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Life in the Bus Lane

The LiBeL column from The Nation (Thailand) newspaper

I started a website for English teachers, Ajarn.com, back in 1999.  It grew pretty quickly and within a couple of years I was asked to write a weekly column for the Education Section of The Nation newspaper.  

The late Bobby McBlain ran that section and he wanted something that wasn’t your typical, dull teaching column.  He enjoyed the same sarcastic humour as myself and so the Life in the Bus Lane (a.k.a. LiBeL) was born. The name of the column is from a Half Man Half Biscuit lyric and seemed apt as a TELFers life back then involved a lot of bus journey’s across central Bangkok.

The aim of the articles was simple – to take the piss out of teachers and the education system in general and see what we could get away with.  

Writing for a national newspaper sounds impressive.  But it was more a case of being in the right place at the right time. And being cheap to hire. Rather than me having any real god given talent.

The column ran for about 15 months from Feb 2001 – May 2002.  By that time I’d upset quite a few people and the higher ups at The Nation decided that it was time to redesign the Education section and have a proper, serious teacher write a column instead.  

So this site is just a dumping ground for those columns, as I sometimes get asked about them and having them online is far easier for me to access than a rooting through a long forgotten folder on Google drive. Some are quite good, others aren’t.  All are the result of a few beers on a Thursday night as I struggled to think of something to write for the Friday deadline.

What is probably most impressive are the number of song titles I managed to use and the number of references to bars, hookers, dead kids, pedophiles etc which wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a newspaper column today. :-)

Dress Code

Entering into the dangerous world of fashion If you’re reading this on the bus or sitting in M…

The Chosen One

The sheer joy of multiple choice School’s winding down for those of us fortunate enough not to…

ISO Rules OK

What a school needs to do to get that treasured status The very mention of this, ahem, quality stand…

Into The Great Wide Open

Summer Camps Come mid-March the shopping malls which, days earlier, had been alive with the sound of…

Whinging Thai Teachers and Cheering Practice

Returning to the topic of ISO numbers for a moment Just to return to the theme of ISO accreditation …

Bitchin’, Fussin’ Cussin’

Let’s all have a good moan why don’t we As part of an ongoing anthropological study I&#8…

An Inspector Calls

OK folks, stand by your beds Put yourself in the place of the average Thai teacher for a moment. Wha…

Language School Stereotypes

Those terrors of the staff-room Working for a language school one encounters many different personal…

Holiday in Cambodia

Travels in a far-off and less-visited country Travelogue – if you’re learning English an…

Born Under a Bad Sign

Signs of the times Teachers are trained to watch for signs. There are many different signs the dilig…

Blaspemous Rumours

JC’s travels in Thailand Before e-cards with ‘Burn in hell! ‘ Flash animation star…

In The beginning Was The Word

You know how Thais just love their gadgets (If William Caxton could see us now . . .) You know how T…

Those Were The Days

Why I chose Thailand of all places Before I began to write the LIBeL columns I was fortunate to rece…

Sweet Grandchild O’mine

The incredible journey and how it all unfolded This week’s column is a mini-slice of life. A s…

School Daze

A trip down memory lane Just before climbing the stairs to the spare room that’s home to my co…

The International Course Bandwagon Rolls On

Are Thai MBA courses worth the money? We Brits are always amused by the fact that Thai students don&…

The Evolution of E-learning

At last a column with some substance If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to rile a Th…

EQ = IQ For Idiots?

What does it all mean? One of the favourite pastimes among the community of Thai Chinese middle clas…

Back to School

The first day of term is the same all over the world. A day in which the hearts and minds of a natio…

The End of Innocence

Comparing and contrasting cultural diversity Over the last couple of weeks some of my students have …

Young Americans

Close encounters of the British-American kind Last Saturday evening I was on the skytrain, minding m…

Scattelings of Africa

Investigative journalism at its very best Is truth stranger than fiction? Let’s leave St Judas…

The English Language

Death by TV presenter As usual I was searching for inspiration on Saturday evening and failing miser…

Mr T and the Kids

(Dis) credit where it’s due News – it comes in many shapes and forms, especially here in…

Glory Days

Inspired by The Boss I’d like to start off with a couple of quotes which I heard recently. The…

Eazy English

All the latest from Thailand’s TEFL world My private students seem to enjoy telling me bits of…

My Way or the Thai Way

There’s one born every minute It’s a Monday morning. Let the games commence. All around …

Peak Perfomance

Keeping the teacher’s pecker up Those who can do, those who can’t teach and those who ha…

An A Please Ajarn

When Thai parents rule the roost For the last couple of weeks educators, who are fortunate enough to…

English By Newspaper

Not quite rejection proof Apparently I’m not fulfilling my contractual obligations by panderin…

More MBA Fun

What is the degree daddy of them all? Want to get rich quick? – open a private college and off…

The Be All and End All

Padding out your resume “Hmmm, after 5 years of market gardening it’s time for a career …

Sunday Morning Rant

Knocked out in thirty minutes During a private class – out of the teachers mouth come the word…

Out and Proud

Whatever will Mom and Dad say? Proclaiming loudly from the rooftops that ” I’m a TEFL te…

Ajarns of High Couture

Introducing this week’s guest columnist Until now the LIBeL columns have been written solely b…

The Web’s Hidden Treasures

TEFL resources on the net What does your average TEFL teacher do with their time off? Let’s fa…

Caught by the Privates

The perils of freelance teaching You live in a quiet area of town, keep yourself to yourself, never …

Negative Expectations

In my role as English language guru & agony aunt, I’m often asked “Do you reply to a…

Contractual Obligations

Always read the small print The following was written a while ago and isn’t particularly accur…

Recent Correspondence

The good, the bad and the inane. There are some days when, upon skimming through the contents of you…

More Dwight and Goodwill to All Men

Over the previous few months I’ve been accused of many things He’s back . . . . . & volunt…

Board Surfing

Thoughts on a discussion forum When I set up ajarn.com I added a discussion board in the hope that f…

Graduation Day

More from the cultural sensitivity files If you grew up in a land where birthdays aren’t exact…

Waiting For The Great Leap Forward

The Thai masterplan Has the governments education reform bill changed anything for better? Every wee…

I’ll have a P Please Bob

Slowly but surely gameshows are creeping into education Oh, how we used to laugh at the thought of t…

More Than Words

Full marks for initiative but unfortunately zero for range of vocabulary Whilst I was correcting a f…

Jesus in Thailand

A festive twist Blasphemous rumours Before e-cards with ‘Burn in hell! ‘ Flash animation…

A Belated Christmas Edition

Seasons greetings to you all Chocolate Hob Nobs, Guinness at an affordable price, snow, The Queen&#8…

A Worrying Thought

Bizarre Thai student behavior “Teaching is a misnomer – no-one can teach anyone anything…

More on Lesson Planning

Yes, we know it needs to be done Plan B from outer space The convergence of two things, three if you…

Happy Pills for Buffaloes

A real mixed bag “Woke up this morning feeling fine, there’s something special on my min…

Teacher Training

A more peculiar approach to discipline This week’s column is dedicated to Kru Lakhanee. The wo…

Welcome to the Heart of Nowhere

Running a language school with no teachers Language school website design – truly an amateur&#…

Still Going Nowhere

Still kicking the topic of teacher expectations around In the second part of this ‘cut out n&#…

The Weakest Link

Or are some commentators just being a tad hypocritical? Business News In a surprise move Shin Corp r…

Dear Diary

A column of two halves First, ‘Poll Booth lotteries’. It’s not students who should be dr…

Manic Depression

Looking for jobs in the concrete jungle “Stop all the clocks, cut of the telephone, Prevent th…

Life’s Been Good to Me

Living the vida loca I’ve noticed a few teachers mentioning a bit of an ‘us and them’ di…

Excuses, excuses

Loosely to do with education I suppose More from the land where the purveyors of lame excuses appear…

ISO 9002

A sure sign of quality The very mention of this, ahem, quality standard brightens up the eyes of gar…

The Ajarnies

It’s awards season 2 April 2002 Taking inspiration from a combination of the USA’s Dayti…

TV Times

In front of the idiot lantern 9 April 2002 Weekday mornings during the primary school summer holiday…

We Care Alot

Life in the fast lane revisited 16 April 2002 Let’s face it the Bangkok Post is stuffing The N…

Greatest Hits Compilation

Life in the Bus Lane – Words from AJARN 23 April 2002 (The column had written couldn’t b…

Graduation Day 2 – The Nation

It’s time to buy flowers again 30th April 2002 Around a year ago I wrote a column about a grad…

Divine Right – The Nation

Can anyone realistically teach English? 8th May 2002 In God’s eyes everyone is equal. Unfortun…