Saturday, February 22, 2014

Poem: Your Dash

Following my uncle's (Baboomama) sudden death this week, I'm reminded of one of my favourite poems.

Please read & take heed...

How You Live Your Dash
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He told of the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears.
But said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that small line is worth.

It matters not how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know what time is left,
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way that people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more,
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

We could treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy's being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Will you be proud of the things they said
About how you spent your dash?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What's going on in Venezuela in a nutshell (English version)

A former student, Persida from Venezuela shared this video with me this morning with a short message asking for prayers for her country. Apart from news headlines, many of us are oblivious as to what is happening around the world. Let's keep them all in our thoughts & prayers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Read EZ - Success!

Pic sourced online
As a self-confessed bookworm myself, I almost felt my heart burst recently when a student told me, “Teacher, I don’t see the benefit of reading.” 
Gasp! Shock! Horror!

I immediately knew that damage control was in order. Also, judging from recent tests that our students have written, lack of reading was quite evident. I started doing some research around this topic and came to the conclusion that students may actually NOT know how to read. In other words, they don’t have sufficient skills to read through an entire text or book comfortably and confidently.

I decided to start a free class (that would replace our “Listen Up”) which would focus solely on reading. What would I call it?
Thanks to my regular and loyal students, they came up with the name “Read EZ” – playing on the name of my conversation class which falls on a Monday, “Speak EZJ
I have a list of reading techniques and skills to help students with reading, but would I dive straight into it? I thought of taking a different route, and this is a general outline of the class – which exceeded my expectations!

  • Do you read in your own language?
Vivian from Colombia said she does – it’s like an escape for her.

  • Do your parents read?
Raid from Saudi Arabia said his father used to have him read every night before going to bed.
Marta from Angola said that her brother is her hero, because he encourages her to read.

  • What are you reading at the moment?
Wow…I was so impressed with this one because suddenly, some students started taking not one, but two books out of their bags!

Sancha from Angola had The Ironing Man, which I used as an example.
I wrote the title on the board and showed the cover to the students.

(I also introduced vocab like author, summary/synopsis, genre)

Based on just the title and picture, what questions did they have about the book?
I then read (aloud) the synopsis at the back of the book. What were the keywords? Who are the main characters? What do we know about them?

Tom & Marina (husband and wife) who live in a small village.
Tom works in London while Marina is a bored & lonely housewife.

What further questions do the students have based on this information?
So, drawing from some of the questions the ss formulated themselves (before even opening the book) The purpose of this is to pique their curiosity and to give them a purpose when they begin reading. What exactly are they looking for? Are they looking for personality descriptions of the characters? For reasons for their circumstances etc?

To end the class, I then asked if they agreed with the student who said they see no benefits in reading.
To my absolute delight, they were horrified by what he said. So we compiled this list:

The Benefits of Reading:
Helps to learn English
New vocabulary
Improves writing
Improves speaking
New information
Improves memory
Understand grammatical structures
See the world through another person’s eyes
Open your mind
Develop emotional understanding
Escape from your daily problems/challenges