Monthly Archives: October 2011

Chinese Education


An interesting perspective in Chinese education and soccer:  Kicked Out.

This one isn’t about education, per say, but it has a really interesting line that pertains to Metasino: “Half of Chinese millionaires with investments overseas put money in foreign countries with the aim of gaining access to the foreign education for their children.”

V vs. W


I used to think it was a matter of vocal mechanics: once they learned to say the letter “V”, they’d be fine.  They might need the occasional reminder, but they’d be fine.

They’re not fine.  It’s a Chinglish problem.  They’re fine until we get a couple of new kids in the class or they get a Chinese English teacher, and then they all slide back into the “W” sound.  We have to review this once a year or so.

I use the Interactive Sagittal Section to show them how their mouth should move for each letter.  If you use a webcam, you won’t need this.

Then we go over lists and lists of  “V” words.  (Think medieval.)  I try to practice words that the students would see regularly.

Very                                                           velvet
Violin                                                         vehicle
Vacation                                                   vowel
Vacuum                                                     verb
Valentine                                                  video
Valedictorian                                          view
Value                                                           village
Van                                                               violet
Vampire                                                     virus
Variety                                                        visit
Vocabulary                                               volleyball
Volunteer                                                   voice

Then we have more medieval word lists.

Eve                                                                 live
Every                                                            river
Evolution                                                    save
Environment                                             solve
Divide                                                           stove
Dive                                                               vivid
Give                                                               wave
Have                                                              weave

Then, when they’re bored out of their skulls, we do some tongue twisters.  Dave’s ESL Cafe has a “V vs. W” section here.  There are also a few here.

Finally, to drive the nail in completely, I do some of the level-appropriate activities in this pdf file, to show the students why they can’t mix up the two sounds.

Usually, they’re pretty good for a while after this, even to the point of correcting each other.

Speech Topics


I have my students do a speech every week.  The topics are optional – they’re free to talk about anything they like – but this gives them an idea.  Doing these speeches will prepare them for BETS, GESE, TOEFL, etc.

Level 1 students are expected to talk for one minute; Level 2s should talk for 2 minutes; Level 3s for three minutes, etc.  If they can’t think of what to say for the allotted time, I’ll ask questions to spur them on.  I don’t interrupt them to correct grammatical errors unless they’ve asked me to do so (usually at the higher levels).

Levels 1-3 are given 3 minutes to prepare: to look up words in the dictionary and organise their topics.  Levels 4 and 5 are given only one minute to prepare.


The Topics

1. Exercise
2. Sports
3. Computers
4. Animals
5. Homework
6. TV (is it good or bad, what do you like to watch, etc.)
7. Movies
8. Favourite song
9. School
10. Your favourite book
11. Your favourite toy when you were little
12. Chocolate
13. Cake
14. Babies
15. Family photographs
16. Eyes
17. Robots
18. A famous monument
19. Fire
20. Going to the doctor
21. Your neighbourhood
22. Taking photographs
23. Give a short biography of a famous person
24. Doing chores
25. Cell phones
26. Jokes
27. World peace
28. Brothers and Sisters
29. Poetry
30. Chinese food vs. American food
31. Describe something beautiful (use all 5 senses)
32. Fur coats: good or bad?
33. Your favourite teacher
34. Shopping
35. Tell a story (you can tell one you’ve read, but don’t actually read it)
36. Your favourite website
37. Fads
38. What’s bugging you? (Talk about insects.)
39. Superheroes
40. Your favourite character from a book, tv show or movie
41. Your favourite city
42. A current event
43. Your favourite historical figure
44. Your 3 favourite means of transportation
45. Three things you want to learn to do



  • Christmas
  • Spring Festival
  • Mid-Autumn Festival
  • New Year’s Day
  • Tomb Sweeping Day

Word Vine


Word Vine is a great game for making compound words.

The sounds and music can be turned off on the right-hand side.

You’ll be given a group of words on the left-hand side, and a vine on the right.  You have to organise the words so that each vine makes a compound word.  The order doesn’t matter (you may end up reading the work left-to-right or right-to-left), as long as the words on that vine make a compound word.