Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Beloved Wives Day

Hi all

I don't have much time . . . so here goes!

What do the following key words make you think of?:

  • wife
  • apart
  • busy
  • chores
  • grunting
  • company
  • office
  • 8 p.m.
  • retire
  • divorce
  • frustration
  • counsellor
  • express
  • mistakes

I have given you an article to read that involves all of the above vocabulary. Here are two other articles that are related: One. Two.

This is a social issue similar to the South Korean Vietnamese brides issue. I was reminded about it by the movie Picture Bride that we watched a little bit of yesterday.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Money matters

Hello once more. Wasn't it icy on the road! It took Mami and I much longer than usual to walk here,

Today the topic we'll use is Money. This is an issue in the movie, Picture Bride, that we're watching. I shall ask you to write a few sentences about that issue, and then a paragraph. (It is the same type of task as yesterday, where we changed simple sentences into a mixture of compound and complex sentences.)

Next, I would like you to practice reading out aloud a short text about the cost of living in California. You may also listen to it at this site. There are other activities that you will find at the site's home page, but explore those later in your own time.

Think about stress, tone and the rhythm the speaker uses. If you find it difficult to produce smooth flowing English, then ask yourself why.

  • Are you used to reading?
  • Are the words unfamiliar?
  • Are you speaking English as if it was your own language?
  • Are some sounds difficult for you to pronounce?
Finally, during conversation hour, you will have the final opportunity to talk with our conversation volunteers about 'Money Matters'.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Last week, everyone!

I hope you stayed warm in the weekend, and that you didn't have any mishap on the road. Such weather as we had is very rare for Dunedin. I hope that it isn't a sign of climate change.

Today the key word is accuracy. Next semester I shall try and have you work on your individual areas of need. The common theme for all of you is accuracy. You all need to improve your accuracy in one or more areas, and that means quality and quantity of practice.

During our computer hour today I would like you to go to this site belonging to Headway, who produce ESOL textbooks. They have provided material on-line for people to study. So, please choose any level that you like, then click on the grammar box. You will find useful grammar gap fills to complete.

A good understanding and automatic grasp of grammar is important especially for your writing.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reminding ourselves what we do

Have you all recovered after yesterday's Showcase? Thank you for all your effort - the displays were really wonderful. When you have had the chance to empty your cameras I'll invite you to contribute photographs into an on-line group so that we can view them together.

But for now, we need to return to our work...

Let's warm up with a few more dictated sentences from the tapes Vet on the Wild Side by David Taylor.

Then, while six of you write another formal letter, I would like to ask that the rest of you go to the Bill Robertson Library across the road.

I would like you to find a good book about any of the topics we have used in our classes. Look back over previous posts to remind you. Please get a book issued each, and when you return to class I would like you to tell us what it is about and why you chose it.

After the morning break we shall view the start of Picture Bride. It is a movie that I once recorded off the TV (in the days that I still sometimes watched it). The story relates to the feature we read about South Korean farmers having to find Vietnamese brides. With the holiday break coming up, you are welcome to borrow the tape. If you make a list, you could pass it on to the next person down once you've watched it.

Right, I'd better rush. It's already 8:42.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Retire later to live longer

Hello everybody.

The title for today's post comes from an on-line ready-to-use ESL/EFL lesson. All I did was to search for 'English listening retirement' on Google. I had already chosen today's topic for conversation hour. I have a question sheet for AM3 and AM4 to use today, but I wanted to get you thinking of questions to ask and to start thinking about the topic.

Some of the activities we will do come from that on-line lesson. Go to the site, and perhaps attempt the harder lesson.

Apart from this, I suggest that those of you who are resitting the formal letter writing assessment on Thursday give me your completed letters to look at. Normally a teacher only indicates some of a student's errors - not all. He or she will select the 5 to 10 most serious errors for you to work on (or if they are difficult show you how to fix them). The teacher does not normally correct your work completely. However, this time only I shall try and do that for you.

Here is a one-and-a-half minute listening about retirement for you to listen to. (Click on the picture.)

Monday, June 18, 2007


  • Screened a DVD last week: Crude Impact - joined by Leigh and Summer. Must start to do this regularly - perhaps at lunchtimes, and perhaps attended by students too.
  • Created a Wiki that staff at the Learning Centre may wish to utilize
  • Continued with the class blog where I added a couple of useful listening links.

Listening is good for you

Greetings again.

Do you realize that this is the second last of the semester? This will be a busy week for us. On Wednesday we will we holding our showcase. You have already started to prepare for that in Practical English. On Thursday, students who need to do a resit will write another formal letter. And also this week I must remember to give you each a course evaluation form to fill out. That's on top of our regular work!

Today I shall help those of you who need to prepare for assessments - both in the morning (formal letter) and also in the afternoon, where I believe that you are listening to a spoken text and for understanding and to focus on personal viewpoint.

Well, it is difficult if not impossible to improve your listening quickly. Lots of practice is what is needed. One site with plenty of listening practice is Randal's ESL cyber listening lab.

After morning tea you shall return to the computer suite - we haven't been there for a couple of weeks. You will read through my posts if you haven't been keeping up to date. Then I would like you to explore the VOA special English site. It provides you will all the listening you like. You can read the text as you listen.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Today it's wet instead of icy, so the question I ask is: Did you arrive dry?

I always keep a change of clothes at work, so it doesn't worry me if I get rained on. Let me tell you about an item of clothing that I'll wear to class - my Totoro hat. Totoro is a Japanese cartoon character, as you can see in the picture.

Mami made this hat for me. It's made out of felt. Felting is one of Mami's hobbies. A friend of hers teaches felting, and she had made a Totoro hat for her daughter. I saw it and liked it, and I asked if Mami would make me one. She did, and you can see it today.

Also today we'll get a resit out of the way. Although only a few of you have yet to achieve B1 Can read a procedural text, all of you can try. It only takes 20 minutes.

After that, I would like to let you know about the results of last week's assessment: B3 Can write a formal letter. A little less than half of you will resit this next week. I shall see you one by one and let you know.

During that time you may do a little writing for me; look back at the photograph I included in yesterday's post (scroll down further to view a larger version) and write a short description of it. What is it of? Where and when might it have been taken? What do you think is happening. How does it make you feel? Does it remind you of an incident or a story?

Alternatively, you may wish to look at another procedural text.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another fine frost

Good morning! There was another fine frost this morning. Did you all get here safely? I guess that anyone who didn't, didn't, and we won't learn about that until later.

Anyway, yesterday's topic was a good one. It sparked plenty of conversation and discussion. Who would have known that Taiwan and South Korea share the world's lowest birthrate of 1.1?

Let's continue the topic. Today I would like to start with your speaking. Everyone that wishes can give a short talk. Anyone who doesn't wish to needn't. Instead, they will help the speakers with their topic.

Your topic is identical; you will all be speaking about the issue of farmers seeking brides from other countries. However, your audiences will be different. I'm asking that you prepare a one-to-two-minute talk for the following audiences:

  • A Vietnamese official speaking to a group of Vietnamese teenagers
  • A tour operator speaking to a group of South Korean bachelor farmers
  • A woman speaking to other women in South Korea about welcoming a Vietnamese bride to the village
  • A woman speaking to other Vietnamese women about their duties to their parents
  • A husband persuading his wife that their daughter will be better off in a richer country
  • A man speaking to other men about whether or not it is a good idea for them to go on a tour to find a wife
  • A Vietnamese wife speaking at the funeral of her South Korean husband about her married life
You shall have time to prepare and practice. Then, it will be interesting for everyone to hear each other's talks.

Next you will deserve a treat. I shall let you see the start of the 1995 movie, Picture Bride. I shall pause the movie from time to time to ask questions and for you to write answers.

Finally, here is another photograph that may inspire some debate and discussion:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Something about South Korea

Today I have an especially interesting topic for you.

If you read the keywords:

farmers, South Korea, tour, wives, Vietnam, tough, bachelors, culture, marriage, countryside, advertise, birthrate, urbanisation, foreigner, marriage . . .

. . . how do you think that these may all be related and included in the topic?

After you have pooled your ideas, I would like you to try and write about the situation. While I read over your work, you may read a newspaper feature about the topic, view this slideshow ( if the link doesn't work then go to this location: and scroll down to the multimedia slide show).

After that, I will ask you to prepare a general one-minute talk that repeats the main ideas of the article.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dem bones dem bones dem, dry bones

Hi All

Did you get in safely this morning with the first good frost of the season? No broken bones, I hope. (Actually, a few years ago one of our languages students broke his arm walking in to morning class.)

Today's topic is bones, because the assessment resit for the learning outcome:
Can read a procedural text, involves a topic about health and medicine, so it will help those of you who are preparing for that.

To begin, I would like to to write a few paragraphs about a time you ever broke a bone, or almost broke one, or were with someone who did. I will tell you about
two times that my son was injured.

After that, I would like you to read this procedural text. They are the instructions you may need to follow if ever you have a bone reduction and repair operation - cross fingers that you never will!

After you have read it, I would like to to form groups of 4 to 6 people. Together I would like you to form 8 questions about the text. Imagine what you might be asked in an actual assessment.

I shall collect in those question sheets and pass them on to another group. You group will receive one as well. Together you will need to try and answer what the other group has asked. I may even make up a set of questions of my own and ask you all, individually this time, to answer them. This ought to thoroughly prepare you.

Here are my questions:

1. Why is an X-ray made?

2. What are the names of the two types of anaesthetic?

3. What does the type of anaesthetic depend on?

4. When will your surgeon decide about a bone graft?

5. What is the order of these steps:

  • Go to recovery room
  • Receive an intravenous
  • Have an X-ray made
  • Work with a physical therapist

6. How many pieces of equipment are listed in the section: What equipment is used?

7. How long do you stay in the recovery room?

8. What extra step will be done if the bone has pierced the skin?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Guide to good writing

Welcome to class for the last day before your assessment.

Yesterday I asked you to work on a letter asking for buses to travel more frequently and from earlier in the morning so that you could use then to arrive on time for morning class here at Otago Polytechnic.

If you haven't already done so (thanks to Hannah and Jack for emailing me yours) then that is what I'd like you to do. Once you have, you may work individually, on a computer, or at your desk.

Once I have had a chance to look over your work, I will then give some last minute instructions and advice. And after morning tea we will relax a little and view a little more either of 'About a boy' or the body language video.

I told you on Tuesday that after the assessment you could expect some more listening practice from me. I would also like to set you work from John Peck and Martin Coyle's book: The Student's Guide to Writing. I think it's really useful and helpful.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A short week starts

Welcome back after the long weekend. Did you think about the queen and her birthday at any time during the three days? I didn't, I must admit!

This week, on Thursday, we shall have another assessment: B3 Can write a formal letter
In class for the next few days we will be concentrating on that.

However, I think that it is also important to focus on your listening. I shall speak (or write) more about that thereafter, but for now I want to remind you of a good listening website called VOA or Voice of America. Please visit that site and explore it.

After clicking on the link, scroll down to the section about science and technology. (I shall tell you which article later on).

I would like you to listen and read to more articles to improve your listening. It needs to become a habit for you, I firmly believe. Last week in the afternoon you had a listening assessment, and I was one of the teachers who looked at your answers. I would like to help those of you who need to do that assessment again, because there is not that much time until the end of the semester (we finish classes for three weeks at the end of June).