Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

I went to the ballet last weekend! It was my first one. I feel so fortunate to be able to go to things like that here. When I was growing up, we were too far from any major cities for it to be really feasible to attend concerts etc. very often. Going to Youthquake was the highlight of the year!
I never took any dance classes when I was young, so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to appreciate the ballet or not, but though I'm sure I missed a lot of things, I thought it was wonderful.
We saw Sleeping Beauty, perfomed by the Marinsky Ballet Company from Russia. The sets and costumes were beautiful, and the dancers were amazing. Anyone who can move their body like that earns my respect! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


On Friday night when we got to class, I found out that my translator (co-teacher) was not feeling well. Since there were a number of teachers and subs out that week, I'd have to teach the class on my own! Now this is a mixed-level newcomers class about the basics of the Bible. Usually I don't like having translation in class, but in this case, it's necessary, especially for those who have an extremely low level.
SO.... I ended up translating for myself! And it was hard. It was a cool challenge for me in learning Chinese, but man....it felt like I taught the class twice in one hour! Fortunately, I've been teaching this class for over a year, and have heard the Chinese version weekly, so there was some stuff I could parrot, just from repetition. Other stuff, I would ask "what does ____ mean?" and some of the higher level students would say it in Chinese! It seemed to go pretty well, but I hope I don't have to do it again!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mafia for ESL

Ok, before you think I'm promoting organized crime in the classroom, let me tell you about this game. If you've gone to college in the past let's say 10 years, you may have heard of Mafia. If so, you can skip to the blue part of this post.

It's kind of a strategy role playing game that I'd never actually played, but know was extremely popular in certain boys' dorms when I was at school. It uses cards to determine roles. There are a set number of killers (or mafia), a doctor, police, and a narrator (shop owner).

During the "night" in the game the narrator directs the mafia to open their eyes (everyone else is "asleep") and secretly kill someone. After they go back to sleep, the doctor gets to choose someone to save. It's a matter of chance, since they don't know who will be killed. Then the police get to "investigate" one person, and the narrator will indicate whether or not they are the killer.

In the "day" part of the game, all the townspeople found out who was killed and discussion begins. It ends with someone being voted as the killer. Then another round begins. The game ends when either all the townspeople are killed, or all of the killers are found and voted out. It kind of becomes a witch hunt. Actually, when I was prepping the game I found that it was invented by a psychology student.

So I was teaching an article about murder mysteries, and this thought occured to me... what if I tried to play mafia with my classes? Would it be possible for ESL on a large scale? After thinking it through, I decided to try it. I did it with four 40+ student classes, but it took them awhile to catch on, usually just before the 50-minute period ended. But THEN, I tried it with my most advanced class, and it was amazing! I had originally planned to just do it as an icebreaker/activity before we got into the textbook, but they got so into it, that I let them keep playing for the full 2 class periods. For homework, I had them write responses to the game, and I was extremely pleased at what they wrote. Here are my two favorites:

First, human being are crazy. Anyone who gets the power to kill others is irrational. They would kill people to get achievement, and become more happier when killed a man.

Second, human being are selfish. When being a doctor, people often save themselves rather than save others. If all of the Dr. in the reality are out of medical ethic, the world will ruin.

Third, the most important thing I’ve learned, is that I am a unwelcome man! In the game, I always either be killed in the first round or be elected as killer and out. The only time I lived to the end is when I was a killer.

In the killer game, you can observe everyone’s personality. Some are kind while others are evil. I think it is a meaningful game.

I especially thought the second response was sooo insightful, and true, not just in the game.
NOW is the hard part....how do I top that?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

English Bible Study

The sixth semester of the English Bible Study began yesterday! We had around 30 students. Since we started with just 12 in 2006, it's wonderful to see the class grow each new semester. Here are some pictures of the first night activities. As you can see, there are students of every age.  This semester, we'll be studying Genesis.  As someone who grew up  reading the Illustrated Children's Bible, it's easy to forget that many people in Taiwan don't know much at all about Adam and Eve, or Cain and Abel, or Noah, or Abraham, and the important lessons these stories teach us. 

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Challenge

I got this email from an organization today that got me thinking...and I just might try it!  Even if we only do it for a few days or weeks, it's possible to make a difference! I'll copy most of the message here, with a note from me at the bottom.

The Reason:
We have the gift of choice:  Freedom to choose on any given day what clothes we will wear, what work we will do, what food we will eat and what we will drink.  In nearly a third of the world injustice threatens to take away these basic kinds of choices that we take for granted.  In these places a woman can choose to drink the unclean river water or the unclean puddle water.  She can choose to walk once for four hours to get water or walk twice for eight hours to get more water.  She can choose to give her children something to drink that she knows may make them sick or she can give them nothing at all.  She can persist or give up.  You can help give her a real choice.
 The Action:
Help save money to help bring clean water to African communities by making a simple sacrifice: drinking water.  For forty days, something so seemingly small and insignificant like making water your only beverage can make huge, significant changes in the lives of those who live without what we rely upon everyday.
Make water your ONLY beverage for 40 DAYS starting MARCH 1 and ending APRIL 9.  Gather your friends and join in solidarity with our African brothers and sisters in an effort to provide clean water for communities in need.  As you do so, we ask that you keep track of what money you would have typically spent on other drinks throughout the day and save that money.  At the end of 40 days donate what you saved to Blood:Water.  Imagine, if you saved $5 a day just by cutting out a visit to your local bar or barista, then you’d save $200 in 40 days.  That’s enough to provide clean water for 200 people for an entire year!

So ditch the morning coffee and o.j., leave out the lunchtime soda, and cancel the evening beverage. You won’t need an ark for this 40 Days of Water, but you will need a little self-discipline.  But we know you can do it, because you know who you’re doing it for.  Make the choice.  Visit 
bloodwatermission.com/40days  to get started. There you will find further instructions and downloadable resources including a personal savings score card for you to print. We can't wait to hear your stories from your experiences and see the impact you can make.

*The site is worth checking out, but even if you don't want to donate money, you can participate to help yourself identify a little more. You can also donate the money you save to other aid organizations that you already support.