There! Are! Five! Bananas!

The photo above expresses how I felt about a certain podcast when I took it over.

Instructional material presented with misspellings, muddled pedagogy, poor translations, crappy audio design and quality, and blatant factual inaccuracies.  When looking over the lessons my predecessors had published I did not find a single lesson that didn’t have an error.  Not a single one; I’m not being hyperbolic.  Every.  Single.  Lesson.

I wanted to leave immediately, to save my reputation, but it was July, when schools are done hiring for the year.  I asked them to junk the website entirely and let me come up with a new brand, but the management felt that was rash and that I was attacking them personally.  And that suggestion went nowhere.

So I took a deep breath and told myself, it’s only a year… and I get to live in Manhattan.  I did that job for a year, and I absolutely did good work, given the expectations.  I don’t know if my work was selling subscriptions, because they wouldn’t tell me.  But judging from the crickets and cobwebs that populated the community in terms of comments, nobody was listening anyway.  I am annoyed that my academic reputation is associated with that product, but whatever, it paid the bills and got me to the next step in my life.

To be clear, I’m sure that there were typos and mistakes that got past me.  The instruction, however, was good (given the crap design I was forced to follow) and the errors I made were typos, not due to an ignorance of Spanish, language instruction, or broadcasting.

UPDATE:  The title of this post is a reference to a Star Trek episode, where Picard is tortured and showed four lights, but his torturer tries to break his spirit by zapping him and insisting that there are five lights.

9 thoughts on “There! Are! Five! Bananas!

  1. I never understood why you went there in the first place. Seemed like you just blindly followed Amber. 😉

    It’s not like you weren’t familiar with their product.
    You knew about that sixth banana going in.

    Mmm. Tasty metaphor.


    • Oh, I’ll write a post about why I left Praxis… the short story is that I saw that Praxis was a dead end for my career. I had been looking for a way out for months, so the offer from ILL to go to NYC was very welcome. Also, it’s school principals can have a hard time getting their minds around hiring someone who is not currently in the country. ILL was a stepping stone to get back to the US, where it was easier to get hired as a teacher at a school.

      So yes, I had an idea about the sixth banana going in… but to be honest I didn’t know to what extend that banana was so rotten and putrid.

      As for Amber, it was great to have an old friend in a new place!


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  3. Hi JP,

    I just came across your blog a few weeks ago. I used to listen to your Podcasts at Spanishpod101 and most enjoyed your Podcasts with Fernando (All About etc).
    SP101 would email me with new lessons, it seemed this got these less and less regularly, actually about the time I think you finished a 5 part pronunciation series (a great series btw).
    Then in the months after that, there seemed to be very little coming in terms of new lessons coming my way from them, and needless to say you weren’t on any of them.
    At the time I just presumed that you were busy in other parts of the job and would be back with a new series pretty soon.
    After a few months of this and receiving some pretty bad podcasts in my email I decided to go to Spanishpod101 and look if i missed some newer podcasts you were in. I noticed in the Lower Intermediate somewhere along the way it switched from you and Fernando to someone else.
    Hence I searched you up and found my way here and discovered that you used to be at (I’m looking at the Spanish by Choice thing now).

    Sorry about the huge size of this comment. I just wanted to say I hope you consider starting your own podcasting or something similar. I think the quality of most things out there isn’t great and you could add a lot there.


    • Hi Ben Yuppy Soul!
      Thanks for listening and writing in! You know, Fernando and I were doing the best we could, but the design of the 101 podcast was awful, and we were obliged to follow the template. Also the recording conditions were… not great.

      I’m much more comfortable recommending the SpanishPod podcasts. The Spanish by Choice site will get you the newbie SpanishPod podcasts, but you’ll have to go to to get the rest. Unless they’ve changed things, you get unlimited free access the first seven days, if you sign up for the free trial.

      Or you could just pirate bittorent the whole thing! In any case, happy listening!


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