GeoVisions Blog

Should Something Ever Go Wrong At GeoVisions

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, May 28, 2014

GeoVisions Travel SafetyNothing is as important as our participant's safety.  Absolutely nothing.

So, when the troubles in Thailand started about two-weeks ago, we huddled up to evaluate safety and risk.  After 39 years of doing this day-in-and-day-out, we're good at it.  We know how to evaluate the risk of sending someone to an area with participant safety at the crux of the matter.

In fact, GeoVisions utilizes a customized "Crisis Management" manual that we have written and updated over the years that is used when we do face a crisis and each project is visited and a six-page Site Inspection Check-list must be filled out and approved before even one participant puts boots on the ground.

GeoVisions is uniquely positioned to know what's going on in Thailand because we have an office in Bangkok.  We have a strong partner in Hua Hin.  And we're a designated sponsor for the J-1 Summer Work and Travel program where we receive hundreds of Thai college students here in the US each year.  That means even more boots on the ground and a very close relationship to the U.S. Department of State.

Since everything is still quiet in Thailand and everyone is going about their business, we talked to our teachers there now.  No one, from the North to the South, city or rural indicated any issue at all.  Our partners and our office in Bangkok reported complete calm.  We were satisfied that we would contact our teachers each week for an "on-the-ground-check-up" and use that measure as 50% of our decision on how to move forward.  If our teachers, who are all over Thailand, reported calm and if our multiple partners and our office in Thailand reported calm ... we were fine.

But since safety is "job-one" at GeoVisions, we decided to change the hotel we normally use for the first night in Bangkok to a hotel at the airport for now.  You can have a look at it using this link.

And keep in mind GeoVisions does not just send teachers to Thailand and bring Thai college students to the US.  We also send language camp counselor groups, home-tutors by way of the Conversation Corps, and interns.  Thailand is a substantial destination for GeoVisions participants.  Making sure everyone is well rested and healthy to begin their project falls into the "safety" aspect of our decisions.  Rather than pick everyone up and transfer them 3 hours to Hua Hin ... we like to let people catch their breath and get some reset.  Then we make our way to the coast.

So we're using a hotel at the airport for now ... participants will get their rest and will then go out to Hua Hin the next day never even entering or being that close to Bangkok.  The airport is 45 minutes outside the city and the road to Hua Hin skirts the city.  That one decision created safety, distance and rest.  It was a good one.

Once in Hua Hin (the summer home of the King of Thailand) we're home free.  Hua Hin is 3 hours away from Bangkok and our language counselors, interns, teachers and tutors are all performing their daily tasks well outside Bangkok ... and they are all safe and happy right where they are.

GeoVisions has it's ducks in a row.We will continue to check in each week with everyone, which we think is an excellent barometer on safety, and of course utilize our many partners and staff in Thailand for more support and information to make good decisions ... keeping safety as job-one.

I'm proud of how we calculate risk and safety for our participants who have given a big portion of their daily routine and their money to better themselves and their host community in Thailand.  Those participants deserve our full attention to events all over Southeast Asia.  I'm proud that we have the infrastructure so that if anything ever goes wrong ... our first priority is our participants.

Should anything ever go wrong at GeoVisions ... our ducks are in a row.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Teach in Thailand, Travel Safety, Thailand

Teach English Abroad In The Desert

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Dec 13, 2013

 Feynan LodgeTry something really different in 2014 and help a lot of people at the same time.  This adventure takes you to the Dana Biosphere Reserve in the Jordanian Desert.

Hailed as one of the top fifty ecolodges in the world by National Geographic Adventure Magazine, the solar powered Feynan Ecolodge offers the most developed eco-experience in Jordan; an experience made possible by a unique partnership between EcoHotels and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, a Jordanian NGO devoted to the protection of the Kingdom’s finest natural landscapes.

WYSTC Experience AwardGeoVisions is the exclusive provider of English lessons to the staff at Feynan Ecolodge.  That means your adventure, should you decide to accept it, is to live at Feynan (free) and teach the hotel staff English.

Candice Walsh, a travel Blogger was just in Jordan and visited Feynan.  She wrote a great post entitled, Coffee With Bedouins.  It's a great post where she writes about the "old ways" of the Bedouins [“If you don’t like your neighbours, do it quietly.”] and contrasts that with "new ways" [I’m thinking about the simplicity of it all as Mohammed Abu-Khaleel tends to the fire. The sheer purpose in life to fulfill daily tasks, to use your hands and your skill to live the day. And then a cell phone rings, and Mohammed Abu-Khaleel pulls a flip phone from his pocket. The modern Bedouin."]

Near the Feynan lodgeBe prepared! Feynan Ecolodge’s electricity is solar-generated. There is limited electricity to light the guest bathrooms, kitchen, phone system, and other crucial functions. There are no electrical outlets in guest rooms. Cell phones, cameras and laptops can be recharged at Reception. Internet can be sketchy.

Along with teaching English to the staff at Feynan, and getting your hotel room and all meals for free, you also get to ride (or walk) along with the tour guides for free.  Visit Copper mines, Wadi Ghwayr, Wadi Dana and walk and bicycle to many aarchaeological treasures with local guides.  And if you really want to learn more about the Bedouin, we will arrange it so you can do a little teaching at the local Bedouin school.

Read Candice's full post here on the Matador Network.

Is this an adventure you would like to add to your list for 2014?

Tags: Teach Abroad, Jordan

Teach English In Thailand - A Woman's View - Part III

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Jul 17, 2013

This is installment 3 of 3 of Carla's Blog post on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand. Feel free to email Carla at: gocarla1@umbc.edu

Carla Gott teaching English in ThailandWe come from far-off countries with different ways of doing things. So it helps to recognize local culture and norms. These can read like a regime of do's and don'ts, but recognizing basic courtesies will help bring you quiet acknowledgment from folk you pass by, and easily offered help on the smallest matter when you want it.

So:

Cover up - please wear a bra at all times. Thailand isn't California, and it makes sense to recognize different attitudes to what is good and bad taste.

Being topless on the beach is a no-no. Do not wear tank tops or shorts when visiting temples. 

You will be teaching young boys and girls, so be sure you don't reveal cleavage and thighs in the classroom. It might seem conservative to you, but you are bringing to your classroom the best of the West - not what the kids' parents might think is the worst.

It is recommended that you buy teachers' skirts and a plain white blouse. They are very cheap and will never get you into trouble with or offend your co-workers. You can find them in any street market for less than $5 dollars. 

More generally, don't do things you wouldn't do back home.

That can be tough, given your new-found freedom. You will want to experiment a little bit, let your hair down. However, public intoxication, for example, is never ok. You have to remember that you are in a different country; foreigners already have a reputation for being potentially disturbing.

And the locals are not always angels - so don't walk around with that $1,000 in your pocket. Pick pocketing does happen quite often especially in areas flooded with tourists so leave your passport at home and carry a copy instead.

If you accept a drink from a stranger, make sure it's a bottled or canned beer that you see opened.

Thais have a well-earned reputation for being endearingly and genuinely friendly. If someone touches your arm, it’s not sexual harassment.

However, Thai men tend to be shy comparatively and certainly respectful. And it’s ok to have dinner with strangers - I do it all the time! It is often unavoidable. Street food is cheap, tables are often crowded. And when eating among friends, it is the norm for everyone to help themselves from common bowls of soup or plates of chicken. So you will quickly learn to share food, and in the process pick up a few words in Thai and make new friends.

Getting around: transport can be remarkably cheap, particularly buses and communal taxis. Tuk-tuks are fun, can be scary, and can be expensive. Make sure you ask the price for your destination before you get on.  Motorbikes are cheaper, but can take some getting used to. If you reckon yours is going too fast, tap on the driver's shoulder and wave him to stop or slow down. Prices are generally negotiated before you get on the bike. After a few days, you will have a fair idea of the general going rates.

Taxis are generally safe. In Bangkok, they are metered, and are not unduly expensive - but make sure the meter is always on.

If you are taking a cab after midnight, you can negotiate prices with cabdrivers. If you encounter a moody driver (it can happen at the end of their shifts, when they have to change with another driver at a predesignated time and place), you can always take the next one. Still, as in any city, it always makes sense to play safe. So it is recommended that you sit in the back. Play with your phone, text a friend. Pretend to be talking to someone or better yet, talk to someone! Have your address in hand.

And last but not least - shopping. Bangkok has phenomenal shopping malls. Some are more glitzy than others, but they all have bargains, and many have top-end international brand-name outlets. If you want to spend $100 in Zara, you can. If you want to spend $10 on an entire outfit at a street market, you can - and can often haggle the price even lower.

However, it is difficult to find good bras and underwear in street markets, so pack light - but pack wisely.

You will have a one-month break in October. Your long break will be in March – May. There are plenty of activities to do during break.  They include volunteering across Southeast Asia, English camps, acting gigs or relaxing in the islands. This might be the first time you will be traveling solo since you arrived in Thailand - it doesn't mean you will be traveling alone. You will meet plenty of people along your way who will become friends and traveling companions. And you will already have plenty of experiences to share with them.

You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below.  We have embedded three videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions.  Two of those videos are by Carla Gott.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Responsible Travel, Travel Safety, Thailand

Teach English In Thailand - A Woman's View - Part II

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jul 15, 2013

Carla Gott has been teaching in Thailand with GeoVisions for more than five months. For more information on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand, please email Carla at: gocarla1@umbc.edu

Carla Gott in Thailand with her students

Fears sensibly put in their place, let's get down to the packing. I graduated, packed three suitcases and I was gone. With one terrible mistake and that was the three suitcases. Within a week or two, I had given away half of my clothes.

Thailand is in the tropics which means sunshine, lots of it and often humid, sticky weather. And sometimes gorgeous cool breezes. 

That means you need a few T-shirts or other light tops, and two or three easy-to-wash trousers, dresses, or skirts - they will dry overnight. Don't bring dress suits and three pairs of high heels. Do bring comfortable shoes for walking. 

When you need more clothes, you can have fun buying stuff as you need it at unbelievably cheap markets and road-side stalls.  

Personal accessories - obviously take what you need from day one. But don't overdo it - Thailand has most everything you will want, unless you are in one of the smaller villages. Even in the smallest town, you will see the same brand names that you use at home. One exception and one useful tip: If you use tampons, pack a few boxes of them. They can be difficult to find in Thailand.  

But above all, remember - if you pack it, you carry it. And in the tropics, that can be hot work, especially by the time you add some souvenirs to bring home. So pack light, travel light, and enjoy the experience.

Once you've arrived, is it all plain sailing? If only… I've had good times; I've had bad times, but overall I have loved my experience. 

So what's not to love? 

We all react differently to tropical weather. Your skin can glow - or break out in spots; your hair can decide to shed itself more than is usual - or not. If it does, don't panic - it is called acclimatization. The climate forces some changes, eating exciting new foods brings others. 

One common change - new eating habits mean many of us lose excess weight.   Another plus - except for special occasions, I no longer wear makeup because I soon sweat it off, sometimes almost as soon as it goes on. Who said with travel comes freedom?

Then there are the basics: toilets. Standard Western-style toilets are now common, but squat toilets are still the default type, particularly in trains and public conveniences. Your hotel might have either - or both. Squat toilets can call for a bit of unfamiliar balancing at first - but you soon get used to them. It's good idea to keep a bit of toilet paper and hand sanitizer handy. 

When you have found wherever you are staying, and before you head out into the great unknown, ask your landlord to provide you with your address in Thai. It will be handy when you are taking a cab back to your place. (Yes - I've seen more than one person telling a cab driver - try this road, try that, I'll recognize it soon…) For this reason, keep your landlord's phone number on speed dial.

Now you can get to know your surroundings. Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood. Walk around your apartment building, guesthouse, or hotel and take mental notes. How many blocks to the nearest 7/11? Are there any traffic lights or other easy-to-remember signs that will guide you back to your hotel? Plenty of folks can speak rudimentary English, but helping yourself first makes sense.

An early purchase is likely to be a sim card for your phone - or buying a new phone if you left yours at home. Getting one in Thailand is the easiest thing on the planet - and cheap. You can either buy a dumb phone or use your smart phone. Simcards (and top-ups) are available at 7/11s (you will have no trouble finding one), or from numerous other street outlets. If you want internet on your phone, pay a fee of 300 Baht (10 US dollars) and have unlimited access for a month. If you don't want to unlock your smart phone, you can buy a dumb phone and use your smart phone just for WiFi. 

Yes, there is WiFi! You don't have to try to rely on WiFi cards from back home. You will have Internet at school, there are plenty of internet cafés, and numerous venues and hotels, restaurants and bars have WiFi.

Part III of Carla's adventure Teaching English Abroad in Thailand will be published next.  You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below.  We have embedded three videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions.  Two of those videos are by Carla Gott.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Travel Ideas, Travel Safety, Thailand

Teach English In Thailand - A Woman's View - Part I

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Jul 12, 2013
Carla Gott

Carla Gott has been teaching in Thailand with GeoVisions for more than five months. For more information on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand, please email Carla at: gocarla1@umbc.edu

The idea of living and working overseas can be daunting. The rewards can be self-discovery, lifelong memoriesand friends. 

While preparing for my trip to Thailand, everyone in my family and in my small group of friends had something negative to say.  I understand and appreciate their concern, but what was my alternative? Stay home my whole life? No thanks.

My mom, who has never been to Asia, came up with a handful of questions no one could answer.  Friends told her different stories, and her worries only seemed to grow. ‘What if they kidnap you and take you to the Philippines?’ She asked, and, ‘Can you really trust people?’ Perhaps at the core of their worries, they pointed out: "You are a girl. You can't do things boys do.'' 

TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and Yahoo! Answers do a fair job giving general advice to travelers, but as was the case with my mother she wanted more direct reassurance. I am a real person who took the big jump and now have real experience of Thailand. I can answer your inquiries and those your own parents might have. I am here for you.  Consider me your friend, your pen pal and your advisor to help you navigate Thailand - and hopefully to ease your mother's concerns as well.

So what's to be worried about?

Safety? As a 20-something woman who moved to Thailand alone and has traveled in other foreign destinations, I can say that that this is a remarkably safe country. Even in my home state, Maryland, I don't feel as safe as I do in Thailand. However, common sense helps here just like at home.  Don't walk around with $1,000 in your pocket when you don't have to. But we will get to the things to avoid in a bit.

Creepy crawlies used to top my list of things to be scared of, way ahead of meeting new people or having to stand in front of new students and grab their attention from the start of a lesson. Bugs? Uggh!  I was afraid I would see a snake in my room and I also feared spiders. And all those mosquitoes… 

Well, after several months in Thailand I haven't seen a snake so far - and I hope not to see one any time soon (if you do see one, just steer clear - they don't like the sight of you anymore than you like the sight of them. It will head off quickly enough). I have seen bugs the size of my pinky - but these have been slow-moving things and are easily avoided. And any spiders keep to where they belong - bushes and corners well out of most folks' sight. However when it comes to mosquitoes this is the one bug to give decent amount of consideration to and prepare for. Most of the day, they are not around. Come dusk on a still night, and they can be a nuisance if you are not prepared.

I have learned to carry mosquito repellent - everywhere. I recommend you buy repellant as soon as you land. It comes in all sizes of containers at any drug store, most corner shops and general goods shops such as 7/11s - from mega-sized cans for your bedroom to scented, pocket-friendly mini-sprays and sachets of cotton wipes that are great for use on legs and arms as the sun goes down. They're easy to spot - most carry a picture of a mosquito.  

The other big worry is who do you know? You are out there, all by yourself, and your family advice will almost invariably be:  Don't travel alone!

The fact is - sometimes you have to. But unless you are determined, it is almost impossible to travel solo. Wherever you go, there will always seem to be someone looking just as lost as you might feel and keen to meet up with a friendly face, share a bus or train ride, or test out a street stall loaded with unfamiliar goodies that are going to be your dinner. 

So don't be scared to come to this side of the world all on your own. Surprise! You'll soon have more friends than you had at home.  After a few months in Thailand, my circle of friends has widened hugely. My closest friends are from different parts of the world. Making friends here is easy - unless you decide to stay in your room the whole day.

Part II of Carla's adventure Teaching English Abroad in Thailand will be published next.  You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below.  We have embedded one of Carla's videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions.


Tags: Teach Abroad, Travel Ideas, Travel Safety, Thailand

10 Reasons English Is Hard To Teach Abroad

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Jul 10, 2013

Teach English AbroadAs if we needed to list out reasons ... we all know, even those of us who are native speakers, English is tough.  How many times have you heard your friends at school say, "I don't know where I put it at."  Or, "I don't know where it's at."  And of course, the proper way to say that is, "I don't know where it is."

But there are homonyms that drive new speakers of English right up the wall.  homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings.  A good example would be, "When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes."

If you're on our Teach in Thailand program or our Teach in Myanmar program and you begin this lesson, it isn't going to last an hour.  If you can get through homonyms in a week, you'll be lucky.

I thought it might be fun in this post to list out my favorite homonyms that gave me the most trouble when I was a teacher.  And that was so long ago, I think God was a baby at the time.

  • The farm was used to produce produce.
  • He could lead, if only he would get the lead out.
  • A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen on how to row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  • After a number of injections, my jaw got number.
  • Upon seeing a tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
And then there is my all time favorite:
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
There is no real easy way to teach someone homonyms ... and that goes for native speakers as well.  Since our teachers do read our Blog, and use some of the posts in their lesson plans, can someone take a minute and tell us in the Comment section below how they teach homonyms?

Tags: Teach Abroad, Help Me Teach

Why Should You Teach Abroad?

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Feb 26, 2013

Sean LordsAfter obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education, Sean Lords packed up his bags and left to Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English abroad. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master's degree.

A few weeks ago I was at a work dinner and had the opportunity to speak with a colleagues friend about our jobs and how we got to where we are today. We spent a good amount of time on college and what we majored in and some of the same professors that we both had at the University we both attended.  This inevitably paved the way to bring up what we did after graduation.  She admitted that she is still working in the same job that she had throughout college while I went in to some detail about my ESL teaching gig overseas.  Several times throughout our conversation she made statements about how she always had wanted to do something like that but her fears of living in a foreign country, cut off from her life back home, always dissuaded her in the end.

After talking to a few more people since being back in the United States, I have seen that her fears were not entirely unique, in fact, most people that I caught up with or have met since have stated things along the same line. But what about if you can get past all that?  What does a job overseas offer you once you make the decision to jump past all the scary unknowing?  The answer is a lot.  The skills, experiences and changes I underwent during my time teaching abroad is are some of the best moments of my life.  Below are five of the most beneficial things my three years overseas taught me.

See the World

I think it goes without saying that getting this chance to see and experience a part of the world that would have previously been unattainable is one of the biggest draws of choosing to teach in an ESL environment overseas. Depending on your area of choice and your recruiter, you may be given the opportunity to teach in a rural environment. All I can say to this is, DO IT! Exclamation aside, teaching in a rural area will give you experiences and the opportunity to see and do things you never thought imaginable. While teaching in a large city definitely has its perks and ease of access to a similar lifestyle stateside, teaching in a rural area has the potential to change your life in ways you never thought possible. As an added benefit, you may be eligible for a pay incentive for teaching in a rural location.

Save Money

It’s no secret that the cost of living while abroad is significantly cheaper than it is in the United States. While this can be skewed either way depending on where you end up teaching, for the most part, school and teaching institutions will pay for your monthly rent, and perhaps also your health insurance, utilities and even a cell phone. Because of this, it is not uncommon for expats to send as much as 70-80% of their salary home each month to take care of bills and financial obligations back home. In countries like South Korea and Japan, expats also pay into a national pension which becomes available to them at the completion of their contract. This amount ends up being about 9% of the first year’s wages and about 6.7% of each subsequent year. For one year, the average expat can save about $15,000 if they are smart about their money.

Your Own Growth

I know I can speak from personal experiences that the person I was when I graduated college and the person I was when I returned home some three years later look nothing alike. Moving overseas saw me separated from a life, friends and a family that made up a huge portion of who I was as a person. Initially, the shock of losing these things was great. Everything that I grown accustomed to was ripped out from under me (albeit by choice). But what is interesting about all of this, is what happens to you when these things are gone. Redefining your life once these things are removed is a pretty spectacular thing.

Bolster Your Future

Getting a great paying job that is in line with your passions and expertise is no easy feat. With hundreds of people sometimes vying for the same position, it’s easy to feel like you are just one of the many who hold a degree in Journalism and also wrote on their school newspaper. Extra-curricular activities that you poured your soul into because you believed they would play a vital role in landing a job outside of college are often the same things that everyone else did. So how do you get ahead and stand out? Teaching abroad can certainly help. In every interview I landed since I returned from teaching overseas my experiences living abroad came up. Employers liked that I was capable of putting myself outside of my comfort zone. They like the leadership skills I developed and the organizational methods I used to keep my class organized. I went in to each one of these interviews ready to explain and detail why my time overseas makes me the best possible candidate for this job. Only two weeks of applying and a few interviews later, it worked.

Change Someone’s Life

Bring on the cheese. It may sound tacky. Completely cliché and trite, but teaching overseas really does give you the chance to change and impact someone’s life for forever. Many of the students that I taught came from affluent families who were involved in trade, business or medicine on the global level. In order for their children to reach the same amount of success as the parents, learning English becomes of the utmost importance. The person you choose to be each time you enter the classroom can make or break these student’s passions to learn a new language and enjoy the same accomplishments as their parents.

As mentioned above, each ESL teaching destination offers different salaries, housing packages and demographics of students you will be teaching. It’s important to ask your recruiter or school every question imaginable in order to make sure you are going to wind up in the best possible situation.

Ready for the next step?  There are a variety of starting points, take a look at the job forums on Dave’s ESL Café or if you’re looking into teaching in Europe head over to Oxford Seminars to look into getting the necessary TEFL credentials for your work visa.  If you're interested in Teaching English Abroad in Asia, check out all the schools where you can work and get paid on the GeoVisions website.

Tags: Teach Abroad, China, ESL-Lounge, Thailand

Help Me Teach English Abroad--Teaching In China

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Nov 14, 2012

Hi

I'm a new teacher in china and I'm looking for any materials you have available to help me better prepare lessons! I teach beginner english to elementary in preschool students.

Anthony

teach English abroad in ChinaHi Anthony,

My name is Betsy Bruneau and I am an ESL teacher here at GeoVisions.  I have worked with children of every age and even taught adult education.  It sounds like quite an exciting adventure that you've taken on.  My high school has done exchanges with Chinese high schools.  I'll have to find out where they are and let you know.

Anyway, it sounds like the children you teach are pretty young.  They are probably very sponge like and ready to absorb everything around them.  You are probably a real novelty.  I would begin by introducing yourself completely.  Show them pictures of you, your family, friends, your home town. Pick up postcards of your home state.  Show them what children their age from your home area do for fun.  Show them an elementary school.  Do a really simple comparison chart of the two places.  

I would pursue lessons in literature.  Children that young are not as inhibited as older children and handle it better when they don't pronounce something correctly.  Introduce some of your favorite children's literature.  Create story maps, new endings, prequels, etc.  You can go anywhere with children's literature.  

The other thing I would do with them would be to play games.  This makes the learning fun and anytime you are engaging them and giving directions, you are using and reinforcing good English.  Teach them games like Concentration, Hang Man, Duck Duck Goose, tag, whatever.  Teach them games that you played as a child and have them teach you games.  Have them teach you in English.  

Write me back, Anthony, and tell me what your supervisors are expecting of you.  This can help me direct you with ideas.  Also, can you please be more specific about the ages of the children you are charged with teaching.  These little bits of information will help me to help you a great deal.

I hope I helped a little bit and I look forward to hearing from you.  Have a good couple of days.

Betsy

a classroom in China teaching English abroadHi, Betsy. I teach in several different schools. The school I spend most of my time at has me teach a variety of different classes in half hour segments. The students in the school are generally between the ages of 3 and 6. There are a few classes where the students are around 8 to 11 years old.  There's no good way to prepare for this style of teaching. My materials are a set a flash cards that I'm given by the other teacher. They inform me what the class is learning today,  and I try to engage the students with the new words and new sentences, or new concepts as is the case with the older students. What I'm looking for is a toolbox that I can use on a moment's notice. Games and activities that are fun for children, and can be used with a wide variety of concepts and vocabulary.

Anthony

Dear Anthony, 

You have a perfect opportunity to play games and teach your students without them every knowing that they are learning.  Anytime you interact with them you are modeling good English.  So with your littles, play Duck, Duck, Goose and tag and four square.  Sing silly songs and read to them.  I don't know what type of resources you have available, but any children's literature can be helpful, even if it isn't your first choice.  Let me know what you have so that we can plan accordingly.

Are you able to access the flash cards before class or even the day before?  This would allow you a little time to prepare.  YOu can also focus on games with the older kids.  Try to remember songs and games from your childhood and share them with the kids.  

The ESL lounge has this great template that allows you to download games.  The games are not yet created, it is simply a template.  You can go crazy with this.  Either create your own games or have the kids create games in English for each other.  No matter the age, I have found that my students learn the most when they have to create the game or quiz themselves.  Have you checked out the ESL lounge for other resources?  There are some really good ones.

Show the kids pictures and photographs of what children their age are doing from your hometown.  Despite the age, they are interested.  Show them schools, playgrounds, geographic features, your family, etc.  Your older kids can make a t-chart comparing the two areas of the world.  

Let me know if any of this helps, Anthony.  Have fun.

Betsy

Tags: Teach Abroad, China, Help Me Teach, Teach in China

Teach English Abroad In Italy As A Summer Camp Counselor

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Oct 10, 2012

summer camp counselors teaching english in italyWho wants to go to Italy this summer?

Who wants to go to Italy and live in the hill country this summer?

Who wants to go to Italy, live in the hill country and work with young Italian kids five mornings a week at summer camp teaching English in Italy?

Who wants to go to Italy, live in the hill country, work with young Italian kids five mornings a week at summer camp teaching English in Italy, and snack away on local olives, drink fresh, local Italian wine, and eat amazing Italian food?

We thought so.

Watch this 6 minute video shot last summer in Macerata, home to our Italian summer language camp. If you aren't moved to apply for one of the last 16 spots for Summer 2013, I'm not sure what else we can do!  (We even lowered the fee by $200 from last summer...)  We need 16 more counselors to be in Italy for 1 or 2 months in Macerata next summer.  These spots are filling up FAST.

Read the reviews of returning camp counselors from summer 2012.  And we do have a 2011 video shot at the camp if you're in a video watching mood!

Portrait of Macerata from David Kong on Vimeo.

I shot this film of a small hill-town in Italy in order to give the rest of the world a taste of its enthralling natural and anthropological beauty, a simple exercise in non-narrative video technique.
The current city is over a thousand years old, built on the ruins of an ancient one, and home to one of the oldest universities in Italy.

I shot this on my T2i with Magic Lantern and the Cinestyle preset. I left most of my gear at home this trip and just brought the tiny 18-55mm kit lens, a 50mm f/1.4, a travel tripod, and a custom-built motorized slider.
Edited with Premiere Pro, Audition, After Effects, and Colorista II.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Summer Camp Counselors, Teach English In Italy

I Live With A Family In Spain And Teach Them English-Help Me Teach

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Sep 25, 2012

Each week, GeoVisions posts an actual email from a Conversation Corps tutor, a Conversation Partner or a full time teacher abroad on a GeoVisions program.  We call the series, Help Me Teach Abroad.

Our Help Me Teach desk is manned by Betsy Bruneau, a full time ESL teacher here.  She gives teaching assistance to GeoVisions' participants by phone, email and Skype.  It is a FREE service that GeoVisions provides to all of our participants and they can have access to Betsy before they depart and during the program.  If we can help you be an amazing teacher or tutor, you will be happy, your students or host family will be happy, you will tell people they should try this out and we will have a repeat family and school.  And that's how we want to roll.

Browse By Tag boxYou can find a lot of these posts by clicking on the Help Me Teach tag.  You can find that over on the right side of this screen.  The tag box looks like this one.  We will put all of our Help Me Teach posts right there.  And who knows...one of these days we'll have enough to make up our own E-Book, which of course we'll give away for FREE.

Betsy,
 
My name is Kaite and I will live with a family in Spain and teach them English, specifically in Madrid starting October 1st.  I work at a camp right now so will not really have much free time the end of August. The family I will be staying with have two children, 3 (girl) and a 5 year old boy. I checked out the ESL Lounge provided to me by GeoVisions and noticed a lot of it is for older children. I will be trying to log on quickly when I have some free time to see if they have more that I might have missed but thought I would check with you to see if you had any good hints for me to start planning. I know a lot of my time speaking with the children will be playing with them and I am checking into buying some games and having them sent directly to Madrid.
 
Any help you could offer would be great.
 
Thanks so much,

Kaite
Hi Kaite,
Teach in SpainI love the way you spell your name. Anyway, it looks like you have an exciting trip ahead of you and that you may be ahead of the game because you already work at a camp and are accustomed to being around children.

The children you will be charged with teaching are at such an ideal age and really language hungry. They are also at an age where they are probably really uninhibited about trying words and pronunciations and the like. I think that you have exactly the right idea; play with the kids. It's the best way for them to learn and they'll never even know they're doing it. I wouldn't spend too much time or money on games. I think playing games is an excellent idea.

Play games from your childhood, like Duck Duck Goose or Mother May I. Play simple card games like Concentration with fewer cards since the children are so young (actually any type of matching game is excellent). Play Hide and Seek and Tag. The whole time that you are playing with them you will be conversing which is the best way for them to learn. If I were to bring anything with me it would be Richard Scarry's Word Book. There are a few different ones. My own daughters read them far past the recommended ages because they have captivating illustrations and are very easy to understand. Another good author is Eric Carle, especially Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?

Take advantage of every interaction with the children to converse with them. So this would include when you are eating, shopping, playing, bathing, walking, etc. You are probably going to be seen as a big play mate and not a teacher, which is a nice way to be recognized. I would also go to the library with the kids and see to what books and topics they are drawn. Then try to focus your ideas and lessons on their interests. You are much more likely to keep their attention.

Also, sing with them. Basic silly songs, the alphabet song, whatever. We all learn more efficiently when we can sing it and are much more likely to remember the subject.

I can give you much more detailed and structured lessons, Kaite, but I think you have the right idea by keeping it informal. Let me know how it is going.

Betsy

Tags: Conversation Corps-Spain, Teach Abroad, Help Me Teach