Teacher Tim's TEFL International Blog August 7th, 2010

The Many Marvelous Uses Of Marmite For ESL Teaching In Thailand


(This article is dedicated to the valiant Annie Elkins, whose devotion & loyalty to having Marmite on toast every single day of her life while she worked in the TEFL International office gave me on-going nightmares.)

I don’t know why they don’t teach Marmite Technique in colleges and universities, especially those that boast of their teacher training facilities. You’d think that after all these years of teachers using Bovril and Vegemite, Cenovis, and Twiglets in the classroom with such huge success that the academic community would be slavering, so to speak, for some tips on this vitamin-rich, love-it-or-leave-it, brewer’s yeast derivative – especially after it was credited with single-handedly staving off casualties during the 1934 Malaria Epidemic in Sri Lanka. There’s something Promite in Denmark, that’s all I can say . . .

Of course, to the uninitiated and naïve, not to mention the unshriven, Marmite appears as nothing more than a nasty dark paste that some people go about spreading on biscuits and bread and windows that need a good cleaning. They joke about it with that superior smirk that only an ignorant wisenheimer can produce in the face of massive facts and cucumber sandwiches. Leave us get down to cases, as they used to say on Duffy’s Tavern:

· Having a bad hair day prior to the start of your first ESL class? The humidity in Thailand can turn the silkiest, smoothest strand of hair into a mattress coil. Put a dab of Marmite on your recalcitrant scalp and – voila! – you have hair that lays as still and serene as the morning dew on a summer morn in Swanscombe, Kent. Messy hair means messy lesson planes – that’s an axiom in Thailand.

· Should a Gaboon viper happen into your classroom by accident, a jar of Marmite on your desk will come in very handy. You simply lob the jar at the poor beastie, which probably thought it was entering the Mthethomusha Game Reserve and it will slide back out the door with a blush on its scaly cheeks. The bulbous shape of the Marmite jar makes it ideal for this kind of thing, whereas the tall, thin, slippery hold of a vinegar cruet will not do the trick at all.

· When you are trying to teach your little hobgoblins adjectives such as “horrid”, “nauseating”, “disgusting”, “noxious”, and “repellent”, just hold up a jar of Marmite, maybe go so far as to uncap it and let the aroma waft through the classroom, and you will have made your point. In fact, your students will probably go through life exclaiming they must have stepped in some Marmite every time they go through a water buffalo pasture.

· (You’ll pardon me a moment while I go to the bank to cash the enormous check Unilever has given me for this subtle way of advertising Marmite. They own the brand name, and are a multi-national corporation just unscrupulous enough to bribe their way into this internationally recognized and respected column with a crassness that I find . . .well, that I find practically Marmitish!)

· If your students are not paying attention to your brilliant lesson because the mosquitoes are so bad, just rub a bit of Marmite on their arms and legs. Those pesky skeeters will skedaddle. And so will your students.

· A jar of Marmite is the only known remedy for chalk dust poisoning. Open a jar every time you have students clapping erasers and that foul chalk dust will be drawn deep inside the jar – into an alternative universe, in fact, where Thailand is located in the Temperate Zone and you can go skating on the Gulf of Thailand four months every year.

· It is reported that Angelina Jolie is extremely allergic to Marmite and will not come within ten miles of a jar of the stuff – so keep a jar handy to protect your students from ever being adopted by her. (Of course if she ever wanted to adopt me, that would be a different story . . . let me go slick back my hair with Marmite and I’ll be ready to hop in her yacht!)

· Marmite is completely a-political; it does not support any party, nor does it espouse any cause or religion. It treats everyone exactly the same and never changes its views or opinions, or, indeed, its intrusive aroma. If and when the Thai police come to sound out your political beliefs, just tell them you are a practicing Marmite – they won’t dare lay a glove on you!

· And finally, if worst comes to worst and you’ve spent your entire month’s salary on a binge down at the pub, you can actually eat the darn stuff. Or so I’ve heard; when I’m short of funds I usually eat the brown drawing paper the Thai kids always use – it goes down good with fish sauce and klong weed.