Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope that the thoughts expressed here will inspire you to continue studying English or to inspire you in learning languages in general. If you would like conversational English lessons via Skype or Kakao Talk, please contact me with the three best days and times of your availability.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why I Dislike School Administrators

I have taught at different schools, and have experienced the power desires of administrators and teacher supervisors. It is always the same, like any longing for power: one person who lusts for control over one or more other persons. Such is the world of materialism and personalities. Schools are beds of personalities playing politics with each other.

In the schools I taught in, I offered students a new or innovative way of learning language. I offered a lot of interactivity, and openness. I was a teacher to them, and a listener to their conversations both in and out of the classroom. Teaching is about listening to people and not injecting opinions and condemnation. However, as many teachers know, there is a group of power hungry sharks that devour many of the ideas new or experienced teachers may try to present. They devour them, or knock them out of the clean waters. The sharks have their own ways of how the teaching process should be done, and they skillfully make sure nobody changes their ways. It is horrible really.

There may be different schools, but there is always the same school political environment. I have not seen otherwise. One school allowed me the freedom to work outside the textbooks, until the students were doing better and acquiring language. That is when the administrators, the sharks, decided to complain and say "get back to the textbooks." Success has its enemies, or I should say, progress. Adminstrators often think they know all about the subject being taught. They think that because they are in the role of power, that they are also experts. In a material sense, power does not mean being an expert. Power is about control, domination, lust, not learning or teaching.

Progress is a divine law, a spiritual law that can be expressed humanly. All the good we do humanly leads us up higher in consciousness to a closeness with divinity resulting in a better outlook on everything. I was determined not to let any mortal opinions or obstacles get in the way of my teaching skills and enthusiasm. I continued outside the textbooks teaching my subject. A true teacher does not need textbooks to teach. A true teacher has a skillset and a box of innovation to use. Textbooks often get in the way of progress and innovation. Teaching is always about improvement, betterment of humanity, and a love for wisdom. Something sharks are not aware of or too keen to accept.

Private schools are just centers of capitalistic profit. They put parents before good teaching. Why? The parents pay, and schools get money from them, or a financial source used to fund the child's education at the school. I even had an administrator tell me once that, we cannot do anything that makes the parents unhappy. They are paying the the school. Wow. So disturbing to my teacher mentality. Good teaching and honest grading have to be sacrificed in order to get parents to continue paying the school. It is again, about money.

Public school are the same except, instead of money received directly from parents or funding sources, the schools are subject to strict state or local accountability which suffocates teacher innovation and creativity. Accountability is about "don't do this and don't do that, but follow our ways, our standards." Nobody asked me, or many other teachers about what the policies and standards should be, or if they are even necessary as so many specific requirements. Teachers and students comprise an atmosphere. In that atmosphere there is one breath shared by all. The administrators are outside that atmosphere in their own treasured hideaways, not really knowing the Truth. They can't see the good expressed by both students and teachers. They only see the accountability reports and inputed data which mean nothing in terms of good education.

The Solution:

Simple. Remove administrators from the education circle and have only teachers and students. Let teachers teach, innovate, listen, coordinate, observe, evaluate, and let students acquire skills, learn, listen, demonstrate ability, and freely question things. Both teachers and students should both share in questioning the world around them. This is part of learning and growing intellectually. More language and other acquistion can take place if there were no administrators, managers, bosses, Principles, headmasters, master teachers, and accountabilty policies.

Now, back to good learning. Back to the basics of Socratic teaching, learning, and skill based growing.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Lovely Community Garden

This is a community organic garden in my town. There are other gardens like this as more and more people are growing their own food. Each garden bed here represents a family's garden space. So much is grown in a small amount of space. Really, space is no limitation to right activity, and growing vegetables and fruits is right activity.

How would you design your community garden? Would it be different? What do you like or dislike about this organic garden? What would you grow in your garden bed? How would you care for your garden bed, your piece of the earth?

American Gun Culture

It is very common to find guns and families with guns in the Americas. From Canada in the far north to Argentina in the far south of the Western Hemisphere, guns are used by people who enjoy hunting, people who like target practice, people who want guns as protection to their home and guns that are collected by gun collectors. Guns constitute an important element of culture in the Americas. Gun culture is alive and doing well.

Some years ago when I was visiting Paraguay, a friend showed me his pistol. He said that he keeps the pistol in his business jacket or coat to give him protection if necessary from the emerging gangs or so called bad guys in society. It makes sense. We all want to be protected from evil.

I am part of the gun culture in America. Some years ago, after I got out of the military, I borrowed my grandpa's rifle and on his land, I shot a rabbit. It only took me one shot, one bullet. and I killed that animal. Grandpa was proud of me, and prepared the rabbit for our food. We had rabbit meat.

Now I am not obsessed with guns, and I don't care about guns, but I do recognized them as part of our culture, and a useful part at that.

Guns represent money. They bring in a lot of profit to the gun manufacturers. Guns can be purchased in so many stores, as well as in the underground market, which is vast, and growing in America.

What about you? Do you own a gun, or would you like to have a gun? How can you get a gun?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Love of Kakao Talk

I found out about the instant messenger, Kakao Talk, through my South Korean students. Teaching Korean in Korea has been a great experience for me. Interestingly, it seems that everyone in Korea uses Kakao Talk for communication, instead of SMS, since South Korea is a totally WiFi connected nation. I had to find out about Kakao Talk, and I am happy that I did.

Kakao Talk has so much to offer: a vast variety of emoticons, group chats, clear, user-friendly template, an easy way to keep up with your contacts and see what they are doing, themes and games. You can use Kakao Talk to text, send pics, recorded voice notes, or make free calls. I also use Kakao Talk now on my WiFi as well as other WiFi networks that I come into contact with. Unfortunately, the United States is not as WiFi connected as South Korea, but the potential for great WiFi is here.

I learned that over 60 million people on earth use Kakao Talk, and that means all Koreans. I also found out that people use Kakao Talk all over southeast Asia and even here in America. I have not been much of an instant messenger user but now that I have Kakao Talk on my Android phone, I use that as much as possible with students, and friends. This is a South Korean company that is on the route of tremendous growth. So many things in South Korea equal worldwide growth, things from Samsung electronics, LG electronics, Hyundai, Kia, ship building and so much more.

My Korea students have taught me so much about Korean culture, technology, trends, and national perspectives. Teaching students from other countries does have wonderful rewards. I have found that out with my Korean students.

The Snake Story

Years ago, when I was living in southern California, dad often took us camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Those are some beautiful mountains that I am grateful to have seen and experienced as a camper. That is one reason why I am so connected to the Earth and love working it and camping outdoors. I had interesting experiences in these majestic, glorious mountains.

On one camping trip with another family, friends of ours in those days, dad, the other family's dad, his two sons, my mom, their mom, and I, were on a narrow trail, I think it was narrow, hiking into a thick forest filled with trees. I was leading the way on this trail as I always like to lead on hikes. I came close to a tree. A snake suddenly emerged out from behind the tree moving in my direction about three feet away from me. We all stopped, and our friend's father who was behind me, took out his pistol and shot the snake. My dad who was behind him did that too. The snake died.

I am always moved by this incident because that snake was in the process of getting nearer to me and coiling up. I could have been attached by the snake. I don't remember if I heard that rattles of the snake or not, but it was a big snake, and had a lot of rattles on its tail. We took the dead snake back to our campsite, and the father of the other family and his 13 year old son prepared the snake for food. We ate rattlesnake meet that day. It was my first time eating snake, and I remember that there was no much meat but it was tasty. I am not a man of guns, but I am grateful that we had guns that day. The snake was killed and my human life was saved since the snake could have bit me and it was a poisonous snake as rattlesnakes are. Guns do have a purpose in this world. I always remember the saying, "guns don't kill, people kill." That is so true. The killer is mortal mind in every case.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Not by Way of a Textbook

Unlike what many educational institutes, schools and companies will tell you, you cannot learn a language through a book. I cannot teach you to speak English through using a book. You have to learn to speak and listen in English the natural way, not the way of books. You don't grow up speaking your language from a book. That is impossible.

The best way to learn speaking skills is by listening to a native speaker, and answering questions from the speaker, repeating what the speaker says, and trying to use the words and concepts used by the speaker. I listen to my students and correct them when I hear mistakes. I often text or IM them the correct way of saying what they want to say. This is an excellent way of learning via phone or Internet.

Don't let anyone persuade you into buying an English textbook with the hopes that you will become fluent in English. That is not going to happen. Books are only good for going deeper into the language and learning grammatical structures, vocabulary, and to practice reading skills. Most of my students want to be able to converse and listen in the English language, not read or write it, although, they learn that too. Learn by doing, not by opening a book to a page and studying that page. Hahaha. Nobody learns that way. We are not robots.

For my Skype or phone lessons, I use an interview approach to teaching English. I ask students a series of questions. The questions are related to a topic. Students answer the questions and I make corrections as necessary. I use questions based on the level of the student. I use the same topic but for advanced students they receive advanced questions on the topic. For beginning students, I use simple questions related to the topic.

Some of the topics include:
Advantages and disadvantages of living in your city
Transportation problems
The crime situation
What you do on your time off
How you celebrate holidays
Why people learn languages
Questions from a news topic
A practice job interview
The Generation gap
Jobs and occupations

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lights and Boat Shows

I have seen my fill of beautiful boat shows in both southern California, and in northwest Florida, when  I was growing up. My parents thought this was a lovely family outing. Now, what really was beautiful in particular were the Christmas boat shows with all the lights on the boats and the beautiful parade of the boats. Sometimes seasonal music was broadcast to the lookers. It seems that in those days people had more time to decorate and light up their boats for the joys of the season, and more time to go to the sea.

In recent times, I have not been to any Christmas boat show. Maybe because we live further inland from the sea, or perhaps we never get around to spending part of day to enjoy the boats in the bay or river. We really are not so far from the water, but there are always other things to do and other events to attend. We don't even go to all the events we plan on seeing.

I did take my family, not too long ago, to a remote control boat show on a local lake. It was fun watching people maneuver there little toy boats with their remote devices. That was a boat show for us.

Satisfied or Comfortable

Hi Kenneth, can i ask a question? I just got a mail from my customer, he said we are comfortable with your current situation, is that mean he is satisfied with my currect situation? Thanks
[12/18/2012 8:35:26 PM]  be comfortable with = satisfied

My Response:
Yes, "comfortable" is synonymous with "satisfied." He could have said we are satisfied with your situation. Same thing. I am comfortable with the plan. I am satisfied with the plan. I am comfortable with my new job. I am satisfied with my new job.

My Note:
However, you can be comfortable with something and not necessarily satisfied. It is comfortable to me because I feel good, not bad about it. However, I am not totally satisfied with the results of it. I would like to have something to make me more satisfied with it, but I am comfortable.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Introduction Video to You

Teaching and Drinking Yerba Mate

As I sit here in my home office teaching English to Koreans and others online and via Skype, I usually have a big cup of coffee beside me or my guampa of yerba mate from either Paraguay or Argentina. I am a big fan of the South American tea.

I started sipping mate when I was a student in the anthropology program at the University of West Florida many years ago. A visiting student from Paraguay introduced me to the traditional way of consuming yerba mate. It is a health tea with over 20 vitamins and has its original use a long time ago among the Guarani Indians of Parguay and Argentina.

After I finished my university work, I went to Paraguay and found that on street corners, in the parks, plazas, offices, schools, everywhere people were sipping mate, using the traditional guampa, and metal straw called the bombilla. The guampa is often made of carved wood, metal, or cow horn. There are many beautiful guampas of different sizes, styles and shapes. I have a collection of them. If you google "mate," or "yerba mate" you can find beautiful guampas and decorative bombillas. Mate is the national drink of the two mentioned countries. To truly understand their cultures, it is mportant to understand the tradition of mate.

Mate is traditionally consumed socially and the guampa and bombilla are shared. The drink is passed around to each person of the group, sitting in a circle or semi circle. Nowadays, people drink mate alone, and because of concerns of cleanliness and hygiene today, but the tradition still lives on, and it is easy to see groups drinking mate together whereever groups can congregate.

So, as I am teaching English, I do like to sip on the old guarani traditional beverage: mate.