Saturday, January 28, 2017

Part-Time Jobs: Are They Common for Young People in Your Country?

I have often taught my children (those who were or are currently in high school) about the importance of getting a job to learn responsibility and earn their own spending money in the United States, but I realize that this same idea and value might not be the same around the world for any number of reasons.

So, do children between the ages of 12-18 often get part-time jobs in your country (examples might include babysitting, delivering newspapers, working on a farm or in restaurant, tutoring other kids in school, etc.)? Why or why not?

What benefits can come from holding a job at certain ages during one's life?


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?



Conversation Starters: How to Get a Natural Conversation Going

Starting a natural conversation with a stranger often isn't as easy as it appears, and language learners can sound somewhat unusual and strange if the don't make the right approach.

So, imagine that you are sitting on a plane, and a man or woman is sitting next to you. You anticipate a long, 9-hour flight, and besides a few books, you don't have much to do.

What is one question that you might use to start a natural conversation with the person next to you, AND what is one question you would probably NOT ask for the same situation?

Please share your ideas. Carrying on small talk with others is an art that must be learned, and it usually isn't taught in textbooks.

Check out my listening activity on this topic at:



Monday, January 23, 2017

Dressing for Comfort or Style?

Why do people where the things they do? Do people dress to protect themselves from the cold, or do people want to get attention from others? Please share your ideas.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Daily Schedues

I am sitting today with family, and my brother and I are talking about some of the outlandish and funny conversations we have done together. Here is definitely one of my favorites. Enjoy:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

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, January 6, 2017

Your Favorite Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?

So, what is your favorite time of year in your country? Of course, this will depend on where you live in the world, but please share your feelings on this and what your favorite activity is at that time. Personally, I like the spring and fall, particularly because I really enjoy hiking and running. The weather is pleasant in the spring, and I usually don't have to worry about getting bit by a rattlesnake on trails before the weather warms up in the summer. It also gives me the chance to enjoy nature far away from computers, cell phones, and email. So, what is your favorite season and what do you enjoy doing?


Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year

Happy New Year's Day, and to start the new year off with a bang, I have created my first listening activity of the new year with the topic of . . . . you guessed it, New Year's Day. Give it a try:

New Year Activities

Well, the new year has begun, and I kicked off the new start by spending time with family. On New Year's Eve, we tend to keep things simple. When I was younger, I would stay up and welcome the new year; however, I generally go to bed before most people start their celebrations. Personally (and perhaps philosophically), too often, people start our a new year with a bang and wonderful new goals and plans, but these good intentions often don't last very long. Instead, I'd like to have plans in my mind, but start things off at a slower, but consistent, pace.

This kind of reminds me of a sport called ultrarunning (any running distance beyond a marathon). Many of the elite athletes aren't in their late teens, 20s, or 30s. Rather, people in their 40s, 40s, and 60s do quite well at very long distances because much of the game deals with the mental, not physical challenge. This mental toughness is often develop throughout life and has little to do with our youthfulness.

So, what kind of mental toughness is needed in other aspects of our lives? Share your thoughts.