Liyang's "Crazy English"

<b> Forum for the discussion on ESL/EFL textbooks </b>

Moderators: Dimitris, maneki neko2, Lorikeet, Enrico Palazzo, superpeach, cecil2, Mr. Kalgukshi2

Post Reply
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Dec 27, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Canada, China

Liyang's "Crazy English"

Post by Halapo » Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:34 pm

First off, this is my opinion of the man Liyang.

I am an English teacher in China. Last month Liyang brought his "Crazy English" tour to my school. Before he went out in front of the students, he had a 2 hour chat with the Teachers. I attended this meeting. I now wish I hadn't. First off I do not expect to be called a "Gwai Louh" in China ( seeing as it is Cantonese not Chinese), second not to my face, and finally not in professional meeting with a supposed world traveler. He even said it in an English sentence! He followed it up with a some Chinese and "Laowai". Again, not something I expect in a professional meeting. And if he could call me a Gwai Louh to my face, what did he say with "Laowai" to my back? Anyway, that is honestly not to bad.

Then he said to the teachers "jeuqiao" and "xie ren" "Laowai" ( to bad for him the students and I had been working on "trust" and the week before we shared some "tricks" to play). I got the basics on my own, and a teacher filled me in later. He then asked me how much money I made, and wasn't happy with "enough". He hounded me a bit, and since he is a guest at the school, and the school was getting some face (we are not the biggest school in town, but we are the only place he came too), I went along. And again, that is not really to bad, from what I know, my salary is a well known secret on the campus. The part that got to me, and I was to shocked and embarrassed, was when he offered some of his breakfast. Sure, sharing food isn't so bad, but cold food? And not letting me use chopsticks, telling me to eat with my hands ( cold, wet dumplings, with my hands)?

I found out after, one of his staff had made some kind of error, and he was rude to her, said something about her being on, or acting like she was on drugs. He also mentioned his daughters ( his wife is white I guess), saying they lived and studied overseas, and that they were very good English half breeds. I don't think that is acceptable in China, and I know it isn't in Canada. That is just rude.

Now I don't want people to think I am attacking a successful Chinese businessman. As a businessman I think he has done very well. I take issue with his claims of teaching, seeing as he has had no training as a teacher. The main point he stress's is that "learning English isn't easy, you have to put a lot of effort into it, and you will make mistakes, but that's how we learn."

I would counter this with "Anything you put effort into, where you make mistakes and still keep going will end in success". It is called hard work. If you check the slogans on his books however, "English made easy" is one of them.

The teachers played nice with him too, so I still went on stage with him in front of the students. I played his game, gave him face. But I did it for the students, and I can point out to them that both he and I have been saying "You have to try, fail, and try again. No point in being shy, have a try."

This is the part I protest. He is famous, but famous doesn't equal a good teacher (but being famous for being a salesman, that's pretty good). There are over 30 English teachers in the school, none of them use his stuff. If he has helped people learn in the past, that is great, but I have seen so many schools, programs and "shady" tutors promise easy results, take the cash, and the students/clients learn very little.

A Student, just by joining Dave's ESL Cafe can learn just as much, and this is free. I can save you the money his program costs.
1) Be prepare to work at learning English, when ever you have some free time, speak English out loud.
2) Get some English to read ( it doesn't even have to be correct, his has grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes). The point is you need some English to read. If you can repeat a tape or movie, that works to, Liyang tries to teach the pronunciation first and the meanings second.
3) Keep at it, try, fail, try again. Don't be Shy, have a try!

That is it.

This is the same method the schools use, but he spends time saying the government program is wrong. He is saying the same thing, just in a different way, lots of excitement, and a flashy show. To be fair, I use the same tricks in class, but I don't charge the students extra for my "crazy".

He does say the teachers are to strict with the students, making them so afraid to fail that they are not willing to try. I think we forget that high school students spend a lot time at school. Teachers in China have to teach manners and proper behavior to, remember some students live at school until the weekend or longer. The only adults students deal with are teachers. Imagine trying to teach math class, and stopping to cover being polite? Teachers have to be strict in China , they have to raise and teach at the same time. It is different in the west, but the west is the west, the east is the east. Some western methods can work, but so many of them focus on one-on-one time with students, they are just not practical in China.

The ending of my day with Liyang? Headmaster served him a poor lunch after (my first lunch with the Headmaster was very nice). Another teacher pointed that out to me, I was feeling a bit used/dirty after the show. But best of all, he gave every English teacher his complete collection of books/tapes... None of them are on any desks or in any office.

... Whew... I feel better after saying that.

User avatar
Posts: 1374
Joined: Sun May 18, 2003 4:14 am
Location: San Francisco, California

Post by Lorikeet » Wed Dec 31, 2008 2:37 am

Actually, that's kind of shocking. Thanks for your comments.

Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:47 am

Not so Crazy English

Post by serenitynow » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:18 pm

I just got done teaching at a Crazy English Camp, and I'm not surprised by what you just said, except I didn't expect Li Yang to be such a jerk. I thought he'd cover up his sleaziness better, like he does in his books with all the self-advertising slogans.
Li Yang is someone I truly despise. He has manipulated millions of Chinese people who are looking for easy answers to studying English. Of course, there are no easy ways, and like you pointed out this is the sleaziest things about him. He advertises a simple way to study English, but the book basically says English is a lot of work.
Most of the English one learns repeats phrases like, "Crazy English changed my life." "I love Crazy English." It reminds one of Mao Zedong. In fact, during the last day festivities when everyone was dancing to some mindless beat they always played throughout the camp, I did the revolutionary dance of the Mao era and even did the little red book gesture with my arm. I do this often because it's not entirely clear to other people since I add the so-called pop culture revolution dancing to it too. Only a few people get it and they either think it's funny or innocent.
The funniest part is when everyone there was shouting "I am the best." I mentioned to a teacher that the phrase shouted by 50 students is inherently illogical. Most Chinese don't like to hear any criticism, but I couldn't take it anymore. The students mostly memorized English lines. This shows that the methods are not revolutionary. I think the only thing revolutionary is that they yell English out as loud as they can. Honestly, this just pisses me off. You get a bunch of people yelling and saying they are the best and basically being confident A-holes. And I felt more like I was at a Red Guard gathering than an English camp. In fact, they had many performances, only a few contained English. Mostly the performances were in Chinese and sometimes they were just dancing. It seemed more about teamwork than anything else. For instance, there was coordinated dancing with phrases shouted in Chinese.
They also yelled phrases in Chinese like "I can do it" "I want to learn English." Very little of it was in English although most people could handle those simple words. If I was one of these parents I'd feel concerned. But I think Chinese parents are in a difficult situation because they don't want to seem too behind the times. And they are also happy if their kids are having fun learning a little English. Most Chinese parents want to reverse the controlling Asian parent style, so they sign their kids up for friendly programs like Li Yang's Crazy English. It seems good if you don't know much about English or teaching, and they even teach some morality about being the best you can be. However, they are short-sighted when looking into the BS of his program. Li Yang is very smart because he knows he's helping Chinese parents feel better about raising their kids without actually helping.
And to add one more thing. Li Yang also seems to have opened a market for anyone willing to be a Li Yang protege. Camps and classes are all over China and Chinese people don't know any better so they are very profitable. This means more A-holes are owning these things. I've even been offered to help someone open one. He said all I'd do was repeat phrases for two hours. I asked about using other methods and he said not to. And when I asked if the people understood these sentences he said that didn't matter, because we were teaching pronunciation. I said I'd rather not.
The camp was only for a few days so I joined that (and they also gave me way too much money.) But I'm not sure I'll ever do it again. Oh, and I know how you feel with going on stage for something absurd. I usually change their idea to fit mine enough, but sometimes I just give 'em hell. I think the calm measured approach is better, but it doesn't come naturally for me.

User avatar
Posts: 1374
Joined: Sun May 18, 2003 4:14 am
Location: San Francisco, California

Post by Lorikeet » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:34 am

Well over a year later, and it sounds just as bad! Thanks for posting.

Post Reply