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Text books and curriculum for colleges & universities.
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lovesand



Joined: 13 Sep 2012
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:07 am    Post subject: Text books and curriculum for colleges & universities. Reply with quote

Here are some questions for all the teachers that work in the various colleges and universities around the country.

1) Are you given text books and work books (Headway, Cutting Edge etc) at the start of the semester?

2) If so, do you have to follow the book to the letter or can you deviate?

3) At the start of the new academic year does the faculty decide what book to use or is it up to the individual teacher to decide?

4) Are you allowed to crate your own lesson plans without using a text book?

5) Do you teach "American" english or "British" English?

Any info would be great.

Thanks
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FarGone



Joined: 02 Nov 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) Are you given text books and work books (Headway, Cutting Edge etc) at the start of the semester?

[If you are lucky. The semester prior to my coming to Oman, teachers within ELS/GFP at University of Buraimi had no books for the first...correct me, LizzieBennett, as you were there, for the first eight weeks of class. Books (Cutting Edge) were available to all students during the first week of the semester of my attendance as an instructor; books were provided during my stint in Saudi, always on-time, but that was at a military base. Definitely a case-by-case basis.]

2) If so, do you have to follow the book to the letter or can you deviate?

[As you won't have someone "observing" your classes at each moment of your delivery, I'd think that covering the book essentials + augmentation, using your own materials, will not be problematic.]

3) At the start of the new academic year does the faculty decide what book to use or is it up to the individual teacher to decide?

[Usually programs in the Middle East are run by autocratic persons; someone "high up" will have already selected the texts. Just augment using your own stuff.]

4) Are you allowed to crate your own lesson plans without using a text book?

[Probably never. That kind of freedom comes with teaching businesspersons or while teaching in a graduate-level program. ...Not gonna happen in the Middle East.]

5) Do you teach "American" english or "British" English?

[Obviously, if you're American you teach American English; Brits teach their style. And explanations are offered, from time-to-time, in re: "Americans use this spelling/pronunciation/vocabulary, while Brits use..."]

Hope this helps.
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lovesand



Joined: 13 Sep 2012
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply.

So you basically go to class open the text book, pop in the CD and teach? (unless of course if you want to design your own supplement materials) Do the students use the work books in class or do teachers assign it as homework?
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FarGone



Joined: 02 Nov 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's fun is when the level of the book does not match the level of the students, because the integrity of the entire program is compromised due to the students holding far too much "power" (rich kids with no employment prospects or free-ride scholarship kidz, 'cos Dear Leader "cares so much"); or, when the faces of the humans in the seats at Week 1 resemble not the faces in the seats at Week 5, because the students "got their way" and have successfully maneuvered themselves into another class, behind your back--and you will not be told of this...Administration "will take care of it"--and into classes which hold their best buddies and whoever that teacher is. Razz
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FarGone



Joined: 02 Nov 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always use the Workbooks in class. Students in the Middle East are lazy; they cheat; that's life. So, observing them "do their homework" in class is both a way to lighten your load and to ensure that "each is doing his/her own work."
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lovesand



Joined: 13 Sep 2012
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey FarGone,

I've read that there are 3 or 4 different levels of english classes in the foundation program (according to their abilities and the test that they have to sit for at the start of the new year). Do level 1 classes use book1, level 2 use level 2 and so on? You mentioned that admin allows them to move to different classes so they can be with their friends etc. Do they allow them to move to a different class within their level or a totally different lever?

Even a level one book is to advanced for the first year student?

Are you in Oman at the moment? Which college or uni do you work for?
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FarGone



Joined: 02 Nov 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was at "University" of Buraimi for all of two (2) months; the South African/Indian GFP Director (of the private-contractor ELS) and I, well, didn't see eye-to-eye, and ELS was "kind enough" to pay for my air ticket back out when things became litigious. Cool

I found that one needs to be very compliant to teach in the Middle East. I am not of that fiber, so... But, yes, according to the pull that "Daddy has" or even via sit-outs and campus demonstrations, the students will get what they want (bizarre...another reason that "teaching" in the Middle East is a waste of time for any professional). The students, their families, persons they know, will get them into a higher level than they deserve to be in; this can occur mid-stream (say, at Week 6) or right away (if it's a serious wasta student).

(I think that "jumping ahead one level" is about the limit; the student's portfolio would become too laughable--more than it is already--were one to jump from Starter to Advanced. The Starter/Elementary level is where it's bad, as students at this level feel inferior...because they are, in the English language and many other aspects...and wish to not look like fools, which is a natural occurrence when not doing something well. But it's all status and social group ego here/[there in Oman].)

Throw away any notion of "fair/realistic/outcomes-based placement" and just try to find a way to make it through your contract, with end-of-service "gratuity" in your pocket, paid fully, airline ticket out, and you've done the best you can.


Last edited by FarGone on Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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lovesand



Joined: 13 Sep 2012
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not in Oman at the moment, but I'm hoping to get a job for the second semester (if that is possible, not sure how many new hires the schools have for 2nd semester).

I'm currently in Korea working for the Department of Education in a small town 30 minutes from the North korean border.

So I guess that the level of English that the students have in Oman is the same level as in korea. Currently in every class of 35 that I teach there are about 10 students that can't even read or write the alphabet, 5 students that are pretty good for their age and level and all the rest are like a kinder surprise, you never know what you will get from week to week, and all this because in korea they do not place the students according to their abilities.
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FarGone



Joined: 02 Nov 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The rub is, that these humans you will teach in Oman are already at least 19 years old, most having very little background in English, and they are pretending to be "university students" of English. (I chuckle.)

Perhaps in their native language and in classes they are truly interested in, life is a ball for their professors. But coming in ignorant of the language (which many are--not all, but at Starter level, you'll see a 1 : 10 ratio of real students versus whatever comes into your classroom 30-min late and excited to talk to his buddies while you are lecturing); with the tensions between Islam and the English-speaking world (if you're American, do think twice), and full of pride and ego (instead of being...a student), and I'd stay in Korea, were I you.

Get your Master's degree, if you haven't already, and teach 12hrs/weekly with three months of paid vacation at a Korean university.
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lovesand



Joined: 13 Sep 2012
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm Australian and I have though about staying here and getting a uni job, but the problem is that the uni jobs here are worse than the uni jobs in Oman. The pay at uni gigs in korea is very very very very low, with no accommodation offer (for most universities) and with students behaving like primary school kids. Also the Korean Won going belly up doesn't help.
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FarGone



Joined: 02 Nov 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lovesand wrote:
I'm Australian and I have though about staying here and getting a uni job, but the problem is that the uni jobs here are worse than the uni jobs in Oman. The pay at uni gigs in korea is very very very very low, with no accommodation offer (for most universities) and with students behaving like primary school kids. Also the Korean Won going belly up doesn't help.


1) the South Korean won is stronger now than it was during most of my time teaching university or corporate-level persons from 1999-2011. (Not saying the "condition of the won" is great, but a whole lot better than it was in 1999.)

2) I have never had a problem with Korean university students (only one problem, and I was forced to kick a graduate student out of class and, eventually, he was tossed from the university due to threats made to this professor); otherwise, Korean students of age 19 having studied English since primary school, I have found the vast majority of Korean students to be competent, at least, in English; and when I see university students behaving like children, I am not shy in pointing it out to them and in front of their peers. Thus usually fixes the problem.

3) True. Salaries have not gone up by much at all since I entered Korea in 1999. This is a major problem. Salaries will need to rise, for there to be a constant supply of native-English instructors.

4) I had accommodations provided in every position in my nearly twelve years of teaching in South Korea. I never had to look for or pay for my own housing or "key money." And I would never take a position in Korea where such is expected of its foreign professional hires.
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lovesand



Joined: 13 Sep 2012
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When was your final year in korea?
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16004
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Fargone admitted above, he has taught exactly two months in Oman and hated it, so he might not be the best source of general information - but his experience based on his one college. Because his experience was not a good one, his posts will lean to the negative.

There is variance between employers and even between colleges through the same employer. Yes, these recruiter based jobs are entry level... as far as pay and conditions and credentials expected. One should go into them with low expectations and plenty of patience.

The common procedure in the Gulf is that courses are decided by management and the Ministry in the spring. Books must be ordered then so that they arrive by the first semester. Teachers' input will probably be limited. Most foundations courses like these are a number of levels although it is very difficult to stream Arab students because of the HUGE variation in levels. I have taught ESP courses at SQU where there was no streaming and you had students from those who barely knew the alphabet to advanced level. The streaming difficulty by level is complicated by the fact that their speaking and listening will be 1-3 levels better than their reading and writing... which is invariably very weak. I taught at a private college in Muscat where we had 5 levels and split the course into the skills mentioned above. We had students who were in level one for writing and level 4-5 for speaking and listening. Other places in the Gulf have an integrated skill course plus a writing class.

How structured the course is again depends on the employer. I have taught courses where we all lock-stepped through the text and those where I had no text at all and created my own course with only basic guidelines from a syllabus. There are advantages to both ways, but I normally taught writing and targeted each course towards the needs of the group to pass.

The students are a mixed lot, but generally respond well to a sincere, knowledgeable teacher. If you show them respect, they will normally return it. They are not academic for the most part. Oman is filling these colleges to keep the unemployed youth off the streets... and hopefully give them some education that will be useful to them and the country. We teachers stand on the sideline and critique this endlessly, but it is their country. (their ball, their court... so to speak) If they want your advice on how to improve it, they will ask. (hint: they don't want it and won't ask) Cool Some of them will be hopelessly lazy... and other will be diligent. The juggling is to keep the first quiet so that the other can actually learn. I think this is always what teaching is about in the end...

I taught in Oman for over six years... but it was years ago now. Conditions were better in the past. The students have become more spoiled and demanding, but the basic Omani personality is the same. University students tend to be very immature and while some teachers resent it, part of our job is to help make them good students and citizens.

But, I fear our discussion may be moot if they continue to enforce the requirement for an education BA, which as I recall, you don't have.

VS
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FarGone



Joined: 02 Nov 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Age 18 or 19 or older is too late to "make them good students" of the English language. (And how can a teacher "make" a student do anything, if "University" is a privately-run, come-all outfit, anyway?)

As far as "making them good citizens": ho ho. We (largely non-Muslim, native-speaking English teachers) are not, ourselves, "citizens" of Oman; we have 0.00 power in civic affairs there. As such, that aspect of your comment is absurd.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16004
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FarGone wrote:
As such, that aspect of your comment is absurd.

Only to those that lack the ability to succeed at it...

And your statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the culture.

VS
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