Someone asked me about what credentials are needed to teach English as a Second (or other) Language.
To answer the question, I'd have to know what your goals were in order to see how the certification fits the goals,
Last person who asked me this question told me described her goal as "I want to live in Thailand and support myself teaching ESL while I volunteer to work with elephants," but I have heard people study ESL teaching for other reason, too.
Education can help you by enabling you to do something or by giving you fancy papers that enable you to get jobs or ideally both, but they are not always the same, so . . .
1) teach folks you know ESL. Literacy Volunteers had a good training program in 2008 when I took it and probably still does. Short, simple, good, --four evenings of training for 35$ plus a commitment on your part to be a volunteer tutor. I'd recommend it highly if it's still the same.
2) Teach ESL while living abroad (okay, you need to remember you don't actually "travel" all the time while doing this. Often you just live abroad, hang out, commute back and forth through crazy foreign traffic, and deal with culture shock. There are pros and cons.)
The requirements vary by country. To learn them hang out online in forums in the target country and read things like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and its competitors (Rough Trade? I think that's the name. --BTW, here's a start on the Lonely Planet youtube channel, have fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li6w8oqmyzo )
Some places the qualifications are "foreign" and at times offensive. i.e. no ESL training required, advanced degrees preferred, the higher degree the better, but field unimportant --i.e. PhD in Chemistry or Theology often trumps an MS in TESOL, white faces often preferred but not always -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqtS3hSwq3o the part on ESL recruiting is often dead on true and Asian faces don't do much better. ) Some places no certifications are necessary.
Do your research.
Sometimes they want a certificate such as the Oxford. Some times and places you want to shake them and say "But you should value this! It is useful and your requirements are absurd!" and you will be 100% dead on correct but it just won't matter because it's not your country or culture and they make the decisions. (a friend of mine was quite upset when her ESL employer in Kunming China hired a French speaking Caucasian with a thick accent over her native speaking Chinese American friend. OTOH, she learned to accept such things and now has a PhD in anthropology from Cornell with most of the research done in the field in China.) Alas!
3) Teach at for profit places in the USA (Boston has several, I've worked at these. In New York State licensing requirements discourage them from starting here.) These general require a relevant MA or MS or a certificate like you have. However, they will usually keep a good teacher with a certificate over a mediocre one with an MS in TESOL.
My experience is most of the not-for-profits want the same credentials in Boston.
4) teach at a college ESL in the USA --MA or MS in TESOL pretty much required. Sometimes a relevant PhD.
5) teach in public schools. Check each state's requirements. They vary widely.
Generally a certificate like yours is officially not useful (I think) but if it comes with knowledge then it can be useful.
i.e. for example, let's say you become a certified Massachusetts history teacher licensed to teach in that field. Suddenly the states decrees that they want all teachers to have a knowledge of ESL and pass a test on it or take additional training. If you pass the test, bingo! you don't need to take the training. You get to move to the top of the qualified teacher list while the others need to be trained and sit at the bottom. Double bonus if you can speak Spanish!
This really happened two years ago BTW. My understanding is a few years ago the push was for Special Ed qualifications for all Massachusetts public school teachers. Last year it was ESL.
Conflict Communication –A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication, by Rory Miller. Copyright 2015. YMAA Publication Center, Inc. Wolfsboro, NH. 167 pp.
I consider this one of the most important books, I’ve read in a long time, and I read a lot.
It was that good.
The book discusses communication, human behavior and thought patterns, and how to best communicate to achieve results and reduce and prevent conflict. Conflict, in this context, is defined as not just physical violence, but any sort of friction or interpersonal problem that can develop between two or more people. Much time is spent on the way differing communication styles can cause conflict, and how to avoid such problems and reduce their effects when conflict arises.
Rory Miller is a martial artist and self-defense expert, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sixteen years experience as a corrections officer. His materials are quite impressive for their insight into human behavior, violence related behaviors, and ways to respond to them. Of course, the best way, if possible, to respond to a threat of violence is to avoid it, and sometimes the best tool for avoiding violence or reducing a threat is communication.
This book came about when Marc MacYoung, another notable self defense author with a strong interest in communication, patterns of violence, and violence prevention and reduction, was teaching a de-escalation course and using many materials that came from Miller. Soon the two agreed to work together to create a program on communication and violence de-escalation. The result is this book.
The authors work on the premise that the human brain has three parts, and they each function differently resulting in a different style of reaction to perceived threats and different styles of behavior.
They describe these as “the human brain,” “the monkey brain,” and “the lizard brain.” Although I question if the science is as cut and dried as the book sometimes seems to imply it is, the concepts are quite useful (the author’s primary focus is application)
The human brain is the rational part that responds to communications and threats in a logical way without strong emotion.
The monkey brain is the part that responds to social pressures and works to keep the individual part of a group. This is said to be because primates survive best as part of a group. Although this part does respond to communication attempts it often responds in a very emotional way, distorting facts and priorities in order to follow a social agenda.
The lizard brain is the part that responds at a reflexive, physical level without conscious thought. When this part takes over communication is difficult to impossible.
Just a few random excerpts and communication strategies chosen almost at random to give a feel for the book.
On page 49, the author talks of the way the word “you” is often used in confrontational situations and advises avoiding it when possible. For instance, he suggests replacing “what are you doing?” with “what’s going on?”
The author speaks of the importance of recognizing scripts and not getting sucked into pre-programmed, unconscious patterns of behavior. In fact this is undoubtedly one of the often repeated lessons of the work. Part of the key to doing this is to remain conscious of one’s behavior, monitoring responses, and not taking things too personally.
Another lesson from the book is the way people and scripts often employ “hooks.”
The author describes a hook as “an excuse to act out or a rationalization that will allow them to excuse their reactions later.” For instance, while it is not acceptable for a large man to beat a smaller person, in some situations if they can claim even a flimsy justification –i.e. “she didn’t know her place” or “he was trying to act smarter than me”—it can in some circles, or at least to the person doing the beating, appear justified. Again the author emphasizes the importance of recognizing scripts and not getting sucked in and playing them.
One of the most valuable lessons from the book are the parts where the author discusses how to achieve or improve the chances of achieving one’s goals within an organization (or other hierarchical social structure). Part of this, he states, is to strive for the receiver of the message to focus on content rather than the possibility that the speaker is threatening the hierarchy or power structure. He offers a few phrases that show the speaker “knows his (or her) place” and thus is not threatening the group when making suggestions. For instance, he says that if one begins with something like “I know I’m just a ________, but I had this idea, and I don’t know much about it, but I wondered what you thought. How does ___________ sound to you?” Another possibility is saying something like “I know I should have followed the chain of command, but I figured you were the only one who wouldn’t laugh at me if I was wrong.”
In conclusion, this is a fine book with much to offer to not just people with an interest in violence but people everywhere.
Refugees are in the news. In 2008, I began volunteering and working with
local refugees. Although I’ve been in and out of the area since, I’ve stayed in
touch with several, primarily from Burmese ethnic groups. The Obama
administration agreed to accept large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees, and
to increase annual global refugee admittance to 100,000 annually. It’s
reasonable to expect more in the Capital District soon. Is this safe? Is it a good idea? Who’s
watching these people? What can we do? .
A lot of people fear that terrorists might be snuck into our nation as refugees. So, iIs this safe? Will it be likely to bring terrorists and people arriving using false
credentials. Will this happen? False credentials, yes, undoubtedly, and anyone
who tells you otherwise is either ignorant or lying. Of course, it happens. Find
one government aid program that achieves 100% success.
Refugees are vetted but, as in any program, not with 100%
Is it safe? Not 100%, but I feel fear of Islamic terrorists coming as
refugees is overstated.
I’ve also worked with foreign students and student visa has always seemed
an easier way to sneak in terrorists. (Remember,
16 out of 19 September 11 terrorists were Saudis. There’s over 100,000 Saudi
students in this country, many are notoriously lax students. But a lot of money
is being made this way so none object.)
And the biggest source of mad bombers, mass shooters, and anthrax
mailers are all-American nut jobs who consistently far outnumber foreign
terrorists, even if they lack scary accents.
Infighting, YMAA Publication Center, 79 minutes, $29.95
This is another fine DVD from Rory Miller. Miller is an
experienced martial artist, experienced corrections officer, an experienced
trainer, and an analytical thinker with a degree in psychology. His books and
DVDs tend to be very well done and interesting on many levels. This one is no
In “In-fighting,” Miller is up to
his usual high standards and focuses on an important and interesting topic. The
cover claims that this DVD will “develop your close-range combat reflexes” and
the DVD focuses on exactly that. Miller describes the focus as “martial arts,”
and not “self-defense.” The intent is to focus on improving fighting when the
fighters are at “clinch range” which he also describes as “torso to torso” or
Miller is an experienced trainer
and a master teacher. He begins by discussing how to learn the techniques and
principles taught in the DVD. “Play,” he says, more than once, and he
emphasizes repeatedly that to learn the materials on the DVD one must go out
and practice. The format of the DVD is like Miller’s other DVDs. There are a
group of people in a place, Miller teaches, explains, and demonstrates, then
the students practice as Miller comments and clarifies. Personally, I’ve seen
all five of Miller’s DVDs and felt this format fits four of the five (there was
one, Scaling Force, that I thought would have been done better with a different
format), and it fits this one, as well.
For an hour and 18 minutes, the
group practices and Miller explains and clarifieds. Subjects covered include
not just techniques like throws, sweeps, chokes, and strikes, as well as ways
to destroy the opponent’s structure and the use of leverage and leverage
points, but also training methodology and some of the building blocks required
to develop the skills that the video is designed to impart. These building
blocks include an introduction to how to move people’s bodies, locks, and
takedowns. It’s all well done and well explained and well demonstrated.
In conclusion this is well done
DVD. A martial arts teacher or class could easily use it as the basis for many
drills and useful skill building practice. The concepts are interesting, the
techniques clearly explained, this is a good addition to most martial arts
Chanpuru –Reflections and Lessons from the Dojo, by Garry
Parker. 2015. Tambuli Publishing, Spring House PA
Following a stint in the US Air
Force, where he found himself stationed in Okinaw, Garry Parker stayed and began the study of Okinawan Karate.
Later, after he returned home to the USA
and was unable to find training in this art that fit him, on the urging of his
sensei in Okinawa he opened his own small school and became a sensei himself. In
this book Garry Parker tells that journey and shares some of the lessons that
he learned from it.
This book is a quick read, being
only about 163 pages. At times, it seemed a bit superficial and I would have liked
more depth and detail, but I suspect a large part of this is that I do not
study Okinawan karate.
It’s divided into sections. In the first section, Parker tells of how he
enlisted in the air force, arrived in Okinawa and joined a dojo. He speaks of
how, despite throwing himself into the art, he tells of how his sensei occasionally
wondered about his discipline and intent.
He describes what it was like
training in an Okinawan dojo, and the constant use of the makiwara board and
hand conditioning techniques. He tells of training with such intensity, and constant
signs of wear and tear on his hands, that he was identified as a beginner by an
elderly Okinawan lady in the supermarket who easily recognized the marks of a
Later when he returned to the USA,
he tried to follow the same traditions and practices. Unable to find a dojo that fit him in his
hometown of Columbus, Georgia, his sensei in Okinawa encouraged him to start training
on his own. Despite hesitation, he set out to do this. After training in his
house for several months, he began constructing a wooden dojo in his backyard. When
he felt his progress stagnate, again on the urging of his sensei in Okinawa, he
began teaching students. Beginning with his wife and children, he’d soon
recruited several students and began teaching them not just the physical skills
but also the moral lessons that he felt were an important part of Okinawan
In the second half of the book, he
shares some of the lessons he has learned as a teacher. These include the
importance of regular training, the importance of not judging students before
really understanding them or knowing the facts about their behaviors, and the
importance of “giri” or obligation among students and how it not only helps the
dojo but also helps the students themselves.
In part three, the author writes of
the importance of legacy and honoring one’s teachers.
Personally, as stated, I do not
study Okinawan Karate but expect that
this book will resonate among people who do. Although I often wished that
Parker would have included more detail and depth in his stories, he is clearly
sharing something important to him, and it’s clear that this is what he also
does when teaching karate. I think Chanpuru will be a welcome addition to libraries
of books about martial arts teachers and what their art means to them.
Scaling Force --Dynamic Decision-making under threat of violence. YMAA, 120 minutes.
Roy Miller has created five DVDs,
all of which I’ve seen, and written several books, of which I’ve read four.
I’ve been very impressed with all his work so far, and even went so far as to
attend two of his seminars. I was also quite pleased and impressed with both
him and the material presented. Having said that of all his DVDs this is the
only one I would not give five stars. Is it bad? No, it’s well worth watching.
I think anyone who watches it will get something from it. But is it great, as great
as his other materials? I don’t think so. As for Lawrence Kane, I’ve read two
books him as well and thought they were good too and look forward to reading
others. Both men are good writers and martial artists with a firm grounding in
self-defense and an ability to analyze and communicate well.
another reviewer at Amazon, I strongly recommend that someone interested in the
subject should first read Miller and Kane’s book “Scaling Force” before
watching this video. That’s where most of the real factual content can be
learned. But having said that, I don’t wish to condemn this DVD entirely. It
does supplement the book and provides new examples and perspectives on the
lessons taught, although I question if a person could get a good, well rounded
grasp on the material by watching this DVD alone. To a large extent, I felt that in this DVD
they got away from the focus of the book, and taught about a wide variety of self defense,
crime avoidance, and awareness related subjects instead.
presentation style, in my opinion, was not chosen to fit the content of the
book and the lessons the authors wanted to teach, but instead they went with
the approach Miller used in his four other DVDs. Miller is in a room with
several other people. In this room with these people, he lectures, tells
stories, discusses, demonstrates, and answers questions. Periodically, this is
interrupted by Lawrence Kane, who was not able to be present giving lectures
and telling stories on his own to give his own spin on the materials. Now
anyone who’s met Rory Miller probably believes like I do that if he were to
talk about grocery shopping on a school bus, just to give an absurd example,
you’d learn a great deal of valuable stuff. So it’s not like this is devoid of content. On
the other hand, it would have been nice if they had supplemented this with
charts, diagrams, computer graphics, and other sorts of visuals to illustrate
the lessons and clarify points.
The basic idea of
the book and DVD is that when one is faced with violence or the threat of
violence one needs to respond in an appropriate way with an appropriate degree
of force. In the book and DVD, Kane and Miller divide potential responses into
six different levels.
The first of these
is “presence.” Often a situation can be defused or avoided merely by one’s
presence, particularly if the potential assailant is being observed. Miller gives an example of someone who caused
a suspicious car to leave the neighborhood simply by photographing its license
plate and letting the person inside see that this was being done.
The second level
of response is “voice.’ Many situations can, indeed, by defused through
talking. Talking of course, does not include just negotiation but also talking
down emotional distraught people, letting potential assailants know you’re
aware of their intent, or even tricking people.
It was this part
where I was most disappointed in the DVD, largely because this section of the
book is so amazingly good. I would recommend without hesitation that any EMT or
emergency responder interested in improving their emergency communication and
crisis intervention skills read this section of the book. Unfortunately, I do
not think they would get the same benefits from this DVD. One reason for this
is, ironically, Miller’s professionalism and desire to produce quality
materials. He states in the DVD that although he and others of the people
present are skilled and experienced in talking emotionally distraught people
down, they chose not to demonstrate this in detail in the DVD because they are
not good actors and would not show it well.
The third level is
touch. In many cases, a situation can be defused when the right person places a
hand on someone in the right way. Examples are shown.
The fourth level
is the use of restraining and other hand to hand techniques. This is, of course, the point where most martial arts and self defense training
Although the book
speaks of level five, less lethal force,
and six, lethal force, as separate entities in the DVD they are combined. It is explained that the reason for combining
the two is because in a real conflict situation a person will react automatically
with a mixture of instinct and training and not be able to distinguish clearly
between the two levels of force.
This is just one
more example of the differences between the book and the DVD. In the DVD, there is an assumption that the
audience is ordinary people, “citizens” who do not normally respond to
violence, and not people who face it regularly such as emergency service
personnel or large event security people. It also one example of how the DVD is
much less organized than the book. (Some will respond that violence is
inherently disorganized. One of the things that I love about Miller’s work,
however, is that he is able to see the patterns in it.)
there’s much in the DVD that’s worth paying attention to. There’s a lot of good
material on how to avoid violence and increase one’s awareness of dangerous
situations. Miller and Kane know their stuff. On the other hand, for those
expecting a video organization that tightly follows the format of the book,
they are likely to find this disappointing.
Balintawak Eskrima, by Sam L. Buot, Sr. (2015) Tambuli Media, Spring House, PA.
262 pages, 7 by 10 inches, paperback.
• ISBN-10: 0692312994
Balintawak is one of several styles of Filipino martial arts .* Like most, it is a comprehensive martial art that begins training uses a stick but also incorporates knife and empty hand techniques. Unlike many Filipino martial arts (FMA), however, in this art, practitioners practice with a single stick instead of a pair of double sticks. Aside from that, the art appears to be fairly typical.
This is a good 240 page book in which Sam L Buot, Sr, explains a great deal about Balintawak. It is divided into different sections. Each section is done well.
The first section covers history and masters of Balintawak Eskrima. Although much of this is both fascinating and informative, in my opinion, it goes on longer than a typical reader would appreciate. My guess is that the author not only wished to show his appreciation for all who had taught him or taught those who taught him, but that he also wished to ensure that no one would feel slighted or be left out. Still a great deal of valuable information was presented on the social niche and transmission of this and other arts in the Philipines.
The next section is 13 pages long and discusses the foundation of the art, a system of 12 strikes.
The next three sections, called The Defensive Stage, The Offensive Stage, and a section entitled “Balintawak Interpreted: Application of Balintawak,” total 142 pages and cover a variety of techniques and applications of the art.
The bulk of the book is demonstrations of techniques. These are demonstrated well with clear text explanations and a reader and a training partner should be able to reproduce them reasonably well assuming they have enough grounding in the Filipino martial arts to see the basic principles on which they are built.
In conclusion, although there are portions of the book, that stretch on longer than most readers might wish, this is nevertheless a fine book that would make a welcome supplement to any Filipino martial arts practitioner’s library.
• Although the exact terminology is quite controversial these arts are often known as kali, arnis, or escrima, a term Mark Wiley prefers to spell as eskrima, with a K. Therefore, Balintawak could be said to be a sub-style of esrkima (escrima). The author, Sam L. Buot, Sr., makes it clear that he prefers to avoid the term kali, saying it is almost unknown in the Philipines.
Fall Gelb 1940 (1) Panzer Breakthrough in the West, Osprey
Written by Douglas C. Dildy, Illustrated by Peter Dennis.
Co. 2014, Osprey Publishing. 96 pages,
widely illustrated in black and white with color prints.
Scope – A single Campaign
Completeness – High
Appeal - Low
Accuracy - *
In 1940, in a stunningly successful blitzkrieg campaign, the
Nazis over ran the democracies of western Europe. This book, the first of two
volumes, tells that story. On the positive side, it is beautifully illustrated
with historical photographs, modern photographs of monuments, battle sites,
restored takes and such, paintings, and beautiful maps. It contains lots of
detailed information. On the negative side, however, it is dry reading and
difficult to absorb. Although I am quite sure many will appreciate this level
of detail, and such people will love this volume and know that Osprey is a good
place to look for such detail, I am afraid I was not among them.
single paragraph chosen while reading today should illustrate what I mean.:
In Heeresgruppe A’s area, Sperrle’s initial
effort was less consistent. I. Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 1’s (I./KG 1) raid on
Cambrai Niergnies decimated one ZOAN fighter group (GC III/2; air cover for
General Georges Blanchard’s 1ere Armee), destroying eight MS 406s and damaging five more so seriously that
General Tetu had to transfer another unit (GC III/7) from ZOAE to replace it. Other
Heinkels destroyed seven Potez 63-11 and Bloch 174 reconnaissance aircraft (GR
II/33 and GR II/36) while Do 17Zs knocked out five Am 143 bombers (GB II/34)
and six Fairey battles, as well as caused serious damage to hangars and
workshops at three AASF bases. (taken from page 31.)
level of dry detail appeals to you, so will this book. If not, I suggest
finding a more basic, more general work on the subject that focuses a bit more
on the human aspect of what happened. Of course, one is not better than the
other. But in my opinion, this is a specialized work and aimed at a specialized
audience who should enjoy it.
difficult to know how many stars to give this book. Some might say three, as it
is rather boring, some would say five, as it gives great detail on which group
went where when. I will give it four, and stay safely in the middle.
Fall Gelb 1940 (2) Airborne Assault on the Low Countries, Osprey
Written by Douglas C. Dildy, Illustrated by Peter Dennis.
Co. 2015, Osprey Publishing. 96 pages,
widely illustrated in black and white with color prints.
Scope – A single Campaign
Completeness – High
Appeal - Low
Accuracy - *
Osprey has released a pair of books describing how the Nazis
over ran the democracies of western Europe in 1940. This book, the second of
two volumes, tells more of the story. Previously, I wrote a review of the first
volume. Basically what I wrote was that although a target audience for the book
existed, and that target audience would be quite pleased with the volume, I thought,
I was not part of that target audience and had difficulty judging the quality
of the work. I found the scope too large and the text too detailed and too fact
filled to easily follow the events that were described. I did, however, feel
that to a reader with a better background in the campaign and the history, the
book would be easier to follow and more useful. In short, it was not a beginner’s
book and I was a beginner in understanding the period and the conflict.
what about volume two? Good news. For whatever reason I found this one easier
to understand. Therefore, I enjoyed it more.
course, it has the same great illustrations as its predecessor, the sorts of
illustrations that Osprey is well known for. These include paintings, color
photographs of modern battle sites, monuments, and museum displays, many black
and white period photographs, as well as maps.
conclusion, this is a good book for those seeking information on this campaign.
SUGGESTED SEARCHES FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR CONCRETE ADVICE ON HELPING REFUGEES
1. FURNITURE(tips on running a refugee center furniture collection program.)
2. DRIVING (tips on teaching driving to refugees)
3. HIGHER EDUCATION (tips on assisting refugees with higher education.)
4. BURMESE NAMES (a long article on Burmese and Karen names.)
I tend to write several entries on a subject and although admittedly they are of variable quality by following the topic keys then one should get a fairly complete view of what I think on the issue. There's a lot of good information buried here particularly on some obscure subjects related to assisting newly arrived refugees, particularly from Burma. These subjects include furniture donation issues, driver education and even domestic violence. If these issues interest you, follow the internal links, do searches, there's a lot here and I've found that often people search on a subject using google, I've written an answer, but the search engines sent them to some other entry where I discussed only a small part of the issue. So if a subject that interests you has a truly mediocre entry there is probably a good one hidden away as well on different aspects of the same subject You can't get a full picture on the issues covered in this blog by reading just one entry. it wasn't written that way. If you still don't see what you want, feel free to drop me an e-mail. Thank you.
Journalist, educator, and low level Asian history scholar who dabbles in fiction. Peter Huston is the author of several books, including Scams from the Great Beyond, Tong, Gangs, and Triads,, and the novel, Excess Emotional Baggage.
Interests include :
1) Internatinal Education and Teaching English as a Second or other Language,
2)refugee concerns and refugee resettlement,
3)self defense and martial arts,
4) Asian culture and history,
5) censorship controversies
6) the skeptical examination of paranormal and pseudo-scientific claims.
Education includes a master's degree in East Asian Studies from Cornell and a second master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University at Albany, party of the New York State SUNY system.
I am not the sailing guy, sports betting guy or the attorney guy. These people who use the name Peter Huston are, presumably, impostors. I am the real