Friday, October 29, 2010
Suggested questions to accompany the video:
1) Do you think children in your country are under more pressure to study and get good grades than in other countries?
2) Are kids today smarter than kids in the past?
3) If/When you have children, how important is it for them to receive a good education?
4) How early do you think children should start learning to read?
5) Would you:
a) Make sure your child starts learning before pre-school?
b) Give educational lessons at home?
c) Get a private tutor for your child?
d) Send your child to supplementary classes?
e) Do the best you can to ensure your child goes to a top university?
f) Think it's worth it to spend most of your salary on your child's education?
6) What do you feel the consequences are of a poor education?
1) In what country does this video mainly take place?
2) What does the term "helicopter parents" mean?
3) What are some of the things that the parents featured in the video do to try and give their children an educational advantage?
4) Are you surprised by the extent some of these parents go to to educate their children?
5) What do you think about some of these parents? Do you think that you would end up being a similar parent in terms of your attitude towards your child's education?
6) Who is "America's Worst Mom"? Why is she called that? How is her attitude different to that of the helicopter parents?
7) Do you side more with the helicopter parents or the free-range kids?
Saturday, October 23, 2010
As these animals are pretty fascinating for young learners (and middle-aged hags like myself), I reckon they would make a good entree into a language lesson.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I think one of his most interesting points he brings up is that teachers feel guilty if they are not actively "teaching" in front of their students. However, Nation gives good examples of how important it is to get students just to sit and read by themselves for up to 25% of the lesson time. It is important to start this habit off in class, and NOT rely on it as a homework activity. As I've also found, a lot of students just simply not do reading if it is set for homework. Nation is right in that a lot of time is wasted through homework expectations if you haven't done the initial legwork in the classroom first. One important point that Nation doesn't mention, though, is that if you do 'just' get the students to read books during class time, you must explain to the students why you are doing this, otherwise you will get complaints about your methods. Getting students hooked onto reading by themselves is important for longer-term learning. He illustrates with a study in Fiji of how students were guaged to be some six months ahead in language learning than classes that were heavily occupied with teacher talk time and teacher-based activities.
Nation also draws attention to the Extensive Reading Foundation website. This is a US-based organization which discusses graded readers for learners of English and features good quality titles and topics.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
As usual, there's a packed schedule with a couple of big name speakers - this time namely David Nunan. KOTESOL's problem is that as it only runs for a couple of days with big lunch breaks in between, when there are 3 concurrent lectures on the theme of vocab teaching, for example, some 'smaller name' speakers just don't stand much chance of getting a decent audience.
For more info, check out the KOTESOL website.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
It is always my intention to update this site more regularly and give it a bit more direction, but alas the clock is always against me. Apologies.
The latest YouTube channel I have been following with much enjoyment is PeriodicVideos. This is a series of mini informal 'lectures' on aspects of chemistry produced by a very frizzy-haired but charming professor of the chemistry dept of Nottingham Uni in the UK. There are plenty of topics that could be of interest to junior and adult ESL learners alike. Howabout using the topic of speculating what things are made of, and using this video about the prof's theorizing of what the World Cup trophy is made of? There are definitely lots of accompanying language activities that can be designed to go along with these videos. Chemistry lessons at school were never as interesting as these. Love 'em!
Monday, August 30, 2010
You create your profile (sign up is free), set a date for a live lesson, then 'students' will hopefully flock to see you in action. Its main feature is the presence of a live interactive whiteboard, which you can use when giving live lessons. You can then save your lesson with accompanying materials for later viewing. Test material creation is also possible.
For the 'teachers' it seems to work quite well in that you can offer free or premium lessons, so there is some money making potential for you with WiZiQ. I'm not quite sure, yet, how WiZiQ makes its own money, and as with all edu websites like this, its financial strategy will probably determine whether WiZiQ will flourish or die in the long run. Currently, it is in Beta mode, but has a lot of potential for EFL instruction in particular, although 'students' do need high internet bandwidth capacity for the live streaming.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
- Alien Registration/Issuance of New Card - 10,000
- Extension of Sojourn - 30,000
- Change of Status of Sojourn - 50,000
- Engage in Activities not Covered by Sojourn - 60,000 / 10,000 (D-2--D44)
- Alteration or Addition of Employment Place - 60,000
- Reentry Permission - 30,000 (single) / 50,000 (multiple)
- Change of Address - free
When I came to Fukuoka previously in 2005, some of the hotel cards featured 1500 Yen Ryokan (inn) places that were slightly away from the centre. This time, there were no such Ryokan in this price range on the cards, just upmarket, expensive places. There are probably still cheap Ryokan in existence, but I can’t for the life of me remember exactly where I had stayed last time, so I wasn’t going to hang around trying to find it.
The night before I left for Fukuoka, I browsed for hotel options on TripAdvisor. There are actually LOADS of hotels in Fukuoka, so I don't think you need to worry about finding something - except perhaps at the end of July/early August, when it is the main summer festival season across Japan, and Fukuoka included has a huge festival event which attracts people from all over the region.
I have never pre-booked hotel accommodation through TripAdvisor, but the site did suggest that the cheapest options would be around 3000 Yen. I felt I could find cheaper still when I got to Fukuoka, but I couldn’t – unless you want to stay in a hostel dormitory. Hakata Riverside Hostel is one such hostel:
I asked the tourist information desk on the 1st floor if they had a map of budget accommodation. They did. Most of the places on the map are priced at an average of 6000 Yen per night. That was far more than I budgeted for.
Hotel Seagull is run by a very funny little character, although it bordered slightly on the funny-strange parallel, that I didn't get too friendly with him! In any case, my Japanese this time around was so rusty, it is almost no longer existent. This was a problem when I tried to insist that the map advertised his nightly rate at 3500 Yen a night, but he was charging me 4000 Yen. I managed to negotiate my 3-night stay down to 3900 Yen per night. His explanation for this 'price difference' was that it had something to do with my room being a Japanese-style room rather than a western one. However, my Japanese-style room was one in which the previous occupants must have died in tobacco orgies. I couldn't open the windows to air it either, because the room was right on the main road, and it would have been too noisy to sleep with the windows open. Anyway, it was spacious, and I didn't see a single cockroach, which I remember had been a problem in the room I had stayed in last time I was in Fukuoka. In that room, I had spent a couple of hours one evening with the hotel owner attacking a whole legion of cockroach offspring. Also, Hotel Seagull was equipped with a fridge, freezer, air-con, and a cable TV with the option of the 'Midnight Blue' channel (!) You also got a Yukata robe to wear, although that was a bit stained, and unfortunately had a random piece of 'Calvin Klein' elastic to make the belt! Anyway, Hotel Seagull was sufficient to recommend to others.
BUS FROM INTERNATIONAL FERRY TERMINAL:
Again, there is more simplicity if arriving at Fukuoka Airport - it is connected to the subway line, so real easy to get in and out.
However, if you arrive at the Ferry Terminal, it's either bus, taxi or on foot (at least 30 mins to walk downtown). Most people opt for the bus. I really try to avoid travelling on local buses in foreign countries. I always fear that I never quite know where I am going to end up when I get on a bus for the first time! When you don’t speak the local language, it can make it doubly difficult.
Japan has its own system for using the bus which is far from intuitive.
You need to decide whether you are going to Hakata Station or Tenjin Station. These are the 2 main station areas around which you'll find most of the hotel accommodation, while remaining close to the subway line. I chose to focus my accommodation search around Hakata Station, so I took that bus. The bus from Hakata Ferry Terminal to Hakata Station is either Number 11, 19 or 50. These days, the buses running to and from the Ferry Terminal also have Korean destination signage, so if you cannot read any Japanese, but probably read Korean, at least you know that you are on the right bus. There are also announcements on the buses to Tenjin and Hakata in Japanese, Korean AND English, so if all you need to listen out for is 'Hakata Station' (also 'Hakata Eki Mae' = 'Front of Hakata Station'), then you can't go too far wrong. It should only take around 15 minutes to get to either Tenjin or Hakata on the bus from the Ferry Terminal.
The first 3 'Chinese' characters in the photo below are 'Hakata Eki Mae/Front of Hakata Station'. According to this sign, the fare is 220 Yen, and you don't get change on the bus. I happened to have change, but if you don't, I am quite sure that last time I was in Hakata, I did get change.
When you get on the bus, you need to enter through the BACK door. You take a little paper ticket from the back entrance. It has a number on it. You check your number against the number displayed above the driver. The number corresponds to the fare you need to pay. When you reach your stop, you drop the fare money in the driver's box and exit out of the FRONT door.
If you need to know the 'Chinese' characters for 'Hakata International Ferry Terminal', here is an example printed on a bus stop.
All the bus routes from the Ferry Terminal are displayed at the bus stop outside the Terminal. It is all rather complex, so just get the bus to Hakata Station and don't worry about the rest of the map! (Unless you are braving going to the Korean Consulate straight away (see visa submission times below), in which case it's probably simplest to take the bus to Hakata Station. Transfer to the subway line, and go from there).
Unfortunately, my camera didn't capture the front display of this Number 11 bus which reads 'Hakata Station'. The second 'Chinese' character of Hakata means 'many'. This is made up of 2 characters which mean 'dusk'. You can remember the dusk character, as it looks like a moon at a low angle on the horizon (if you squint a bit and use imagination...).
The easiest way to get to the Korean Consulate is by subway - although of course you can do it by bus, taxi (I believe that 'Korean Consulate' is 'Kankoku no Ryojikan' in Japanese - although I could imagine that some drivers might not actually know where it is, or will fail to understand a foreigner's pronunciation of this), or even walking.
The nearest subway stop to the Korean Consulate is TOJINMACHI. There are essentially only 2 subway lines in downtown Hakata, and all labelled in English, so it's not very complex to use the subway network. The only confusion that I remember in 2005 was that the newly opened line that went from Tenjin Station didn't clearly explain how you transfer at the Tenjin Station stop, since there is about a 100 metre separation walk between the intersecting lines at Tenjin. If you're coming from Hakata Station - another reason just to stick to accommodation searching around Hakata Station - you don't need to worry about transfering lines.
The Japan subway system also has its own ticketing protocol. All tickets are purchased from the vending machines at the stations, although there are manned (literally) desks at all subway stations in case you get stuck (or try to jump the ticket gates as only a foreigner would do - you can always sense that these staff are just waiting for the foreigner to do something dumbass!).
Above, my station, Hakata, is circled in red. The display shows me that will cost 250 Yen to Tojinmachi. Therefore, you press the '250' display touch-screen button below. Insert your money - bills or coins accepted (change given) - and then your ticket and any change will be dispensed. Insert your ticket into the barrier gates, and make sure that you take it with you to insert in the barrier gates at your departure station.
From the Subway Station to the Korean Consulate:
Tojinmachi subway station sign:
A slightly wider angle shot of the junction in question:
This is the sight that you will see when you turn right at the junction. You can just about see the Chinese-temple style roofed building on the left of the road. The Fukuoka Dome roof is just out of sight behind the tree front right:
You need to walk straight down the road until you come to another large junction (about 5 mins walk). You will come to a crossroad where the Korean Consulate is clear to see in a Korean-style building with a white fence over it, and a pedestrian overpass bridge diagonally opposite it (out of shot here). The Fukuoka Dome behind it is also clearly visible:
Although this is written as a very simplistic, idiot's guide to the visa run, there is one even more simplistic point that should be kept in mind. When you get to the Consulate, you need to sign in at the security guard box. On the paper that you sign in, you need to write your personal particulars including your hotel address in Japan IN FULL. Just putting purely a hotel name down as I did with Japanese immigration did not wash with the security guard. Neither did the fact that I had no personal cellphone contact number. He really wasn't going to let me in unless I could put down the full hotel address including the zipcode and a telephone contact number. As I had left my hotel receipt with the address on it back at the hotel, I was stuck. I really nearly wasn't let in, although overcame this by glimpsing at another hotel address that just happened to be visible on the tourist map that was sticking out of my bag and penning that down on the paper. For the telephone number, I listed a random Korean number. After some deliberation, the wiley security guard let me through. As he let 3 other people through while I was laboring over coming up with an address, I really thought for a moment that I wasn't going to be let in and have to go all the way back to the hotel to get the address. So, be warned...
As mentioned in a previous section, all you need to do is fill in the visa application form, stick one passport photo on it, submit 5000 Yen, and note down your Visa Application Number somewhere on the form (the form hasn't caught up with this new system, and has no entry field for it). Then, next day, you come back, show your visa receipt, and hopefully you have your new visa in the passport ready and waiting for pick up.
Getting out of Fukuoka:
If you've picked up your visa in the morning, then potentially, you can either make it back by plane or ferry on the same day.
There are buses that go from close to the Korean Consulate. Alternatively, you can go back by subway to the Airport or to Hakata Station and then bus to Ferry Terminal.
What to see and do in Fukuoka if you have more time:
Fukuoka has quite a bit to see for just a day or two. There are some decent shrines and temples. You have Ohori Koen Park. You have the giant shopping center, Canal City, and you even have a beach. There are also novelties such as the Disaster Prevention Center, with typhoon and earthquake simulation rooms, as well as Robosquare, a small showroom of all the Japanese robots.
If you have a whole day to kill, then you might want to venture a bit further afield. Nagasaki is located about 100km away by train. This has an interesting cosmopolitan mix of building styles on the coast.
For half a day, there are some small islands off the coast of Fukuoka - although they are all annoyingly accessed by different ferry terminals which are not that comfortably close to each other. The ferry fees can go up to 1000 Yen, and some of the islands have park entrance fees of up to 400 Yen, which as I had already surpassed my budget owing to the costly accommodation, I wasn't willing to pay for.
Stop press! : Britain closes to foreign students
In a move that sidesteps the UK Court of Appeal and the Houses of Parliament, and right as the Gazette goes to press, the British government has given just 24 hours' notice of a change to immigration law.
The change bans adult students from coming to the UK to study English or any other course below degree level for more than six months, unless they have passed a specified intermediate English qualification at B1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
A new list of qualifications comes into effect from 12 August; the only ones accepted for entry are Toefl, Ielts, the Pearson Test of Academic English and Cambridge Esol exams. Among the qualifications no longer accepted is Toeic, the world's largest English language exam, which is taken by over four million candidates a year and dominates in Korea and Japan, the two largest markets for English language courses in Britain.
Students out of luck
The government laid the new immigration rules before parliament just 24 hours before implementation and three days before the beginning of the summer recess. It also comes at the peak time for student applications for courses for the next academic year. The House has forty days to disagree with the judgment, in which case the government must amend it, but this is unlikely to happen before autumn. Meanwhile, thousands of students will be rejected because they do not have the right language level, or because they do not have the correct qualifications.
The move follows two important rulings on the UK's student immigration policy by the British courts. In the first case, known as Pankina, three Lord Justices of the Courts of Appeal ruled, in what they described as a question of 'constitutional importance and real difficulty', that amendments to the immigration rules must be laid before parliament. In the second case, brought by language-centre association English UK, the Judge also ruled (following the precedent set in Pankina) that the language levels could not be increased to B1 without a negative resolution procedure (the forty-day period above) being implemented.
UKBA admits mistake
The Gazette has also obtained evidence (see p5 of our September issue) that the UK Border Agency has taken the decision to reintroduce the B1 level even after admitting that it had been wrong in claiming that B1 was 'just below a GCSE in a modern foreign language'. This would make it equivalent to the foreign language level of an English 16 year old. The comparison to GCSE was first made on 10 February and has been repeated by ministers in statements to the House and to the public. It was also used in court in the English UK case.
However, on 16 February Dr Brian North, who developed the CEFR levels, wrote a letter to the UKBA pointing out that a GCSE pass is a low A2, two school years below the B1 level, and that high-school students in most northern European countries require seven years of English at school to achieve that level - making it equivalent, in British terms, to at least an AS-level pass.
The UKBA did not reply to Dr North's letter, saying that when a copy was sent to them by the Gazette it had been 'overlooked'. The UKBA's Jeremy Oppenheim finally replied on 20 July, agreeing that the comparison to GCSE was 'simplistic', but argued that it was the correct level for language students. Two days after sending the letter, the government reintroduced the B1 requirement.
The EL Gazette digital team.(mailed out on Friday 23 July)
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Saturday, July 03, 2010
Enough (lots of! I got through about 300,000 Won in 4 days just on essentials) money. Get your Won changed to Yen in advance because if you turn up late in the day in Fukuoka, there will be no place to change money.
1 passport photo. Again, get this done in advance. There is a photo booth in the Korean consulate in Korea, but many foreigners have reported it to be out of order when they went there. No sign of any other photo booths in the vicinity of the consulate, save those little photo-sticker machines - hardly suitable for visa applications!
All your travel tickets.
Take business cards of your employer and accommodation address/contact details as you will have to put these on your visa application form.
Visa Issuance Number. This has replaced the Visa Issuance Letter. You just need to tell the visa clerk in Fukuoka the number, so it doesn't need to be presented on any fancy document. However, write it down in multiple places, as it could be easily lost. You'll sense that if the whole aim is just to go all the way to Fukuoka to tell a clerk in a Korean consulate your Visa Issuance Number in order to get a visa issued, there is something very frustrating with the whole visa system!
Essentially, the object is to keep going straight as far as you can go. Initially, you are just following the extension of the terminal lines of the Busan Station railroad. The railroad will be on your left hand side. Eventually, you will start to see signs of a port, and the road will run out as it reaches the Ferry Terminal. There are no signs along the way, so here are some street scenes to aid you.
This sight will be about half way. Go under the bridge and keep going straight:
Depending on how 'straight' you manage to walk (I managed to get lost!), you might come to this large intersection. You can just about see the Ferry Terminal entrance marked by a kind of small temple-style gate in the far left of the picture, with a boat funnel behind it:
Make sure you take the right turn when you walk through the 'entrance'. It's easy to turn into the Busan Immigration Office (big building on right, below) by mistake. Instead, you should take the path to the semi Sydney Opera House style building, which is the Ferry Terminal. It's pretty small:
BUSAN INTERNATIONAL FERRY TERMINAL:
Once you are inside the Terminal, go up to 2nd Floor for Departures - escalator hidden behind pillar. The 1st Floor has a conveni store and a bank/money change counter if needed. Overall, though, both the Korean side and Japan side ferry terminals are pretty small and uneventful. Not fun if you have loads of time to kill:
ARRIVING IN FUKUOKA:
Just like the departure from Busan, the Fukuoka Ferry Terminal also feels like a bit of an anti-climax.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Well, if you are wondering what adventures your dear author is having in 2010, I can reassure you that you are probably having somewhat of a more prosperous time than myself at the moment. I decided to venture into the world of house-sitting by way of gradually easing myself into teaching overseas again, although have inadvertently got caught up as an au-pair of sorts, and have been thoroughly conned as to my role. This is the first time I have truly made poor judgement in the selection of an overseas post, and was totally fooled by the person offering it. Usually, I am pretty good at sussing out a dodgy deal. If there was ever a time in my life where someone was taking the Michael, then this is it. Instead of the one hour a day of 'basic cleaning' obligations, and emergency 'very unlikely to ever happen' ha ha childcare cover, I find myself in a surreal household and virtual farmyard, 'working' from 6.30am to 10pm with about 1 hour break for lunch (hence the absence of blog posts) across 7 days a week. I couldn't have hit on a worse deal whether as a house-sitter or au-pair if I'd tried!
I can vouch that being an au-pair/nanny is HARD, and probably more so if, like me, you are a day over the age of 20. If you are going to consider an au-pair/nanny/tutor/governess position overseas, as there are positions of this sort for qualified EFL tutors, DO go for the LIVE-OUT options, and make sure you agree at least one or two full free days per week.
Part of the reason for my move was that my previous position was not financially viable. I could save ZILCH. However, there are nanny/tutor/governess positions out there that pay HEAPS - I'm thinking in particular of posts in Moscow that are advertised with some agencies. In case you didn't know, in the 'nanny' industry, all wages quoted are net, and there are some posts out there that will pay more than any school/college teaching gig, are tax free, and pay for all housing and travel.
Again, be warned - and I cannot state this enough - that I absolutely believe you need to go for the live-out options to make it work as a long-term opportunity. Otherwise, you run the risk of being like a trapped Cinderella, abused around the clock, in danger, unpaid, and with no Fairy Godmother to bail you out. You also need to be thoroughly prepared for the cultural differences of certain nationalities that offer the better paid positions; for them it is viewed more of a serious business transaction in the sense of investing in their child's education, than an opportunity for you to become best buddies. For those interested in a life of servitude, a list of sites that you might want to check out are below. For many of the posts you need formal childcare qualifications or baby-care experience, but there are a few that are looking for EFL teachers:
Bonne International (Russia) - www.bonne-int.com
Ms Poppins - www.mspoppins.com
Valday Service (Russia) - www.valday-service.ru
Simply Angelic (UK) - www.simplyangelic.co.uk
Governeur International (Russia) - www.guvernior.ru
Eden Nannies - www.eden-nannies.co.uk
Great Aupair.com - www.greataupair.com
Royal Nannies (UK) - www.nannyagencylondon.co.uk
House Carers - www.housecarers.com
(For the Philippino/Thai/Indo nannies who go to live in households in places like Hong Kong and Singapore, my sympathy really goes out to you - but at least you get paid!)
Friday, December 25, 2009
Another year, another Christmas. I haven't posted for a couple of weeks, but there will be lots going on from the New Year, so hopefully some interesting updates to publish then.
Thank you to those who gave me a total of 7 boxes of chocolates, a pair of socks, a DVD, and a bookstore coupon. The best thing about Christmas is that my workplace is closed today - the only day of the year that it is officially closed. Amen to rest and relaxation!
However, this Christmas Day, my landlady has gone out to the pub, and in her absence, I've gone downstairs to microwave a curry for my lunch. While opening the fridge to get my curry, I found hundreds of SPROUTS among gravy and bread sauce... She has also done a huge job and cooked quite a feast of other things as you'll see from the pictures. I wondered about why there were 5 place settings prepared around the table. I'm now really afraid that when my landlady returns from the pub, there will be a knock on my door with an invite to come down and share her sprouts. What am I going to do?