Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breakfast Recipes: What do people eat in your area?

What is your image of the ideal breakfast? Having traveled to different parts of the world, I have seen that the meal isn't the same everywhere. Try these listening/video activities on the topic:

- http://esl-lab.com/breakfastrecipes/breakfastrecipesrd1.htm

 Then, describe a typical breakfast in your area? What do people usually have for breakfast? How does the local culture influence what people eat? Are there items you have for breakfast that people from other places might find unusual?

Please share your ideas.


Monday, February 15, 2010

New Language Videos - Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab

Hi everyone,

I have just created new language-learning videos on my Web site (www.esl-lab.com) on small talk, winter hiking, and winter camping, and they are some of the most interesting and exciting videos I have enjoyed creating so far. Take a look:

- http:/www.esl-lab.com/videoclips.htm

Here are the direct links to these video activities:

- Meeting People: http://www.esl-lab.com/invite/smalltalk-video.htm
- Winter Camping: http://www.esl-lab.com/camp/wintercamping-video.htm
- Winter Activities: http://www.esl-lab.com/hiking/winteractivities-video.htm

I am also adding Online Investigation Activities on my site to encourage critical thinking. You can learn more about his project at:

- http://www.esl-lab.com/tips.htm#online



Saturday, February 6, 2010

World News Events: How do they (or should they) affect you?

There is an old saying which states, "Out of sight, out of mind," to indicate that those things that we can't readily see are often far away from us in mind. This could be true of new stories around the world; however, that said, if we really look of the events that even take place in distant lands, they tend to have a ripple effect in our lives---events that still touch our lives directly or indirectly.

What current event stories are taking place today, either in your country or in distant lands, that do or should make us reflect or even take action for the betterment of yourself or others?

Share your ideas.


Travel: Doing it Solo or with a Group?

Imagine that you are sitting at a restaurant, dreaming of the day when you can travel to distant places, but you realize that that will probably never happen. Suddenly, out of the blue, a complete stranger walks up to you, plops $20,000 on the table, and wishes you a great life. Then, as quickly as he appeared, the man disappears out the door.

After verifying that the money hasn't been stolen, you consider your options of traveling around the world for 3 months and visiting 25 countries: either go backpacking solo or join a tour group with 30 people. Which would you rather do and why? What kinds of challenges might you face in either case?

Share your ideas.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Marriage: What keeps couples together?

As part of classroom discussion on relationships and values, I sometimes ask my English students what they look for in an ideal marriage partner. Invariably, I have students that mention good looks . . . if they are willing to admit it. In part, I can see where students are coming from at they age; however, many young people who are romantically in love often don't realize that good looks only last a season, and the only thing you can really improve in life is your character and the values that will help you will stormy seas come your way.

More than 20 years ago when my wife and I were getting married, I had no idea of the blessings, the joy, and the challenges that would come uninvited to our door. I wanted to be able to say, "Hey, problems. Take a number and stand in line until I'm ready to deal with you!"

No, life isn't that kind.

So, I often tell my own children that when they are looking for someone to marry, don't marry a "project" (a person who doesn't have strong values, and that only makes temporary changes in his/her life to impress you). Instead, marry someone who will not blow away when the first problem arises or that wants to leave you for convenience sake.

People who only think of themselves will only be temporary partners.

Thus, what do you feel are the values and traits in a person that will keep people together through thick and thin---through good and bad times. Couples always say they will stay together, but what are the differences between those who stick it out and those who don't?

Share your ideas on this topic.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lawyers: What role do they play in society?

The word, "lawyer," often conjures up different images in people's minds: one the one hand, someone who helps provide relief to those who have be injured or who have suffered injustices, and on the other hand, a person who is dishonest and is only looking out for his/her personal interests.

Yet, what role do lawyers plan in your own socities? Are there times in our life that you would benefit from having a lawyer on your side? If so, when? Have you ever had positive or negative experiences in working with a lawyer?

Share your ideas.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Challenges of Life: What things do you face and how do you deal with them?

All of us, sooner or later, will face some form of emotional, physical, or spiritual challenge in our lives that will test our limits of endurance. For some, it might be learning a language; for others, it could be dealing with the death of a love one. And still others may struggle with the pressures of daily life.

However, in most cases, learning how to deal with the challenges, frustrations, and disappointments of life helps build character, giving us the strength to move forward in life.

For me personally, many of those challenges are dealing with many day-to-day issues. Besides that, one of the things I enjoy (but is very challenging for me) is running long distances. Of course, I am very, very slow, but doing something that tests your limits and teaches you something along the way is what I like doing.

Recently, I participated in a snowshoe marathon. Yes, running in snowshoes up and down along the way in through some mountain trails. It was very hard, and I didn't win any prize, but even though I came in near the end, just finishing gave me satisfaction.

So, what about you? What challenges you most in life at the moment and how do you find the strength to continue on? Please share your ideas.


Randall running along a mountain trail

Cosmetic Surgery: Sometimes a need or just an expensive want?

We often see news stories about people---famous or not---undergoing plastic or cosmetic surgery for any number of reasons to improve their appearance. Any number of reasons can be cited for doing so, and the debate on this topic stretches very long: on the one hand, opponents often say that people are just being vain and lack self-confidence in their appearance while proponents argue that such surgeries are often needed for medical and even psychological reasons.

What do you think about this topic? Have you ever---even remotely in you mind---considered having some form of cosmetic surgery? Do you think there can be valid reasons for having it?

Share your ideas on the topic.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Internet: Does it really help students?

Although we often view the Internet as the superhighway to information, one might wonder if too much information---or at least certains types of content---isn't providing us with better quality information in the end. For example, many students use the Internet---and Google---to find relevant details for papers they may be writing for their classes; however, because anyone can publish and copy on the Internet, it is very hard to decifer between accurate sources and just plain junk.

So, in what ways do you feel that the Internet can help students in the studies, and what challenges are students faced with as the try to navigate the vastness of the World Wide Web?


A Special Thanks to Visitors and Bloggers!

I just wanted to take a minute to thank all those who have contributed so much to this blog. Your comments and ideas have helped all of us, including myself, reflect more on not only language learning, but also about the world around us.

One particular blogger, Bruno De Matta, has contributed so many interesting posts that have been very enlightening and useful for all of our readers. Kan-u has been another active poster. I just can't express enough thanks. I also apologize if I haven't pointed out your own contributions; there are just too many of you to name personally.

Keep your ideas coming.

You might have noticed already, but I have these blog postings linked to my listening activities, so that after a student completes one of my conversations, he/she is encouraged to share ideas on a similar topic on the blog. Here is one example:

- http://esl-lab.com/credit/creditcardrd1.htm#post

With this particular blog post on credit cards, there are over 150 postings on the topic from around the world, and I hope that people will continue to share ideas.

Again, thanks.


Spelling: How important is it?

One of the challenges (joys) I have as a teacher is trying to instill in students the importance of careful work when they complete writing tasks as a part of any language class. However, there are students who tend to ignore spelling for any number of reasons including (1) thinking that the meaning of their message is what is most important, not spelling, (2) laziness, and (3) lack of training on some basic spelling rules.

However, imagine that you are applying for a job a company called Happy Travel, and in your letter to the company, you spell it "Haappy Travel." Do you really think the company will call you back for an interview? Of course not. Or imagine that you misspell your wife's/husband's/friend's name . . . again and again. How pleased will this person be?

Plainly speaking, spelling speaks a lot about a person's educational background/training and to what level they take care in their work.

So, what thoughts do you have on the subject? What factors affect a students spelling or writing beyond what I have mentioned? What techniques have you found useful in learning how to spell? Please share your ideas.