March 19, 2014

Travel For A Good Cause

Many ESL teachers go into teaching so they can travel. I love seeing new and interesting places and meeting people from all the distant corners of the world.

But I have always been bothered by the sense of being...

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November 02, 2013

Why Chinese students don't party

The vast majority of college students who drop out do so because of nothing to do with school.

Work, finances, family obligations and social adjustment are...

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Posted by mmorf at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2013

Summer Courtesies

Summer is, for most of us anyway, a time of different schedules, travels and visitors.

Many of us go places and see things this time of year and then when fall returns...

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August 01, 2012

Swearing At Work?

Perhaps the biggest difference in learning a language formally or informally is the inclusion or exclusion of...

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November 14, 2011

Opportunities To Help The Invisible Children

I don't know about you, but my every day life seem busy and crazy beyond words, but sometimes I look at the big picture, and it seems even crazier. It seem that...

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November 04, 2011

Hope In A Wacky World

Does it seem to you that the world is in a crazy, chaotic mess?

It seems that every time I look at the news, I see...

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October 30, 2011

"Occupy" As Word Of The Year?

Words emerge and change meaning all the time. A word might have a neutral meaning or even...

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July 29, 2011

Thinking is The Best Way To Travel

We all have seasons in our lives when we travel a lot...

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June 04, 2011

Changes And More Changes

There's an old saying that the only constant you can count on is change. You don't have to look very far or search very hard to see that every aspect of our lives is...

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April 22, 2011

Got A Dream Job In Mind? Make It Happen!

Sometimes as a writing assignment, I will have my students write about their dream job. They usually start off with something like...

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March 15, 2011

Social Media To The Rescue

Catastrophes and upheavals, both natural and human-caused are...

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November 05, 2010

"Ain't" Ain't Proper

The word "ain't" is one of those pesky slang words that just won't go away. Whether we like it - or hate it - it just won't...

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October 24, 2010

Is That Email True?

Ever get email stories that make you wonder?

What I really mean is, ever get emails that make you wonder if they are really true or not?

One give-away is that bogus email are rarely...

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October 03, 2010

What English Teachers Talk About

What would you guess English teachers talk about? Yes, of course, we talk about our best (and sometimes worst!) students. But besides this, we usually talk about....

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September 05, 2010

Transcultural Leaders - Bridge Figures

There are more and more of us who have one foot in one culture, ethnic or religious roots in another, and genes or family connections...

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August 27, 2010

Every English Speaker Is In The Minority

I love the English language for many reasons. One of my favorite characteristics of my native language is that it draws from every language - or even from sources that are not languages. The English language, especially the American version of English...

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July 06, 2010

Voluntourism - Travel On A Budget - Do Good Work

Want to travel the world but find that you have more time than money? I have found the perfect venture for those who want to travel, do good work, meet interesting people, learn new things, and perhaps most importantly....

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March 13, 2010

How Do You Learn Best?

Do you have times of day when you think better and find it easier to learn new things? Do you have places where, for some unknown reason, things just sink into your mind...

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February 12, 2010

Let The Games Begin - Olympics 2010

The Winter Olympics are upon us again. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is hosting the 2010 Olympics.

In spite of warmer than usual weather, the ancient sports tradition carries on.

The Olympics, of course, originate in Greece. According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman diety), a son of Zeus. The first Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE...

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January 18, 2010

Words of the Decade

One of my favorite characteristics of the English language is how we create, mangle, adapt, distort and just plain make up words. Many of these come from popular movies, celebrities, political figures or economic or cultural changes. "Truthiness" for example, was a word that had to happen. It originally came from...

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January 03, 2010

Do One Thing Different.

Many people start a new year off with grand promises to themselves to change, grow, quit, save money, feel better, learn something new, or somehow...

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December 23, 2009

Happy New Year - And A New Decade

You might remember how this decade began - it was the Y2K scare. There were all kinds of rumors about computers around the world crashing which would take down the economy, shut off electricity and strand us all. There were frantic people stocking up on food, water and a few other essentials. As I mentioned, that was how this decade began.

Of course, it only got more...

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December 18, 2009

Everywhere it's Christmas - And A Few Other Holidays

This is a season of bright lights, travel and disjointed schedules. Some of us celebrate holidays and some don't, but we all...

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November 19, 2009

The Ultimate Universal Language - Food

Every nation and culture is rightly proud of its food. The style, taste, seasoning, and of course...

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September 02, 2009

Seeking the Quiet Places

There are many things I like about encountering new and distant cultures. Just being in a different place with its climate, pace, music and sensory experiences (like smells and sounds of the streets) can approach intoxication, and I love the food around the world, but I find that what I like best are the...

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August 03, 2009

Scrambled English And Eats, Shites and Leaves

One of the most endearing, though sometimes shocking experiences an ESL teacher is likely to find in a distant country is...

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July 18, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Those of us who study language have realized that there are two approaches to language; how it should be used correctly - and of course....

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July 03, 2009

Third Country Kids - Where is Home?

Ever stay in a foreign country so long you lose track of which country is really home? We all have a "passport country" but that doesn't mean that it will ever be home. Who are we when...

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June 16, 2009

What's Your Ideal International Job?

Is there a particular place you'd like to live? Is there some specific attribute that you'd like to experience - or share....

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June 07, 2009

You Put Your Foot Where?

When traveling to a different country, it’s important to know and follow the local cultural rules. But, what are they? Here are some crucial cultural tips if you want to be seen as one of them instead of as a continual foreigner...

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May 01, 2009

Extra-Curricular Learning

“An Englishman is a person who does things because they have been done before. An American is a person who does things because they haven't been done before." Mark Twain

Did you ever consider the aspects of your culture that define it? These are usually almost impossible to see from inside one’s culture but are glaringly obvious to….

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April 04, 2009

Tourist VS Ex-Pat

There's a huge difference between being a tourist and being an ex-pat.

Perhaps "tourist" could be defined as someone who visits and looks at other cultures...

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March 24, 2009

Learning the Local Language

Should you learn the local language?

How long should you live somewhere before...

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March 19, 2009

History to see in China

No visit to China is complete without a visit to three major tourist attractions.

The Great Wall truly is an engineering marvel. Built between the 5th century BC and the 16th century to protect China from a series of invaders, the Great Wall stretches about 4,000 miles across the northern part of the country. Built of stone, bricks and rammed earth, it ranges from about 8 feet high...

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March 15, 2009

Every Westerner who visits China feels like Marco Polo.

There is no way to sum up the swirling, surreal, unalloyed alienness that is China. Yes, of course there are "Westernized" areas - especially in response to the 2008 Olympics - and funded primarily by the billions of ubiquitous knick-knacks we all buy at discount stores with that little "Made in China" sticker.

The progress is visible - and stunning.

For example, when I first arrived at the Beijing airport in February of 1999, there was one terminal - with one baggage carousel. The massive and glistening new system is designed to handle 19,200 pieces of luggage per hour.

The Beijing airport, shaped like a giant two-mile long medieval dragon rising from the dry plains to the east, is now the world's largest...

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March 10, 2009

Transnationals and Transculturals

Is home defined by the color of your passport?

Each year, there are about 300,000 U.S. students living overseas of whom 100,000 transit back to the U.S. to enter U.S. schools. In the past, most of these children were from missionary, diplomatic, or military families. But now, many of us live - or have lived - far from what we used to call home.

Who knows how the current economic climate...

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March 07, 2009

Is It True That In America, Poor People Are Fat?

When you live in a culture different from your own, you will encounter all kinds of new ideas, foods and ways of looking at the world.

You will also get questions about your home culture - not only questions you may have never expected - but many questions you wouldn't have even considered.

This one started out innocently enough....

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March 03, 2009

Home is Where We Find Ourselves

Most people I know who take EFL related courses do so with the intent of living in another country - or to be able to travel the world with a portable and easily transferable set of skills.

Those of us who decide to live and work far from home expect.....

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February 13, 2009

Happy New Year!

All around the world we have just celebrated the coming of a new year. In the Chinese calender, we have just entered the year of the ox. This is a perfect metaphor for the language learning experience. The ox does its work slowly but steadily.

This is the time of year to reflect and look forward. Where have we been? And where are we....

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January 17, 2009

Language as Culture

Hello ESL Lesson Plan Readers,

I want to use this forum to explore and consider the intricacies, pitfalls, mysteries and miracles of using, teaching, and making sense of the language I was born into; a language rich in words, unafraid to bend or even contradict its own rules, a language, that without shame, absorbs words, idioms and traditions from almost any other language or culture.

This is English, the language from . . .

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April 27, 2006

Living on a Budget – Extra Sources of Income

Dear Readers,

Let’s face it, few people go into ESL to make money, but when you’re being paid a pittance by your academy to work your socks off, you might start wondering why you didn’t choose a more lucrative career.

So why not think of alternative sources of income to top-up your pay? For most teachers this may mean taking private classes, an unpredictable venture at the best of times, and one that could get you in trouble with your employer if your visa depends on their sponsorship . . .

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April 25, 2006

Jobs - Obtaining a Working Visa for Japan

Teachers,

How do I get a working visa for Japan? It's probably not as complicated as you think. Generally, the majority of teachers come to Japan with programs like JET or with an eikaiwa or English Conversation School who will walk you through the steps and oversee the process. But for others, here are a few things you need to know . . .

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March 11, 2006

Living on a Budget – Free Movie Rentals?

Readers,

Living abroad? On a budget? Love to watch movies or read? Spend too much money on entertainment (a standard movie ticket in Japan is approximately $17 US!)? It’s time to checkout your local library!

Ok, so maybe this seems like pointing out the obvious, but I’ll tell ya, though I like to think I’m pretty quick, it took me a few months living in Japan before learning about the library and I couldn’t have been more surprised! Not only did I not expect English language movies and magazines, but the book selection was pretty impressive! To get a . . .

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March 01, 2006

Life - The Spring Doldrums: Staying on Track

Hi all,

For many of us, March signifies that the spring semester is into full swing and the schoolyear is more than half over...Tired yet?

Here in Japan, the schoolyear actually begins in April, and so I'm actually on vacation...Jealous yet?

Yes, it's true, I'm on vacation, though I'm not exactly lounging poolside with a cocktail, not yet anyhow. For those of you who are looking for a rush of energy and renewed enthusiasm, I dedicate this post on the ever-evolving ESL-Lesson-Plan Blog to "staying on track" during what some people often refer to as the spring doldrums . . .

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Posted by ESL Lesson Plan at 01:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (3)

January 21, 2006

ESL Life - When ESL Teaching Gets Lampooned!

It seems true, based on the numbers of self-important ESL websites out there, that we belong to an extremely "proud" and apologetic profession, always en garde to defend our raison d’être. However, as ESL instructors, do we sometimes take ourselves too seriously?

Sorry, but I just can't help but shout out a good laugh after discovering this new parody website about the ESL career-field. I don't mind laughing at myself, but I realize that some people find it painful to examine themselves critically.

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December 11, 2005

Teaching ESL WITHOUT An Employer

ESL at Joes.jpg

"Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell and advertise." ~Ted Turner

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November 29, 2005

Workplace Issues - A Dystopian Future for ESL?

"He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future." ~ George Orwell

Hello readers,

Any science-fiction fans out there? Ok, forget Orwell's thought-police and NewSpeak for the time being.

In Ridley Scott's bleak film Blade Runner, the futuristic world society of planet Earth has evolved into one with a distinctly Asian cultural flavor. In the short-lived television series Firefly, the future is one where the English language has become synthesized, to certain degree, with the Chinese language (especially for profanity). In the also discontinued series prequel to Star Trek, Enterprise, a multicultural crew of near-future Earth denizens (who routinely speak English) frequently employ the services of their star linguist in an attempt to communicate with the "other" (who are not interested in the English language in the least). So, even in fiction, it seems, Western civilization critiques its own history with linguistic imperialism.

It comes as no real surprise then that . . .

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November 20, 2005

ESL Italian Style

ESL Italy.jpg

"Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life." ~Anna Akhmatova

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November 11, 2005

Teaching Spots - Zakopane, Poland

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." ~ Annie Dillard

A Slavic Garden of Eden & A Winter Wonderland

Fresh, homemade cheeses sold from baskets on the street, colorful costumes and energetic, country dancing. Horse-drawn buggies, honey vodkas and mushroom picking in the forest. Long, scenic hikes with breathtaking views and mountaintop taverns with locally made brews. Friendly faces, Belgian waffles and fresh, fruit-filled crepes around every corner.

Dear readers,

This is my picture to you of . . .

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November 09, 2005

ESL Classroom Observations

ESL Class Observation.jpg

"This inescapable duty to observe oneself: if someone else is observing me, naturally I have to observe myself too; if none observe me, I have to observe myself all the closer." ~ Franz Kafka

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September 01, 2005

English Language Teachers: In Debt? Snowball It!

It’s not too difficult to rack up huge credit card bills on a teacher’s salary, and if you’re in this position, you are likely desperate to get them all paid off!

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August 30, 2005

Time to Begin Again

Hello everyone!

Well...it's back to school time. Most of us are already deep into our lesson plans, smelling the fresh pages of those new textbooks and getting to know our students. As I faced each of my new classes this week, I was struck by how it's so easy to determine what each of the students will turn out to be like. There are the typical over-achievers, the slackers, the ones who think they know more about English than the teacher, and of course, the class clowns.

Don't you just love them all?

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August 29, 2005

Teaching Spots - Terrazas, Spanish and Running of the Bulls

Hello everyone!

Are you looking for a teaching location that’s as wild as the wind, as unpredictable as it gets, and requires a certain “Pizzazz” just to get along? Then maybe you should take a look at Spain.

Madrid, the capitol of Spain, is one of the teaching hotspots, but most people who have been there agree that not just anyone will make it there. To be a successful ESL teacher in Madrid, you’ll have to . . .

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August 24, 2005

Avoiding the Scams

Hello everyone!

Do you often think that the postings for jobs you see are too good to be true? Unfortunately, not everyone in the ESL business is on the up and up, and more and teachers are wondering how they can find a position in a foreign land without falling victim to one of the scams.

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August 18, 2005

Single Teacher...With Kids?

Hello everyone!

How many of you dream of living in another country, but don't think you can because you have children?

After all, it’s common to hear about single ESL teachers traveling the globe and getting to experience all sorts of new cultures, tastes and lifestyles. But what if that single teacher has a kid?

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August 14, 2005

Make That Teacher's Salary Stretch!

Hello everyone!

Okay, so you won’t become a millionaire teaching ESL, but it is possible to stash a few of those dollars away! As with any type of employment, the secret it to learn how to live comfortably on your salary—or better yet, on less than. Here are a few tips to make sure that your savings account isn’t closed due to inactivity!

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August 01, 2005

How Much Free Time Do You Have?

Good Monday morning everyone!

As I was going over this weekend's comments, I came across this one posted by Kenneth, and it raised some serious questions in my mind. (Hello Kenneth!)

"When I go to a new job, I'm afraid there's no time to sit in cafes drinking coffee and eating food because all my spare time is taken up preparing for my classes. If it's a year long course then it will take me one year to prepare, and providing I can repeat that course the following year, then I can go for coffee. However, that doesn't usually happen and therefore, I spend all my spare time, locked in my room, preparing for my next class and I have no time for dreaming about exotic places. I know, it is sad, but it is reality."

Continue reading "How Much Free Time Do You Have?"

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June 09, 2005

All You Older Teachers Out There--Read This!

Hello everyone!

Now THIS is what I'm talking about! Thank you to Angela Homer for this terrific post. I couldn't have said it better myself.

'I was interested in your comments about older teachers as I went to South Korea to teach after retirement from the Ontario School system at the age of 59. I completed a TESOL course first as it came with a guarantee of a job. I soon found out that applying for jobs at that age was not easy. I wanted to teach Pre-School/Kindergarten age and was told by no less than three schools in Taiwan that they could not employ me because I "could not run fast enough to catch little children." I took matters into my own hands by doing as you suggested and posted resumes that really blew my own horn in terms of professional achievements, skills, love of children and parental appreciation of my teaching ability. Interestingly, the owner of the franchise of two of the schools which turned me down emailed me asking me to apply to one of his schools! However, I was offered the perfect job for me - designing and teaching an Immersion Pre-School program. My director was totally honest in terms of how much she could afford to pay me actually showing me the business cost breakdown and increased my salary as she was able to. Initially parents were a little uncertain of my ability to teach their children because of my age, but two years later many actually cried because I needed to leave due to family matters. The only problem the director had was coping with parental demands to place their child in my after-school class.

Continue reading "All You Older Teachers Out There--Read This!"

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Living on a Budget - The Hows and Whys

Dear ESL Teachers,

We all know that teachers need to live on a budget. The problem is that most of us try to keep a ‘running tab’ in our heads, and then call it a budget. Guess what? It doesn’t work!

If you want to get serious about making the most of your teacher’s salary, you’ll have to actually sit down and write it down. It takes a little planning to create a budget that you can actually stick to, but once you do, you’ll see those dollars stretching a lot farther than you ever imagined.

Here’s a quick guide to get you started . . .

Continue reading "Living on a Budget - The Hows and Whys"

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May 08, 2005

Call For Comments About Greece

Good morning all,

I'm looking for anyone who has worked or is currently working in Greece to contribute comments. Tell us what it's like, how you found your job, the amount of your salary, and oh, how absolutely wonderful it is!

Continue reading "Call For Comments About Greece"

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March 29, 2005

Living On A Budget - Accomodations

Dear Readers,

Quick! What’s the number one reason that most ESL teachers decide to go to another country to teach? If you think that it’s to experience another culture and see the world, you’re right! But many teachers find that, because of the low salaries offered in many countries, they can’t travel as much as they had hoped to.

Living on a budget can be a challenge for many teachers, but with some planning and savvy, it is possible to find a good balance. The biggest expense in anyone’s budget is living accommodations. Today, I'll offer two tips to help you reduce yours . . .

Continue reading "Living On A Budget - Accomodations"

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