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Archive for June, 2006

Having spent the last three and a half years as and EFL teacher in Taiwan, and having seen an extremely wide variety of schools, I like to consider myself to knowledgeable about the English industry here. When I first arrived, I knew nothing. At my first job, I worked at a Sesame Street branch, and earned less than a sixth of what I had previously been making at home. I was paid $500NT per class hour with no raises in sight. In other words I did three paid hours per day at about $15USD, plus another hour of unpaid preparation work. Now, I’m making $1150NT (about $36USD), with more hours and a $50 raise every six months for as long as I stay. Admittedly, my prep-time has increased, but there are no two ways about it- I’m doing a heck of a lot better than I was a couple of years ago. continue reading…

I guess it isn’t as easy to go to China as I’d thought. On Thursday, my travel agent told me that Americans can’t get landing visas in China. In the interests of being “reciprocal”, we also have to pay more than anybody else does, and take our visa application forms to the embassy in person. Needless to say, that’s a bit difficult since I live in Taiwan. The travel agent can mail my passport and papers to someone in Hong Kong and have that person hand in the forms in person, though. According to the travel agent, they normally need 12 working days to get all this stuff done. So it looks like it’s going to be tight. My plans to visit the mainland just may fall apart for the third year in a row.

The worst part about it is, the travel agent didn’t even mention the whole visa issue when I made my airline reservations two weeks ago! Her excuse? She said she thought I was Taiwanese when we talked on the phone. Yeah, right. Like anybody would confuse my Chinese for a local’s. I know this game

My second grade class just finished book three of Up and Away yesterday. It’s the last book of the series they’ll do, since they’ll be third graders and switching to the normal buxiban classes soon. In my normal classes, we really don’t play games much. With 30 students per class, they just aren’t usually a very effective use of time. For the second graders though, we play quite a few games. I’m still pretty picky about which games to play though, since anything that requires kids to run to the whiteboard entails a significant amount of class time in which they aren’t listening or speaking. Most games we play are either variations on Tic-Tac-Toe, Concentration, Knife-Gun-Medic-Bomb, or Castles&Catapults.

Yesterday was different though. continue reading…

I’m so shocked by the sheer amount of ignorant, yet argumentative idiots on Digg that I can barely even muster up a real rant. There’s an article by a math teacher explaining the common confusion his students have with the idea that 1 = .9999… repeating. He went to great lengths to explain very clearly why this is true, and wrote what I thought was a good article. What kind of response did I expect from the supposedly “techie crowd” at Digg? Well, I figured I’d see a few comments saying stuff like, “Hey, good explanation,” or “Duh…” How naive I was.

Instead, reading the comments was like going through a pile of essays written by a ward of lobotomy patients. Comments ranged from wack-ass idiotic unsupported claims such as:
continue reading…

A few days ago, John (of Sinosplice) sent me a link to an article titled, “How public education cripples our kids, and why“. Interestingly, it was written by John Taylor Gatto, former New York State and New York City teacher of the year. He goes into a long explanation about how public schooling is used more as a tool for promoting social conformity than as means to an education. Quite a bit of the article rang true in my ears. Indeed, I’ve found a very large disconnect between schooling and education in my own life. continue reading…


Far East Pinyin Chinese-English Dictionary
The Far East Book Co, Taipei, 2001
ISBN: 9576124638
Cost:NT$450 at PageOne Bookstore, Taipei
continue reading…

According to the Washington Post, via Reuters, a Beijing Blogger has already racked up 10 million hits on his podcast blog.

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing blogger and podcaster Dong Lu registered his 10 millionth hit on Friday morning, racing to the landmark on the back of China’s obsession with the World Cup.

The 36-year-old’s irreverent take on soccer’s showpiece, produced with the help of three friends in the living room of his apartment on the northeast outskirts of Beijing, has proved hugely popular with China’s on-line audience.

Sporting a multi-colored Afro wig and a fake mustache, Dong presents a podcast every other day featuring caricatures of leading players, parodies of the many soccer-themed adverts on Chinese television and the occasional song.

Wow. I’m not even sure if there were 10 million World Cup related hits racked up on any web site in China last time. This is definitely very cool. Well, at least for some of us.

Update: Way to go against Italy, US!! With this tie, we need to beat Ghana to advance.

Back when I first started this blog, the first one to link to me was Michael Turton. Every week he did a round-up off all the Taiwan blogs and somehow managed to dig up all the new and obscure blogs like mine. Truth be told, I’ve found most of the Taiwan blogs that I’ve really enjoyed through Michael’s blog round-ups. Unfortunately, like all good things, it had to come to an end. Doing a round-up of everybody’s blogging is a time-consuming task, and one that nobody could be expected to continue. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thankful for all the round-ups he did have time for.

Since the discontinuation of the Taiwan Blog Round-up, I’ve been thinking of possible solutions. For a while, I entertained the idea of trying to get some friends together to do a “roving round-up”, in which we could take turns reading and blogging about the highlights of the local blogosphere each week. In the end, though, it was just too daunting. Instead, I’ve made a set up a news aggregator, which parses in each blog’s RSS (and to a less perfect degree, atom) feeds and publishes excerpts and links in the style of Google News. I’m still in the process of adding blogs to the Taiwan Blog Feed, and categorizing them. Once it’s completely up and running, this should help readers keep up with what’s going on in the English-speaking blogging community and hopefully drive a bit more traffic to some of the less well-known blogs, too.

If you want to see a blog added, send me your RSS link. Please restrict submissions to blogs primarily about Taiwan. If you publish RSS feeds for your blog but prefer not to have them parsed by this news aggregator, then email me and I’ll remove your blog.

Tonight, I went to the only non-creepy bar in town and learned a fun drinking game with dice. It’s called 吹牛, and it’s basically a Chinese version of Bullshit. Here’s how it works: continue reading…

People who have known me for a few years in Taiwan will have no doubt recognized a common theme. I was going to visit mainland China last summer, but I just didn’t get the chance. I hope I can make it this next time. I must have said those two sentences once or twice a month for the last three years! In 2003, I couldn’t go because of SARS. In 2004, I was broke and looking for a job. Last year, I left Modawei and came to Ron’s school. At the time, I was pretty busy moving, etc…, so I didn’t have the chance to go then, either.

This summer will be different, though. Despite my overwhelming desire to save money, I’ve already booked tickets and I’m going no matter what. I’ll arrive in Shanghai on Sunday night, July second, spend about a week there head up to Beijing for a few days, and then come back to Taiwan on Saturday the fifteenth. To help me out of my Taiwan-induced bourgeois wimpiness, I think I’ll take the train from Shanghai to Beijing… maybe the hard sleeper. I’ll definitely be meeting up with John, and hopefully some other people, too. If you live in either of those two cities and want to meet up, or have any suggestions of places I “must see”, please let me know. This is going to be awesome to finally have a chance to see the mainland! I’m psyched! I’m already practicing my 捲舌 and checking out online China guides.