Our Garden of Life

Leonard Nimoy tweeted, “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”

Sometimes when I see a beautiful flower in full bloom, I am tempted to pick and put it in a vase to enjoy it. Yet flowers stay longer right where they are until their petals close, wilt and fade. Sometimes in the best of moments, we forget to capture it in a photograph — yet perfect moments we experience are sometimes better left untouched, spared by the camera, and kept private.

Can we ever capture enough of the joy or pain, or the happiness or sadness of a moment? Many times, they remain just as beautiful or poignant, or hurtful pressed in the deep recesses of our hearts and minds, much like pressed or dried flowers…

Image source
Image Source
Image Source

This indeed is our garden of life. The journey we take, with all our experiences, good or bad, is the garden plot in which we sow seeds of growth in a variety of ways —

These are the flowers we cultivate as we nurture the garden of our lives into full bloom – developing ourselves, cultivating our potentials until we reach our full flourishing. So as we dig deeper into the soil, the foundation of our spiritual selves, we also weed out what can hinder our personal growth.

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Image Source

Each of our experiences, the people we have and encounter, are unique on their own, and provide for us an enriching life – despite the mud, thorns and prickly bushes —

 

These are mistakes we make, the hurts we cause or are caused by others, the toxic people we sometimes meet — all these provide us invaluable lessons and insights so we become stronger, better persons.

Our failings do not necessarily mar the beauty and dignity of our persons, just as thorns do not mar the beauty of a rose…

And life still remains beautiful!

Image Source

 

Note: I first published this post in 2015, and this is my revised edition (2018): new title, new photos and with minor edits.

4 Big Lessons I Learned as an English Language Teacher

These days, I seldom teach. My days as an English language teacher may not be as active as it used to be. This is so because I’ve moved on to other pursuits, like writing and photography. Yet, I have gained much insight about language teaching, and in this post, I share my 4 important lessons as an English language teacher.

As I reflect on my more than a decade in the field, I’m glad for these precious lessons which I hope can help any aspiring English (or any) language teacher. Continue reading “4 Big Lessons I Learned as an English Language Teacher”

It’s Not How Many that Matters

A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?

Thus goes a  writing prompt on Word Press’ The Daily Post sometime ago…and as I ponder, I find not one right number of people to include in a meaningful conversation. Perhaps, it depends  on the purpose or setting.

For instance, in social gatherings in the family, or in school, or at work, the more, the merrier seems to be a good dictum to follow.

However, one should not come expecting a meaningful exchange of ideas, thoughts or feelings. Why? It’s often only an avenue to keep up with each other, or feel/pretend like one belongs and not seem an intruder or outcast. Sometimes big social events have this intimidating effect on me.

Mostly in this setting, it’s more fun to observe where the ball is rolling. Have you ever tried doing this?

Listen carefully and you aren’t sure if you can get the flow or drift. Each one seems to be waiting to throw their own ball in this verbal ping-pong interaction that often results in a cacophony of voices that falter to meaningless Ohhhs, awwws, ahhhs, uhmmmms, I see’.

Anyone can just drift in or out. And no one seems to mind. Have you ever experienced something like this? Did it also make you feel awkward?

A lively group discussion can be enjoyed when a meeting of minds occurs. No matter what the topic or where the discussion takes place — at home over dinner, in the classroom, in the gym, on the street corner. You can sense people in the conversation group are having a great time storytelling, debating, or simply exchanging views because each one listens, each one responds accordingly, and each one has learned something.

That’s the biggest take away!

It’s not really how many people that matters to make a conversation meaningful. For as long as each participant gets into the flow — each voice speaks up, each gives a listening ear making everyone feel positive about themselves, the people they’re with, and the interactive moment –then it’s good, for it brings out the best in each person in the group.

What are your thoughts on this, dear readers? What makes you feel good about a conversation? Share them down below.

 Note: I originally posted this in 2016 and this is my revised edition (2018).

Dawn of A New Day

This is my piece in response to this week’s Writing Challenge by Anna Fonté, writer at girl in the hat

Waling-waling ~~ By Dalton Holland Baptista – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5096370

 Silhouetted

against the

Color of dawn,

Lone

Temple on a cliff,

Mother Eagle poised

in

Flight…

Her young

took to the

First break of light

Sweet scent

of

Waling-waling,

Orchids in pink

White purple

twirled…

Dawn of hope

Cupped in

Prayer,

the Soul rejoices

Crisp city air

Fades into

the

Warmth of the

New day sun…

Then lips raised

for the day’s first taste

of coffee brew.

A Message for the Youth

 

Youth, you still have a long way ahead
Take your time but use your head
Life is easy if you work hard
Enjoy each day as it passes
Just be sure to leave your mark…

Never take anything, anyone for granted
Youth is not a license to do as you please
Be daring and adventurous —
That’s your privilege
You’ll learn a lot if you don’t
scoop yourself in
Just remember not to go overboard…

Be gentle and firm with yourself
And with others, too
Remain friendly, but be a friend loyal and true…

Look up, aim high
Discover yourself truly and honestly
It’s in accepting yourself as you are
That you’ll be able to see others
as they are…

Do not try to search for everything
For what is truly yours will surely
come your way;

As you go on with your life
Once in a while try to look back
at where you’ve been
Remembering the lessons you’ve learned…

Remember, too, to bring along some memories
Look at the past and remember
That once you’ve passed this way

Lastly, no matter what Life has to offer you
Give thanks and be humble
Know that if you walk with God
You will never be lost.

 

 

 

NOTE: I also  shared this poem on Writing.com under my pen name, Summerblossom.

 

 

 

Soliloquy – An Anguished Soul Speaks Out

You get stuck. Again. Something makes you stuck.  As ever.

And this perhaps is why you never can get your blog off.  Why you can’t attract as much traffic as you want to. As you need to.

Fear. Yes, fear is what keeps you from writing with your whole heart and soul. From conveying as much as you want to – in the way you want to express yourself.

You’re afraid of giving a piece of your mind about issues that matter today.

COURAGE – this is what you ought to have. Yet…

Now look at this quote — it’s supposed to inspire a trying-hard writer like you. Oops, never be too harsh on yourself. Please.

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.”  — Robert Cormier

 

But it doesn’t really apply to you, right? In the context this post is about?

All you can think of now is how saddening to see how much the world today is ripping itself apart. Hatred. Violence. Injustice. Destruction of the environment. Loss of respect. Enmity between kin.  Apathy towards others. So much division, disunity, disintegration. So much Evil…

Others may tell you – hey,  this has been happening since time immemorial.

Yes. So you push back and ask —  why then has humanity not learned anything at all from the lessons of history? Is humanity that hardened, dense, fragile, weak …or just plain overcome with EGO? Must we just tolerate the negatives within and around us?

You start to feel at times your faith – in God and in humanity —  slipping. Especially when you read the news. The bad news all over. Or reading ugly debates on social media. You try to avoid these as much as you can. Yet you cannot totally do so.

There — you’ve bared your soul. You’ve expressed somehow that pain in your heart.

This one seems to be a perfect guide for you — by Leonard Cohen

“Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.”

And this is your reflection for now. You do NOT have to be as gifted as others nor try to be like them. For as long as you speak out your Truth. That’s your Life Purpose. Just be your Authentic Self.

For from Love and Goodness you have been created. SO it is upon you to answer that call to be the image of the ONE who has created you and the rest of the Universe. That’s being authentic.

Your authentic self is meant to provide light to those you meet on your life’s pathway. But it’s still your Choice.

To let the LIGHT from within you to radiate to others. And give Hope. It is upon you to share that hope. As you journey with others. You encourage others to grow into the best person they can ever be — by being the best you can ever be too because you have that hope in your heart. You choose to be that kind of person.

Yes you feel anguished, helpless, hopeless about the state of affairs in society. You even start to think that animals have become more civilized than humans, transcending their very nature of just living for themselves. You see how different species – enemies by nature -unexpectedly learning to co-exist peacefully and enjoy each other’s presence. You see and hear of stories of loyalty and love pet animals provide their owners.

Yet do not despair. Remember? Despite humanity’s brokenness and because of that very crack in humanity, the LIGHT of the World has come to save, to redeem us all.

It means despite our brokenness as  human being because we are not perfect – just like everyone else — there is that spark of Light within each of us. Within you.

Still in your own capacity, and with God’s grace – you can help bring the Light, and Hope, and Faith to others. It behooves upon you to rise above your own frustration and anger at what is happening in the world to spread even  a ripple of kind thoughts or deeds.

In whatever way you can. Through your writing perhaps. But remember  you can only do this with LOVE in your heart. Spread the message of love, hope, and joy, especially as it is almost the Season of that LOVE that has come to save.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…  — 1 John 4:18

 

9 Nuggets of Wisdom Harvested from Farmville

For some years, I was busy planting crops, fruit trees, vegetables and a rich variety of plants on my moderate-sized farm, which I also surrounded with ornamental plants, shrubs, and trees to make my farm look inviting.

a corner of my farm…
my farm grew in size and changed landscape every so often…
an aerial view of my almost crowded farm…

I also raised farm animals, like hens, cows, pigs, horses, and took care of some domesticated animals like cats.

Through time, I was able to grow my farm, even building structures inside, until it looked more like an estate fit for royalty. <BIG Laugh> Continue reading “9 Nuggets of Wisdom Harvested from Farmville”

Anthony de Mello’s “The Song of the Bird” – A Reflection

I cannot fully describe my total experience while going through each of the pages of this extraordinary book “The Song of the Bird” by Anthony de Mello. It was an assigned reading by my Spirituality professor in graduate school some years back. And this reflection was a requirement of that course, so here goes.

When I set out to read, I tried to put myself into a proper frame of mind. I created a mood in order to get a feel for what the author says: “the mystical.”

I knew being mystical was more than just feelings. So I seriously followed the third suggestion of how to read the stories – in a prayerful manner.

Most of all, I tried to open my mind, heart and spirit for the grace of wisdom I would hopefully gain.

Story after story, I went and slowly some things would strike me now and then but only superficially, I felt.

Later I discovered I must not predispose myself in a way too expectant nor too presumptuous, for what I found most enlightening were those that I read in a humble way.

Like what most of the stories have to say, we must not be too engrossed with the future. Neither should we be buried in the past because we must live in the present. We must become aware of what the present has for us.

If we do so, sooner or later the beauty of the moment unfolds before us to savor, to experience, to have. Then we cannot just analyze nor rationalize. We just have to let each moment be. And let us be still in the moment. Be in the silence of the present.

Like the fish who keeps looking for the big ocean, I learned I must keep still. I must listen to the silence of myself and to the lessons that were being imparted to me here, little by little.

I should only let my heart be open and let my mind be still. I should stop walking ahead, wandering around because I couldn’t just force wisdom into my heart — just because that was what I intended to find.

I also learned that this is how we usually go through life. We race ahead to the directions or goals we have set for ourselves, as if the future is all there is to life.

What also strikes me about the book is the varied sources of inspiration drawn from different religions. That they all speak of searching for the Truth, of being one with Creation. Most of all, these stories speak of finding God in our everyday lives.

Indeed – we are of different faiths, of different races. But we all have the same stories to share, the same longings for our same God, the same aspirations and ideals. We all can learn from one another.

I was most struck by one story here, “Change the world by changing me.” I believe that this is one powerful prayer that can really ‘move mountains’ — if only we are humble enough to first transform ourselves and ask God to help us.

Because I was definitely changed somehow by most of the stories, I decided to share the book with my youngest son and asked him to write his reflection. May I then take the liberty to share with you what he wrote verbatim:

Reading this book has made me strengthen my faith in God. I am grateful that as I was reading, a lot of questions stirred inside my heart, meaning I am not contented with my spiritual life because being contented means that I already know everything there is to know about God which I think is an impossible feat.

My questions led me to the fact that I was created in His image, a little lower than the heavenly beings which makes me greater than all things here on Earth but that God is infinitely higher so there is a vast difference between us. He knows all the answers to my questions but He may not reveal those to me since He said that there are things that are hidden and are for Him alone. And it is a good thing because His ways and thoughts are not my ways and thoughts. So seeking answers that are not meant for me may be dangerous to do.

And to those questions that are answered, I will keep always in my heart knowing that those will help me experience God better. Also, it will help me lead more souls to Him. I am always looking forward to questions to pop in my mind because each question answered will help me become a more mature Christian.

 

I intend to read this book again and again, for each time, new insights are revealed.

NOTE: I’m reposting this  piece of mine — which I first posted here in 2013 because this book offers timeless gems of wisdom. And it’s a timely read as well. If you can get hold of a copy of this great resource, I invite you to do so. But read each story as mentioned above — in a prayerful manner to get the most of it.

5 Inspiring Quotes for Teachers to Live By

I’ve read somewhere that all of us are teachers in a way. No matter who we are, we find ourselves in a position to teach someone something. Even little children teach others. Whatever they learn, they are eager to share that new learning with others right away.

Teaching must be our natural vocation from God, the greatest Teacher of all. It is by which we help one another grow.

Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash

So here are five inspiring quotes about teaching to live by, for us  teachers from all walks of life, young and old alike — especially for parents, guardians, and those in the field of education.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless.
– Mother Teresa

 

A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on a cold iron.
– Horace Mann

 

They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.
– Anonymous

 

Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.
– Plato

 

Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner; put yourself in his place so that you may understand… what he learns and the way he understands it.
– Soren Kierkegaard

 

Source of quotes

 

Six Tips on How to Get Ready for a Career Move Anytime

I used to worry about my son’s penchant for changing careers even before making it to his 5th year at the job.

This tendency goes against the traditional linear path to a career growth and success.

Traditional way of career success

Back then, one had to build loyalty to a company and/or industry, to gain credibility and expertise. Aside from acquiring experience, skills, and knowledge in one job, one hoped to establish stability and security of tenure by staying long years in the same organization in hope of a promotion to a higher level, or be rewarded for one’s loyalty.

But this is today’s reality. It’s a growing trend to shift careers at the beginning of one’s work life or midway, especially among the young.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Now, I see the value. My son’s career transitions – from the academe to the corporate world, and from one corporate line of work to another – has brought him to higher management level with bigger responsibilities, in different fields. It has brought him nearer his career goals and to different places, too (overseas). Something he wouldn’t have attained yet, had he stayed in his first job ever.

Benefits of multiple career/job shifts

Nowadays, career/job progress comes from different directions. As this article says: “…with an ever-changing job market, technologies and opportunities emerging daily […] today’s career paths are not ladders, but more like jungle gyms.”

I myself have experienced such career shifts — from corporate jobs to teaching after a long break, then writing. At present, I’m even learning a more specialized kind of writing necessary nowadays in the digital workplace – copy writing (for content marketing).

But I tell you this. Changing careers benefits you in many ways, both in your work and personal life. You accumulate different skill sets, get to experience different work cultures, and meet all sorts of people. All these enrich your life, promote your personal and professional growth.  And not the least, it widens your horizon of opportunities.

You’ll never know where life can take you. So in this post, I share six tips on how to get ready for a career or job move anytime.

This article offer some ways to make your career transition(s) a breeze.

I highlight two of them. Let’s take a look:

  • According to the article, you should “Decide if you need a career change. You may just need to find a new job, not an easy task, but certainly simpler than an entire career makeover.”

So while you’re still at your job, whether you’re enjoying it or not, learn as much as you can. The skills you learn will put you in good stead wherever your next move takes you.

I remember in my earliest job where my main function was personnel recruitment, I’d ask our telephone operator to teach me how to operate our switchboard and handle calls. During my coffee break or lunch time, I’d offer to relieve her because it was so much fun for me. I never expected on my next job, relieving the telephone operator was part of my duties.

  • Assess yourself is another tip from the article. “If you decide a career change is in order you will need to evaluate your values, skills, personality and interests using self-assessment tools, often called career tests.”

In my case –my transition — from personnel work to language teaching to content writing on the web — was not part of any strategic plans for the future, but a convenient option. But there also seemed to be a tying up of my values, skills, personality and interests which helped me segue into each of these fields.

And I add my own tips based from my personal experience.

  • Work on your hobbies and interests. Find time to indulge in them no matter how busy you are in your job. Hone your innate talents and find the relevant skills to develop so you can be good at whatever you enjoy doing. The more you learn and practice, the more you become an expert.

For example, while still teaching, I started a blog for my students (this one,  initially meant for their use). I didn’t know anything at all about WordPress, much less about blogging. But I enjoyed learning everything I could about it.

Now, 5 years hence, I’ve become more confident with my blogging skills both for my pleasure and for my work as content writer. Yet, I still continue to improve my skills day by day by diligent learning through reading up and attending online courses.

  • As soon as you learn something new, apply that knowledge. Don’t worry about making mistakes. You learn by doing.

I’d always been fond of taking photos — long before the advent of smartphones and digital photography. So I’d be using my old trusted film camera, then my digicam. But I never thought about any techniques. Just point and shoot. Enough.

Then with a smartphone, I discovered the joy and beauty in taking good shots and developing my photography skills. Although I’m far from being an expert, at the very least, my photo shots today show signs of better technique and style.

  • Discover new interests. They can help you advance in your present job or career, or lead you to a new field. Or even help you transition from being employed to having your own business.

While in her job at the bank, my sister started networking with associates and learning about marketing. Now she is her own person running her own food franchise.

  •   Think of your goals, as the same article above says. Set up new ones if you haven’t yet. Do this with each transition you make. What are you trying to achieve by your move?

Don’t make a move for the sake of doing so, otherwise you may find yourself adrift like a lost boat.

In short, move with a purpose and a clear sense of direction. It may not take you yet where you want to be. But it will surely help you make the most of what you can do and reach your goals one step at a time.

There are different routes to the same destination. Stay focused and determined.  – Janice Harris

My Father’s Shoes

Nowadays, my father’s feet are often clad in loafers or sandals, whenever he goes out with us on family trips, near or far. At 89, he finds much ease of striding in footwear that afford his toes, heels, and soles comfort and breathing space. Back in the days of his youth, at his prime, he always wore leathers. Leather shoes for office and church, and leather slippers at home. He had his soft driving shoes though.

I couldn’t imagine how he moved about in those heavy footwear. But my father, with his 5’7”  straight back frame, cut a military figure, even never having been in the military, and walked with dignified gaits.

One thing I realize, my father’s shoes today have gotten smaller in size. Unlike in the past when his leather-clad feet were the first anyone noticed.

Still, my father’s shoes — then and now — are his and only his to fill.

On a deeper level though, try hard as they might – no one will ever be able to fill my father’s shoes.

He is – as most people say – holy, kind, and gentle. Once, already in his 80’s, he met a priest while on a visit to my sister at the convent. After a brief conversation with my Dad, that priest remarked, “You’re more priest-like than I am.”

As ever, Dad carries a quiet, dignified, genteel air about him. This affords him a stature almost akin to nobility. He draws instant respect from anyone who meets him, friends and strangers alike. Like bowing to him in deference or giving way to him without his asking. But the reason for this is my father’s prayer life, shaping the person that he is. You’ll get a sense of his authority and his humility.

Steeped in prayer since childhood, he led our family in our daily  Rosary and prayers. Until today, with my mother gone on, he continues to observe his daily prayer times throughout the day. Our home is like a convent, indeed. Having dedicated our home to the Sacred Heart, my parents have done their best to make our family a real domestic church. And that is what Dad is bequeathing to us his children and grandchildren. His and Mom’s legacy of faith.

Like silent waters that run deep, my father is a man of few words, yet bright and knowledgeable. A voracious reader, he sparked in each of us the love of reading and transformed his brood into a bunch of book geeks. He filled our home with books, volumes of encyclopedias and dictionaries, and most of all, the Bible. My mother would often say with pride my father had an IQ of a near Genius. Indeed, based on IQ tests he took at different points in his early life.

So as a young student back then, I looked up to my father for his sharp memory, keen mind, and vast knowledge, from religion to history to science and Math, and his great facility with English. Once, an American in one of the firms he worked for asked him about his perfect English – better than some native speakers. You see my father worked from age 14 with American navy personnel to pack some of their inventory.

Oh, he was his children and grandchildren’s Music mentor — our first voice teacher and and musical director – being gifted with a rich baritone voice. He taught/encouraged us to play musical instruments, most of which he could play well. I did learn to play the piano for a short time in early grade school, and my youngest son learned to play the banduria and violin (Dad’s forte) from him, too..

Yes, he was also a Math wizard. And our Math savior for our homework and projects. No wonder! He graduated as Salutatorian from High School (like his eldest grandson – my son who took after him), went on to UP, then Mapua University, for his Engineering studies.

A dedicated employee, he excelled in his career in Personnel Management (now known as Human Resources or People Management), rising from the ranks (as a working student) to being top executive in all the firms he worked for. He also served as a consultant at one big corporation, midway in his career.

With a large growing brood, he managed to juggle work and family life and church. Selfless. Loving.  Whenever my mother got pregnant, my father did the laundry and cooked our meals. He’d also take us with him for hospital visits to my mom and our new sibling.

Of course, my father was not without shortcomings. Slow to anger, he’d also run out of patience with us kids (seldom though) –  so glaring, he’d order us to a corner or upstairs to our room. Or tapped our butts with his leather slippers. Ouch!

On the road when driving (when he was still much able to), bad drivers and traffic tested his patience, irking him- but never to the point where he’d yell or rage. You’d better be sure though to keep your seat belt fastened. Sometimes, he can be obstinate to a fault too. That’s his human side.

Being my father’s daughter, I’ve got that little bit of him. And being not as holy as he is, I would cause ugly battles between us. Battle of wills. Yet, my father being who he is, would only forgive me. Once, during such confrontation, my father decided to go to the nearby Adoration chapel to cool off, rest, and pray.

 

A faithful husband

devoted family man

good provider

loving, patient father

thoughtful sibling

loyal son

now a doting grandfather/great-grandfather –

that’s who my father is,

And more…

I could list a litany of praises and accolades

but words will never be enough

to depict this wise, saintly, God-fearing man

that is my father.

And no one can ever fill my father’s shoes.

 

 

10 Ways to Keep EFL Students Engaged

Teaching EFL students is fun and fulfilling, but can also bring plenty of challenges. One common challenge is keeping your English learners motivated and engaged. EFL students, young and old alike tend to lose interest or focus as lessons progress in difficulty, for instance. This becomes a hurdle especially for new teachers with zero or limited teaching experience.

I remember my own experience as a newbie teacher, when I’d easily be intimidated by the different personalities I met in class – be it one-to-one or small group classes. But as I eased myself into teaching day by day, I discovered strategies that helped keep my students on their toes, focused, and interested with our lessons.

Here I share 10 ways by which you can engage your EFL students, no matter what their age and language level.

* Recognize the learning styles of your students. Experts say people have their preferred learning style or technique. Some learn better by reading or looking at pictures, not just hearing or doing. Some do well by hearing and listening. EFL students with this style learn new words better by hearing the sound of the words and repeating them. They understand quickly when they read aloud.

Some students learn better by doing. Hands-on activities, such as acting out a role, or drawing an image to represent a word, work best for them.

In my case, I’m more of a visual learner than tactile. I’m also auditory because I like listening to lectures or podcasts, with some background music to help me relax.

When you know your students’ particular learning style, you can adjust your teaching approach, lesson presentations, class activities, and homework to help them get the most out of your class.

See also this for more on learning styles.

* Do a student survey on the first day of class to gather data on this. You can download survey forms for this and other data about your students, or make your own questionnaire. The Perceptual Learning Style Questionnaire is one example. Another resource is the free online learning styles inventory test.

* Present lessons in varied forms. Use PowerPoint or any visual aids. Students today are digital.

* Avoid giving class lectures. Because you’re teaching language, your lessons can be activity-based, depending on the makeup of your students, size of class, and length of class time.

* Make your presentation short, concise then follow it up with activities. 15 – 20 minutes is a good length for one aspect of your lesson for the day. This is what I’ve also picked up from the conferences and workshops for teachers I attended. More than that can be boring or draining for students, especially the young whose attention span is short.

* Speak while writing on the board, and don’t show your back to them. Otherwise, they will do other things beside taking down notes or listening to you.

* Assign individual or group reports, or assign a lesson they will have to present to the class. It’s a great way to facilitate active, engaged learning because they get to use the language and you can ask their classmates to evaluate their presentation.

Now some teachers may or may not agree with me. But as I’ve learned the hard way, it’s better to increase student talk time vs. teacher talk time.  Especially for your beginner or low intermediate EFL students, let them have ample time to practice new vocabulary, and grammar points of the target language lesson for the day.

Let your students speak more than you do so they can increase their oral skills and become more familiar with the lesson. This is a sure way to keep them engaged in their language learning.

* Use rubrics, to assess their performance. Give the rubrics as guide for them, too. Rubrics are useful as well for class participation (individual or group), homework, and quizzes to help you track, measure their progress, and write your student progress reports. Search online for appropriate rubrics.

* Be ready with extra activities. Play by ear too whether you can complete the lesson in one meeting – because more important are your reinforcement activities or follow-up tasks, such as drills and substitution exercises, or whatever you have to check on how much they’ve learned for the day.

* Document what goes on in the classroom. This is useful for doing Classroom Research, at the same time inform you on how best to proceed with your teaching.

Teaching English as a foreign language can be daunting, but with these pointers above, your students will love learning English with you. And through time, as you develop your own teaching style and learn what work best with them, you can discover your own ways to help keep their interest and engagement level at an all-time high.

 

 

Today My Story Begins

In my new small notebook given at a recent writing workshop I attended,

these words are written on its first page: Our Story Begins

So underneath, I wrote: TODAY… as a starter.

Onto the next page, I continued:

“Yes

            today (at one hour and a half close to midnight)

             my story begins.

I’ve found my voice

long buried beneath

the pages of years gone by

so with a vengeance

back it comes

raring to spew words…

The Voice

Now I write it anew:

“Yes

            today (at one hour and a half close to midnight)

             my story begins.

I’ve found my voice

long buried beneath

the pages of years gone by

so with a vengeance

back it comes

raring to churn, spew, spill words…

onto the pages of my notebook

Eureka! This might be the answer to the challenge that faces me each time I write for my blog and other personal writings (not work for it involves a different writing style) –

To write in the manner I did in the days of my youth — rhythmic, poetic — reflecting the inner poet in me.

Thus from today onward, I start to write like this again. Writing reflections in blended prose and poetry.

With this, I hope my blog be refreshed, and capture the attention of even just one soul…