Monday, January 26, 2009

Grading Systems: How are they different?

Some international students experience culture shock when they study in different educational students from their own. In addition to classroom environment and teacher-student, some students are used to grading systems that might be different from their own. For example, a passing grade in a class might only be 50-60% in their countries, and then assume this percent is the same elsewhere. Then, we they discover that the standard is higher (let's say, 70%+), they feel that this is unfair.

Furthermore, some students complain that they have too much homework (2 hours a night), and that they have no time to do anything. However, these are students who don't have jobs, no families to take care of in the US, and no other community responsibilities. Many American college students work to pay for school (not just fashion clothing and iTunes downloads) AND go to school at the same time.

Again, when expectations and experience collide and are different, then misunderstandings can happen.

So, are there other aspects of culture or education that you have found different when traveling to a new country? Of, if you have gone overseas, what aspect of culture do you think you will find the most challenging to adjust to?



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Listening Activities

From time to time, people ask me about my favorite listening activities on my site, Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab ( It is sometimes hard to pick which ones because my family and I have created so many over the past 10 years. However, here are some of them, based on topic and personal interest.

1. A Story to Remember:
A story of a man who was approached by an alien creature. Or was it?

2. Car Repairs:
A man has real problems trying to get his car fixed in a small town.

3. Budget Hotel Rooms:
A man encounters a few surprises at his hotel. Has something like this happened to you?

4. A Great Car Deal:
A woman tries to buy a car from an interesting salesman.

5. Just a Hair Cut, Please:

Disaster strikes a man who gets the hair cut of his life. What do you think happens?

6. Car Accident:
A teenager has a car accident, but who's fault was it? Listen and find out.

7. First Date:
A girl is going out on her first date with a guy name Dirk? How do things turn out?

8. Grocery Shopping:
A woman sends her husband to the store to pick up some things, but what does he get instead

9. Street Market:
A man tries to bargain with a seller in a street market. What problems does he encounter?

10. Traffic Ticket:
A man is stopped by the police? Why and how does the driver talk himself out of his situation?

Please let me know what types of materials and topics you would like to see in the future.


Monday, January 19, 2009

New US President: What does it take?

The US will have a new president tomorrow, and many people around the world hope for positive change that will affect everyone. In your personal opinion, what does it take to be a great leader? What qualities do you admire in a leader? Are there any particular great leaders from your own country that have had an influence on your nation? Share your thoughts on this.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

College Textbooks: Are they overpriced?

My daughter is taking a class at a local university, and I almost fell over when she told me that the book for the class costs about $150, and it's only a paperback book. My question is whether schools and publishers charge too much money for books, particularly when they cost almost as much as the class itself. What do you think? And in such cases, is there anything a student can do to find cheaper books? Share your ideas.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Time Running Out: What would you do?

If you were told that you were dying and that you only had one month to live, how would you spend the limited time you had left? Explain your reasons for your answers.

Personally, I always realize in the back of my mind that this happens to people everyday. So, for me, I'd probably spend my final days with my wife and kids, telling them about my life, sharing words of wisdom, and just having fun going to Disneyland, hiking, sitting out under the stars, and telling them how much I love them.

How about you?



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year Resolutions

Listen to the recording and share your ideas on the topic.



Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year, 2009!

I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year, 2009! What do you usually do on this day to celebrate the new year? Share your thoughts. Personally, I am spending the new year with my family, and we will probably play games, watch TV, and tell stories.



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