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2007 July



Weekend Family Gathering

The Cool FamilyMy family back together again.

This weekend my parents came down from Pennsylvania to visit us in Annapolis at my brother’s house. It has been a long while since we have done this sort of thing. So it was nice to get everyone together. I wish we had more time to spend with them, but we did end up doing a lot of homework. But it was still fun and I think my brother’s girls are happy when everyone is around. We setup the camera on a tripod and I got the chance to try out my new remote shutter release. You can see me holding it in my right hand over my brother’s shoulder. Aren’t tech gadgets just the best? OK, I’m sure most of you are bored at this point in the conversation, but I just couldn’t help mentioning it for the geek factor. 🙂

We’ll be staying with TJ in Washington DC this week as his brother just left for Jordan. The last week of classes we’ll spend back at my brother’s to do some dog sitting and then we are done. I’m hoping to do something fun that weekend to blow off some steam after this crazy training is over! Then we will be off to my parent’s house near Pittsburgh for about a week. We’re planning on having fun but I’m also planning on digging in and starting the really nitty-gritty research and job application phase in preparation for departing for Korea.



LADO TEFL Journal – Week 2

My first class of students.Tanya, Natalia, Christina & Adriana. My first ESL students.

Well, I made it, the half way point. I’m not really sure what to say about how I feel. The work load is still very challenging, I’m not sure that I really have it comfortably under control. I can say that I feel very at ease in front of the class now. My stage fright has been disappearing more and more with each class. The flow of things feels much better. I understand the general structure of the class, but I do have trouble stringing everything together and making lessons that are cohesive and well constructed. I think that part of my problem is the short amount of time we have to prepare the next days lesson. I understand the limited amount of time we have for training and the importance of keeping things moving quickly, but it does sometimes get frustrating.

I’m starting to focus now on more details within the lesson. Things like wait time, slow and simplified speech, and also simplified written instructions. I think I’ve made progress on these fronts, but I still have work to do. I think I’m getting to a point where I can start to absorb more information and focus on trying to refine techniques and lesson plan details because of my confort with the first “level” of information that has finally sunk into my brain… Well I hope it has anyway. 🙂

LADO TEFL Certificate class - week 2Vance & Caralyn our trainers and my fellow TEFL trainees, except for Shireen, who was home sick.

Classroom presentations have been fun and engaging and there is so much to absorb. It helps so much to see classes modeled effectively, I just feel like I can’t absorb as much as I’d like though. But that’s just the way I’m sure it is when you take the “crash course in brain surgery”. It has been challenging working within a group but also very valuable. Managing personality differences and making sure there is a happy consensus on leson plans has been tough at times. But the insights from other teachers and the benefits of watching their styles of delivery and the way they structure information logically in their minds is very useful. It’s also useful to watch them make mistakes so you can learn from them.

Overall, I’m feeling a bit better than the first week, but still a bit tired entering this third week. I do feel that though I’ve made significant progress, I’ve exposed so many more things that need to be refined further. I think it’s because I have absorbed a first layer of information and now I’m ready to try to pack a little more in on top of it.

Vance said once that he wished he could have us for six months instead of one month. Now I can see why. I just hope I can learn as much as I can in the last two weeks to form a solid enough foundation. I really just want to build good base practices so that I can expand on them once my adventure begins in Korea. My fear is not having enough of a footing and then building bad habits as I amass experience abroad. I think I’m on the right track, but I want to be sure I have a good idea of which direction I need to continue to grow in once I leave the tender arms of Vance and Caralyn…



More TEFL Tales

working on our lesson plan at TJ’s apartment in Washington DC

This is a picture of Nancy and I at TJ’s apartment in Washington DC. It was taken mid-week. We were all working on our lesson plans for the next day of teaching. We look happy, but we were all VERY tired! hahaha… We ended up staying up until like 1-2 am working. The class the next day did go very well though, so i guess it was worth it.

This is actually TJ’s brother’s apartment, but he’s leaving as of today, saturday, i think. he’s moving to jordan for his job and he was very excited. i think TJ will end up in the middle east or possibly in korea, he’s not sure yet. TJ didn’t show for class this Friday because his brother was leaving… We will all have to punish him somehow for getting a three day weekend! lucky dog!



Teaching Journal – Week 1

Tomorrow starts my second week of TEFL teacher training at LADO. To be honest, I was surprised at the degree of difficulty the class has offered up. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been a student in many years, I’m not sure yet. But the first two days were absolute hell for me. It wasn’t fun, it was more a trial for survival. Everything seemed to overwhelm me: readings, grammar, exercises, long days, lesson plans and of course, teaching the actual classes.

The first two days were absolute stage fright. I’ve taught technical information in corporate america and taught photography classes for two years in college, but this was somehow completely different. For one thing, I haven’t done any instruction in a long time (it’s scary how the years slip away), and the other major factor was the diversity of the students. Various age groups and backgrounds made this out of my norm and it took me a couple of days to adjust. I still feel a bit nervous with my flow, but things are coming along now.

I was surprised that we started teaching immediately. It was very hard but i think that is the single most important factor to this program. I’m so glad I’m experiencing the emotional trauma and stage fright for the first time now in this controlled environment rather than in Korea. I would hate to be struggling to find the train station, getting lost, having people yell at me in a foreign language and then being promptly dumped in front of a class on 20-30 students for the first time. Talk about real emotional stress… I think I’ve worked out the main delirium tremens for the moment.

I think it’s worth mentioning the group aspect to the lesson planning. At first I thought this would make things easier, but I don’t think that’s the case. My classmates are all very capable, but coordination in the group under tight time deadlines and negotiating personality and methodolgy differences is a real challange. With little time and planning it’s very hard to make sure everyone is clear about the end goal and in sync during presentation of materials. Overlapping ideas for section demonstrations and awkward transitions between those in the group is common. Critical definition of the end goal seems absolutely essential, but it’s amazing how so many variables make this hard to attain.

My goal for the next week is all about refinement. Refining my understanding and method for interacting with my fellow trainees. The better I can understand the group dynamic and help each of us exploit our strengths, the stronger our presentations will come off. Looking inward, my goal is to refine my presentation style and also the mechanics and flow of information. I’m still confused by some details of the LAF (Language, Acquisition, Facility) model.

Overall, this week has been both extremely frustrating, and also very gratifying. I hope to continue refining my methods so the frustration points melt away. It has been so wonderful to see students interact and talk, realzing that you are slowly playing a direct role in their development. I’m looking forward to continuing to meet new people and start having fun with my presentations.



We survived the first week!

LADO TEFL Certificate Trainees

ok, so it’s now 12:46am and i just got home from washington dc. we went out to a bar on the georgetown waterfront after finishing our first week of TEFL training. we went out with our classmates, all except for Rhonda, she wanted to get home early. and i understand why! the first week of training was very punishing to say the least. so, left to right in the picture above: Ashlea, Nancy, T.J. & Shireen. Ashlea is from the DC area, T.J. was born in Montana but has lived just about everywhere else around the world, and Shireen is from Lebanon.

i have much, much more to tell… but i must sleep now.



yeah yeah…

i know it’s been ages since i updated this blog… i’ve been busy. i’m still in philadelphia at the moment. things are going well and i’ve been getting out and about quite a bit. i hope to have some pics up soon from some of the latest adventures, but not at the moment… 🙂

jelly donut

i logged in to check email last night on yahoo and found this article as a top news story when logging out. it really blew my mind. this is one of the times i would love to be the editor at one of these online news sites. things must really be boring there this week… hahaha. for a second i thought i was reading the onion. it makes me laugh that they have some blond skipper eating homer food, just too good! and her expression, half way between porn and guilt, what would her friends think if they found out? oh my! i wouldn’t be surprised if this was the next big TV show. hot young girls eating donuts… the interviews would be exposés of young anorexic/bulimic women spilling their guts, so to speak, about their donut obsessions… which would undoubtedly bring a hugh female audience. and all the homer’s of the world would tune in to see hot young girls eating donuts and get into the machine talk interviews with the companies that patented the jelly donut impregnantion technology. see, i could probably be a millionaire if i went to hollywood and pitched this today!



Philly work space

july 2007 work space in philadelphia pennsylvania

ok, so a quick post that illustrates my Philadelphia work space. i think this one looks the most stylish so far somehow. The printer came from nancy’s parents. we went to the mac store to buy them a new imac! yay! my brainwashing worked. anyway, when you bought a new computer you got a brand new printer/scanner/copy machine for absolutely nothing. you just have to send in some paperwork and you’ll be refunded. so they let nancy & i have the printer because they already had a new one. score!