El Fomentador

Alive and well in Mexico…

Posts Tagged ‘phony

Ingles Muy Rapido, Sin el Esfuerzo: Welcome to “Quit Learning”, Patito of the Month

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You know, el Fomentador was prepared to take a year off from complaining about English education in Mexico. By now it should be clear that I don’t like seeing desperate people being ripped off by corrupt businesses and institutions–but enough about Wall Street and the US Congress! (That is supposed to be kind of a joke, ja,ja.) But seriously, I was walking home from a friend’s house and came across a brochure from the new kid in town, which I like to call: the “Quit Learning” school of English. This joke is just the latest patito to crawl out of the duck pond.

I found the brochure (really it was like a twelve page magazine, I’ve seen thinner copies of Time Magazine, Latin American edition),  printed in full color on glossy paper, right where I should have expected–trampled underfoot by the edge of a vacant lot. Oh, I have a lot to say about this outfit, but I was ready to start taking it easy, ready to write about things that don’t get me angry. I was ready to give the patito business a pass until the country can get control of internal security. But there it was, half covered in dirt, a few holes poked in the cover by countless footsteps crushing it against the small rocks in the litter-filled lot. It’s like it was waiting for me to walk by, as if it was calling out to me: “Hey, there is a new school here with one of the dumbest concepts ever.”
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Written by El Fomentador

January 21, 2009 at 5:54 am

Las Escuelas Patitos

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https://i0.wp.com/www.saynotocrack.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/duck.gif In Spanish, “patitos” means “little ducks”, in the vernacular in Latin America it means “phony”. So, for example, there is the reference to a “Patito Republic”, a nation under the rule of the military or a dictator that attempts to be seen as a modern Republic. A friend explained it to me once as being similar to the “Acme” brand name in the old Road Runner cartoons. Every time the coyote would open a crate with a rocket sled or jet-powered roller skates it would be marked as coming from Acme Corporation. Although there are companies called Acme, and in fact, there is a brand of household bleach called “los Patitos” my friend explained that it is not a brand name that inspires confidence. It is a joke in Mexico.

Las escuelas patitos translates as “the schools of the little ducks” but it refers to the “phony” low-quality private schools that have appeared all around the big urban centers of Mexico. They have them in the States, too. There, they are designed to steal people’s student loan money, leaving them with a big debt and a generally, as well as, a genuinely, worthless education. Here, they just steal the money right out of your (or your parent’s) pockets. It is all part of what has become known as the “Edu-business”.

It is my opinion that these “phony” schools are a cruel joke, not only on their students but on the state of education in Mexico. These schemes come in different subjects, for example, computer schools are all over the place now. Beauty schools, tourism, cooking and auto repair training are also examples. But the ones I am most familiar with are “las escuelas patitos” of English. I’ll be honest, it is embarrassing to see these “schools” proliferating while the country’s educational establishment simply watches from the sidelines. I call them the burger king schools, because if you have enough money you can either buy a restaurant franchise or an English school franchise. (And you don’t even need to speak English yourself!)

My experience has been that every Mexican in the big industrial cities knows about las escuelas patitos, but no one ever talks about them! It took me six months to figure out what was going on. I don’t doubt that some of the founders of these schools began with the purest of intentions–to provide quality instruction to students of English that simply can’t get what they need from a public university system mired in a bureaucracy that is, frankly, designed to not work. As the multi-national manufacturers became established in Mexico, language schools became a fast buck bonanza for the unscrupulous. Competition increased with schools popping up on every other block. Increasingly low-quality programs drove down the level of instruction and the expectations of both teachers and students. Businesses shopped around for the lowest price. Schools became businesses. Education became a victim. In the mean time the patitos continue to cheat their students, abuse their teachers and suck resources away from legitimate educational opportunity.
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Written by El Fomentador

February 18, 2008 at 10:45 pm