Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Foreign teachers and teacher trainers to join Taiwanese YG

The recent requests of colleagues from different countries to join in my Taiwanese Yahoogroup have sparked a new sense of hope and motivation, and renewed faith that what I'm doing is worth the pain and sacrifices. I'm noting here what they've sent me:

From Michael B.:
Comment from user:
I am very interested in how bu-shi-ban teachers
can better both their careers and their teaching with or without encouragement
and help from those in a position of control.

From Arnold M. [I invited Arnold because my group and I could learn a lot from him.]
Comment from user:
Hi Aiden, I will gladly accept your invitation to this Yahoo group. TPD has
always had my interest and reflective practice is close to my heart. Cheers,

From Elizabeth H-S:
Also--anything I can do for you with the TPD YG? I am really interested in your project and hope to start something like this in the future.


Now, I think my plan is working. I've got to clear out the road and start walking.


Monday, February 21, 2005

In response to Arnold Muhren's comment on TPD

Hi Arnold,

many thanks for posting a comment on my blog. I'm forwarding your message to my Taiwanese yahoogroups because I think the teachers in that group could learn something from your message.

I agree with what you said:

"1) The reflective student teacher may have a "master teacher" around for mentoring, coaching and surely some modelling as well.

2) The reflective student will want to find clarification and support for their own hypotheses, theories, intuitions, actions, behaviour, hunches, etc. in the literature or in discussions with more experienced colleagues"

I am hoping that what I'm doing would somehow influence these teachers to become reflective teachers and like what michael butler mentioned in his email when he joined the group that he wanted to see how they become better teachers without their employer telling them. Me too. Taiwanese teachers in cram schools deserve to learn more not only teaching methodologies but how to reflect on their teaching as well.

I invite you to join this group and feel free to toss in your two euros!



Discovering your own teaching style

Hi April,

From what I could gather from your emial below, your ex-colleague got fired. She did not resign. She got fired. Why do you think your employer fired her? Why do employers fire employees? She must have done something that irked your boss. If she's good, your boss would not have let her go. Simple.

Fast teaching? Is it a strategy? Is your boss referring to the pacing of your lesson, or pacing of your presentation [or how you teach in class]? Or how fast you speak?

In my opinion, every teacher is different. You're different- perhaps better than your ex-colleague. To compare yourself to somebody who got fired is not a good start to develop confidence. You teach in a way that your students learn. Look at their language needs- focus on them and develop a strategy that addresses these needs. Your school has its own working atmosphere, you follow the working regulations and report to work on time. But when it comes to students, you could always suggest. now there's a technique to this. You say it in a nice way, like you're doing your boss a favor, more like confiding, telling him/her what you think then ask for his/her opinion.

Another point that I wish to stress is that, I think your boss wants you to be able to gain your students' interest. Make it a fun learning experience for them. now it's not all about games, but how you arrange your activities.

I hope this helps.


any chance on putting up your blog, April. This is an interesting thread that you brought up here. You could continue on reflecting on this on your blog. Are you available Saturday evenings, say 9-10 pm for online discussions?

April wrote:

I am teaching one class in my cream school now. The students are
about 2~3 grade students who have been learning English for 2 years.
Because their first teacher who has 10 years experience was fired by
my boss so I replace her position. I have pressure when I teach
English because the students get used to their first teacher's style
already(very fast teaching style). Including my boss,they think the
tempo of teaching English should be as fast as possible.Do you agree
or not? They think when teacher's tempo of teaching is fast, the
students can pay much attention to the class and also they can learn
more .....Should I be like her or just be myself?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Mei's answers to buxiban teachers on tpd

I always ask myself these questions. I like kids. I really want them
to feel happy in learning English. I am glad to know my cram school
has the same thought with me. :)
But there are some unbreakable concepts in Chinese society. For
example: Parents always want to see their kids get higher grade
instead of knowing how much or how better their kids learn.
Especially in town. City parents are more educated than town
parents. I don't mean to offend anyone, I just make a comment out of
personal feeling. I used to teach in the city cram school, now I
teach in town. Are we changed when we become parents? We want our
kids to get the best, so we forget we used to be young, to be judged
by the grades?
Being the teacher, I totally agree what the author said. We have to
have the right will to move on. That will be the best to our next
generation!! ^^"

PS: Sorry for typing too much...... >"<

Monday, February 14, 2005

Applying the benefits of blogs on TPD

According to Brock, Yu and Wong, 1992 in Richards and Lockhart, 1996, 'keeping a journal can also be beneficial when one or more colleagues share their journals and meet regularly to discuss them.' Since your blogs are available online, we don't have to meet face-to-face to discuss what's on your blog.

In blogger, you are allowed to comment on somebody else's blog.

It is in this spirit of collaboration that I ask you to leave a comment on your colleagues's blog. I suggest that you do this regularly, as in once a week, so we could learn more from each other.

I should note, however, that we should practice professionalism in the midst of camaraderie. All comments that will be made must be taken in the light of constructive criticism. We comment on the topic and the issues being addressed and not on the person making the comment nor the person who wrote the topic that we wish to comment on.

To also foster reflective writing on your blogs, I will ask other teachers [mostly foreign teachers living abroad] to comment on your blogs] to generate more ideas.

I look forward to reading your blogs and comments.



Approaches to classroom investigation in teaching

Approaches to classroom investigation in teaching
Richards & Lockhart, 1996, Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. UK: Cambridge

Richards and Lockhart (1996) state that in every lesson and in every classroom, event occur which the teacher can use to develop a deeper understanding of teaching. Teachers sometimes fail to exploit these events. These experiences can serve as the basis for critical reflection, if teachers can find ways to capture the thoughts of and reaction to these events, as well as ways to gather fuller information about the events themselves.


1. Teaching journals- written or recorded accounts of teaching [Your blogs]
2. Lesson reports- written accounts of lessons which describe the main features of the lessons [see mei’s blog]
3. Survey and questionnaires
4. Audio and video recordings
5. Observation
6. action research- implementation of an action plan designed to bring about change in some aspect of the teacher’s class with subsequent monitoring of the effects of the innovation.

Let’s start with Journals [Blogs]

A journal is a teacher’s written response to teaching events. Keeping a journal serves two purposes:

1. Events and ideas are recorded for the purposes of later reflection
2. The process of writing itself helps trigger insights about teaching. Writing in this sense serves as a discovery process.

The following procedures are recommended for keeping a journal {Bailey, 1990; Porter et al 1990; Walker, 1985}

1. make entries on a regular basis, such as once or twice a week or even daily if possible. It may be useful to spend five or ten minutes after a lesson to write about it or record it.
2. Review your journal entries regularly. Ask yourself these questions:

 What do I do as a teacher?
 What principles and beliefs inform my teaching?
 Why do I teach the way I do?
 What roles do learners play in my classes?
 Should I teach differently?

Questions to ask yourself as a language teacher

1. What is the source of my ideas about language teaching?
2. Where am I in my professional development?
3. How am I developing as a language teacher?
4. What are my strengths as a language teacher?
5. What are my limitations?
6. Are there any contradictions in my teaching?
7. How can I improve my language teaching?
8. How am I helping my students?
9. What satisfaction does language teaching give me?

Questions ask yourself about the students?
1. Did you teach all your students today?
2. Did students contribute actively to the lesson?
3. How did you respond to different students’ needs?
4. Were students challenged by the lesson?
5. What do you thinks students really learned from the lesson?
6. What did they like most about the lesson?
7. What didn’t they respond well to?

Mei's answers on Models of teacher learning

About message 112, my point of view is choice 3 is more
effective for me. That is what I learned from my cram school. When I
was new teacher in my cram school, I had to observe the experienced
teachers’ classes in order to get the teaching experience. Then I
recalled my memory of previous teaching or something I learned from
the teaching courses, and combined with my observations to present
my own teaching to students. I like to observe the classes from the
experienced teachers because they always give me many inspirations
of teaching. We do discussions all the time to exchange the teaching
experiences. Theory is one thing, it gives us the brief idea of
teaching; but putting it in practice is another thing. By exchanging
the experiences we gain, we all can gain the real needs of our
students. I think that’s pretty good for me and my students. ^^ [Mei]

Time availability table

I have created a table [see Database] for your time availability. CJ [Joy Chiu] has already sent me her schedule. Joy, mei and April, when are you free to join us for online meetings?

Please go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/taiwanese_efl_teachers/database?method=reportRows&tbl=1

and add your name by clicking on 'add record'

If the link above does not work, please go to our YG at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/taiwanese_efl_teachers and click on "database". Open the Time availability folder and edit the table by clicking on 'add record"

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to write.


CJ's time availability for online discussions

Hi Joy,

Thanks for letting me know about your time availability. I will put this on our YG files area for safekeeping.


Chiu Joy wrote:
Dear Aiden,

Thank you for the cute e-card. It was very sweet.

I hope you had a great Chinese New Year.

For the on-line meetings, I prefer Wed. nights or Sat./Sun.

My office hours are 2 pm to 9:30 pm every working day, and I have

privates to teach from 9:00pm to 3pm on Saturdays.

As long as there is no time conflict with my working schedule,

I will try my best to attend the meetings every time.

PS. I do not check my e-mail everyday,

so please text me by cell phone if there's anything urgent.

Best Regards,


Monday, February 07, 2005

CJ aka Joy Chiu has created her blog!

Hi CJ,

Thanks for putting up your blog. There's one hitch though, the link to your blog isn't working. I think you missed one step when you created your blog. You need to 'republish' it everytime you make any changes to update it.

You may check the steps here, http://www.geocities.com/wentzao2004/writing/blogs/how_to/

I think Joy Chou also had the same problem. If anyone on the list knows how to fix the problem, I'd aprreciate the help.

CJ Joy wrote:

Hi, all,

This is Joy Chiu. You can call me "CJ" so it will be less confusing
for the group discussion purpose (since we have another Joy on our

I created my blog (http://josefinachiu.blogspot.com/) this morning
and also posted my feedback on the two questions that Aiden wanted us
to answer. It was an enjoyable process…though I have left school
for two years and it hurts when I try to use my brain too much. :P

I have asked Peggy to sign me up for the seminar on Feb 23th. Hope
you can all make it there too. I look forward to meeting the

Have a wonderful Chinese New Year!


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Pumping up some answers

This goes to my subject pool [Joy Chiu, Joy Chou, April and Mei]

Since you [Joy Chou and Mei] both have created your blogs, it would be best to use them to post your answers to the questions that I have brought up and will bring up here in Taiwanese EFL teachers' yahoogroups. I do read your blogs regularly so following up on your answers wouldn't be difficult for me ;-) To April and Joy Chiu, you will also have to do this once your blogs are up and running.

I need you to write up your answers [briefly] to the questions to allow me to understand what you believe in. There are no right or wrong answer. You have got to do this [Aiden sounds pathetic.]

There are two issues that I want you to focus.

1) Please go to Message 109 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/taiwanese_efl_teachers/message/109 Subject: working scenario of EFL teachers in buxibans: a must read Posted last jan 28.

Question to answer: Buxiban
teachers are too busy, too exhausted, over-worked yet underpaid [?]
Should any of these be a stumbling block for your learning and
professional advancement? Should you give yourselves a little nudge
and say, 'It's darn hard, but I've gotta do it for myself'

2) Go to Message 112 IMPORTANT
Subject: Models of teacher learning
Posted last jan 30

Question to answer: Which is likely to be most effective? Or, how do teachers
learn most effectively?

What’s your opinion on this?

I really hope that you could post your answers to these questions soon so we could proceed to the next topic.