These are some of my students from last year. Different classes, different subjects. Many of them did not have the benefits of a new building, an interactive white board, small classes.
None of them had access to a cafeteria, reduced membership fees at a gym...
Most of them had poor English when they started. NONE of them had classes that finished before 5pm. Most of them had classes that went on to 6, 6.30 pm.
Some of them, most of them, were dissatisfied with their Host Families. Many of them had financial problems. Classrooms were small, often 15 to a class. Very poor ventilation. Lighting was bad. No car park. No bicycle rack that was safe. No table-tennis table. No table-football.
Quite often students were homesick. Some were only 15. One was 14 years old. Most - though not all by any means, came from China, Hong Kong, Russia and Kazakhstan. Often they did not have access to the internet when with their host family.
And yet...despite all the above they attended free lessons at the week-end. (You can see both Shazmin and I teaching at a private house. Shazmin is teaching inside I am teaching outside.) Many came to a Saturday lesson near the railway station. Many willingly had lessons until 7pm (you can see the darkness outside the windows and yet some of these photographs were in June 2008)
Did those students complain?
Yes, they did.
But they would complain once or twice and then make appontments with the Director of Studies.
Did much happen about their complaints?
Sometimes yes, though, generally, no.
Even now many of them complain, in particular about their (new) Business Studies teacher!
What they didn't do is go on and on and on, moaning and moaning and moaning. They were mature enough to realise that moaning gets you nowhere and just means that your studies suffer; other people suffer.
So what happened to these students shown above?
They concentrated on their studies instead of moaning. Yes, they did write joint emails. Yes, they did go and see people in charge. But in the main they realised that in the long term their parents were paying, their governments were paying, for them to succeed in their subjects.
To get to university.
To, whatever their private thoughts, be successful in ther studies.
They had no blogs.
They were new to the country.
Often they would take part-time jobs (those allowed to work) or do voluntary work.
Their thirst was for more study, not less.
More knowledge, not less.
They wanted to succeed and everyone, without exception, concentrated in class and worked hard. (Those that didn't want to learn simply stayed away - and failed.)
What they didn't do is spoil it for others.
What they didn't do was moan and do nothing.
Some ended up at Warwick.
Some at Bath.
Some at Durham.
Some at Queen Mary's.
Some at Royal Holloway.
Some at LSE.
Some at UCL.
Some at Oxford and Cambridge University.
If you really want to know what it's like at universities then email me and I will forward it on to the students I am still in contact with.
Some former students...
Some will tell you about the difficulties they now face owing to their limited English; some will tell you about how even though they did extremely well in their studies it still wasn't quite good enough.
All will tell you how important it is to work hard and concentrate on your studies
At University a 'full-time' course may be as little as 6 hours a week. (Two of the teachers currently at EF did full-time degrees AND had full-time jobs at the same time.) So with all that spare time you have to be organised, resourceful and be able to study on your own and use time wisely.
Value what you have now and if you're unhappy, put your energies into study!.