Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lovin' the Newsela site for my grades 9 and 10 ELA

My students are studying Conflict and Peace issues right now and we have begun our presentations this week. I'm super impressed by their honesty, research and professionalism. Because we have a short break coming up I wanted an assignment that they could pick from and continue expanding on their oral skills. They also take the quizzes at the end of the article and send me their scores. There are many ways to use this site. Vocabularly, pronunciation, fluency, writing  summarizations, etc.

Check it out. I think you'll like it.

Different states, different responses to English-language divide Word count: 974 By, adapted by Newsela staff Aug. 24, 2014 Grade level: 8

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas in a Muslim Country

My 7th Grade English Students
They still gave me a hug even after they received their exam grades
Never saw a  Muslim flying over a Christmas tree before
but it does add a unique twist to the typical star or angel right?

Snow Days at Hisar School in Istanbul. We had snowball fights, 1/2 days of lessons and a 30' tree in the foyer. Sure feels like Christmas and I'm loving it.

Christmas in Istanbul

You might think Christmas in Istanbul is not a big thing since Turkey carries 99% Muslim population, however you should keep in mind that New Years is not celebrated in many countries around the world and it also reflects on Istanbul where the streets are lighted up and even Christmas carols are heard in shopping malls (although not to the extent you would hear them in NY). The city also carries over 100 active Christian churches although her Christian population is not that big anymore.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My students are Latino Proud

I'm Latino Proud!

My 4th and 5th grade Hispanic students continuously impress me with their bilingual abilities and willingness to learn two cultures simultaneously. Recently they wrote Haiku poems using both English and Spanish words using the topic " I am Latino Proud". Today I asked them to free write their thoughts on being proud of their culture and who they are.

Left: Angel
 Right: Esmeralda, Cristina

R.N. Harris Integrated Core Knowledge Arts Magnet School
Jose, Antony, Roberto 4th Grade
Above: Esmeralda 5th Grade

Juana, 5th Grade (Science)
Yamilet and Juana working their blog

Thursday, January 24, 2013

High and Tall

What kind of things are tall? 
We use tall for people, buildings (with many floors), trees, and some things that are taller than they are wide (e.g. chimneys, telephone poles, doors).

How tall are you? (Not how high are you which by the way has a totally different implication concerning drugs). Those tall trees are beautiful.

Mt. Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe. How high is wall around the pool? How high is the cat in the tree?

When using measurements we use tall for people and high for objects. I am 5'6" tall (5 feet 6 inches). That house is about 30 feet high

That sure is a tall boy!

Blame the Vikings for English Spelling

Where did modern English come from? The Vikings, Conquistadors, the French, Italians, Spanish and more. 

As many of you know I teach ESL to children at an elementary school. They of course study spelling every day and work very hard at it. Honestly I'm in awe of their ability to develop vocabulary and grammar in two languages simultaneously and get high grades on their Friday spelling quizzes. Interestingly ( at least to me) is that they have never asked why a word is spelled that way.

I also teach adults at a local college, various levels of speaking and writing. Last semester I taught Advanced ESL Writing  and none of those students questioned English spelling either.
My guess is that these students are so accustomed to learning that they "just do it" to paraphrase Nike commercials from some years back.

I on the other hand can get a bit compulsive if I don't understand something so I began learning more of the why's of spelling. The rules can be a bit complex to understand or even remember in a 2nd language so perhaps my students have it right.

What I did find that I think is great is an ESL video about the origin of the English language. It has exercises at the end, listening and reading and even a few pictures. I think it's pretty cool.

Voice of America How English Evolved
    click the link above for video

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Funny Signs in English Around the World

I've been looking for a good ESL sign for my office door and happen to come across some very funny sites. If you have pretty much mastered English or are a native speaker I think you'll appreciate the humor. is a good site for Asian translations. I also like Funny Signs in English

Foreign Signs

Funny "English" Foreign Signs:

In a Tokyo Hotel:
Is forbidden to steal hotel towels please.  If you are not a person to
do such a thing is please not to read notis.

In a Bucharest hotel lobby:
The lift is being fixed for the next day.  During that time we regret
that you will be unbearable.

In a Leipzig elevator:
Do not enter lift backwards, and only when lit up.

In a Belgrade hotel elevator:
To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor.  If the cabin should
enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor.
Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.

In a Paris hotel elevator:
Please leave your values at the front desk.

In a hotel in Athens:
Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9
and 11 A.M. daily.

In a Yugoslavian hotel:
The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the

In a Japanese hotel:
You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from Russian Orthodox
You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet
composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

In an Austrian hotel catering to skiers:
Not to perambulate the corriders during the hours of repose in the
boots of ascension.

On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

On the menu of a Polish hotel:
Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in
the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up
in the country people's fashion.

Outside a Hong Kong tailer shop:
Ladies may have a fit upstairs.

In a Bangkok dry cleaners:
Drop your trousers here for best results.

Outside a Paris dress shop:
Dresses for street walking.

In a Rhodes tailor shop:
Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers
in strict rotation.

>From the Soviet Weekly:
There will be a Moscow Exhibition of Arts by 150,000 Soviet Republic
painters and sculptors. These were executed over the past two years.

A sign posted in Germany's Black Forest:
It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people
of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one
tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose.

In a Zurich hotel:
Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex
in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this

In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist:
Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.

In a Rome laundry:
Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good

In a Czechoslovakin tourist agency:
Take one of our horse-driven city tours - we guarantee no

Advertisement for donkey rides in Thailand:
Would you like to ride on your own ass?

In a Swiss mountain inn:
Special today -- no ice cream.

In a Bangkok temple:
It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man.

In a Tokyo bar:
Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.

In a Copenhagen airline ticket office:
We take your bags and send them in all directions.

On the door of a Moscow hotel room:
If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.

In a Norwegian cocktail lounge:
Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

In a Budapest zoo:
Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food,
give it to the guard on duty.

In the office of a Roman doctor:
Specialist in women and other diseases.

In an Acapulco hotel:
The manager has personally passed all the water served here.

In a Tokyo shop:
Our nylons cost more than common, but you'll find they are best in the
long run.

>From a Japanese information booklet about using a hotel air conditioner:
Cooles and Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your room,
please control yourself.

>From a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo:
When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn.  Trumpet him
melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then
tootle him with vigor.

Two signs from a Mojorcan shop entrance:
- English well speaking
- Here speeching American.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tips for Living Abroad When You Don't Speak the Language

This is an older post that I forgot to publish.

Would you move to another country if you didn't speak the language? I did and I have to say I'm managing just fine most days. I arrived in Chile two months ago and despite my best intentions I have not signed up for Spanish classes yet. I plan to do it in January which means four months of "Huh? or is it Que?". The point of this topic is not how pathetic my Spanish really is but that you shouldn't let language prevent you from seeing the world. It's okay to screw up, you'll still get where you're going and you'll even eat something along the way.
 A few of my hard earned tips that may be of help or at least amuse you
You have to eat when you're hungry and that includes dishes that have no correlation to beasts or gardens back home.
Always, always carry your own tissues for the bathrooms. Girls, stock up. Bring feminine products from home because they may be hard to find and very expensive.
Not all cities have maps or schedules for their bus system. Find a tourist map, check out major land marks and look for the names in the front of the buses. Even if a bus has a number, you can't look up the route.
When you get on the bus sit near the driver so you can annoy him with your paranoia as to where you get off.
Some buses don't have buzzers that work, look for a long string draped around the top of the windows or annoy the bus driver again. 
Don't assume you pissed the driver off, you're not that important. He's always cranky.
If you tried to pay with the wrong money, laugh and say you for got your glasses. If you're wearing glasses laugh and take them off.
People will stare when they detect Gringo phermones. This is not the time to take out your iphone or netbook.