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Posts from the ‘Teaching’ Category

*Students’ Countries: 2010

This year I taught students from 36 different countries!

One of my favorite things about my job is getting to meet people from so many different places. While I teach English, I get to learn from them about their countries, cultures, and languages.

This year I learned how to say ‘Thank you’ in Amharic (Ethiopia) and Punjabi (India), ‘How are you’ in Tigrinya (Eritrea), ‘I’m hungry’ and ‘See you later’ in Arabic, ‘I have an older brother and a younger sister’ in Chinese, and ‘Hello’ in Vietnamese. (At least, at the end of the year, these are the phrases I can remember)!

Here’s a map showing where everyone is from:

The countries are:

  1. Algeria
  2. Bangladesh
  3. Bolivia
  4. Brazil
  5. Bulgaria
  6. Cameroon
  7. China
  8. Colombia
  9. Congo
  10. Czech Republic
  11. Eritrea
  12. Ethiopia
  13. Germany
  14. India
  15. Indonesia
  16. Iran
  17. Iraq
  18. Israel
  19. Japan
  20. Jordan
  21. Libya
  22. Macau
  23. Mali
  24. Mexico
  25. Mongolia
  26. Nepal
  27. Pakistan
  28. Poland
  29. Saudi Arabia
  30. Somalia
  31. South Korea
  32. Spain
  33. Taiwan
  34. Thailand
  35. Turkey
  36. Vietnam

It was definitely a diverse, interesting year in teaching.  I had a blast working with both international students and immigrants and refugees.  Here’s to 2010, and looking forward to 2011!

*September was quite a month!

Once again, a month has gone by without a single blog post.  However, this time there was a good reason- and more than one!

I am pretty much settled into my new apartment (housewarming party this weekend, yay)!  Jessica and I are having a lot of fun as roommates, and I’m enjoying “rediscovering” Seattle again, as I join her in trying new places.  (Cupcake Royale, which is only a few blocks from our apartment, has become a personal favorite)!


However, although the new apartment is great, we’ve had quite a bit of trouble getting our Internet set up.  In fact, someone came to our apartment for the third time today, and the result is the same: still no Internet.  For this reason, I haven’t had many chances to blog.

I’ve also been busy with lots of good things; in the past two weeks I’ve started dating one of my most favorite people, Fredy, (=D) and started teaching two classes at a local community college, in addition to still teaching at Kaplan and doing Microsoft tutoring!

Fredy is a really cool guy; I met him about a year or so ago through my friend Jied and we go to the same church.  We’ve been friends for a while so dating him now is fun.  Teaching at the community college level is something completely new for me and presents some new challenges, but the first couple of days have been good.

While I think October is going to be another busy month, I think it’s going to be a nice one!  Hopefully I’ll find a little more time to update this… if not, I’m sure you’ll hear from me in November!

*Plinky Prompts.

Plinky is a website that provides “blogging” prompts for people who have run out of things to write about (or didn’t have much to say in the first place).  As a language teacher, it’s also a great place to get ideas for journal topics and conversation starters.

You write your answer on Plinky, and other people on the site can read your answers.  You can also link your response to another site such as facebook or a blog.  I recently joined and I’m planning to answer when I have time.


I’ll link my answer here, and I was thinking it could be fun for you to respond with your answer to the question by posting a comment… try it out and let me know what you think!

*One Day Without Shoes (Part II)

I realized recently that I haven’t been updating my blog very often lately primarily because I don’t have anything interesting to write about.  Instead of exploring Seattle or going on interesting trips, I spend the majority of my time teaching, in class studying how to teach, or at home- preparing to teach or doing homework about the same topic.  (Once again, I can’t wait to be done with grad school)!  However, I’d like to keep this blog updated, so I’ve decided that, for the time being, I will just have to post about teaching.

That brings me to the video in the last post, ‘One Day Without Shoes.’


The theme for the unit I was teaching last week was ‘philanthropy.’  I find philanthropy interesting and a worthwhile topic to teach/talk about, so I looked forward to teaching this unit.  While many American high schools and universities provide ample opportunities for students to volunteer with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, Relay for Life, and so on, this is not the case in many of the countries that my students come from.  Although many of them are interested in volunteering, they generally have little experience doing so.

Throughout the week we talked about the organizations above, as well as several others, including an organization called TOMS shoes.  TOMS is a company that sells shoes.  However, unlike most companies, TOMS donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every one pair of shoes that a customer purchases.  The shoes are given to children in developing countries who may have to walk for miles to get “food, water, shelter and medical help”  (TOMS), who are unable to attend school without shoes, and who are at risk for developing debilitating diseases as a result of cuts and sores on their feet.  Since their founding in 2006, TOMS has donated over 140,000 pairs of shoes.

It just so happened that on last Thursday, right in the middle of our unit, TOMS held a nationwide event, “One Day Without Shoes.”  TOMS encouraged people who were aware of their organization to spend the day, or part of the day, barefoot in order to raise awareness of the issue.  Several universities in Seattle organized group events for students to participate in.  At SPU, students organized a barefoot walk from Martin Square, in the center of campus, to the Fremont Troll, under the Aurora Bridge.  (A distance of about one mile).

Wednesday night my students watched the video featured in the previous post as homework.  On Thursday, when they got to class, I removed my shoes and taught the three-hour class barefoot!  (Don’t worry Mom, I asked my boss first, and he agreed that it would be hypocritical to teach wearing shoes that day)!  I also told my students about the SPU event and invited them to join me for the walk.

Around 3:00 that day, eight of my students showed up at the university.  We joined a group of about 25 SPU students and began the walk.  It was a beautiful day for a walk (neither rainy nor cold) and a pretty enjoyable experience.  A few people who were walking down the sidewalks in Fremont or in cars sitting at stop lights stopped to ask why the group was parading barefoot down the street, and participants in the walk explained about TOMS’ goal.

Although few people complained during the walk, by the end of it, when our feet were dirty and sore, we had all come to the same realization:  We take our shoes for granted, and had never really appreciated having them before!


I don’t think anyone would say that giving shoes to children who have none is not a worthwhile cause.  However, I have to admit that it wasn’t until after the walk ended that I realized how important shoes are, and how thankful I should be to have (many) pairs of them!

It has been said that to understand someone’s situation, you must first walk a mile in their shoes.  I suppose if they have no shoes to walk in, you must first take off your own in order to understand their situation.  On April 16th, people around the nation did just that.

*Thanks to Karam for the pictures!

*April Showers Bring May Flowers?

As I write this, it is so gray and overcast outside that the Seattle skyline (which I normally have a pretty good view of) is all but invisible.  This morning, a little bit of snow was mixed in with the rain.  However, even though it may not feel like spring at all, “spring” break has come and gone and “spring” quarter has begun, so I guess spring is here.  (At least, Seattle’s version of spring, which is very similar to winter in North and South Carolina).

Spring break was nice, even if it went by too quickly.  Kary (former college roommate) came into town for a long weekend; it was fun to show her around.  Melissa, one of my best friends from high school, is coming to visit at the end of this month, so I’ll have lots of practice “playing tour guide” before Mom and Dad get here in June for graduation.

Speaking of, it’s hard to believe that I’ll actually be done with grad school in “3 months and 15 days” as the countdown on my computer says.  I’ve really enjoyed the program at SPU and I’ll miss seeing my classmates and professors on a regular basis, but I have to say that it will be nice to be just a teacher instead of both a teacher and a student!  I do think this quarter (my next to last quarter) will be less stressful than winter quarter was.  I’m only taking two courses, Professional Issues & Ethics and Phase II of my teaching practicum.

While I’m talking about teaching, I’d like to mention my “class blog.”  I’ve discovered that some people who read this blog actually have stumbled across it while searching for things related to TESOL.  Last quarter, in my “Technology in the Language Classroom” class, we had the opportunity to design a website that was somehow related to English teaching for extra credit.  I created a simple administrative blog for the class I teach where I can post announcements and assignments and where my students can post questions and comments.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here.

Okay, not too much else to say for now.  Check back for another post soon!

*March is here… and halfway over!

Wow, the past few weeks have flown by.

Good news!  I’ve been back in my apartment for two weeks now.  Everything (except the overhead light that won’t turn on) is as good as before, or even better: I’ve got new carpet, a new ceiling, one new wall, and a fresh coat of paint.  Last night I had some friends over for a housewarming party (after being out of my apartment for nine weeks after the pipes froze, I figured a proper ‘warming’ was definitely needed)!

I’ve been teaching Level 4 for five weeks now, which means I’m halfway through the Level 4 curriculum.  I really loved teaching Level 3, so I was a little surprised to find that I think I like Level 4 even more!  Level 4 students generally have better speaking skills and a larger vocabulary, so you can discuss more interesting topics.  I have a great class right now, with students from Japan, Korea, Thailand, Libya, and Taiwan.  (My students from Turkey and Kuwait are on vacation, but will be back soon).

Winter Quarter this year has turned out to be one of the most time-consuming quarters of grad school thus far, but luckily it will be over after class on Monday night.  Next quarter I’ll be taking Phase II of my Practicum, which means I’ll be doing a combination of observing and teaching.  I’ll only be taking one other class, Professional Issues and Ethics, which I’ve heard is interesting, but not too time-consuming.

Spring break starts after class on Monday; I don’t have any exciting trips planned, but Kary, one of my roommates from college, is coming into town on Thursday… I’m really excited to see her and to play tour guide in Seattle!

Okay, I better get back to work on my final project for sociolinguistics… stay tuned for more posts soon!

*It’s Been a Few Weeks.

Oh let’s see, as always, it’s been a while since I’ve updated this. January turned out to be a pretty eventful month. As if working two different jobs, being a full-time grad student, doing my teaching practicum, and having to move out of my apartment wasn’t enough, I also experienced running out of gas and having my wallet either lost or stolen (still not sure which). All of this happened during the first two weeks of the year, and the last two things happened within two hours of each other!

Luckily, I was able to get gas with no problem (thanks to AAA) and have pretty much taken care of canceling and replacing all of my cards, etc in my wallet. (I still need to get a new Blockbuster card and SPU ID, but neither of those are of immediate need). Also, the rest of the year since then has been much less exciting!

Work and school have been keeping me busy. I’ve officially been teaching for a year as of tomorrow, which is hard to believe! It’s true that experience is the best teacher. Everything I’ve learned in my TESOL program has been helpful, but being able to actually try out the methods and activities we discuss in class has been invaluable! I’ve definitely learned a lot (and, in my opinion, become a much better teacher) since I first started last February!

Since I came back to Seattle after Christmas I’ve been teaching my same Level 3 Intermediate class that I began with a year ago. I’ve had a fun, diverse group this year, including students from seven countries: Japan, Korea, Italy, Turkey, Kuwait, Libya, and Thailand. Tomorrow, however I’m moving to Level 4: Upper Intermediate. I’m looking forward to the change, although I’m sure a new level will present new challenges. Two of my current Level 3 students (from Turkey and Kuwait) are also moving to Level 4 tomorrow, so I’m sure it will be nice to have some familiar faces in the class.

My practicum has also been going well. I’m currently in the first phase of the two-phase practicum, which means I’m mainly observing the teachers. I do interact from time to time, acting as a teacher assistant of sorts. I’m available to answer questions and check classwork, as well as participating in discussions from time to time. As one of the students put it, they’re getting “two teachers for the price of one.”

Outside of school and work I’ve been busy doing… well, honestly, other than church, not much else. A couple of weeks ago I went skiing with two of the Italians I know here in Seattle (one former and one current student). We had a great time, but it definitely took me a while to get the hang of skiing again. (Thinking about it afterward, this was probably the first time I had gone skiing in eight or so years). I’m going skiing again in a couple of weeks with work as the “chaperone.” Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself too much!

The church I go to here in Seattle, Blue Sky, (which is actually in Bellevue and not Seattle) has been getting bigger lately. In fact, my “small” group has gotten quite big- we’ve had 17 or 18 people coming every week lately. Because we’re so big, we’re going to become two groups in a couple of weeks. Sam (the current leader) will lead one group and Mark (my former roommate Heather’s husband) will be leading the other. I’m still not sure which group I’ll be in, but I am looking forward to being in a small small group again!

Oh yeah, and for anyone interested in the status of my apartment, they finally started fixing it last Monday. I stopped by on Friday afternoon to see how repairs were coming, and was surprised to discover that the ceiling and one of the walls were completely gone! However, I was even more surprised (pleasantly surprised) when I stopped by this afternoon and found that a new ceiling and wall had already been installed, and the three holes in another wall had been patched. Hopefully this is a good sign that progress is being made and I’ll be able to get back in soon!

Alright, I think that’s everything for now; hopefully I’ll have a chance to update again soon.