目前日期文章:200705 (10)

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Living in North America without a car is like walking without a leg. Unless you are living in one of those big cities where trains, buses and subways are all well connected, you would be quite limited to how fast you could get around town. I thought I could live here like my other life in Taiwan, hopping on the bus or flagging down a taxi and it would take me everywhere I wanted to go. Ha, not here! It is not easy to live in a small town in Canada, the second largest country in the world! It is almost impossible to walk to places nearby, especially in the winter time. I was mostly home bound and very dependent on my husband who would take me places to do simple things after he got home from work. (I guess that’s why we have established the habit of doing things together on the weekend ever since we got married.)

The bus system in my city has not changed much for the last 20 years. This is how the local bus system works. A bus usually takes passengers from one end of the city to the centre hub, most likely the train stations or the bus terminal. Unlike Taiwan, these buses only run every half hour or every hour. The passengers then have to transfer to another bus to reach their final destinations as long as their first bus arrives on time or ahead of time, or the passengers would have to hang around longer at the hub for quite a while to connect to another bus. From one end of the town to the other could mean that the passengers probably have to transfer a few times on the bus.

Normally the trip to a local mall or a grocery store might only take us 20 minutes of car ride, but it would take me more than an hour to get there by bus. If I wanted to go to a nearby town or city, I would have to take a train, or take those buses that run only twice or three times a day. So, the trip to the next town for me used to be a full day event, which was very inefficient way to get things done. 

I had the first hand painful experiences with the busing system when I got here. I had to take buses frequently to travel to the immigration office in a neighbouring town. We did not hire a lawyer or an immigration consultant to handle our immigration application. I had to be in charge of doing everything myself from immigration to my education or job application. My husband had to work and I simply could not ask him to take too many days off just to accompany me to visit places. The on-line application or cell phones were unheard of at the time, so I had to visit those government offices in person.

At first, it was a novelty to take buses because there were so many things to see and places to visit. I really enjoyed the bus ride and scenery. As the time went by, the novelty wore thin and it became a pain in the neck to wait for the buses! Sometimes, it took me forever to finally reach a government office, but the office then informed me that I missed this paper or that paper and I had to go back again. I hate that! Did they know that I couldn’t travel within the same day on a bus? No! I had to go back again just to finalize a simple thing. Another day meant another bus trip across town for me.

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It is almost reaching that graduation time. I bet many of you arethinking about songs with lyrics that would bring inspiration tomotivate students. Here are two of those songs that I reallyenjoy.

If you do like these songs, I suggest that you should go and buy theseCDs. It is always handy to have "tools" when you need them. Thesevideos are only used to give teachers some ideas about teaching English through media literacy. That is the beauty of using media to teach English because you can findall kinds of materials around you, such as a brochure, a poster, a recipe or a song, to teach the language. In fact,you can get even deeper and more advanced to view the making of YOU RAISE ME UP asanother lesson for older students. (I used to teach adults inTaiwan. Sometimes, you have to make your teaching fun!)

I just taught a group of primary students to read the instructions for the game, Monopoly, this afternoon. Those students all claimed that they knew how to play the game. So, with their prior knowledge, it should be very easy to get into reading and understanding the instructions. At the end, they were amazed that they did not know all the rules. Some adults never like to read instructions either. It always amazes me that people can not follow simple instructions to put together a piece of furniture they bought. (Hahaha. I have the first hand experience! I used to work at a furniture store as a store manager.) We just have to teach them when they are young, I guess.

Sung by R. KELLY

"I Believe I Can Fly"

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  • May 22 Tue 2007 02:11
  • Mama

My Favourite Group- Il Divo
My husband and I went to their concert a year ago on Valentine's Day. I love their voice. I have been a fan since day one. This song is great for Mother's Day. Words are simple enough for some older ESL students.

Mama, thank you for who I am 
Thank you for all the things I'm not 
Forgive me for the words unsaid 
For the times I forgot 
Mama remember all my life 
You showed me love, you sacrificed 
Think of those young and early days 

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Years ago when I first came to Canada, it was very difficult for foreign-trained teachers to get into teaching. The timing was not right for me either because the whole country was just slipping into recession. Traditionally, teaching profession has been perceived as a more secured profession; therefore, many people were trying to get into teaching during the tough time then. It was almost impossible to get into any Faculty of Education to become a teacher. At the time, the Ontario government did not allow foreign universities to set up camps in Canada either. So, the admission to any Faculty of Education was just like winning a lottery. It was even more difficult for me, a new immigrant who got a degree in English Language from a foreign university in Taiwan. My English was no better than any other students who just finished their university education.

I got my degree from Fu Jen Catholic University. I was an ESL teacher at Fu Jen Adult Continuing Education for a few years. I also taught children English for many years as well. During the daytime, I had a full time job working for a manufacturer/exporter. For a few years before I came to Canada, I was involved in designing and broadcasting on a children’s radio program, Po Po and Co Co Time, teaching English on the air in Taiwan. (My voice was the character, Co Co.) Basically, I was an experienced English teacher in Taiwan without the paper of an Education degree. The irony is that English langue may be a hot commodity in Asia, but in the western world, everyone speaks English here. My language ability made my transition to the life here a bit easier. I was able to communicate without much difficulty, but it certainly did not equip me with an employable “Canadian profession” in a new country.

My husband told me that if I had difficulty finding a job, I could just stay home and be a regular housewife, and he would support me. I, of course, dismissed this idea right away because I simply could not see myself as a stay-at-home housewife for the rest of my life. (Now I sometimes regret my quick decision then and wish that I could just stay home. My husband said it is too late to change my mind now. I dug a hole seventeen years ago, and now I am in it too deep. Hahahaa. That’s too bad!) Life was a drastic change for me then, from being a professional who used to work seven days a week in Taiwan and love every minute of it to being a housewife who sat at home all day long in Canada.

We discussed about the idea of my becoming an elementary school teacher in Canada before I even landed in Canada. So, after we got married, we had no doubt that I should follow the direction and just prepare myself to pursue a teaching career. Immediately, I looked into the possibility of getting into a Faculty of Education, or so called a teachers’ college. A teacher in Ontario requires dual degrees, including a degree in Education. To apply for the Faculty of Education, the applicant needs to have at least a post secondary university degree. With completion of the Bachelor of Education, the candidate then will be qualified to apply for a teaching certificate, a license to teach in Ontario. Each province has their own accreditation process.

I landed in Ontario in late October. The deadline for the university application was in December. It was impossible for me to get all the paperwork ready and take the TOEFL test in time before the deadline. No university would take in a student who did not even have the paper of landed immigrant status. It was quite expensive to study as an international student. So, while waiting for my application in the coming year, I decided to go back to school for free to kill time, high school that is!

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A while ago, my friend asked me to write an article about her immigration experience. Each and every immigrant has their own story to tell. For many, their paths to Canada have not been as rosy as most people perceive. I kept forgetting about my friend’s request until last week when my Teaching Assistant (TA) told me that she has decided to go back to Holland with her fiancé next year. They have been very disappointed with their Canadian experience. I don’t know her well enough because she just came to my class to substitute for another TA this term. I told her to stay in Canada at least till they have received their citizenship. To my surprise, she told me that they have received their citizen status for a while; however, they have been very frustrated with their career choices here. They want to go back to Europe where their families are and where their skills and education credentials would be recognized and valued.

My TA’s immigration experience is very similar to many new professional immigrants in Canada; they have a hard time finding suitable jobs here. My TA graduated from a very famous European university with a master degree. In Holland, she worked as an educational psychologist. Her fiancé was originally from Belgium. Both of them came to Canada a couple years ago. Canada loves this kind of immigrants from the old countries. They have no problem passing the Canadian immigration point system because they are young professionals; however, it is a different story for them once they have arrived.

Canadian immigration system does not have a plan in place to help these young professionals look for suitable careers. Once they have arrived, they have to convert their degrees to the Canadian equivalencies and seek a job that would accept their “foreign” (or non-Canadian) trained experiences. It sounds easy, but road blocks are actually everywhere along the path.

They are not alone in Canada though. There are tons of professional immigrants prowling the cities looking for jobs related to their past professional fields. You can easily find a PhD driving a taxi, a doctor working as a technician, or an engineer working at the construction site. Why? The reason is that Canada welcomes skilled professionals; however, many of these people have difficulties securing an equivalent job once they have landed. Companies usually ask for “Canadian” experiences. If no company is willing to give them an opportunity, how on earth could they get a Canadian experience?

Most people argue that the language barrier may be an issue; however, most new skilled immigrants who have reached the point system to arrive in Canada do have the ability to speak fluent English. The worst is that sometimes these highly skilled professionals, such as medical doctors, have to be recertified, and the process would take years. Many of them simply could not afford to go through the prolonged process because they have a family to feed; therefore, they would have to take on a job and sometimes many jobs unrelated to their own profession in order to survive.

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To friends who enjoy visiting my blog every day:

I am very sorry to post this message here. As a teacher, I thought I have the duty to speak up and educate this particular blogger who has been leaving nonsense on my blog. I just want all of you to know that I welcome all visitors. I am very grateful for the kind messages I have received from many readers. Whether you agree with my view or not, words posted openly should be exchanged with good manners. I am an educator and that’s just what I believe in and how I preach to my students. The following letter is posted only for the person (or the persons) who seem to visit frequently with ill intention.


Dear Troll (or Trolls),

I don’t know why you are leaving gibberish messages on my blog, and I do not know nor care about your intention. If you are so much inclined, why don’t you leave a clear message to me? I would be willing to read and respond to you, either in English or in Chinese. I can write in Chinese, but I just haven’t got the time to fix my Chinese input keypad yet. If you want to leave a message in languages other than Chinese or English, I pretty much can find a way to read it, too. If you have an issue with me personally, why don't you express it to me and let’s sort it out? Seal the message if you want. But, no gibberish, PLEASE!

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We run an extra-curricular activity twice a week after school forstudents who are not strong in reading. It was made clear to us that it is impossible to improve their reading abilities in two months (20 hours);however, we hope that their attitude towards reading will bechanged at the end of this two-month program. All the students admitted to the program are lacking behind their peers in reading. Some ofthem are also showing behavior problems in class.

According to some research, boys tend to learn differently thangirls. Many testing results also proved that boys’ readingperformances lack behind girls’ at the elementary school (K toGrade 8) level; therefore, we decided to group all boys togetherinto groups of five or six. We focus on media literacy thatencompasses reading materials full of a variety of topicsand interests. Students are taught to read instructions foractivities such as games, recipes, science experiments, tourbrochures, and arts and craft.

So far, I could tell that boys in the small group learn welltogether. In fact, they are better listeners than girls in thesmall group. Girls tend to socialize a lot through out the sessionand forget that their task at hand is to read the instruction andcomplete the activity. Boys, on the other hand, are very taskoriented. They want to finish reading the instruction and get tothe hands-on activity as soon as possible. It was very obvious thatboys are very interested in this type of reading program followedwith hands-on activity.

We did a survey before launching the program to find out theirattitude towards reading and how they see themselves as a reader.Before the end of this program in June, we will conduct another oneto measure if there is any significant change in their attitudetowards reading. It would be interesting to see the result. We hopethis program will make a difference to inspire a few more studentsto enjoy reading.

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On my way home today, a radio talk show host was saying that the scouts group is thinking about adding an additional shooting badge to their existing badges. He was surveying the listeners on the air to see whether people agree with the idea or not. Some people mentioned that it should not be a big deal because it is just like joining a gun club and you will have the practice in a controlled environment anyway. Personally, I don’t think that is such a good idea at all for little scouts to participate in the sport of target shooting. I don’t have problem with taking up target shooting as a sport; however, I think age and maturity are important factors and should be the prerequisites for this sport. I am against the idea because I had the first hand experience of handling guns in my late teen years. Here is the story of my target shooting experience in my senior high school.

When I went to senior high, all students were required to take military education credits. (I am not sure if this is still the case in Taiwan now.) I quite enjoyed taking the military training which is like the cadets training here in Canada; however, these credits were required for high school graduation. We had to wear this khaki uniform once or twice a week when we had the military classes. The typical high school military education at that time was quite primitive. We simply practiced marching and lining up a lot. I think it was really for the discipline and character development.

I somehow took these credits quite seriously because I thought military universities could be a potential option for me; especially, my high school is located right above one of the elite military universities. I really wanted to join the military right then because I strongly believed in self discipline. All my instructors also recognized my enthusiasm and leadership quality. I guess, with mutual respects, I got along just fine with all of them through out my three years in high school. I was even recommended to attend a military cadets’ summer camp one year.

I was actively involved in many activities at school. One of the clubs I attended was the target shooting club. The club was organized by one of the military instructors. When I first went to the club, we had more than 50 male and female students. By the time we were ready to train as a target shooting team, we only had about 6 girls left. Not too many people could endure the harsh physical training and prolong lifting and aiming a rifle with the weight of a brick or a sand bottle hanging at the tip of the gun. On top of that, we did not have any head gear for hearing protection. (My husband used to tease me that I must be deaf from all the target shooting practices; though I have to confess, sometimes it could be just my selective hearing. Heh, heh, heh.)

For three years in Senior High, I was trained alongside my male teammates in the target shooting team almost every day before and after school. When it got close to the competition, we had to go to the restricted base for target shooting practice with live ammunitions every week. I missed a lot of classes during those few months before each competition, but the experience was definitely worth it! The base was where I learned to respect the training process and how dangerous it could be to mishandle a gun. (I am forever pro gun control!)

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With mixed feelings and a twist of fate, I was ready to enter my senior high school. When I first saw the senior high school above Fu Shing Gong in New Pei Tou, Taipei, I immediately fell in love with that environment. Where the school is situated is outside the noisy Taipei city and half way up the hill surrounded by lush green. The school campus was designed to have multi-levels on a hill. Taipei Fu Shing Senior Public High School was a co-ed high school (I don’t know if it is still a co-ed.) The boys’ section was high above the main school office buildings. The girls’ section was at lower level close to the field. The whole school looked so new and refreshing then. It was quite rare to find a campus with such a relaxing atmosphere like that in Taipei.

I fell in love with the campus right away; however, the thought of going through another three years of  torture somehow clouded over my head. The reality was that if I would hope to enter any university in the future, I really should have secured myself in the top three female high schools. Unfortunately, attending any school other than the top three schools would only mean there would be an uphill battle for me in the next three years. Let's face it. Fu Sing Senior High School was the last one on the public school list at that time. I didn’t have high hope or any hope on the school, a “partying” school in many people’s view. So, I thought I could just forget about my dream of attending any university right there and square.

On the second thought, it was a complete surprise and a wake-up call for me to get on the high school band wagon since I thought that I would never be able to pass the entrance exam anyway. I always criticized myself for not preparing well enough for the exam. After being accepted for a high school, I thought, maybe I still had a glimpse of hope. I realized that I should use my time more wisely for the next three years if I ever wanted to advance myself to a college or a university. Put it this way, I was at my wits end because it was impossible for my parents to send me to a private college. I really had nothing to lose at the time; therefore, my attitude towards my next three years in high school was somehow changed. I had to!

Whenever I have confronted an obstacle, I am able to analyze the outlook from different perspectives with a humble but positive attitude. That is really a lesson learned from my life experiences. When I was young and hot headed in high school, I would have never thought of that. After the reality check after that summer before my senior high, interestingly, I ended up enjoying my three years of high school at Fu Shing. I met a lot of good friends, friends who have impacted on me and friends that I would keep for life.(Note 1) I also received and willingly accepted guidance from my teachers who believed in me.

I had very interesting life turning experiences at Fu Shing. I took the leadership role again throughout the three years of senior high and was actively involved in many extra curricular activities at school. (That would be another story on its own.) Since it was a co-ed school, it actually gave me a very positive experience for my character development. I had the opportunity to compete with many male counterparts at school instead of being distracted by the opposite sex at that awkward “hormone raging” age. (Apparently it was the first and foremost concern for my parents, or any parents at that time.) I was trained to be an independent thinker, and most importantly, I was able to endure hardship and overcome obstacles with patience. I realized that positive attitude is everything!

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I caught two students passing notes to each other. One notewrote, "When do you want to have sex?” I was so shocked to read thatnote. What do they, two eight-year-olds, know about “sex”? It isquite alarming and scary. I didn’t even know what “sex” meant whenI was in high school. I think children are growing too fast toosoon! Whenever I have found notes like these, I would have toquestion the children about what they know and why they wrote thenote. The sad truth is I have to find out if they have been exposedto sexually explicit materials or abusive situations at home beforeI can contact the parents. There are a lot of sick people outthere, and unfortunately, some of them are parents.


Yesterday, police in Toronto charged the mother of a twelve-year-oldgirl, who traded her own daughter for drug. She forced thetwelve-year-old girl to take drug and had sex with six, possiblymore than ten, men. I was shocked (and disgusted) that this kind of crime wascommitted by the girl’s own mother. A drug addict would do anythingto get high. I have seen it first hand before but not to thatextent.


One of my students was acting up the week before Christmas. Ifinally had enough with her, so two days before our Christmasbreak, I called her aside and questioned her about her out ofcontrolled behavior for the whole week. She told me that she wasjust very angry that her mother had stolen her Christmas presentsunder the Christmas tree, and her grandmother told her not to tell. Well, I knew the child did have pastrecord of lying and cheating in class, so I immediately contactedher guardian, her grandmother, regarding her behavior problems andthe story she told me. Sure enough, her grandmother confirmed thatthe child’s mother, her own daughter, did ripped open all thepresents given to the family from social agencies and tookeverything of value. The girl was the first one to discover thatall the presents were missing. That is a real-life Grinch story tome! I could not believe that anyone would steal from their ownmother and daughters, but she is a drug addict. An addict would doanything in order to buy drug and get high.

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