Cram School Teaching Vs Public School Teaching in Taiwan

via Living In Taiwan

I have worked at both of these kinds of schools in the last few years, and this is what I think about them. For those of you who aren’t aware, these are the two main kinds of schools that you can get hired to as a foreign ESL teacher in Taiwan. I will be talking about elementary school teaching, not high school, university, or other types of adult teaching jobs that are also available. With a Master’s, you can teach in universities as lecturers, outside of Taipei City (but in New Taipei City). You need a Phd to teach at universities in Taipei.

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5 Tips to Finding Affordable Tutors

082311_rg_AffordableTutors_01.jpgWhen your child needs help with their homework, or you just want your children to go beyond the curriculum of your school, be it in creative writing, mathematics, science, or other subjects, finding the right tutor is key since this will usually be an ongoing relationship for at least a couple of weeks to a few years. Tutoring has become a serious business in the last few years, with many private companies specializing in different fields. These can be a godsend, but they can get expensive quickly. Here’s how to find a more affordable tutor, that will work just as well.

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Living in Taiwan 5 Years Later

Lotus Lake, Kaoshiung

Many people ask me if I love Taiwan. I don’t. However, there are good and bad things about living in Asia.

First and foremost, we paid off all of our debts. Both my wife and I went back to school fulltime and continued working fulltime, something that wasn’t possible in the US/Canada. We’ve since amassed more debt since we bought a duplex in Illinois (it’s a fixer-upper).

I wouldn’t want to do anything but teach in Taiwan, because schedules can be quite hectic in the corporate sector. I’m not interested in that. Neither was I ever interested in going back into programming and web design for a Taiwanese company.

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Adapting to Culture Shock

K2 Melody getting ready for a play rehearsal

To say I’m disoriented is an understatement. I don’t feel like I’m any part of this place – just looking in on a culture and people I don’t understand. The streets are crazy – if there are rules, no one follows them … I haven’t seen one Caucasian female yet … is there a reason? The pollution is worse than I expected. Imagine putting your head over a sewer on a really humid day and breathing in as deep as you can. That’s what it’s like here, everywhere, all day, all night … Last night I met up with a giant black and orange beetle. Will I have to learn to live with all of this? I can’t even cross the street yet. How am I going to teach little kids?

I no longer follow Canadian culture and news all that much, so I had to find about this article from Michael Turton. It details the horrors of teaching in Taiwan. Lindsay Craig spent 7 months teaching in Taiwan in 2005. She quickly escaped the cockroaches and went back to Canada, somewhat traumatized it seems.

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Co-Teachers & Grammar Curriculum

In Taiwan, ESL teachers are usually matched with a Chinese co-teacher. This is true for all of my classes, but I spend most of my time with my K2 classes and I’ve known my co-teacher for over a year. When co-teachers take time off, the class starts to break down. The class doesn’t run as smoothly as before. When there is no co-teacher, the class isn’t as easy to run. This isn’t true for the older classes, but it is true in Kindergarten.

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You Didn’t Review

-You didn’t review!

The Grade 4 boys did terribly in the biweekly test. Shirley was shouting at them. I popped my head in after having marked their test very quickly after they finished it.

– If you did, you’d get 98% like Teresa.
– But teacher, I didn’t review, Teresa replied.
– If you’re Teresa, you don’t need to review. But if you aren’t, you need to!

My New Daily Routine

Usual art supply suspects: Tombow ABT, Sakura Pigma

For the month of July, my daily routine wasn’t that filled up. I still worked about 8 hours a day, but it was nothing to write home about. Now, for the month of August and probably for the rest of the year, I’ll be following this routine, which includes 35 hours/week of teaching, 10-15 hours/week on writing, 10-20 hours/week on my business, Asterisk*Cycles.

The trick in surviving grueling routines and long days are power naps as well as little pockets of goodness, which are easily wasted if you aren’t careful.

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Mathematical Teaching Methods

Snake Lemma, via Wikipedia
Snake Lemma, via Wikipedia

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It seems to me quite logical on how math classes should proceed. The professor presents some theory, with theorems and their demonstration, as well as definitions and propositions, before venturing into a slew of examples. For some reason, this is completely absent from my classes in Taiwan. The examples. I don’t know what these profs are thinking, but examples are paramount for students to understand some of the theory. OK, my complex analysis prof is good. he gives examples and answers questions well¹.

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Using Powerpoint Presentations In Classrooms

My wife teaches university students and she really enjoys using Powerpoint presentations in class³. Most lectures by visiting scholars, as well as research, is usually presented with some kind of presentation. In the math world, it’s usually some Linux-based derivative.

I’ve been going to a class where the professor solely relies on using Powerpoint presentations. I have come to hate them. The reason is that the professor doesn’t understand how much time it takes for students to note down what they see on the slides. Sure, the presentation is made available later on the web, but I like taking notes. That’s how my learning process works. I know that most students work in similar fashion.

The professor shows a theorem, barely explaining it and the rushes through a demonstration. I haven’t even finished noting down the theorem when he’s already midway through the demo. It’s very annoying. The other extremely annoying fact is that the demos, or parts of them, vanish because animation is used in the Powerpoint. Extremely frustrating⁵.

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TGIF

It’s been a long week. I’ve had a full teaching load, 27 hours of teaching, plus my usual freelance writing posts. Since I was off the week before, I haven’t yet been able to go back to a full work schedule. It has disrupted my training schedule.

I go to bed too late and get up early in the morning. I need to take a midday power nap and a longer nap after I come back from work. Then, I get up in the evening and start writing articles. I walk the dog and continue writing until 2AM at least. Sometimes I finish earlier, but I’ve made a point of taking time outs to read and relax.

After a full day, it takes me a while to wind down, which is why I’m going to bed so late. Hopefully, this will no longer be an issue next week. I’m dead tired right now and ready to sleep in and go for a bike ride.

I’m probably going to get up an hour earlier next week so that I can get a bike ride in before scooting off to work. Then, I’d like to get a run or another ride in after work. As long as I get enough sleep, it shouldn’t be a problem.