Dave’s ESL Cafe has helped many new teachers find out about the TEFL profession with informative forums and great resources. I started out in TEFL almost 10 years ago with the help of Dave’s ESL Cafe. I’m one of many who can owe a great new lifestyle thanks to the help given to me by the vibrant community.
We’ve got an interview with one of the biggest movers and shakers in the TEFL World. Nope, it’s not Dave Sperling, but it is one of the core moderators over at Dave’s ESL Cafe, the most popular and most informative TEFL and ESL forum on the net.
Q. How did you get your start moderating on the ESL Cafe Forums?
Mr. Kalgukshi: Before I get into the body of the interview, let me begin by saying that anything I write here is strictly my own opinion and not necessarily Dave’s ESL CafÃ© official policy. I should also point out that I am not a “Head Moderator,” as there is no such position on either the International Job Forums or the Korean Job Forums. For purposes of this interview, I am answering your questions from the perspective of moderating on the International Job Forums only.
How did I get started moderating on Dave’s? Well, I had been a very early member of Daveâ€™s ESL Cafe on the forerunner of the present board. When Dave decided to revamp it to its present format in late 2002, he asked for some help with the moderating. I immediately volunteered because I viewed the site as a great resource for TEFL teachers around the world and I wanted to help out in insuring its continued success. I’ve been moderating both the International Job Forums and the Korean Job Forums since that time.
Q. What kind of experience do you have in TEFL teaching?
Mr. Kalgukshi: I’ve taught in the TEFL area for over thirteen years in three nations. The majority of my time has been spent teaching at the university level.
Q. In my opinion, experience in an area seems to be a double-edged sword, it helps you understand the topic, but it also ruins your objectivity. What’s your thoughts on what makes an objective moderator?
Mr. Kalgukshi: I try very hard to stay above the fray. I remain focused on impartiality when it comes to making a decision. I play NO favorites and I treat everyone equally. When any member starts interfering in the civil exchange of information on Dave’s ESL CafÃ©, it is highly likely he or she will be hearing from me or another member of the Mod Team. Personally, I have no time for someone who comes to the board only to promote a particular agenda or cause trouble. You have to understand that very few members ever receive a warning from a Moderator. This is because they follow the rules and play the game as it was intended. The very few who do not frequently find their way to other sites. Yes, the Mod Team sometimes â€œassistsâ€ in this process.
Q. What do you see happening in the future with the TEFL profession?
Mr. Kalgukshi: I see it growing remarkably and expanding into areas that we probably can’t even imagine right now. It’s a wonderful profession to be in and especially if you are well qualified. I entered it after having another career. While I enjoyed my previous career very much and am most grateful for the financial security and other benefits I have as a result, I do regret somewhat that I did not discover TEFL teaching when I was younger. Some distinct advantages that I had coming into the profession were that I had completed an Education curriculum (teacher licensing) while at my university and I had earned a graduate degree in Education. These assisted me in no small respect when I entered the world of ESL/EFL. I would encourage anyone to enter the TEFL teaching profession, but I would caution him or her that real success in the profession is often directly dependent upon the level of education one brings to it.
Q. If you could add three resources to ESL Cafe, what would you add?
Mr. Kalgukshi: Good question. I had to give this one some thought and my answers reflect, in part, what I have heard from members. Here they are: 1.) Tech Forum 2.) Spell Check feature 3.) Possibly a blog area or something similar.
Q. If you could offer one piece of advice to new TEFL teachers, what would that be?
Mr. Kalgukshi: Be innovative. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Just because (allegedly) no one has ever done it before does not mean it will not work or help students to learn. Too many teachers I have worked with over the years seem to fall into a rut where they are very comfortable teaching only one way often using only one â€œtried and trueâ€ teaching methodology. Very often this becomes boring even to them. If the teacher is bored, it is highly likely the students are bored, too. Bored students don’t want to learn. They only want to escape. I’ve found that shaking the students up on occasion by “teaching outside the box” works wonders for both the teacher and the students.
Q. What do you like the most about moderating ESL Cafe?
Mr. Kalgukshi: I have been privileged for many years to be able to help the members who require our assistance. There are many different ways this takes place, but it does take place on a continuous basis and it is very vital to what we do as Moderators on Dave’s ESL CafÃ©. To the extent that the trolls and flamers come on the board and cause trouble, they interfere with our ability to provide this service and restrict the amount of time we are able to devote to it. While some boards out there seem to welcome, invite, permit or even promote such behavior, Dave’s ESL CafÃ© is not one of them. As a result, trolls and flamers are not welcome and we take swift and appropriate action to insure their behavior does not continue. By doing so, we protect our members who follow the rules and are on Daveâ€™s for what the board is intended for and not just to create havoc or insult other members.
Moderating can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a lot of work. I’ve been doing it for many years on two very active boards and know full well the difficulties involved in moderating. At the same time, I owe a lot to the community we have in terms of providing a wealth of information for our members including me, and I work very hard to protect that community from those who would work to harm it.
In closing, I want to point out that I am very proud to be a member of the very experienced and united Mod Team we have on the International Job Forums. For many years now, I have witnessed my fellow Mod Team members work tirelessly and selflessly in their desire to maintain and grow Daveâ€™s ESL CafÃ© as the first place to go on the Internet to find a wealth of ESL/EFL teaching information and engage in healthy and civil exchange of that information. Through the combined and consistent efforts of the members of the Mod Team, our nearly fifty-four thousand (and continuously growing) members always know they will be treated and respected as professionals on our site for professionals.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to respond to your questions and I wish you continued success in the years ahead.
Thanks, Mr. Kalgukshi. It’s been a real pleasure having you here to answer our questions. I appreciate your time and hope that we can do this again in the future. Thanks for continually making ESL Cafe a quality resource for teachers.