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Monday, September 19, 2016

Students Attack!!! (Attack Me Back, That Is...)

It’s both funny and heartwarming when the students whom I painstakingly taught basic grammar to, such as Subject-Verb Agreement, have improved so much that they can finally attack me back from different angles...in an amusing way, of course. Here are some light moments with some of my students.


***
Me:       And why are you laughing at my drawing??!!
Student: And why shouldn’t I??!!


***
After watching a video of a komodo dragon mercilessly attack a defenseless deer:
Me:        I wonder what komodo dragons are for.

Student: Komodo dragons also wonder what humans are for.


***
Me:      I am going on a date on Saturday night.

Student: Finally??!! Oh, God is Alive!!


***
Me: During my time, exam days were tough because our  teachers would  hit us on the          butt for every mistake that we'd make.

Student: Oh, noooo!!!! Teacher, are you okay??!!

***

Me: Any unusual news today?
Student: My uncle finally took a shower last night. 


Listening to a student put into practice what he/she has learned is truly rewarding for a teacher. Teaching, indeed, is a noble profession. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kids Are...Well, Kids


Here are some of my favorite conversations with kids.

1.  Five-year-old boy: The people in the congregation say I am very     handsome.
Me: Did you believe them?
Boy: Well, for a couple of times I heard you say the same thing about me.

2.
A four-year-old girl reviewing for her Science exam  asked me to draw objects so that she could identify them as either Living Things or Non-Living things. I drew a flower.

Girl: Has this been plucked?
Me: (Not knowing what to answer,  I erased the picture of the flower and I drew a tree instead.)

 3. 

My then 5-year-old nephew on seeing a spider on its web for the very first time:
"Hey Auntie, come and see what I've found in your garden! It's something so little, it's moving, and it  looks like Spider Man!"

  4. 

My brother needed some cash so he prepared to go to the nearest ATM machine, a good 10-minute-walk under the scorching sun. My five-year-old nephew wanted to tag along and his father could not stop him, so I sensed my brother needed some help.

Me: The ATM machine is so far away from here.

Nephew: (teary-eyed) Like... how far is it?

Me: You will cross 7 seas and climb 10 mountains.

After about an hour, I saw my brother and my nephew arriving home, both drenched in sweat.

Nephew: Oh, Auntie... my dad and I have just been to the nearest ATM machine. We crossed 7 seas and climbed 10 mountains....

 6. 

One day I hugged a cute, chubby little girl so tightly.
Little Girl: Hey, don't squeeze me. I'm not a lemon. 


                              
7. 
Me: If you say bad words, Grandfather Diego will come here and cut off your tongue.

Four-year-old nephew: The dentist told me that someday, when I lose a tooth, another tooth will grow. If Grandfather Diego cuts my tongue, will another tongue grow? 


Oh... I wish I could be a kid again!






Monday, April 21, 2014

Just Like The Ants


Let me begin by stating that I keep my small apartment clean and sanitized every day. However, no matter how clean I keep it, there are ants here and I just can't get rid of them.

I moved into this apartment three weeks ago and I noticed the ants right away. Using a towel dipped in a mixture of alcohol and dissolved detergent powder, I wiped them out from around the sockets. They transferred to my bathroom wall. I wiped them out from the bathroom wall, they transferred to the kitchen, near the sink. I wiped them out from the kitchen sink, they transferred to another socket. From the socket to another socket to my boxes of toiletries to my boxes of personal belongings to  my water dispenser and now, to my laptop and the modem.  The other day, I went as far as to unplug all the wires connected to my modem and laptop, and put the laptop and the modem under the sun for hours. The ants came out and (sadly) I crushed them all. At 4 pm yesterday, I declared victory over them. But this morning at 5:00, when I got up, I  again saw hundreds of tiny red ants marching to and from my laptop and modem.  As I am writing this, I have a wet towel nearby which I use to pick them up from the keyboard when they can no longer endure the heat of the computer and finally come out.

While wondering what possibly attracts them to the electronic devices, a positive thought struck me. Look at the ants. No matter how often they are wiped out and how hard they are trampled on, they collect themselves, they come back, and they start right where the others before them stopped. What valiant, hardworking and tenacious tiny creatures. The ants made me think of my life for a while.

How is this related to my life?

Recently, I decided to temporarily shut down my boarding school, moved to this apartment I am in now, and started teaching online. (My dear brother is sick and we all want to help take care of him. This may sound strange to some people but generally,  in the Philippines, the family always comes before job/business.)  It was a tough decision, but it had to be done. I sold most of the assets I acquired over the years and now, I have only my old laptop, some old kitchen  utensils, some books and my not so big collection of Hello Kitty notebooks. The only "luxury' I have now is a three-year-old percolator.

I admit that at first, I questioned myself whether or not I was doing the right thing. But then, I figured that there are a lot of jobs out there, and I can always set up another school when things get better. A lot of people can take my place as a teacher/school owner, but only I can be my brother's younger sister. Moreover, I realized that I was not totally giving the school up; I was just changing the mode.

And here I am, with my old but still reliable laptop and the internet connection, picking the pieces up, and starting right where I stopped. Just like the ants.




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Saturday, June 8, 2013

TOEIC and Speaking


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Myth: A person with a high TOEIC score, especially when it's over 900,  is a very good English speaker.

Reality: There are people whose TOEIC scores are really  high but can't speak English fluently. 

Conclusion: Just because a person has a high TOEIC score doesn't mean that he can speak English well. A high TOEIC score, therefore, is not the ultimate barometer of a person's English skills.

Question: So, why is it that here at ACERS, we train students to achieve a satisfactory TOEIC score? 

Answer:  This is because in Japan and in Korea, one's English ability is based on his TOEIC score. As I mentioned above, however, this is a myth and  it isn't what happens in reality.

One Korean student told me long time ago that  in their country, a person whose TOEIC score is lower than 900 should not even think about applying for a job. This is because small and big Korean companies alike entertain only those whose scores are 900 and above. I'm sure that the same is true in Japan. This is because most job interviewers and company owners don't know English either. And because they can't speak English, how in the world are they supposed to know who is good in English and who is not? It is therefore necessary to quantify an applicant's ability by referring to his or her TOEIC score, and this is how TOEIC came to be so popular in Korea and Japan.




Okay. Because a high TOEIC score is what a student wants, a high TOEIC score is what we train them to achieve. But, do we stop there? Of course, not. 

This is one of the most amazing things that any student can experience here at ACERS School. We make students  achieve a high TOEIC score AND we make  them  speak English quite fluently. A high TOEIC score plus English proficiency is every English student's dream, I know.  It's not good if a student has a high TOEIC score but doesn't have good English communication skills.

Our aim is to produce graduates who excel both in written and spoken English. And, based on the quality of  graduates that ACERS has produced, it is clear that  ACERS School has carved its trademark. 

In our next blog, I will write about the NUMBER ONE HURDLE faced by students of English: PRONUNCIATION. 


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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Drink Soup or Eat Soup?



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One student asked me why  we say "eat soup" in English, and not "drink soup". In Japanese, they say "drink soup".

The truth is, there's no grammar rule involved in this. It's just a matter of the speaker's preference. However, it is more appropriate to say "eat soup" because of several reasons. Let's start with the obvious:  First, soup is served in a bowl.--not from a drinking glass or cup, so we don't drink it. 





Second, we use a spoon or chopsticks  to put the soup into our mouths. We don't drink it the way we drink water or beer from a glass or mug.
 

The same student argued that soup is liquid, so it's more appropriate to drink it instead of to eat it. Oh yeah, he's got a point, but let's remember that soup is food, so we eat it. It's not a beverage like Coke or beer or juice, and this brings me back to my point that it is not served in a drinking glass.  

Third, soup is not just plain liquid. Soup means some liquid and some vegetables or meat that we chew and swallow. 



But as I mentioned above, there's no grammar rule that governs this. To say "drink soup" is also okay, but "to eat soup" is a lot more popular and more appropriate. It's up to you. Drink your soup if you want, eat your soup if you want. Just make sure not to spill it.







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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mount Fuji- A World Heritage

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"Mount Fuji on Verge of World Heritage Listing"

"An important UNESCO panel has recommended that World Heritage status be granted to Mount Fuji, putting the iconic peak on a direct path to registration.

Japan's tallest mountain is expected to be formally listed in June when the World Heritage Committee meets in Cambodia."
 -The Japan Times News, May 01, 2013




Mount Fuji  has always been close to my heart. Long time ago, when I was a little girl with pigtails and dusty feet,  I would often stare at the vast universe and wonder where in the world exactly Japan and Mount Fuji were. My hometown is scorching in summer, and summer was the time when I would sit under one of our mango trees munching a green mango and daydream of taking a nap on the snow-capped summit of the grand mountain. Whew.




How did I know about Mount Fuji at such a young age? Well,  learning about all  Asian countries and their cultures  was and still is an important part of the Philippine curriculum for primary schools.  From our Asian History books,  we learned the cultural symbols of Japan such as ikebana, kimono, haiku, sakura, geisha, samurai, cranes, temples, shrines,  and of course, the majestic and beautiful Mount Fuji, among other things.




Our Asian history books would often compare Mount Fuji with the Philippines' pride, ***Mount Mayon, because of its beautiful symmetrical cone, similar to Mount Fuji's. This made my young, wild and weird  imagination conclude that Fuji and Mayon were actually twin sisters who had an argument and decided to live apart. (My older sisters and I would often fight, and this somehow affected the way I imagined things, but hey...my personal life is a different story. ha ha ha.)




The inclusion of Mount Fuji on the list of World Heritage Sites will be a giant leap for Japan. This will make people from all over the world get interested in Mount Fuji, which means further growth of tourism in this beautiful country.

Indeed, when Mount Fuji is formally approved as a World Heritage Site in June, I will be one of the first people to rejoice.

More information about Mayon Volcano
***Mayon Volcano is the landmark of Albay, a beautiful province in the southeastern  part of Luzon Island. Albay province is 12 hours away by bus from Manila.

Like Mount Fuji, Mayon Volcano  is a stratovolcano and it is known for its almost perfect cone. It is the most active volcano in the Philippines, and it has erupted 48 times in the past 400 years, according to Wikipedia. Its most destructive eruption occurred on February 1, 1814. It  buried Cagsawa, a thriving town where a big church once stood. After the said eruption, only the tower of the church was not buried. The tower is still there today, and it is now called Cagsawa Ruins.


                                         Mayon Volcano

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Short Stories

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Story Number 1

Not so long ago I had a student who said  that the difference  between L and R sounds doesn't matter, and  the following conversation ensued:




Me:           So, do you like to eat natto with insects?

Student:     What do you mean?

Me:           (speaking slowly, showing  the position of my tongue and enunciating L and R) Well, if you say that the difference between L and R sounds doesn't matter,  then you can eat natto with LICE. I don't want to eat natto with lice. That's yucky. I want to eat natto with RICE;  that's yummy. 



If you go to a restaurant and order natto with rice, this is what they will give you:


RICE


 If you go to a restaurant and order natto with lice, this is what they will give you:  



LICE

Not knowing the difference between L and R can lead to a yucky situation.


Story Number 2
I don't know how true the following short story is,  but this was told by my foreign students (not Japanese) sometime in 2011. 




One young man bought an umbrella that looked like a katana.  It was dark, and because the umbrella looked like a real katana, a policeman stopped the young man.  

"Please! Please!", the policeman shouted.
"Please, what? What?", the young man shouted back and hurriedly walked to the policeman with the katana umbrella in his hand. 

The policeman shot the young man's right foot.




Why?! 
Because the policeman did not say Please, like what the young man thought. The policeman  actually said "Freeze!" which means stay where you are, don't move. 

Had the young man identified P from F and L from R, he wouldn't have been shot. 

See? Not being able to identify and produce the right sound can lead to a dangerous situation.

Avoid dangerous or disgusting situations. Come to ACE, we'll work on your pronunciation. 






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