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Usually Not My Style…
I’m really, really not one to use a lot of other people’s stuff in my classes. I usually just combine the best from the textbook that I’m given and then make the rest of my own materials-surveys, board games, presentation projects, or lesson plans. I usually think that making my own activity or game is way better than searching around for hours on the Internet trying to find something that I can actually use.
But, the one thing that I do use in each and every single one of my university classes here in South Korea is The Monster Pack: Resources for Busy English Teachers. It’s legit and delivers the good, minus all the fluffy stuff. Seriously, it’s a fabulous resource for busy teachers (like me!), who are doing other stuff like seeing the world, writing a book or building a website empire.
I use The Monster Pack for three things:
- The trivia as a warm-up for all my classes. It’s hard to find stuff for adults with simple language and not America or UK-centric. Trust me. I’ve looked and haven’t found it until the Monster pack.
- The writing activities. They’re stellar, unlike most of the other junk out there on the Internet and my students have found them extremely helpful.
- The logic puzzles. Perfect for a “rainy day” activity when you’re trying to kill a bit of time after a test or something. Seriously, just copy and go and your students will be entertained for at least 30 minutes, if not far longer.
I’ve used the Monster Pack exclusively for my adults students, but it has the potential to work quite well with middle school and high school students as well. The level is a range from high-beginner to advanced.
Buy the Monster Pack Now! And if you don’t think it’s useful? You can get a full refund within 7 days. How’s that for risk-free?
The post Level Up your Teaching Game: A Resource for Busy Teachers appeared first on ESL Speaking.
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The M&M Trail of Sulawesi: Makassar to Manado (via The Togean Islands)
Part 1 (of 2)
“South East Asia” – A totalizing geographic label I’ve grown to find increasingly vapid, does an especial disservice to the complexity of Indonesia. Two hundred and Fifty Million people flung across a galaxy of richly soiled volcanic diamond islands, lapping up the superbly lush waters of the Indian Ocean. Busy rainforests, dense jungles, handsome mountains, glowing sulfuric lakes, glowing sulfuric lakes on the tops of mountains, Salvador Dali-esque rice terraces cascading down massive rifts, deliciously grassy bluffs, sprawling valleys, white sanded beaches against post card white waters, sparkling architecture of reef, trippy coral, vibrant green paddies everywhere, all of it, all furnished and fertilized by an innumerable amount of volcanoes that align the vast Sunda and Banda arcs that together makeup Indonesia’s firey spine.
And mirroring all this earthly diversity are the people and their impossible to believe milieu of a population equal in size to that of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Burma combined. With the exception of the western circus that is Kuta, Bali and the dreary, carbon-poisoned lipsticked pig that is Jakarta, the rest of Indonesia (and Bali) provides a beautiful menagerie of a and exposure to indigenous cultural practices
Although Indonesia is considered by modern measure to have the largest Islamic population in the world, the variations on Islam across the archipelago is abundant and largely take cue from their local animistic traditions, that to me, a person who has lived and traveled in the middle east, makes this place a muslim-lite nation. (obligatory PC explanation imminent)Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with Islam nor with Islamic nations in toto. All I mean to point out is the heterogeneity within their religious practice. To me, the Abrahamic religions are only as open and tolerant as the people who practice them. And in Indonesia, its wide open.
My most recent tour across the scatter of Indian oceanic islands took me to the unraveled twisty shaped island of Sulawesi, the world’s eleventh largest. Reflecting much of Indonesia’s spiritual and natural milieu, the island is a mixture of a youthful Christianity, an Islam flung far from Mecca, but if pressed a little their deeper animistic perspectives reside right alongside their veils and crosses (especially so in Torajah). The island’s largest cities are not unlike other choking cities of Indonesia, less any remarkable destinations. However, if there’s one thing to remark on, it’s the kindness you find still in these densely populated areas…I don’t think they get too many visitors.
Most travelers come to Sulawesi for its pristine nature, scuba diving, and indigenous cultural experiences, which are well worth the little more you spend say going to the hackneyed touring dens so many foreigners trample through each day across Indonesia.
The M&M Trail
To begin the M&M trail, you’ll have to start in either Makassar or Manado. Makassar is the capital city located in the south and is up and busy. The airport touts were reminiscent of my first step out of New Delhi Indira Gandhi international and into their gropey swarm. However, unlike their Delhian counterparts, the Sulawesian passion for business doesn’t seem to super-cede their welcoming kindness. I know this may seem like a traveller’s idealization, but I’ve never seen pushy touts so non-pushy, but rather get easily distracted by their more authentic curiosities. However the travel gods gave us a pass on that mess and delivered us up to an angelic local named Margaret who was just arrive from a visit with her daughter in Bali and offered us a ride and more. And if you think I’m being harsh towards Delhi’s toutiverse…then, in that case, you’re an idiot.
Margaret invited us to her house to relax while we awaited our bus to depart to Tana Toraja, our first stop along the trail. A medical doctor by trade, she was a natural caretaker providing us with a tasty local dinner, refreshments, and quickly offering us a room to nap in along with a nice bathroom/shower. It was all too much considering we’d spent the previous couple weeks stationed in a “rustic” provincial dwelling in southern Lombok. We couldn’t believe our luck with finding such a hospitable interlocutor. Her husband, a social science professor at a local university shared her humanitarian flare and they both had been providing a boarding house for university students. Together, they inspired me ever more to pay it forward at every turn. The world instantly becomes softer and more enjoyable in these instances and to that lovely couple, I give them thanks for deepening that lesson ever more. On top of it all, they had one of their borders give us a lift to the bus station. He took his post very seriously and saw to it that we had no problems purchasing the ticket and getting great seats on what was perhaps the most luxurious bus I’ve ever taken in all my travels, and that will be the last time I experience any thing resembling comfort for the next few weeks.
Once we arrived in Rantaepo, the central city in the land (Tana) of the Torajans, you’re immediately welcomed by funeral touring touts. That’s right, among the most unique tout markets I’ve ever seen. Many have their own motorcycle tuk tuks, gotta be the most dangerous I’ve seen in design where instead of being carted in the back of some motorized bike, you’re carted in front.
Summer is funeral season in the land and this attracts tourists Indonesian and Farang alike to their bloodbath funerals. Although the dead may have passed earlier in the year, and the initial ceremony complete, it’s not till the summer that they hold this particular ceremony meant for the public, with a corpse that has most likely long been embalmed. So naturally, the ancillary tout funeral tour market would emerge that proves its worth for if it’s a blood bath funeral with exposed corpses that you fancy, these guys will get you there. Either at the bus stop or through your guesthouse, you will most likely have to hire one to get to the blood, the mud, and the beef (food that follows). But you might want to leave your western sensitivities on that luxurious bus, because shit gets weird quick in these funerals (and that’ll be the last remotely comfortable bus you’ll take).
The whole affair is some kind of after-life popularity contest where the most popular and wealthy dead throw the most extravagant funerals with the most bulls and pigs slaughtered. And the more that people show up, the smoother the sail is for deceased’s soul on its way on up to the Christian heaven, and in turn the family’s sense of peace. If there is one word to summarize the experience, it is BLOOD. We made our way to what seemed to be a wealthier funeral where several bulls got the chop along with some large pigs that ringed the main event. Following the sacrificial massacre, the meat is bbq’d and served to guests (no pics here, look it up).
However, do not let this practice scare you off. The entire ordeal is managed by a smiling mass that loves nothing more than to show their cordialness and/or gratitude towards your attendance. Forget anything you heard about other lands of smiles, nothing beats the kindness of Sulawesi, blood bath and all. Following the ceremony, we retired up to the mountain village of Batutamonga to stay in a traditional Torajan boat home, the Tongkonan. If you’ve never seen these interesting communities then you are in for quite a “weeeeee”…look at the roofs:
Many Torajan people live in these small communities of boat homes, which as explained by Wikipedia:
“The word ‘Tongkonan’ is derived from the Toraja word tongkon (‘to sit’) and literally means the place where family members meet.
According to the Torajan myth, the first tongkonan house was built in heaven by Puang Matua, the Creator. It was built on four poles and the roof was made of Indian cloth. When the first Torajan ancestor descended to earth, he imitated the heavenly house and held a big ceremony. An alternative legend, describes the Toraja arriving from the north by boats, but caught in a fierce storm, their boats were so badly damaged that they used them as roofs for their new houses.
There are three types of tongkonan. Tongkonan layuk is the house of the highest authority and it is used as the center of government. The second type is tongkonan pekamberan, which belongs to the family group members, who have some authorities in local traditions (known as adat). The last one is tongkonan batu, which belongs to the ordinary family members.”
The village is kinder than it is stunning. The mountainous villages are lined with wild coffee in all directions. Wide-open valleys dripping with stunning rice terraces.
Dense with natural beauty, all you need to do is get a lift there (via the back of motorcycle) and walk back down to Rantepao, or hitch a ride if you’ve walked enough. The bird watching along that walk…WATCH THE BIRDS! Small communities of Tongkonan homes dot the hike down and never get old in design. You’ll notice the older, centered homes usually have a collection of bull horns rising up the front mast. I’ll let you figure out why.
Thank you Bulls. Although you’re slaughtered en masse every summer, atleast it’s done with honor as opposed the McWest’s factory sacrifices for those who a want their burger and life on the go.
Getting around in Rantepao is probably best if you rent your own motorcycle. But if you must, I’d say hire a bike and ride on the back if you’re trying to get out to the mountains. You can find some drivers by the main bus stop area. Getting north of Rantepao is not easy no matter how you cut it. We went through one of 2 local bus companies, and it was not like the bus from Makassar….not like that at all.
To be continued….
Primary Transit summary:
From Makassar a 12 hour luxury bus to Tana Torajah via Charisma -> 14 hour butts to nuts buss to Poso (Buses can be arranged via your guest house or just go to travel agents, near Café Aras) – Good driver, crazy roads, cramped but charming ride -> 4 hour 3 am drive via minivan to Ampana arranged through guest house in Poso -> 3 hour large ferry to Wakai arranged at the ferry terminal via “the harbor lady” Ufha, sat on roof under makeshift canopy -> 30 min Boat to Kadidiri, also arranged via Harbor lady –> 3 hour Boat to Una Una arranged through guest house “lestari” –> 3.5 hour Boat back to Wakai arranged through guest house “sanctum” –> 10 hour overnight ferry to Gorontola, shared cabin, well worth it arranged via “Una” Losmen, near main harbor –> short tuk tuk into Gorontolo from harbor -> 10 hour Mini Van to Manado arranged via guest house “Melati”.
Podae-hwasang at Jeongamsa Temple in Gohan, Gangwon-do
Hello Again Everyone!!
Until recently, I had no idea that Podae-hwasang even existed in Buddhism. It was only after researching him a bit more that I found out who the easily misidentified jovial figure was. Sometimes, he can be confused for the Buddha, but he’s in fact Podae-hwasang.
Podae-hwasang, who is better known as Budai or Pu-Tai in Chinese, is a disguised monk. Podae-hwasang is believed to be an incarnation of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). The name Budai, in Chinese, means “hempen sack” (more on that later).
A very golden Podae-hwasang at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Gijang, Busan.
The tarnished belly of another Podae-hwasang at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Supposedly, if you rub the belly while pregnant, the statue will grant you a boy.
Podae-hwasang first appeared in 10th century Chinese folktales. It’s believed that Podae-hwasang was a monk from Huyang, China. He was born in Myeongju, Bonghwa in China (or Ch’i-t’zu, from Fenghua, in what is now Zhejiang province in Chinese). His name, at his birth, was Gyecha. At this time, there was a form of Buddhism in China called Mani, and his Buddhist name was Cha, even though he was also called Seodal. And his home temple was Akrimsa Temple.
Physically, Podae-hwasang appears to be chubby and has a belly like a balloon. He’s bald and wears a monk’s robe. Also, he’s always depicted as either smiling or laughing. He was known to wander around the countryside with a cane. It was from his cane that he hung a sack. The sack had a variety of things in it, so if people needed or wanted something, he could always offer things to them. Additionally, the sack carried sweets for children, so he’s often depicted in the presence of children.
Babies crawling all over Podae-hwasang at Songgwangsa Temple in Wanju, Jeollabuk-do.
The jovial Podae-hwasang at Manseongam Hermitage just outside Beomeosa Temple in Busan.
And another baby-motif statue of Podae-hwasang at Yongmunsa Temple in Yecheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Not only could Podae-hwasang predict the weather, but he could also predict good and back luck. Amazingly, he was never wrong. In addition to his ability to predict things, he represents happiness and generosity. He also protects children, the poor, and the weak. It’s believed that by rubbing his belly that it brings wealth, good luck, and prosperity.
At his death in 916 A.D., Podae-hwasang entered nirvana. He left behind four poems/songs as he entered nirvana on a rock. It was at his death that he recited:
Maitreya [Mireuk-bul], true Maitreya
Reborn innumerable times
From time to time manifested among men
The men of the age do not recognize him.
It’s from these words that he revealed himself to be Mireuk-bul. So it’s from these final words that Podae-hwasang came to be associated with the Future Buddha.
At a Korean Buddhist temple, you can typically find Podae-hwasang either in painted or statue form. If he’s a statue, he’s usually rendered as plump, jovial and surrounded by children. He can be holding either prayer beads or a fan, and he has the iconic hempen sack nearby. Podae-hwasang also appears like this in paintings if he’s on his own; however, he can sometimes be seen in the final painting of the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals in the form of the master returning to a village or marketplace.
A painting of Podae-hwasang at Unmunsa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Another painting of Podae-hwasang; this time, from Seoknamsa Temple in Eonyang.
The wooden carving of Podae-hwasang at Yongjusa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
You can find Podae-hwasang at such prominent temples as Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Gijang, Busan or Unmunsa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do; and at lesser known temples as Sudasa Temple in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Yongmunsa Temple in Yecheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and Yongjusa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
So the next time you’re out at a Korean Buddhist temple, you might be lucky enough to find this chubby figure. And if you rub his belly or pray to him, you might be rewarded with wealth, good luck, and/or prosperity.
The chubby stone statue of Podae-hwasang at the famed Golgulsa Temple in Gyeongju.
The largest statue I’ve seen of Podae-hwasang at Sudasa Temple in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
And a masterful rendering of Podae-hwasang at Cheontaesa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
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Part of my job as a high school English teacher in South Korea involved giving out, and then correcting, weekly creative writing assignments. It quickly became one of my favorite parts of the experience, as it allowed my students to apply the language with more freedom and personality. It also helped me to get to know them in a more private way. From unintentionally funny remarks, to profound realizations, their writing was a joy to read.
Below is a small collection of some of my favorite excerpts. I’ve also taken the liberty of underscoring their messages with related images. Perhaps this could have been made into some sort of class project… Enjoy!
It’s Danny’s birthday! What should I cook? I only had one thing in mind: miyeok guk.
미역국 (miyeok guk) is also known as the birthday soup in Korea. It’s made of seaweed and sometimes mixed with chunks of beef or mussels. This soup is nutritiously packed with iodine and calcium. Pregnant mothers usually consume this healthy soup after giving birth to increase breastmilk production. That’s also the reason why birthday celebrants are given this soup as a reminder of their first food from their mothers. But of course, one can have this delicious, hot bowl of miyeok guk anytime, anywhere.
Ingredients: (4 persons)
100g beef (양지)
1tbs minced garlic
2tbs sesame oil
8 cups (1,520ml) of water
pinch of salt
1. Soak miyeok in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes to soften it.
2. Slice the beef to bite sizes.
3. Drain the water and squeeze out some water from the miyeok. Then, slice to bite sizes, too.
4. In a hot pot, put 2tbs of sesame oil.
5. Cook the beef ’til it gets light brown and add the miyeok.
6. Pour about 8 cups of water and boil for 20 minutes over high heat.
7. After 30 minutes, add garlic and salt to taste. Lower the heat down to medium and boil it for another 15 minutes.
8. Tadah! Transfer to a small bowl and serve with rice and side dishes.
This recipe is taken from 백종원‘s cookbook with some tweaks. Enjoy ;)
PS: Happy birthday, my yeobo! Saranghaeyo :) Here’s your cake…
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How and Why to Teach Listening to ESL Students
Listening is an extremely important skill if students want to speak fluently in English. No matter how well you speak, if you don’t understand what your conversation partner said, your answer will be a little awkward at best, or totally random at worst. In order to help our students, we need to include some practice with listening into our English classes. Here’s some basic advice on how to teach listening to ESL students, including a lesson plan template and some ESL listening activities.
ESL Listening Lesson Plan Template
1. Set the context. This introduces the theme of your listening topic. For example, if your listening is about shopping, you could ask students whether or not they ever buy things without trying them on and whether or not they’ve had good or bad experiences with that. Or, if your topic is travel, you could ask students what are 5 things that people do while they’re spending time waiting at an airport. It’s best to have students discuss the question for a couple minutes with their partner and then quickly elicit some answers from the class.
2. Pre-Listening Task. Next, you’ll need to assign students a pre-reading task. Some of my favorites ones are prediction tasks which lead into the next step. For example, in class last week the topic was problems while traveling. I had students think of 5 common travel problems with a partner. I then elicited some answers and wrote 3 of them on the board. You could also show them a picture and have them predict something based on that. Or, you could introduce some of the vocabulary words from the listening that you think the students won’t know.
3. Listening #1. The students listen for the overall picture the first time. You can have them see if their prediction were true, if you did this in step #2. Or, you could give them some very simple T/F questions. Basically, anything that gives them a reason to listen. Have students compare answers with a partner and then quickly go over them together with the class, but don’t spend too much time with this.You don’t want to give away too many details because they’ll listen one more time in the next step.
4. Listening #2. Give students some more difficult comprehension questions, they’ll listen again, check answers with a partner and then with the class. You can spend a bit more time discussing the answers if necessary than you would in the previous step.
5. Application. Students have to apply the concepts from the listening to their own lives in order to make it more memorable. The best kind of things you could do are something that involves students giving their opinions, such as asking them if they agree or disagree with XYZ. Or, you could have students do a survey and discuss the answers. Another idea is to have them pretend to be one of the people in the listening while the other one is a news reporter and they interview each other. Get creative and make listening fun and interesting!
More ESL Listening
The sky really is the limit and the whole world is open to you, if you have high-level students. I’ve used TV shows, movies, and even Podcasts (Serial is great) in my classes before with excellent results. Students love using authentic material because they’re relevant, interesting and gives them confidence that they can go out into the real-world and understand what people are saying. Remember that the best things to choose for ESL listening activities are things that are just slightly higher than their level. If you can assist them to understand, that’s how students make gains in their listening skills.
I hope you’ve picked up a few tips on how to teach listening to ESL students. If you’d like some ideas for speaking and listening games and activities for your classroom, check out this book on Amazon: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults. Less than a dollar for plenty of ESL speaking awesome.
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If someone were to plan a trip to Korea coming from the United States or Canada, it would be a major event. The flight time alone would be somewhere in the vicinity of 15-17 hours in the air, depending on the number of connections they have. Once in Korea, they would have around 7-10 days to see what there is to see before they have to board their flight back home. Usually, people see the big ticket items in a super city like Seoul, try some foods and pick up some knick knacks to remember the trip by.
If you were to travel to Seoul, Korea for one year as an ESL teacher, you would have all the time in the world to see the big ticket attractions. More importantly though, you would be able to see and experience the destination in a way that is simply impossible on a short-term excursion.
You will meet and live with the native culture. You will see the little, priceless aspects of the culture that cannot be found on TripAdvisor. Your overall experience would be far more meaningful and memorable than any experience you could have in one or two weeks.
That’s not where it ends though.
If you are living abroad as an ESL teacher, you will also have many opportunities to travel to other countries as well. Remember the 15-17 hour flight to Korea? Well, to go to Japan, China, or SE Asia would be the same sacrifice.
Traveling to those destinations from Korea? 2-4 hours. You would already have seen many things before your counterpart coming from America reaches their halfway point.
Recently, I was tipped off by a friend on Facebook about a KILLER flight deal coming out of Busan to Taipei. Apparently a new line to Taipei was being added to Gimhae International Airport through an airline called V-Air. They were running a special for $25 each way. After all the fees and taxes, my round-trip airfare was under $100.
You just can’t do that from back home.
Lucky for me, this deal fell right smack dab in the middle of my allotted vacation time. I immediately jumped on the deal, secured a hotel, and was off two weeks later.
As I look at my new life as a traveling ESL teacher, I realize that this was yet another reason why I now know taking this new path in life was the right choice for me.
Some people teach abroad for one year. Others for the duration of their life. Their commute to work is the next country they want to teach in. It’s a commute that I am now very happy to make.
ESL, Travel, and Judo!