In this post, I interview again a former TBI Kuningan manager who was instrumental in revealing TBI’s long history of illegal labor scams and also Luke Preece’s history of rigging interview panels and job appointments in favor of his cronies. In this interview, I ask him about his views on latest developments at TBI and beyond.
It’s been 3 years since you left TBI. How does the company look in retrospect?
Amateurish and with little future. I’d also add under-resourced and strangely uninformed. They don’t really know anything about academics or want to fix that situation as far as I can tell.
There’s a lot of information there. Let’s unpick it a little. How do you mean under-resourced?
They never really did any training. They were never really interested in training of any description unless they could make a profit off it. They’re really only motivated by money. They cared a lot about the CELTA because they could sell that for a lot of money, but they were only interested in it for that reason and not because they cared about education. They never let their teachers do the course for free, for example. They sometimes gave positions away for a 50% discount but only if they had no paying customers on the course. TBI sometimes had very poor teachers who they knew were below par and needed a CELTA, but they would never sponsor them. As I said, unless they could make money off it, they were not that interested in training people. They would just let substandard teachers stumble along and do nothing about it.
Why do you say they were ‘strangely uninformed’?
Based on stuff I have seen in my subsequent career, I realize there were very few people who knew anything about EFL or TEFL, or whatever you want to call
Well, what TEFL background would someone like Atika, their current manager at TBI Kuningan, have in the latest teaching methods?
None. She didn’t even have a CELTA as of early 2012. She was managing TBI Sudirman with literally no TEFL training. This is why I say they don’t truly care about education or training.
How about the CELTA trainers? What contribution did they make?
They did very little training outside the formal CELTA itself. Getting them to do any training was extremely difficult.
What was the main teaching methodology favored at TBI? Did it even have one?
They talked, like everyone else in the industry, about a communicative approach, but their understanding of what that meant was extremely superficial at best. They mouthed a few phrases over and over again like ‘reducing teacher talk time’ but they were just empty formulae. Hardly anyone had done more than the 1 month CELTA and even some school managers hadn’t done that. I doubt there was one teacher in ten who really knew what task-based learning was, for instance. Most of them would never have heard of it. They were a very under-educated bunch pretending to know about academics.
In what sense could they be regarded as amateurish apart from what we’ve already discussed?
They simply didn’t have any knowledge or expertise. There was one business consultant called Ashley Platts who claimed to be the brains behind the operation but we have since found all his ideas from materials to the business system to the performance appraisal system were completely plagiarized from published authors and TBI’s competitors. I mean word for word, the entire business system had been stolen without any footnotes being used or even a passing reference to where they had been sourced from. So they just had no one who had ever managed a professional company. They were all just amateurs pretending to know what they are doing. This is why they have been hit so hard by some of the multi-nationals who are expanding in Jakarta now. Now big money is moving into the TEFL industry, they are way out of their league.