Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hey Jude

Let's try to sing this song, and remember it. It's going to remind us of Otago Polytechnic Languages Centre 2007

Day 23 - Fashion

Is it because yesterday was 'Women's Day', or is it just a coincidence? Whatever, the topic for today is Fashion.

Let me start you off with some sentence construction. I have written up a story in a series of short sentences. Each sentence has had its words mixed up, so it is your job to rearrange them into meaningful statements.

We'll follow that up with some 'Board Grammar'.

And, because we have a special Conversation Hour planned, we may only have a little time left over to do a collaborative writing exercise.

Now, we may not have a chance to do much more ESOL, but if we do the next topic will be Odd book titles.

This ESOL online site is also good for your children. It is New Zealand based!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Day 22 - A broken water pipe

We've looked at that story of the burst water pipe, so I'll choose another story from the same site to use for board grammar.

After that, we'll look at the body language video that we didn't have time to.

Let's talk further also about optimizing our time in the Computer Suite in the future.

After today's interesting topic, how about something more fashionable on Tuesday?

Here is a list of ESOL web sites.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The clock is ticking . . .

Good morning to everyone!

On the right is an image. If you click on it, you will be directed to a very interesting world clock.

Our class today will be divided into three periods, just as you asked for yesterday, Kwi-Ok. We'll start with George and Hannah's favourite (or is that 'favorite'?). Whatever. First, therefore will be 'whiteboard grammar', next will be the full 30-minute screening of the Body Language video. And then finally you will be doing some research and talking amongst yourselves.

How does that sound?

Right, let's get cracking!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

All bets are now off

It is proving quite difficult to follow my plan near the end of the year. Today I have a plan, but we may not follow it exactly. Let's play it by ear according to how many of us arrive.

Here is a clip that tests Americans' general knowledge. Can you do any better?

p.s. a knowledge of English is not always enough!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 21 - Hopes fade for the Indian Tiger

Following on from yesterday's surprise barbecue . . .

Don't you think that the tiger is an impressive-looking creature? What a pity that one day there will be none of them left, according to the story from Breaking News.

I'm going to give you two paragraphs. The first has grammar errors for you to find and correct. Last week you so enjoyed doing that, so I am repeating the exercise. In fact, all this week I shall provide more for you of what you most enjoyed during the year.

The second paragraph that completes the story has words missing. In some of your writing certain people miss out articles, verbs and even subjects. I think you know who you are! Anyway, this is for you.

For both exercises you can correct your work first by listening to the Breaking News story, and then you can check both your corrections and listening by reading the story online. I shall remind you to do that!

Another exercise that proved enjoyable for you on Thursday was continuing writing onto someone else's work. We'll have a chance to do that too. And then finally, before we have our last conversation hour of the year(!) I shall ask you how we can improve that hour in 2008

Tomorrow we'll learn about a water pipe breaking - has it ever happened to you?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nothing but feedback

Today in the shower I changed my plan for today's class. I have been meaning to give you all individual feedback, but haven't had the opportunity to do so. Since feedback is so important for you, especially if you are not returning to study English next year, I am going to devote this morning to it.

We shall look at all the important areas of English. I may set you tasks to do. The I shall tell you all how you are going, how much you have improved, and what you need to do if you wish to improve further.

That is it, really. There is nothing more that I plan to do. This will probably be the most important day of the year for you! I believe that correct feedback is more important than any of the assessments you have attempted.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day 20 - Listening to native speakers

Let's do a lot of listening today. First I have a video (that you may remember). Next we have Assertiveness. Will listen to each other in pairs to complete a matching exercise. Again, in pairs you will write pairs of sentences. Finally, you will hear some advice from students at another school of English.

The next topic will be the Indian Tiger.

Don't forget to tune into the BBC World Service.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day 19 - Cell phone safety

The first part of today will be taken up with evaluation, and the last part with conversation. That leaves a spell in between to listen to the first part of the second assertiveness tape, and something about cell phone safety.

For cell phone safety, I'm going to get you to match up these tips with their headings (this advice is Canadian, so I've had to exchange left for right):

Be a Wireless Samaritan.

Don't Take Notes While Driving.

Drive Defensively.

Keep the Phone in its Holder.

Keep Your Eyes on the Road.

Keep Your Hands on the Wheel.

Know When to Stop Talking.

Never Dial While Driving.

Practise Off-Road.

Stay in Your Lane.

Take a Message.

Use a Hands-Free Model.

Use Speed Dialing.

Buckle your seat-belt and place all ten fingers on the steering wheel. Wrap them firmly around it, positioned at "10 and 2 o'clock" and keep them there while you drive.

Learn how to operate your phone without looking at it. Memorize the location of all the controls, so you can press the buttons you need without ever taking your eyes off the road.

If your phone is new, practise using it and the voice mail while your car is stopped. Practice will make you feel more comfortable - and safe - using it when you are on the road.

A hands-free unit lets you keep both hands on the wheel while you talk on the phone. Attach the microphone to the visor just above your line of vision, so you can keep your eyes on the road. You can then talk on the phone as if you were talking to a passenger.

Don't get so wrapped up in a conversation that you drift into the other lane. Pull into the left-hand lane while talking, so you only have to worry about traffic to the right

Program frequently called numbers and your local emergency number into the speed dial feature of your phone for easy, one-touch dialing. When available, use auto answer or voice-activated dialing.

If you must dial manually, do so only when stopped. Pull off the road, or better yet have a passenger dial for you.

Let your voice mail pick up your calls in tricky driving situations. It's easy to retrieve your messages later on.

Keep conversations brief so you can concentrate on your driving. If a long discussion is required, if the topic is stressful or emotional, or if driving becomes hazardous, end your call and continue when you're not in traffic.

Make sure your phone is securely in its holder when you are not using it. That way it won't pop out and distract you when you are driving.

If you need to take something down, use a tape recorder or pull off the road. If you have an electronic scratch pad on your phone, use it to record numbers while you are talking.

Wireless enables you to report crimes, life-threatening emergencies, collisions or drunk drivers.

Being in the right will not save you from a crash. You must be prepared for the unsafe actions of other motorists or for poor driving conditions.

The next topic will be on listening to native speakers.

Try this site today: Randall's Listening Lab (which we have looked at before).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Day 18 - A tunnel between Russia and the USA

On this fine Monday morning, I shall give you an interesting article to read. After you have read it, and after I have dictated the missing parts (whole phrases) I would like you to discuss the issue in small groups.

Afterwards I shall get you to write something on that same topic.

We cannot neglect the tunnel that the last post mentioned. I have selected some of the activities from the Breaking News site for us to try.

Tomorrow we will study cellphone safety.

There are good things to listen to at English Listening. Go to the free section.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 17 - Overwork

Isn't the picture on the left an interesting one?

I enjoyed yesterday morning when you asked me if we could spend time preparing for your group discussion in the afternoon. A teacher is very happy when students take initiative with their learning. I could see that you all made a lot of progress.

So today . . .

First we'll do some listening and/or dictation from our tapes on Assertion. I know that they are a favourite with you, Wea Ju.

I'll prepare a sheet with some of your own writing errors to correct - that covers grammar. Here they are:

Try and improve these sentences:

May be more women are more open mind than men.

It spent a expensive fee for a one month to learn driving.

I’m enjoying driving and listening good music on the way.

Water treatment have a few step the process to come clean.

Finally , the water continued with disinfection tank , where using chlorine.

Sometimes they drive to hit another car because they lost their concentration.

How long can we become a good salsa dancer, it depends on ones personality and the feeling of music.

When I droved my car to visite my friends house at Roslyn then an old driver hited the middle my car when I’m driving.

Some of women is afraid of driving because the traffic is too busy and many taxi men and motorcyclists are always not obey traffic rules and drive over speed.

I’m interested about driving follow limite speed if some one who has driven the car to look all limited speed it make them to reduce more accidents in New Zealand.

The next day, Monday, we'll study about a tunnel between Russia and the USA.

And if you want more work see the site: English Language Centre Study Zone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Day 16 - Children from Russia in California

Oh how nice to be able to work normally again! Let's resume our listening to Shayne and Patricia.

Yesterday I asked you to see and tell me which exercises concerning the Beijing item you would like to try. While I get that organized, please write a paragraph for me. The topic sentence is:

Beijing is busily preparing for the next Olympics, and the city is concerned about its image.

For today's topic I have sheet for you to read and decide which form each verb should be in.

The next day we will look at overwork, but we shan't actually be overworking!

At ABC Education Resources you can find many Australian things to listen to and read.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Day 15 - Beijing citizens learn Olympic manners

Good morning all. Please bear with me today - we have what I hope are our final assessment resits, after which we can breathe a sigh of relief. Normal English from now on, in other words.

Your mission should you accept it (from 9 until 10.30) is to gain access to a computer. Look around for an unoccupied computer suite; you may enter and use it. Send me a comment about anything recent on my class blog.

In particular, look at yesterday's lesson about Beijing. Look over the activities that they provide, and tell me which ones you think are most useful for us to do.

Tomorrow we'll look at Children from Russia in California.

Try the site: English Pronunciation. It has some good stuff.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Day 14 - Cultural differences

The sign of a good weekend is that you completely forget what you did (or what plans you made) the week before.

As a result, I don't know quite what we should do today. Pariya told me that there were three weeks to go to the end of the year, but there are four! Nevertheless, we need to think about completing the resits of this term's module's assessments. Results need to be provided in time for graduation. By the way, let me know if you would like to attend the graduation ceremony. We would need to arrange gowns for you.

After we hear about the 7-year-old-swimmer (last post's topic) I shall help prepare you more for your afternoon assessment: Group Discussion. I think I can help you a little with that. All sorts of topics spring to mind about safety for the young, competition, swimming as a skill, training, etc. There is another related article which wrings animals into the picture.

Tomorrow's topic, which relates today's, is Beijing citizens learn Olympic manners.

We'll search out the sites you found last Thursday, and then look at the site, Sounds of English, for pronunciation. The pronunciation is American.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Day 13 - Seven-year-old sets record

Good luck everyone, for your listening assessment at 10 a.m.

I'll try to lighten the mood in the hour beforehand. An article in today's newspaper caught my eye, and I'm sure it will amuse you too.

Between 11 and 12 I think the best thing for us to do is something different. I'll ask you to form pairs. Each pair will then draw a task at random.

Next week we'll start with cultural differences.

Finally, I like the appearance of the Virtual Language Centre, don't you?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Day 12 Ten commandments for motorists

Today we'll take a break from listening about assertiveness, but not from listening!

Using yesterday's link to a radio programme about food and cooking I have prepared 25 questions you ought to be able to answer without too much trouble. My aim is to give you some last-minute practice for tomorrow's assessment, and to increase your confidence.

  1. What is the program about?

  1. What is William offered to eat?

  1. Are humans at the top or at the bottom of the food chain?

  1. Complete the expression: Food for ___________

  1. How was the interviewer able to interview Anita?

  1. What are cooking buses?

  1. You can fit how many people into the class – 6, 16, 32 or 60?

  1. Many children don’t know what fact about vegetables?

  1. Which verb often goes with the word ‘recipe’?

  1. Which preposition often goes with the word ‘recipe’?

  1. How can you take part in the competition?

  1. Which letter in the word ‘ingredient’ becomes silent when you form the plural?

  1. Complete these words: Essen____, Vit___, and Import_____

  1. What question did the interviewer ask Anita first?

  1. What ‘makes’ a good cook? (Say this in 10 words or less)

  1. What is Anita’s opinion about spending money on food?

  1. What prompted William to start cooking?

  1. Describe William’s meals with two of the adjectives he uses.

  1. Does William ‘make it up as he goes along’? What does this mean?

  1. How can you learn how to make the perfect omelette?

  1. Does the person on the phone come from Peru, Manchester, or does she come from Spain?

  1. What meat in is Wendy’s favourite dish?

  1. Complete:________ anything together and see ____________________

  1. Another word for a small job is ______________.

  1. What sound signals the end of the programme?

After the break you'll do some self-directed learning, starting with a piece of writing on driving.

Site for you today: Dave's ESLCafe. A Student and Teacher resource. Quizzes, slang, ‘idea cookbook’, discussion forums, etc. Check out the great links-with heaps of links to ESL sites.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Here's a short and easy-to-listen-to video clip about the 'benefits' of civilization.

Day 11 Food and cooking

We may not get around to working on this topic today. We seem to be doing more listening in preparation for the test than other skills.

Didn't we have a useful session in the computer suite yesterday? I have an idea to make our conversation hour more useful than usual today too.

After we hear more tips from Shayne and Patricia we'll roleplay and pronounce another interview from our favourite site of 800. You can always find it on this blog, but I strongly recommend that you make use of delicious.

Tomorrow the topic will be Ten commandments for motorists.

Try this site for size - to learn English - it allows you to try placement tests

Monday, November 05, 2007

Day 10 - Neighbours fighting

Because of Internet problems I haven't been able to write this for a couple of days. Never mind, we'll continue from where we left off.

Dictation - Assertiveness tape continued. I shall encourage you to listen in 'chunks', not separate words.

Listening practice - One: I have some questions for you from the next part of the same tape.

Listening practice - Two: I shall prepare some questions on this listening exercise on the Internet. Please listen, then return to your desk to answer the questions so that others are not kept waiting too long. While you are waiting, do the writing exercise.

In the computer suite today you can prepare for tomorrow's topic: Food and cooking.

You should also see what you think about OZ ESL, an Australian site. Try the quizzes link.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Day 9 - Cows and sheep burping

Happy Tuesday!

Yesterday many of you had a look at today's topic about cows and sheep. I'll give you a grammar task about it.

Also, you shall receive some very useful listening practice. I will play the first two minutes from side two of the assertiveness tape. I have eight questions for you to answer after you have listened to it twice.

I have a bonus site for you to explore today. It provides more than 800 short interviews especially for ESOL students. The only thing is that it doesn't ask you questions - but I can do that!

Tomorrow, the topic will look at an incident where neighbours fought! I hope that this will not happen to you in real life.

Site for today: Karin's ESL Partyland looks like fun. On the students site, click on quizzes for interactive grammar quizzes sorted by level. Click on Learning pages for theme related interactive lessons.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Day 8 Tourism quiz

The good news this morning is that most of you have passed your assessment last week. The not-so-good news is that the next assessment will take place on the 8th November :-(

But, because we have been starting off everyday with listening dictation, you have been preparing for this assessment all along. With our tape - Being More Assertive - I shall demonstrate what will be expected of you.

We have a tourism quiz to take part in today, and that will involve more listening. Next, I really must get our reading programme off the ground.

In the computer suite (it's been two weeks since we were there) I would like you catch up with the websites I'm giving you. Work backwards and take a brief look at all of the links I've provided for you this term.

Tomorrow's topic will be about cows and sheep burping.

The site for the day is English Page.com.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Day 7 Couple admit guilt

For today's assessment, it could be that you finish before the 40 minutes are up. In that case, I suggest that you read something. I have an article that you might find interesting.

Since we'll start the test at about 9.45, we'll have the opportunity to go over the asnwers to yesterday's two practice tasks.

FInally, after the break, we'll work on the news story that I gave you yesterday (though this blog). I'd like you to do some writing too, sometime during the hour, so maybe I'l get you to tell this story in your own words.

Tomorrow's topic is a tourism quiz.

Today's site is an old favourite for some of you: Manythings.org.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Day 6 Dubai's tallest building

Following on from the dictation - examples of under-assertive behaviour - I shall give you two advertisements to read. It is the last chance to practise this skill before the test tomorrow.

After the break we shall practise skills on the topic of the photo to the left: Dubai's Tallest building

Tomorrow's topic is called: Couple admit guilt.

Site for the day: ESOL Funland. It looks a little chilish, but it may be worth closer inspection. Click on ACTIVITIES (top left) for a list of useful activities/sites.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Day 5 English for artists

After a long weekend, we enjoy a short week. Make the most of it!

Here's the list for today:

  • Dictation
  • Read an advertisement
  • Listening
  • Writing 15 min (task: sustainability through sharing)
  • General reading
  • Conversation

Tomorrow let's visit Dubai's tallest building.

Site for the day: English Zone. In the For Students section click on whatever skills you would like to practice. Most of the activities are level specific, well set out and provide answers and detailed explanations.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Day 4 Farmers plant new crops

Today the Internet was down until just half an hour before class, so the order of some of our activities will be changed.

We'll persist with Dictation after which we'll dive straight into some assessment preparation. After that comes writing - the more you write, the faster you improve.

I see that I didn't include the hyperlink to today's topic, so I've corrected that omission.

Tomorrow we will look at English for artists.

Site for the day: Online English Grammar. Go to TABLE OF CONTENTS to see list of grammar points explained OR
Go to THE TEST CENTRE for some excellent quizzes!
NOTE: You need to get a MEMBER LOGIN first (It’s free and very quick)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Day 3 Fashion models

Good morning. I hope that more of you other than just Magda had a chance to prepare for today's topic: Fashion Models.

I know that we have looked at this topic before, but it is worth repeating. The site that I have used, www.breakingnewsenglish.com has excellent materials to improve students' English.

I have selected some and prepared a worksheet. There are activities for speaking, listening, vocabulary, grammar etc.

Between 11 and 12 you will start some self-study. This is the time to select what you want to spend more time on. I shall work with a small IELTS group today. If you cannot find anything, spend some time on grammar or read (and make a note of what you have read in a log or journal).

Tomorrow the topic will be Farmers Plant New Crops.

Today's site: English Club. It look rather 'busy', but they have been online 10 years.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day 2 - Hopes and Dreams

Yesterday was a fine start, even if everyone didn't turn up. Let's see who arrives today.

After our dictation (yesterday's results prove that all of you can benefit from this kind of listening) we'll do an activity or two about hopes and dreams before you work more on your writing. I shall give everyone feedback and ideas about how to develop the writing that they started yesterday.

After the break you will be having conversation for which Pariya will organize you.

The site for the day: Cutting Edge (it's similar to the Headway site)

Tomorrow's topic is about fashion models.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Day 1 - The final term

Hello to everyone, including two new students, both of who are interested in preparing for IELTS. Gylchella and maybe one or two others are also interested in that, so when I get the class to do individual work I may get you people to work in a group.

As for our class programme this term, I shall keep it quite simple, but interesting and useful. Everyday we'll be using a different topic. I shall tell you the topic the day before, and I shall also give you a link so that you are able to prepare (homework!) if you wish to.

Each day I shall also tell you about a different website for you to take a look at. Now, it can get rather overwhelming to see so many, so I suggest that you bookmark your favourite site and use it exclusively until such time that you feel like a change.

I shall use three sites: http://breakingnewsenglish.com/ , http://www.cdlponline.org/and http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/webcast/ We will need to check that the listening software to support these is on our class computers.

Mondays we will visit the computer suite for an hour (11-12). Tuesdays (11-12) we will have conversation for those who need to practise that skill. We'll start every day with 'dictation in context' using 'Being More Assertive'. If you arrive late, you'll miss out! We shall practise weekly for our assessment. This term you will read a complex advertisement (assessment 25 October) and listen to a media interview (assessment 8 November). You will have 8 weekly writing assignments, about 15 min per day. If there is time, I'll drag out previous activities that I have used in previous years' classes.

In short, we will be busy, but nicely busy. There will lots of stimulating material, and there will be plenty of opportunity to study English in ways that help you progress towards your goals. It is fitting, therefore that tomorrow we shall consider your hopes and dreams. Please visit the site beforehand.

And finally, today's featured website is called About.com: English as 2nd language. Although it doesn't look very interesting, there is a lot to do. Look at the sidebar on the left to find IELTS amongst the topics.

Remember to use Flickr!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


As requested, on our last day we won't do much writing or grammar (because we've done enough of that!).

Let's return to the story about the world's tallest man. First, we'll do that second paragraph. I'll give you the first ten to fifteen minutes to compare your answers with other people's. After that I shall use some of the activities from the 'breaking news' website.

After the break we shall return to the latest developments in the 'Pumpkin' story.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Prah Pongsak's story - A Ghost

Last year, I was in Wat Buddha Gothenberg, Sweden, for three months teaching meditation to Thai people and whoever else was interested. It was my first time long journey overseas, so it excited me very much. I had many exciting, fantastic and impressive experiences and one of them was very special. It was the day that I will never forget.

It was a nice day in the middle of autumn. The sky was clear and the weather was warm. I had finished meditation about 2 P.M.. Suddenly, I saw someone came into my room. It was unbelievable, but I could see through his body to a cupboard behind!.

He looked like a tall man but his body was transparent. A twinkling fluorescent light spread out from his whole body. He was waring a tight orange shirt with sleeves that were long enough to cover a little below his elbows, and his trousers were tight and just covered a little below his knees. Like a boat floating on the water, he moved softly and slowly in the air about one foot above the floor. He did not come straight ; he just walked in front of me for a short distance and then disappeared!.

Even through it was my first time for me to see what some people may call “a ghost” , I was not scared at all. It might be that he was nice and not awful. When he left, I remembered my merits, the good things I have done, offered them to him and wished him to be happy on his way.

I realized that, according to Buddhist knowledge, he was not a ghost or devil, but a kind of after-death being that can be found around the world.

Following up 'Pumpkin'

Today, on our second last day of term (what shall we do tomorrow???) the first part of the morning will be taken up by assessment resits. The lucky few that don't need to will receive a newspaper article that follows the story we read yesterday about a missing three-year-old girl.

There are many links in the news: one, two, three, four, five, six . . .

After the break we will take a look at the 'Grammar Hammer' sheet I've been meaning to share with you for several days. We will choose sentences to make incorrect models of.

Here is another story for you to correct. It has many errors. The original version is here.

Tallest Man in the World Gets Married

The worlds tallest man has marrying a woman who is just two-thirds his height and half his aged in a traditional ceremony in Mongolia. The wedding took place on July 12th in the tomb of the most famous never Mongolian Kublai Khan. The record-breaking 2.4 metre high groom Bao Xishun, 56, is farmer from Mongolia he met his bride Xia Shujian, 28, earlier these year after searching for a suited woman by sending advertisements around the world. Xia be a petite 1.7 metres tall. And comes up to her husbands’ elbow when standing side to side. In the end, he didn’t have to looking so far as his bride are a saleswoman from his own hometown more then 2,000 people attended the happy day, including relatives locals and a large crowd of journalists.

Bao wore a special designed, traditional pale blue wedding robe under neath a decorative gold vest. He ride to his bride's relatives in front of a tomb in a wedding cart pulled by two camel. In keeping with Mongolian tradition, the bride's family tried to "stop" Bao reaching his bride, symbolizing the familie’s last efforts to protect her. Wherever, they soon changed their minds after he pleaded to see and Marry his intended the bride’s family were accepted him and offered tea. Which means he had been accepted in to her family. Bao entered the Guinness Book of World Records las year as the word's tallest person. He were average height until the age of 16. When he suddenly shot up to his current height. Within seven years.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My first flight test mission

In 1991 I got my qualification as a project engineer. This job was a very big challenge. I had been training for six years to do it. My first mission was to conduct a flight test to solve the early buffet problem of a jet trainer.

There were ten out of sixty jet trainers which encountered early buffet problems. These ten jet trainers were prototypes. For some unknown reason, they tended to buffet earlier than other normal jet trainers when landing. Buffet is caused by air stream separation. Pilots would feel shaking on the stick when the jet trainer flies in a low speed approaching the runway. No pilot likes this!

The mission was an exciting event for me. It was my first time to handle such a complex problem - to coordinate so many experts, and to conduct a flight test. I felt excited, but at the same time nervous because a test pilot had been killed in a flight test just a month before. I didn’t want such a tragedy happening again in my flight test.

Before the flight test, we had designed a small delta wing to install on the leading edge of the wing root of the jet trainer. Many ground tests had been conducted on this new design to verify its safety. There were still risks in real flight. I hecked every detail before the jet trainer took off.

When the jet trainer was in the air and began the flight test, everything seemed to go as expected. We all felt excited. We had done it successfully. Finally the jet trainer landed on the runway safely.

After the first flight test mission, I conducted many flight test missions during the next six years without losing a pilot or a jet. I am very happy about that.

Fine day for a barbecue

I won't distract you from our main objective which is to celebrate the coming of spring with our own Language Centre Barbecue.

But to keep up honest, this is the work that will occupy us in the morning:

  1. A few sentences dictated from this morning's newspaper
  2. The same story from the paper for you to read and then rewrite in less than 100 words
  3. Check the narrative that I published on your behalf yesterday for errors and give them to me on a piece of paper
  4. Punctuate the 23 random sentences on the other worksheet, and check your answers by visiting this punctuation site. (There are many other sites for punctuation practice. I like this one the best, and also this one)
  5. Finally, I shall give you the information sheet that I forgot to give you yesterday. We shall look at it more closely tomorrow (after the resits).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Samantha's story - My first doll

A long time ago, I was born in a village. I lived in a small wooden house with my parents and my four brothers. We were poor. I still remember that we didn’t have enough money to buy food and clothes or even a toy.

Usually we played games by ourselves including throwing stones. The game was to see who could throw a stone furthest into the forest. We also made kites. Sometimes, we climbed up mountains and swam in the sea. We didn’t have money to buy things, and our parents always taught us we couldn’t steal things from stores. They said we must always pay before leaving. I kept this advice in my mind.

One day, when I was walking past the dump, I saw a beautiful doll inside a heap of rubbish. Even though the doll was covered with leftover food and was smelly, she was lovely.

I put the doll inside my rubbish bag and hid it under my bed. I was scared because I had taken it from the dump without paying. I had stolen the doll from the dump.

A week later, when I came back home after school, I discovered that my doll had disappeared. I saw my mother holding my doll and standing in front of me. I was so scared. I started to cry. I couldn’t stop until my mother used her hand to cover my mouth, and she asked me about the doll. I told her the truth and then my mother told me that the doll was rubbish from someone who threw it away. We didn’t have to pay for it.

It wasn’t a piece of rubbish - it was the first doll in my life. My mother didn’t blame me. In fact, she cleaned up my doll and allowed me to sleep with it.

After I got the doll from the dump, I discovered that it wasn’t only a dump for rubbish. It was a paradise for me. No matter if it was sunny or rainy, my mother would always be able to find me there.

George's story - Valentine's Day event

Many years ago, just after our wedding anniversary, my wife and I suddenly decided to go away somewhere for Valentine’s Day. We did not want to stay with crowds of people, so we were really delighted when we saw an advertisement in the Freedom magazine for a holiday flat. It was located in the suburbs of Taichung in the middle of Taiwan.

We booked it at once and on Valentine’s Day in the afternoon, we set off in the car. Although it was raining heavily and was cold and windy, we were still happy and excited.

This trip took us about three hours, and finally we saw the flat in the distance. It stood in a huge wood between the town and the mountains. The forest reached as far as the mountain tops. We drove into the huge front yard, down a long wide cement road. We went to the door and knocked on it lightly. The door opened slowly. The owner, a small old woman, was wearing dirty working clothes, carrying a broom and dustpan.
However, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw our room. The bed and the furniture were made of bamboo. They were so old and weak that they made sounds when we used them. Also there was only one power point and the walls were a grey cement colour. It was too dark for us. This flat was really an abandoned farm house, so we decided not to stay there.

We ran to the car, and drove to the town to look for a hotel to stay in. We were worried that it would be hard to find. Eventually we found a small hotel beside a church just as midnight was striking. “Happy Valentine’s Day” the manager said and then he gave us a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates. We were so happy and excited that we hugged and laughed.

I think “Seeing is Believing” is a good proverb. An advertisement picture is good, but we should not believe it completely. Sometimes it is not true.

Magda's story - Car accident

A few years ago, on a sunny and a beautiful day, I got up early. At 7:30 am, I left home with my children to take them to the university. I dropped them off and after that I went shopping at the supermarket. I spent about one hour,and then I went back home.
While I was driving on Larnach road, I suddenly heard a bang and felt frightened and devastated. Something terrible had happened. I realised that I had been hit by a car!

I stopped the engine, got out and looked at the left side of the car. I found the door was damaged due to the carelessness of the young female driver. I asked her to ring the police, but she woudn't. She told me that she given me all the information about her car and her insurance company. I was worried, so I stopped a driver and asked him what I should do about this accident and then he told me that her information was enough.

When my son came back home, I explained to him what had happened and then he phoned her and got more details from the young woman. The next day, I made a claim to my insurance company. After two days, the company rang me to tell me to send my car to the panelbeating shop to be repaired. I did that and the shop arranged a temporary car for me.

Finally, I received my car as good as new. It took about three weeks until it was sorted out. I was very happy because I am used to driving my own car. When young drivers are careless, it can cause problems.

Jack' s story - My best holiday

Many years ago, I went to a holiday park in the south of Taiwan with some of my best friends. The park was beautiful, green and calm. There was a lot of grassland, a large forest, a vast clear lake and some holiday houses. We stayed there for many days and just enjoyed the nature and the magnificent scenery.

On the third day of our holiday, we went on a boating trip on a long and winding river. The river was deep and the current was strong. We were very excited and also nervous because we had never had any experience of this, and we couldn’t control the boat. We just floated along, and the boat circled around on the water. Suddenly we ran into a current, and the boat was quickly dashed against a rock.

At the time, I didn’t grip the rope well and fell into the water before anyone could reach me. I was terrified and frightened; I couldn’t catch up with the boat and was quickly swept away. Unfortunately I went into a whirlpool, and even though I was making a good effort to escape, I couldn’t swim out. I was tired and I thought I couldn’t survive much longer in the water, but luckily I got hold of a rock and clung desperately to it.

About twenty minutes later, the guide with an assistant rowed in a boat close to the rock. They threw a rope and shouted to me, “Hang on. We’ll get you out!” I tried to catch the rope many times, but it was still too far from me. Finally the guide dove into the water and brought it to me. Then I was soon taken to the riverbank.

When I recall the matter, even now I still appreciate the guide. I believe that it was the most exciting holiday of my life.

Hannah's story - A Wild Ride

Eight years ago, our family was still living in Cambridge, we had a couple of really good friends called Paul and Sally. They were generous and hospitable, and they really loved to go jet boating. One weekend, they invited us to go boating with thom on the Waikato River, and we decide to accept their invitation.

That morning, we got up early and met them at their place. We spent thirty minutes getting to theriver. After Paul put the boat in the water, he showed us how to put on the lifejackets, and then he patiently explained the safety rules to us. If the boat went fast, we would have to hold on tight. Then we were off.

We were ready to face the big challenge. The view of the riverbank was incredible. The ride of thrills, fun and excitement took us along a beautiful river environment, lined with native bush and sheer rock cliffs. Then the engines roared and we were pushed black into our seats. We sped down the river with the wind whipping our hair and water spraying all around us.

Paul span the wheel and made the boat spin 360 degrees. My stomach was churning and I was laughing so much. I heard the other people yell. Back down the river we hurtled. We sped around a corner and headed straight toward a bank. I closed my eyes. Suddenly, the engine started steaming and making strange noises and then stopped right in the middle of the river. All of us were frightened and worried. I was anxious that we would be stranded for some hours. Fortunately after twenty minutes, Paul got the boat up and running again.

Finally, we headed back to shore safely. We were all wet and exhausted. When we got on the bank and stood on the earth again, we had acheived the most exciting and wildest ride that we had ever had, and also we felt very happy.

It was a nice day which we have never forgotten. We had never go to try anything new, since the year we moved to New Zealand, so this memory stands out.

Kwi-Ok's story - Birthday party

A long time ago, when I was eleven, I had the best birthday in my life; that's why I still remember the party. I was very happy and so excited because all of my classmates had come.

Before my birthday my dad bought a big birthday cake. I was very happy. "WOW! It looks very delicious and fantastic!" I shouted with joy. But then our dog jumped on the cake! The cake got out of shape. I cried and tears rolled down my face. The dog was very bad. I want to smack it. My mum said, "Don't cry! I'll make a beautiful birthday rice cake." She soothed me, to stop me crying.

Next day my mum made a birthday rainbow rice cake with eleven candles on it, and she also prepared a lot of food. My two brothers decorated our house with all kinds of coloured balloons, and they decorated my room with flowers and pictures, just like a house in a fairy tale. That day I received many presents from my friends and they all joined in singing happy birthday. After the party we played games for three hours. My eleventh birthday party had the largest number of my friends attending.

After the birthday party, I hugged my mum and I said to her, "I love you mum. You are the best mum in the world." My mum also hugged me tight. That night I dreamed of my birthday party.

Sometimes I am absorbed in memories of my childhood, and I want to return to my childhood when I see black and white photographs.

The memory of my eleventh birthday party still remains as an exciting event.

Air's story - Going round in circles

I first came to New Zealand in April, 2007. Everywhere was clean, not crowded and there were a lot of places to relax, so I was very impressed.

Even though New Zealand is peaceful, I have sometimes had some adventures. One day, I had to visit my relatives in Orewa. I had never been there before.

I set out at seven o’clock from Greenlane Road in Auckland and drove along the motorway. Carefully I checked signs because I didn’t want to waste any time losing my way.

Five minutes later, my aunt called me on my mobile, asking where I was. We talked for about two minutes, and then I saw two signs that I couldn’t tell apart. The first was “Nelson” and the other was “Newton”. I chose “Nelson”. After that everything became like a whirlpool.

I lost my way and drove for an hour around and around the city centre. I tried to find the right way, but I reached the Sky Tower instead. I had planned to visit here once, but not now. I kept driving past Auckland University and stopped my car to ask someone, but he answered too quickly for me, so I didn’t understand him.

“Try again,” I told myself. I drove along the road and saw a lot of boats sailing on the sea. When I was in Thailand, my friend told me that Auckland is the city of sails. When I saw them, I knew what she meant.

Fortunately, I saw the Auckland Harbour Bridge. That reminded me of the way to Orewa. Then I could find the sign to cross the bridge and reach my destination even though it was very late.

However, that morning was not so bad. It was an excursion that I have never forgotten.

Gylchella's story - Let me give you a hand!

When I was a student I had a nice and exciting time. We were studying “Human Anatomy”, so this department was on the second floor of the high building. When students were having a break we stood at the class room. In the class were many body’s on the table. One student just for fun made some joke, when we were breaking; he dropped a human’s hand from the window on to somebody’s car.

After lunch when we were studying in the class room, somebody knocked on the door, we saw a policeman. He started investigate the incident. The drive of the car returned home for lunch, he opened the boot of the car and saw a hand. He had a poor heart condition of course he felt a terribly stressed. His wife called the police.

All the students were shocked and afraid by policeman’s visit. I thought “Oh dear! We are going to have a big problem!”

After class we had to write explaining this incident. I felt nervous and stressed, because every day the policeman came and asked over and over again what happened that day. I thought it would never end.

On the other hand it was a good experience for everybody, because we never did anything like this again.

It was many years ago, but I still remember everything which happened in my student life. I had an unforgettable and exciting time.

Carol's story - Tropical holiday

Two years ago, my children and I went to Rarotonga which is a beautiful small Island.
It took four hours to get there from Christchurch. We arrived there early in the morning. We were very excited. It was really warm and everything was completely different. As we went into the airport an old man was singing a song and playing a traditional instrument. A big Pacjfic woman brought a beautiful garland of flowers and put it around my neck.

We stayed at a gorgeous resortt. Werented a car and drove around the Island which only thirty minetes. Eveyday we enjoyed many kinds of activities such as canoeing, snorkeling, crab racing, dancing and coconut tree climbing. One day we went canoeing with some people, we decided to paddle to one spot which didn't seem dangerous. When we got there my children jumped into the water and tried to swim. They realized the water was very deep and started to panic. They tried to get out of the water but couldn't because of the strong current.

I also panicked and shouted loudly. I couldn't do anything because if I jumped into thewater it would cause more confusion.

Fortunately, three canoes came. One of the ladies stayed cal, and told me not to panic. Then she rowed to my children and helped them to get into their canoes.

After my children were safe, we went back to the resort. We decided to keep our of trouble so we stayed in our room until the final day. Although we had had a bad experience we had a good time there.

Hedi's story - First aid

Many years ago my son Alex was three years old. He was a very active child, full of energy, and he would run during our walks outside, but when he was at home he was totally different. Alex was quiet and calm and he spent most of the time playing with his favourite toys - cars and balls. At this age, Alex didn't speak too much. He had a limited vocabulary.

One day he was playing with a small ball in his room. At that moment I was cooking a meal in the kitchen and I tried to look in at him from time to time. Suddenly I heard him shout and I quickly went to the room. I found him crying and repeating 'the ball, the ball'. "Where is it ?" He showed me his mouth. I decided that he had probably swallowed the ball. I asked him, "Did you swallow it ?". He nodded his head and it seemed like he meant, 'yes'. "Are you suffocating ?" I asked, because he started to gasp.

Immediately I remember the advice of Dr Spock, a very famous and popular American pediatrician. I jumped up and put Alex in front of me and I started to press his chest. After a few minutes he cried with joy, "Ah...my ball" and pointed to the floor.

Only then I realized that it had been a misunderstanding. Alex had never swallowed the ball. He had only tried to show me what would happen, if he did. I started to cry and laugh happily at the same time. It was my first attempt at giving someone first aid and I will remember it all of my life.

Safaa's story -

One day, when I was 8 years old, my dad said to me, “I have good news for you we are going to spend the holiday in a lovely house near the beach.” My sisters and I were happy when we heard that, because we love the sea, sun, sand, and fresh air.

I used to ask my dad many questions, so my dad looked at me and said, ‘I will tell you where the house is and how many bedrooms are there. Sometimes my dad was angry with my questions, but this day he was not. With a big smile he told me everything about the house and he answered all my questions.

I could not wait to see it when I knew there was a swimming pool. However, when our car stopped at the house I was shocked, because I saw a big dog standing in front of it, so I cried and I said to my parents, “Oh, what is that?” My dad said the dog belonged to the owner and he was supposed to stay outside in the backyard. I hated dogs, so I could not imagine how I could stay in the house with it.

Therefore I refused to spend the holiday at the house with that dog and I said to my parents that I was going back to the car, but my dad said, “He will not hurt you. He is chained up you. You do not have to go near him.” I went into the house and I tried to enjoy playing with my sisters.

After a few days I got used to listening to his barking and sometimes I looked out of my bedroom window at him. I even, tried to give him some food. By the end of the holiday we had became friends and I did not hate dogs any more.

Send me your story

Good morning, and welcome to the start of the last week of term.

I shall tell you the results of the narrative writing assessment that you did in morning class recently. Seven of you passed on the first trial, and I hope that the rest of you will do so this week. I am suggesting Wednesday for that.

After I inform you of the results, I would like the 7 of you that achieved to work elsewhere from 9 until 10.30. Your job is to find a computer and to email me at williaml@tekotago.ac.nz your stories. Write them as a word document please, and attach them. Everyone will have a few errors to correct, irrespective of whether you passed.

In class I shall work with the rest of you to help you correct your own work. I will not do it for you, but you may submit your work as often as you like.

After the break please meet me in the computer suite. I want to upload your narratives onto this site. If you wish your story to be anonymous then that is okay. However, all of your stories are worth reading, and I think it would be a good idea to 'publish' them in this fashion.

Finally, here is an excellent site for you to continue improving your writing.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blast from the past

Hi everyone

The Internet was down up until about 30 minutes before class, so this is a rush job!

I dug out a couple of worksheets from 2005 - were you in my class then? Maybe George and Carol and one or two others were). Anyway, this is what we'll do:

I've printed you off a sheet with an article on each side. One of them is a bottom-up activity, where you inset the missing words. The words I chose are small ones, ones which are often overlooked in English class.

On the other side is an article about glaciers. The dictation I will give you comes from that. I want you to see if the phrases I give you exist in the article. I'm talking about meaning here - not the exact words.

After that I did a quick search for "Glaciers warming ESL". I found an idea for quick discussions, writings etc. We shall run with those.

I found a 2-min documentary that we can try to see, and if you are interested there are many resources listed at this site. (There's a bit French here, but don't let that put you off.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Today from 9.30 until 10.30 you shall be working on your own(or in pairs). At that time I need to do some assessment moderation - yours! You will have three things to do during this time, and I shall follow those tasks up between 11 and 12.

First, your narrative texts. Just to let you prepare, about half of you have achieved this the first time. The other half will need to do a resit as soon as possible - probably next Monday.
I shall go over the main reasons for people not achieving their assessments during the first half hour. It is important that you know. Errors made include:

  • inappropriate modelling
  • too much poor grammar and/or spelling
  • trying something new (no preparation, correction or practice)
  • odd punctuation - full stops in the middle of sentences, commas and stops at the start of lines
  • run-on sentences (trying to link sentences with commas)
  • no clear paragraphs
  • writing too much - 350 words! - (and not having time to correct)
  • using a non-narrative text (or at least no clear resolution)

As for your tasks:

  1. Write yesterdays paragraph on the blue slips of paper. This time, concentrate on correcting the grammar. DON'T write anything different, new or additional
  2. Complete the worksheet headed 'What would you say if . . .'
  3. Read the article from today's ODT about adult literacy in NZ

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Let's have a topic-related class today. The topic is 'Habits' - which is what you'll be talking about during conversation hour.

Yesterday I asked you about your on-line English habit. Today we'll look at all sorts of habits.

After some dictation I shall get you to do a brainstorm about that word. That will develop your mental agility - an important thing for using English.

I did a search with the terms 'habit and 'ESOL' and came up with five sites you might take a look at whenever you have a pare moment.

The first gives an alternate set of conversation questions.

The second is a friendly letter of advice for developing English learning habits.

The third is for teachers of absolute beginners of English.

The fourth is an interesting looking ESL learning site. The page you arrive at is all about the human body, healthy habits etc.

The fifth is an interesting article about lifelong learning.

But to get back to what we will be doing . . .

I discovered a one-page lesson plan for teachers on the Internet. That is the one I would like to try and work through with you. I have printed you each off a copy.

I guess that my habit is using my blog every day to teach my class!