see a concert
at one point. The end of the course came and went,
and she told me that I should call her from Athens
(and this was four days after the end of the course and one before I was due to fly back to the States)
to arrange a meeting with a school. Well, I called
but her phone was turned off. At 2PM she e-mailed to
say that she hadn't heard from me and that she was
worried, and that I should call her. I tried calling
again, but still her phone was off. Several hours
later, she e-mailed again to say that earlier in the
day her phone had been washed away by a wave while she
was at the beach. Why then, did she instruct me to
call her if her phone had been washed away? Her story
doesn't make any sense.

Anyway, at 7 PM on the night before I was due to
leave, I had to make my way halfway across the city,
to a place I had never been, to meet with the second
in command at publishing/editing firm about work. We
spoke for 15 minutes, he seemed optimistic about
hiring me, but that was it. I've called him several
times and e-mailed him many times over the past month
but still he won't give me hard details on salary,
duties, hours, etc. Further, he said that he cannot
help me earn a work permit, though I think that's code
for 'I don't want to be bothered with it.'

Anglo-Hellenic, meanwhile, has been a ghost since the
end of the course. Angeliki sent me a couple of
e-mails, though they have been filled with bad
information. While I was still in Greece, she was
insistent upon my getting a work permit, going so far
as to say that schools in Athens will not hire anyone
illegally. Now, she tells not to bother with the
papers and to simply avoid drawing attention to
myself. When I leave the country I'll be stopped and
fined, she says, but the fine expires after 90 days.
Heh, well as it so happens I have a Greek-issued fine
on my passport dating from two years ago, and it most
certainly has not expired.

There are other important subjects that she seems
clueless about as well. Both Via Lingua and
Anglo-Hellenic make a big deal of the fact that
they'll find work for inexperienced teachers, but
would you believe that Angeliki said that the main
reason she had trouble finding me work in Athens was
due to a lack of experience? Yet, before I came I
asked Peter specifically about Athens and my lack of
experience, and he said that 85% find the jobs they
want where they want. From what I can tell, however,
very few who want to work in Athens actually do. And
if they do, it is usually not teaching work, but
rather editing/publishing work (which then begs the
question, why did I bother to earn a TEFL
certificate?). The "no experience" thing is a little
frustrating to me in part because in my case it isn't
really true. I've lived in Athens on my own twice
already, I can speak some Modern Greek, my degree is in
Ancient Greek, I worked as a tutor in college, and
I've been assisting in teaching various martial arts
for the past 8 years.

I can't get a straight answer about anything--salary,
work visas, experience--from anyone. Peter, Angeliki,
and the guy from the publishing firm have each given
me contradictory information. Depending on the day
and person, you'll get a different story each time.

It's entirely possible that you'll able to find work
someplace else in Greece more easily, but if you want
to teach in Athens or even Thessaloniki, you might
want to take a different approach because there is no
indication that Anglo-Hellenic can or will help you.
And while it's also possible that a school will help
you get your papers, I wouldn't count on it. You'll
have to work illegally, which is low-risk enough
*until* you try to leave the country. Peter and
Angeliki both recommended that I cross the border
every 89 days and re-enter a few hours later, in
effect buying myself another 90 days of legal
residence in the country. I consulted with some of my
Greek contacts who deal in those matters, however, and
they assured me that you will not get away with this
strategy because you must stay away for 6 months
before legally re-entering the country.

So, unless you get really lucky and things actually
work as Peter and Angeliki said that they will, you'll
be stuck in a really dangerous place. At best, all
you suffer is a fine. At worst....well, they could
kick you out immediately and confiscate all of your
belongings.

In short, here's my advice. If you want to experience
Greece, save the money from the course and travel
around instead for a couple of months. You'll see and
experience more. If you want the TEFL certificate,
earn it someplace else. Maybe Via Lingua Crete is
better. If you want to work in Greece and not worry
about legal issues....well, good luck. In any event,
I cannot in good conscience recommend either
Anglo-Hellenic or Via Lingua Corinth. They have been
nothing but a disappointment, a waste of time, and a
money pit for me. It's not exactly a scam, but it
felt awfully close to one.

I hope this helps. Let me know if I can help you with
anything else. Take care."

I hope that this helps others, too. Please reply with questions or comments because I will be in touch.
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diana83709



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
Posts: 144
Location: Nanchong, Sichuan province, China

PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My husband and I took the TEFL course facilitated by Via Lingua in Corinth in 2005.

The course was intense and heavily concentrated in grammar. As stated by the OP, the school is quite cramped, but, we managed our tasks. It was difficult to use the book resources because everybody else required them. The computers were virtually impossible to use as the same 3 people were constantly on them. It did not matter the rest of us wanted to use them for lesson planning. It was clearly intentional on the behalf of those 3 people.

The living situation was okay. As the OP stated, it is the 1st floor of Peter's home. There were personality conflicts which created animosity so we stayed in our room or went out into town.

Peter, Angeliki and her father, Billy, were always nice to all of us. Their 2 children were very well behaved. We did meet Peter's parents and they were wonderful people.

Vrahati is quite small, but we met some of the locals who were awesome. There is a little shop on the left corner of the main street and the owner, Dennis, was very friendly. He always had kind words to say. Down the street is a little cafe/bar - in fact, it's the same place you buy the bus tickets (across the street from Aption) where we were treated very well. In fact, we became good friends with the owner, Soula, and her daughter, Helen. On our last night in Vrahati, we went there and they bought all of our drinks and we toasted with ouzo.

In the end, there was no job. That was disappointing. We are in China for the 2nd year and enjoying it. I think it is becoming increasingly more difficult to get work visas no matter where you are. It is much easier for a EU national to find work in Europe. If you want to live and work in Greece, you can do it on your own.

Something too funny to keep secret: One evening, there were 4 of us sitting on the patio enjoying the evening. Peter, Angeliki, Billy and Peter's parents were on the upper patio. All of a sudden, we heard Peter talking and saw something trickling from the patio. It swayed one way, then the other. It looked like someone was urinating from above. We all laughed so hard, tears were pouring from our eyes and we were speechless. Peter did come down to see what it was all about, so we told him. He told us he was using the hose to spray the patio floor. Sorry, Peter, but that was a very funny incident.

We all have had different experiences. Via Lingua is an excellent resource for TEFL certification, whether in Corinth or elsewhere.
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CPS1116



Joined: 09 Sep 2005
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 2:05 pm    Post subject: Via Lingua Crete vs. Corinth Reply with quote

I just wanted to weigh in on this because I took the TEFL course with Via Lingua Crete and had an amazing experience there. I just want people who are considering TEFL courses in Greece to know this. I don't think the Via Lingua Crete operation should be tarred with the same brush. I have seen lots of negative postings about Via Lingua Corinth and Anglo-Hellenic. I have no direct experience with Corinth except that I sent an email to get an interview and received a not-very-kind email back from Peter Beech. It seems true that they do not make good on their claims to help ALL graduates find work, only the Corinth ones... though perhaps this is not correct either.

Sara Signore, the director of the Crete Via Lingua, was honest about the difficulty in finding jobs in Greece if you are not an EU citizen. She was right but at least I knew what I was getting into and I was given help with finding a job elsewhere. Also, those who are in on the debate that only CELTA is world-recognized, I had no trouble finding a job with my Via Lingua certificate.

Anyhow, I enjoyed my time in Crete and learned A LOT while I was there. I am still happily teaching EFL and glad that I got the excellent start that I did. If you are choosing between Corinth and Crete - GO CRETE!! Smile
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acmurray



Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just thought I'd second what CPS1116 had to say about Via Lingua Crete. I was there in August 2005, and although the training I received throughout was consistent and excellent, there were some...problems caused by certain people that could have wrecked everything. Now those people are gone for good, and Sara Signore heroically pulled everything together and made sure that everything proceeded normally for us trainees. I am very happy with the training I received (a little dogmatic, I'll confess, but it's a good backbone and there's no law forbidding you from revising the method they teach once you're teaching yourself), and I have utter confidence in Sara's abilities. So glad that she's directing now, and happy to hear that things are going well down there.
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kateh



Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Posts: 9
Location: Athens

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having read some of the comments on this thread and other threads on this site I have to put forward my view of Via Lingua Corinth.

I studied there in 2006 and found the course hard work but invaluable. The amount of information, support and teaching experience that students receive over just 4 weeks is amazing. I found Peter and Angeliki very welcoming and always available for help and advice. As regards job placement, I was looking for work in January and only wanted to work in Athens so that was a fairly steep order. Angeliki was always honest with me about the lack of work at that time and the fact that the job market in Athens is very different from elsewhere. I managed to get a job by coming here and using a lot of shoe-leather but Angeliki was always on-hand to give advice even though there was no benefit in it for her. I was always honest with her and she with me. Absolutely no complaints.

Come on, people, you are supposedly grown-ups and shouldn't expect to be spoon-fed all your life. If you research what the market is like here before you embark on a career in ESL teaching then there shouldn't be too many surprises. This is Greece and you have to work hard to achieve a decent living just as the Greeks do. The pay is pretty good compared to other salaries here and there is the benefit of living in this wonderful country.

As for non-EU residents, I would never expect to be able to work in the US without a Green Card and we all know how difficult they are to come by. If you want to work in the EU either take the risk of working illegally (remember you are a grown-up and this is your choice) or get a work permit.

OK I had a great experience and maybe others didn't but I feel it necessary to balance the argument.
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Zajko



Joined: 31 May 2007
Posts: 130
Location: No Fixed Address :)

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tend to agree with you: two very good friends of mine did their intial TEFL qualification with Via Lingua Corinth / Anglo-Hellenic a couple of years back and spoke highly of the course, the professionalism of the trainers, and of the job guidance (realistic and honest) which they received afterwards.

Too often, however, teachers seem to expect to have everything (job, apartment, fat salary, everything else from internet connection to laundry service) delivered up to them on a plate: the nature of this job (and one of the joys of it to many of us) is its unpredictability, occasional insecurity and the independence and self-reliance it requires. If you can't handle that, you're in the wrong line of work.

Of course you expect a TEFL course provider to provide some help and advice in finding you your first teaching position, and most do, to a greater or lesser extent. But it's surely not their job to arrange your job, apartment, work permit, visa, contract, bank account and God knows what else. So long as the provider isn't making extravagant promises they aren't keeping in order to gain your business (not the case here, from what I can see) then there is a limit to what you can expect, and to what extent you can fairly complain about having to put a bit of effort and leg-work into making your own arrangements.
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harry the hobbit



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
Posts: 78
Location: middle earth east anatolia

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have to do a TEFL why not do an internationally recognised one?

Why do this dodgy fake?

The mill must be on a hill coz they saw you lot coming?
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tudodude



Joined: 08 Mar 2007
Posts: 82

PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:49 pm    Post subject: hi Reply with quote

I did a Course at Vialingua years ago and they were top notch back then.
Hard work but what a career I got out of it.
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fibire



Joined: 07 Oct 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 4:00 pm    Post subject: Experience of Via Ligua Corinth and Anglo-Hellenic Reply with quote

I was among the first people to do a Via Lingua Course at Corinth many moons ago. The course itself, in my opinion, is an overview of TEFL across the world and it is certainly not directly linked to just what goes on in Greece. Or at least not in the school I am currently working in.

I concede the point that resources weren't what you would find in a University say, but then due to the intensity of the 120hr course no one has time spending hrs planning for the observed lessons you will teach on the course. The materials available are good enough for what is required of you whilst you do the course.

Peter and Angeliki Beech were both very hospitable and and made my experience of doing the course very memorable despite my own feelings of insecurity I felt about leaving the UK to TEFL.

Due these feelings I decided against taking up a TEFL post here in Greece. Angeliki sorted out some places for me to visit in thessaloniki and I had some interviews, but I decided I'd rather go back to the UK.

Fast forward to 2007 and I decided to contact Peter again and get a placement. I am working In Pyrgos at a good school with very hospitable employers and the flat provided for me is much better than some hovels students at Uni in the UK end up in.

Now, if I did have some advice it would be to be specific about where you'd like to go in Greece and the kind of job you're looking for and I am sure that Angeliki (who deals with work placements) will do her best to get you somewhere very good. I think if you levae it to the last minute at the start of September then due to the pressure of placing teachers before term starts could lead to a post not quite to your liking.

So, in conclusion - Via Lingua Corinth is a useful overview of TEFL across the world and if you choose to do this course you will have a lot of fun despite doing a lot of work at the same time. As for Anglo-Hellenic - I think it is better not to suddenly ask a couple of weeks before the academic year starts that you want to go specifically here or there because I think it's a bit late in the day . . . be insistent at the very start of the course (if you want to stop in Greece and TEFL) about where you'd like to go and I'm sure Angeliki will do her best to help you find work.
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thegrassyroad



Joined: 03 Nov 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 5:23 am    Post subject: RE: Via Lingua Corinth Reply with quote

I took the Via Lingua Corinth course in May/June of 2007 and my experience was resoundingly positive. I can qualify that somewhat by saying that my course consisted of a total of three people, one of which discovered that the program conflicted with her personal goals and decided not to continue. In that respect, I didn't experience much of the feeling of crowdedness that other posters here have expressed, but conversely I didn't have as much of an opportunity to share ideas/peer observe/team teach -- there are advantages and disadvantages to every circumstance.

That is, in fact, something I think needs saying in this forum as regards the Via Lingua Corinth program -- it is, like many things, a case of "you get what you give." There are certainly some objective measurements of the effectiveness of the content (teaching practical hours, topics covered in language awareness and methodology classroom hours, self-assessment and reflection requirements, testing and grading system, etc. which I will weigh in on in more detail later), but in order to take full advantage of the program you must approach it with a particular mindset, namely: open. Like leadership, teaching is an inexact science - many people do it; very few do it well. Because there are so many grey areas in the science of teaching (how do people learn? should second language acquisition resemble first language learning? how does memory work? what are the different kinds of learners? how can a teacher achieve the maximum result with the most diverse group? etc. etc.), it is tirelessly studied and perpetually re-assessed, with many people adding new methodology theories and viewpoints year by year. Personally, I believe there is no "right" way; things that work well for one teacher won't work as well for another, and a brilliant teacher might break all of the existing "rules." That said, anyone who has taught for an appreciable amount of time cannot help but develop a very personal style; some people adhere to their style like gospel and are very hesitant to expand their repertoire. They are of the mindset, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” without realizing that there’s a considerable distance between “not broken” and “working to full potential.” Consequently, I think the Via Lingua course is best suited to new teachers, those need to acquaint themselves with the scholarship on teaching and begin to develop their own approach, or veteran teachers who are of the mind that – no matter how experienced they are – they can always add new tools to their metaphorical toolbelt. Anyone who approaches the program with less than an open mind will – as cynics or naysayers so often are – be disappointed.

I found the Via Lingua program to be a well-rounded overview of language awareness, teaching methodology, classroom management, and encouragement/development of the skills of self-reflection, assessment and improvement. The classroom learning component was very grammar-heavy, but that was something I found necessary and useful. Despite the fact that I have an intuitive knowledge of English grammar from years and years of reading, prior to the course I couldn’t have told you what a perfect tense was to save my life. There was also a relatively unbiased overview of the most prevalent teaching methodologies (the silent way, TPR, communicative approach, etc.) and an opportunity to reflect upon the strengths/weaknesses of each, especially as regards their appropriateness for teaching certain grammar points. The primary teacher-trainer at Via Lingua unquestionably has a fondness for/loyalty to non-traditional teaching methods (i.e. games, activities, logic puzzles, the Socratic method) that are materials-heavy and creative and which will appeal primarily to right-brained people. She is, however, fair-minded enough not to discount other approaches, although she will – as all passionate people are wont to do – unconsciously advocate for her own. I suppose one disadvantage of Via Lingua’s small – albeit talented – staff (which, as previous posters have observed, is under 5) is the lack of exposure to some other methodologies in practice, although an astute student can and will adopt the methodology that best suits him/her from theoretical learning.

The grading system for lessons is somewhat unscientific, relying largely on the evaluation of one teacher-trainer, but is deliberately generous in acknowledgement of that limitation. Far more important in the scope of the course are the self-assessment tasks which are required upon the completion of EACH lesson wherein the teacher pauses to assess the effectiveness of his/her lesson (with the injection of input from the teacher-trainer and potentially peer observers) – what went well, what could have gone better – in order that the teacher in training can habitualize evaluation and improvement. Again, you get what you give.

I would tend to agree, however, with some of the posters that the Via Lingua/Anglo-Hellenic job guidance/assistance is somewhat over-advertised; given the difficulty of job placement for non-EU, non-Greek-speaking non-natives in Greece (even in the TEFL community), I think Via Lingua should caution rather than encourage job-seekers (who often arrive with unrealistic expectations) if they don’t intend to step up the activities/services of Anglo-Hellenic. That said, however, it is very possible to find a placement in the TEFL teaching market with the qualifications you earn from Via Lingua; I am currently working in China with a contract beginning in South Korea shortly.

For anyone considering the Via Lingua Corinth or Crete course, I’d recommend the following things in order to ensure that you get the most out of your experience:
1) Bring a laptop.

2) Prepare for an intensive course that is decidedly not a vacation, but which you can easily enjoy if you keep on top of your assignments, use your time productively, and take advantage of the weekend trips offered by Peter and Angeliki. It also helps if you like learning. (I sometimes think a prerequisite for being a good teacher is a love for learning; it’s contagious.)

3) Be flexible. You will most likely be living in close quarters with people you’ve never met who will without question be different from you but who may be your only colleagues. If you find this sort of living arrangement intolerable, you should either reconsider being a TEFL teacher or be very selective about your TEFL teaching placements, because in many situations abroad, someone who is relentlessly private, antagonistic or exacting will be neither happy nor welcome.

4) Leave your preconceptions at the door.

Best of luck to all of you TEFL-program seekers reading this (that is, if you made it all the way to the end)!
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subsahara



Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to weigh in here with some opinions as I know where these posts are coming from. They are coming from the TEFL Blacklist which can be found on the web. It's a web site referred to as the TEFL Blacklist. I first came across this website when in Madrid looking for ESL work... (this summer I completed a TEFL course and decided in September to apply to different adverts online and go to Spain in person)....

Back then I had no idea where I wanted to go, I just wanted a new life and a fresh start, and Spain seemed logical as I had friends in Madrid. Whilst there and looking for ESL jobs and going to interviews Anglo Hellenic who I had applied to earlier before going came in with a job offer, in Xanthi in Greece as well as some other agencies later on... for Taiwan / South Korea and Spain. I ended up hearing from a friend aboujt the TEFL blacklist web page after posting a status update on facebook saying I was heading to Greece with Anglo Hellenic...

Initially I decided after reading the web site to turn the offer down, only a day later to take it.

I emailed Peter Beech to explain why I had decided to turn down the job and the school and showed the website link. Peter replied back sincerely and asked I reconsider and speak to the school - which I did again and after that decided to take the offer and risk it.

Since going to Greece I have found Anglo Hellenic to be nothing but helpful. They have provided me with a decent school, supportive employers, decent employment for a first job in ESL and also with a lot of support for trying to help me to settle into the area. E.g. asking how I am via email a few times, trying to put me in touch with other teachers, etc and all of these things. Also providing information for different 3rd parties when need be and just being on hand to help if problems arose with the school - which have never materialised.

Peter Beech has been nothing but sincere, professional, prompt and honest in my dealings with him and he is far ahead of many in the ESL world and is a person I would highly recommend personally if you are considering prospectively working in Greece.

Peter runs an agency as well as a training programme. I have not experienced the training as I did a TEFL course with the College of Teachers (www.collegeofteachers.ac.uk) which as far as I know according to the British Council website and the college of teachers website is the only TEFL course in the UK other than the Cambridge Cert and also Trinity Cert that are recognised by the British Council.

As for an *official* qualification in TESOL / TEFL / ESL according to the tutors I had in University of London Students Union there is no *official* qualification for introductory - the two best known are the Cambridge and the Trinity cert qualifications. There are also qualifications awarded from the USA which are recognised by American Council etc. The only real qualifications for people *serious* about this are LTCL Tesol, Cambridge DELTA and the College of Teachers new ones which are equivalent to a Post Graduate Teaching Diploma level.

To be internationally recognised as a qualified teacher trained in teaching one would *need* to have a post graduate diploma from a respected University to what I was told on my course and from the University of Wales lecturers I had at UWIC.

However this is not a requirement for teaching, as many lecturers at University did not have a PGCE or PGDIP in teaching, but many starting now have to be working towards one as part of a successful offer of employment with one.

Not dragging off the point but why is VIA Linguas course any less good than others?

Look at Peter Beech's profile.

He teaches for the Open University (Top 10 London Times / London Guardian) university always in the top 10 or top 20 on the TESOL module. He also is fully qualified with an MSC in TESOL and knows a LOT more on an academic level on this subject than I, or many others do, and probably most on this board.

He has been in the business for a LONG time... as a school owner, teacher trainer, teacher and also recruitment business for potential teachers of english as a foreign / secondary language.

My experiences are I had decent accommodation (not the best but its definately ok - but who has the best? David Beckham I am not!) I have a great school, good bosses, and a caring workplace. It's what I need right now. And I'm grateful for Peter and Angelikki (spelling?) for providing that.

As for Greece. Please to the ignorant people who went to Greece without researching - DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND RESEARCH!

Greece is very different to the UK. The infrastructure, way of life, culture, practices, ideas etc are very different. Not just in Greece but ACROSS THE EUROPEAN UNION! That is what makes us the richest and most diverse area of the globe in my opinion... all of these cultural differences inherent in all of the countries...

Pay / Living Conditions / Net Access / Way of Life needs to be researched before going.

Just google. Lonely Planet. Whatever will give you the information.

Research an offer before getting it. Ask the school. If you want photos of where you work and stay - ask for them. If you need information ask and it will be given. Peter will provide allof the information you need and if he cannot he will get the school too....

Like Lao Tzu would say not preparing for a journey means a failed journey. Inadequate provisions for any undertaking in life often leads to failure...

Really asking for information about a job is your priority as our trainers from TEFL training said.

As for the VIA LINGUA course look at the people above. they have positive experiences to mention.

As for people there will always be those who fail to prepare, research and think before they embark on an action. And moving to a foreign country is a big one.

And as for life when you get there why will it be easy? For anything in this world you have to fight for it (fairly) and also work hard. Nothing comes for free and if it does is it really worth having?

There will always be people who failed to take the proper measures of researching posts or other things before going to a school or job. There will also be the rare occassion WITH ANY EMPLOYER where the job and the school and the worker don't work out...

It happens. It's not too uncommon but... really do the research.

I have had nothing but a good experience from Mr Beech and Anglo Hellenic.

Coming to Greece has not been easy. Work is fine. Social life no. But you live with it. The only problem I have now is finding someone really special in Athens from Israel and realising being away from her is turning into a really big hard problem. But I get through that. The school don't hate her. They just sympathise... this is life. I thought I'd meet someone local but met someone from 10 hours away!

This happens though...

I may need to see Mr Beech again next year and ask if he has any jobs going closer to Liliana (if were still going by then)....

My advice is use Mr Beech.

There are others I could refer to who run agencies in Madrid who do not offer ANYTHING on the level of service or guidance or understanding that Mr Beech did.

Put this in perspective. My friend Griff from London and Glam Uni is now 34 and teaching Business English and has been having to sleep in a hostel for 2 1/2 months due to accommodation being expensive and hard to find there. Luckily St Jordi is run by Dutch people who are the nicest you can ever meet and he is having a great time, but it's not great not having your own place / space etc.

I know a LOT of people who are finding the first year in TEFL tough... but then was it ever going to be easy? If you can ride the storm it get's better...

Life throws challenges...

The question is do you actually grab the bull by the horns and take them head on or do you blame others (MR Beech) for what you should only blame yourself in part for?

Mr Beech is sincere, honest and a great guy to work with / for.

As for Greece. It might not be everyones cup of tea... but its a nice place.
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Flack



Joined: 29 Oct 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to add my own comments about Via Lingua and Anglo-Hellenic.

I took the course in Corinth two years ago and was placed at a frontistirio (private language school) immediately after I had finished. I am now in my third year here in Greece, at the same school, and my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive.

The course was intensive, but valuable and rewarding. The trainers were very professional, supportive and helpful.

The school I was placed at is excellent; I have been provided with a flat and had no trouble gaining all the necessary legal paperwork.

My advice to any teachers thinking of coming to Greece is to do some research about both Greece and teaching English in Greece. Also, learning something about the history and culture of the country, as well as the basics of the beautiful Greek language, will help you enormously.
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subsahara



Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greece is beautiful, the women are stunning (not the reason to be here) and the attitude is far removed from England, it's more Celtic in the sense it's laid back.... so Welsh people can really settle here.

Point is like the guy above said and I said before do the research - ask the relevant questions, get the information you need, then think about it... have a coffee, have a sleep, think about it more and then decide if it's for you if you get an offer....

For me it was worth coming as when you tread on new ground it's always more exciting than being in the same place...

I don't regret it at all.
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Crash! Bang!



Joined: 27 Jan 2007
Posts: 11
Location: indiana

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

those of you who are saying that you found a job with via lingua's help, how many of you are non-EU? that is a critical piece of knowledge that most of you are leaving out
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alexcase



Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 215
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of the criticism of the actual teaching practice by the OP could just as much be true of the Cambridge CELTA, although Via Lingua does have more of an emphasis on making sure their trainees know their grammar (I took the CELTA back when it was the CTEFLA, and was a trainer in Madrid and Rome for Via Lingua but have had no connection to them for about 5 years). The criticism of being over-optimistic about where and how easily you can get jobs is something I have read about several Via Lingua centres, but by no means all. Maybe that is part of the course that Via Lingua should centralize more (most of the centres are not owned by Via Lingua, as is also normal for Cambridge, Trinity and others).
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