Teaching Letter Sounds To Preschoolers.

Teaching letter sounds to young students is very important for their acquisition process.

Young Students at my School in Vietnam

Words With No Meaning

Imagine a toddler’s world full of symbols they see but can’t decipher. I remember when I first recognized the critical role of teaching letter sounds – that aha moment when a child connects sounds to letters is nothing short of magical. Teaching these sounds is the starting point to opening up a universe of words, a fundamental part of early learning that sets the stage for reading and spelling success.

Phonemic awareness.

The ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words is a crucial skill. I’ve seen kids need to grasp for sounds before they can read effectively. So we should teach sounds before words, in my opinion.

As a precursor to phonics, understanding letter sounds helps children in predicting how words are spelled and spoken, which is incredibly empowering for them.

And the ripple effects are vast; studies have shown time and again that strong literacy skills established in these early years have long-term academic and social benefits.

Early literacy education goes beyond the classroom. As a parent, teacher, or caregiver, you hold an incredibly vital role in a child’s literacy journey. Instilling a love for reading starts with your patience and persistence during these early stages. Teaching letter sounds can seem like a monumental task, but remember, it yields extraordinary results: confident readers and eager learners.

Embracing your role as an educator requires understanding and utilizing the right methods. These methods should never be one-size-fits-all, rather they must be personalized.

You tailor your approach based on the child’s unique learning style, interests, and pace. In the next section, we’ll explore how to create a nurturing environment that fosters this learning at home, along with practical strategies to guide your preschooler through the exciting world of letters and sounds.

Read more here about “Teaching Phonics to Young Students”

Choosing the Right Approach: Parents as Educators

In my experience, the role parents play in the early stages of a child’s education can’t be overstated. Every child is unique, and recognizing this is crucial when teaching them letter sounds. It’s all about finding what clicks for your child and nurturing that spark of comprehension.

First off, creating a learning environment at home doesn’t require a classroom setting. A comfortable corner with good lighting and access to books and learning materials would suffice. The aim is to make this space inviting and distraction-free, where concentration on learning activities can occur naturally.

Now, not all children respond to the same teaching methods. I’ve seen that firsthand. You may need to experiment with different approaches to discover what resonates with your child. Some preschoolers learn letter sounds more effectively through songs and rhymes, while others benefit from hands-on activities like letter tracing or puzzle solving.

Positive reinforcement is a game-changer. Be generous with praise and encouragement. When your child successfully learns a new letter sound, celebrate that achievement. It could be a high five, a sticker, or an extra story at bedtime. These rewards reinforce their success and motivate them to keep learning.

I’d say the most important thing is to be patient and persistent. Consistency is key, even if progress seems slow. Regular, short sessions are better than infrequent, longer ones which can tire a young child out and lead to frustration.

Above all, remember that learning should be joyful. When you’re enthusiastic about teaching letter sounds, your child will adopt the same attitude. This love for learning can lead to a seamless transition into engaging activities that further enhance their understanding, which I’ll discuss in the next section.

Also, check out “How to teach ESL to Kids”

Engaging Activities to Teach Letter Sounds to Preschoolers

As a parent or educator, you know that active engagement is the key to making learning resonate with preschoolers. Imagine replacing a traditional classroom approach with interactive games and activities that make the alphabet come alive for the little ones.

One effective tool is to transform learning into play. You might use colorful flashcards or felt letters to craft games that match sounds to symbols. Or consider engaging activities such as ‘letter sound hide and seek,’ where children find objects that start with a specific letter.

In this digital age, technology is a supportive ally. Smartly chosen apps and educational videos can be brilliant resources to help young minds grasp phonics. Look for apps that are specifically designed for preschoolers and focus on phonics fundamentals. Remember to supervise screen time and intersperse tech activities with hands-on learning.

Don’t overlook the power of embedding education into the fabric of everyday life. Encourage your child to listen for the beginning sounds of items you encounter on a trip to the grocery store, or create a bedtime story ritual that emphasizes the sounds of specific letters.

Monitoring Progress and Overcoming Challenges

When I teach letter sounds to preschoolers, I follow through with monitoring their progress. This not only helps me understand how well they are grasping the concepts, but it also indicates when I might need to adjust my methods.

I set realistic milestones tailored to their pace of learning. For example, recognizing the sounds of the first few alphabets might be an initial goal. This approach alleviates pressure and helps build confidence in children.

Addressing common difficulties is another aspect I focus on. I have strategies in place for when a child struggles with a particular sound, like breaking it down further or using different learning aids.

Finally

Understanding when to seek additional support is crucial. Consider consulting with early education specialists or speech therapists if consistent efforts don’t yield progress. They can provide expert advice and resources tailored to each child’s needs.

Steve


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

EFL Student Warm Up Questions.

Warm up questions are important to get your students thinking about speaking in English in the ESL classroom.

Teach ESL Talking

You must become an expert in teaching conversational skills if you want to help your students become better speakers. You must be able to encourage your students to talk, guide the discussion along, offer constructive criticism, and make everything seem natural. Additionally, you need interesting subjects, which is what this tutorial is all about.

Knowing what to discuss with students is one of the challenges a teacher may encounter. When you realize that only five minutes have passed after finishing your conversation about the daily topic or lesson, what do you do?

Selecting a specific topic for a class is a wonderful idea. After you have that subject, proceed through the questions, making an effort to get the students to talk as much as they can.

Basic Questions for ESL Learners

Here is a list of questions to warm up your students and get them thinking in English. I always like to start a lesson with 30 minutes of talking, using games if it is age-appropriate. More on games with links later.

Also check out the ESL teacher survival guide on Amazon, downloadable or paperback version. About $22.00 US for Kindle and $25.00 for paperback. Go the download… Your Special Amazon Link.

ESL survival guide

School.

  1. Do you like school?
  2. What is your favorite subject?
  3. What is your least favorite subject?
  4. Who is your favorite teacher?
  5. Why do people have to go to school?
  6. Do you like homework?
  7. What would you do if you were the headteacher?
  8. How could schools be more fun?
  9. How long are the summer holidays?
  10. Can you learn and have fun at the same time?

Family

  1. How many people are in your family?
  2. Who are they?
  3. What job does your dad do?
  4. What job does your mum do?
  5. Who cooks in your family?
  6. Is your family important to you?
  7. Which is more important, friends or family?
  8. Who is the weirdest person in your family?
  9. Are families less important nowadays than in the past?
  10. What would happen if we didn’t have families?

Home

  1. Where do you live?
  2. What is there to do in your city?
  3. What is your place like?
  4. What is your neighborhood like?
  5. Are there any parks near where you live?
  6. Have you ever lived elsewhere?
  7. How many rooms does your place have?
  8. If you moved, where would you like to live?
  9. Would you prefer to live in the city or country?
  10. Would you like to live abroad?

Learning English.

  1. Do you enjoy speaking English?
  2. What is the best way to improve your speaking?
  3. What is the best way to improve your listening?
  4. What is the best way to improve your vocabulary?
  5. What is the best way to improve your writing?
  6. What is the most difficult part of learning English?
  7. How is English different from your language?
  8. How can you be a good conversationalist?
  9. Do you read English books?
  10. Do you watch English videos?

Everyday Life

  1. What is your daily routine on weekdays?
  2. How do you usually spend your weekends?
  3. What is your favorite meal of the day? Why?
  4. How do you usually travel to work or school?
  5. What is your favorite season and why?
  6. What’s your favorite local restaurant or café?
  7. What is your favorite way to relax after a long day?
  8. What is one thing you can’t live without? Why?
  9. How often do you go shopping for groceries or clothes?
  10. What’s something you want to learn how to do?

Travel and Culture

  1. Have you ever traveled to a foreign country? What was your experience like?
  2. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go and why?
  3. What is the most interesting cultural festival or event you have attended or heard of?
  4. How does the cuisine in your country differ from that in other countries you know about?
  5. Can you describe a traditional outfit or costume from your culture?
  6. What are some customs or traditions from your culture that others might find surprising?
  7. What cultural differences have you noticed between your country and others?
  8. Is there a language you would love to learn? Why?
  9. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen in your travels?
  10. How do you think traveling affects a person’s view of the world?

Hypothetical Situations

  1. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why?
  2. If you could live in any era of history, when would you choose and why?
  3. If you had a superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it?
  4. What would you do if you won a million dollars?
  5. If you could have dinner with any person from history, who would it be and why?
  6. If you could instantly learn any skill, what would it be?
  7. Imagine you’re stranded on a deserted island. What three items would you want to have with you?
  8. If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be and why?
  9. What would your perfect day look like?
  10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

There are hundreds of questions you can think up and these are examples only. Make sure you use age and culture-appropriate questions. You know your students, so tailor the questions to their age and skill level.

Also mixing them up in games is a great way to engage your students. If you are serious about ESL you should be building a resource bank and the books I have suggested are a basic staple, invest in your profession.

Games You Can Play.

You can get 101 games to play in an ESL classroom for as little as $10 or on kindle unlimited $0. Check it out NOW at Amazon. Downloadable instantly.

Kindle amazon

  1. Two Truths and a Lie: Participants state two true facts and one false fact about themselves. The rest of the class tries to guess which one is the lie.
  2. Role-play Conversations: Create scenarios (like ordering in a restaurant, asking for directions, etc.) where multiple students must act out a conversation in pairs or small groups.
  3. Picture Storytelling: Show a random picture and ask students to create a story around it. This can be done individually or in groups.
  4. Charades with Vocabulary: Students act out a word without speaking while others guess. Focus on new vocabulary or themes you’re studying.
  5. Find Someone Who: Prepare a list of statements (e.g., “Find someone who has visited another country”). Students must find classmates who match these statements.
  6. Word Association Game: Start with one word, and each student quickly says a word associated with the previous one. This can be tailored to the lesson’s vocabulary.
  7. Sentence Building Race: Give students a set of words and challenge them to create the longest, grammatically correct sentence.
  8. Cultural Exchange: Students share something about their culture or country, fostering cross-cultural understanding and conversation.
  9. ‘What’s in the Bag?’ Game: Place several objects in a bag. Students reach in, feel an object, and describe it (without looking) to the class.
  10. Alphabet Story: Create a story where each sentence begins with the following letter of the alphabet. Each student adds a sentence.
  11. Memory Challenge: Display a list of words for a minute. Hide them and then ask students to recall as many words as possible.
  12. Pictionary with Vocabulary Words: Similar to charades, but students draw the word instead of acting it out.
  13. Taboo Words: Give a student a word to describe without using a list of commonly associated words (e.g., describe “snow” without saying “cold,” “white,” or “winter”).
  14. Opinion Polls: Present a statement and ask students to move to areas of the room based on their opinion (agree, disagree, unsure). They then discuss their reasons.
  15. ESL Bingo: Create bingo cards with different characteristics or experiences. Students mingle to find classmates who match the squares and form a bingo.

And check out my blog, ESL Games for Adults.

Why Asking Questions is Important.

Asking questions to ESL (English as a Second Language) students is important for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to assess their understanding of the material being taught. By asking questions, teachers can gauge the students’ comprehension and identify areas that may need further explanation or practice.

Secondly, asking questions encourages ESL students to actively participate in the learning process. It can help them practice their English language skills, such as speaking and listening, and build their confidence in using the language.

Additionally, asking questions allows teachers to tailor their instruction to meet the specific needs of ESL students. It provides an opportunity to address any confusion or misconceptions that may arise during the learning process.

Teaching Online.

Final Thoughts.

Asking questions to ESL students is a valuable tool for promoting engagement, assessing understanding, and providing targeted support to help them succeed in learning English.

Don’t fall back on textbooks for teaching, use the resources of your brain and make better English speakers of your students.


My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL for over 15 years and have my own school. I also place teachers across Vietnam into both private and public schools. I am also the author and owner of this website.

You can check out my school on the YouTube link below.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

My name is Stephen and if you want to find work as a teacher in Vietnam, I can help. That’s what I do. Bringing the world together one step at a time.

 

 

The Best Travel Cameras

Halong Bay is one of the wonders of the world.

Cameras for Recording Memories.

When you’re embarking on an adventure, capturing those moments is precious, whether it’s the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City or the serene landscapes of Halong Bay.

This isn’t just about snapping pictures; it’s also about retaining memories that’ll last a lifetime. That’s where a suitable travel camera comes in, turning fleeting moments into tangible keepsakes. You want to choose a camera that doesn’t weigh you down yet delivers high-quality images that are sharp, vibrant, and full of life.

The quest isn’t solely for the lightest or the most feature-packed camera; it’s about finding the perfect balance that suits your needs. Portability is great, but not at the expense of image quality. You’re going to find out about various options that combine the best of both worlds, providing remarkable pictures without the bulk associated with professional equipment.

I’m here to help you figure out what clicks for your style of travel photography. Are you an avid adventurer needing something rugged and waterproof? Or maybe a city explorer who prioritizes style and ease of use? It’s also crucial to choose a camera that can be ready at a moment’s notice—because travel is full of fast-moving, spontaneous opportunities that wait for no one.

Once we’ve discussed what to look for in terms of usability and performance, we’ll transition to the next section. There, I’ll introduce you to the top contenders in the travel camera category. You’ll get a rundown of the latest models, a comparison of their standout features, and insights from both users and professionals to help guide your investment. So if you’ve ever wondered if there’s one camera that can handle all your travel needs, guess what? There are several, and I’m going to show you exactly how to pick the one tailor-made for you.

Top Contenders for the Best Travel Cameras of the Year

Now, let’s zero in on some specific models that are making waves as the best travel cameras on the market this year. I’m going to break them down by category and use case, so you can find out about the optimal choice for your adventures.

I’ve taken a close look at the key features you care about the most. We’re talking zoom capabilities for capturing distant details, low-light performance for those dimly lit alleyways and fabled sunsets, and, of course, battery life because who wants to be chained to an outlet when there’s so much to explore?

You’ll benefit from a mix of user reviews and professional opinions that I’ve curated. These insights come from seasoned travelers and top photographers who’ve put these cameras to the test in all sorts of environments. This isn’t just about rattling off specs; it’s also about how these cameras perform in the wild—the real world where you’ll be using them.

And to wrap things up, I’ll spotlight the cameras that offer the best value for money. Choose something that resonates with you, without breaking the bank. Rest assured, there’s a camera out there that’s a perfect traveling companion for your pocket and your passion for photography.

My Top 3 Travel Cameras

Panasonic Lumix.

These are a great camera. I have had one for a few years and they take great shots and you have a lot of options from auto shooting to shooting raw. Well worth the money, and it fits in your pocket. And as you can see it comes with a Leica lens. Who can ask for more at this price?

I used this for vlogging before I bought the Sony camera. But I would say for portability, this is better.

$399.00 for a great camera. Click the “Amazon” link to buy.

Specifications.

  • POINT-AND-SHOOT CAMERA: Large, 1-inch 20.1-megapixel MOS sensor plus 10X zoom LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens (25-250mm) and HYBRID O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) delivers brighter, more colorful photos with fewer image artifacts.Battery Voltage/capacity: 7.2 V/1025 mAh. Microphones: Stereo.
  • EYE-LEVEL ELECTRONIC VIEWFINDER AND LCD DISPLAY: High-resolution 1,166k-dot viewfinder and rear touch-enabled 3-inch LCD (1040K dots) are clear even in bright sunlight
  • 4K VIDEO CAPTURE: 4K QFHD video recording (3840 x 2160), plus exclusive LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus with internal Focus Stacking allows you to record photos up to 30fps and set your desired focus points after the photo has been taken
  • LENS-MOUNTED CONTROL RING: Manual lens-mounted control ring brings DSLR-like exposure control to a compact point-and-shoot camera body; Temperature: 23 °C (73.4 °F) / Humidity: 50% RH when the monitor is on.
  • USB CHARGING AND WI-FI CONNECTIVITY: Enjoy travel-ready technologies like USB charging and Wi-Fi connectivity to your mobile device; micro-HDMI type D (3) and USB 2.0 micro-B provide additional connectivity to your favorite devices

Panasonic LumixSony Alpha.

An amazing camera that I have been using for all my more professional shots. A devastatingly good camera that will last you a lifetime. A great build with a myriad of resources. The great thing about this camera is it has interchangeable lenses. If you are serious about a good shot, this is the one for you.

$848..00 for an amazing camera. Click the “Amazon link to buy.

Specifications.

  • 20.1MP stacked back-illuminated 1″ Exmor RS CMOS sensor w/ DRAM, large aperture 24-70mm1 F1.8-2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens
  • Enhanced subject capture: wide 425 Phase/ 425 contrast detection points over 84 percent of the sensor
  • Fast and accurate: Up to 11Fps continuous shooting at 24.2 MP raw with crisp, clear natural colors
  • Multiple movie functions: Make time-lapse movies or slow/quick motion videos without post-processing
  • Tiltable LCD screen: customizable for vlogging, still photography or recording a professional film
  • In the box: rechargeable battery (NP FW50) AC adaptor (ac uud12), shoulder strap, body cap, accessory shoe cap, eyepiece cup, and micro USB cable. Metering Type: 1200 zone evaluative metering.
Sony Alpha

Kodak Pixpro.

If you like taking surfing shots or even underwater shots, this is for you. It is dustproof, waterproof, and shockproof. And it comes in at an amazing $149.00. Also, it is a full HD video blogging camera. 16 megapixels and a 4x optical zoom. I have used one and they are simple to use with excellent results.

$149..00 for a freakishly good camera. Click the “Amazon link to buy. This is a great buy and the best value for money.

Specifications.

  • Waterproof to 15m (49′) – 2m (6′) Shockproof Rating – Dustproof
  • WiFi Connectivity – 1080P Full HD Video – Vlogging Camera
  • 16 MegaPixel BSI CMOS Sensor – 4X Optical Zoom – Digital Image Stabilization
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery – 2.7″ LCD Screen
  • SD Card Compatibility: At least Class 4, no larger than 32GB (microSD, microSDHC) – MMC Card not supported
  • What’s In the Box: WPZ2 Camera, Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery, USB Cable, AC Adapter, Wrist Strap, Quick Start Guide, warranty card, and service card

Kodak Pixpro

Three Smartphones with Great Cameras.

If you like traveling light and only want to take your phone, these are my top 3 smartphones.

The One Plus Nord.

It comes with a 108-megapixel camera. The photos are great and you can share them immediately. $249.00 unlocked.

Find out more info on this Amazon link.

Samsung Galaxy A25

This comes with an advanced triple-camera system that shoots great photos. I had one of these for a while and the pictures are great. $264.00 unlocked on sale now.

Find out more info on this Amazon link.

Motorola Moto

An underrated phone with a great 50-megapixel camera. For the budget price of $129.99, you get a great camera phone with all the portability and service you need.

$129.00 unlocked with a 35% discount on sale NOW.

Find out more info on this Amazon link. What can I say, The best value for money.

Travel Photography Tips: Getting the Most from Your Camera

So you’ve picked up one of the top travel cameras. Great! But owning a good camera is just the beginning. I’m here to help you get the most out of it. After all, it’s not only the camera that matters but how you use it. Let’s jump into some photography tips that’ll take your travel snapshots to the next level.

First up, it’s crucial to have a grasp of basic photography principles. You’re going to find out about composition rules like the rule of thirds, which is about dividing your shot into a 3×3 grid and placing your subject off-center for a more engaging photo. Remember, these guidelines aren’t set in stone, but they’re a solid starting point.

Lighting can either be your best ally or your biggest foe in photography. I recommend chasing the golden hours—shortly after sunrise or before sunset—when the light is soft and warm. This kind of lighting adds an almost magical touch to your pictures without needing any fancy editing.

As much as the camera does significant heavy lifting, there’s a bunch of accessories that can add some kick to your pictures. Think about getting a sturdy travel tripod for those evening cityscapes, or invest in an extra memory card so you never run out of space at a critical moment.

Lastly

Let’s talk about protecting your gear. A good camera bag ( Amazon Link) is your first line of defense against bumps and scratches. And don’t skimp on things like lens cleaning kits and rain covers. When it comes to photographs themselves, back them up regularly. Whether you prefer cloud storage or an external hard drive, make sure your precious memories aren’t just stored in one place.

Just don’t focus too much on perfection. The aim is to capture the moment and the feelings that come with it. Your first attempt doesn’t need to be your last, and you can always adjust your approach down the road. I hope that these pointers help you enhance those wonderful travel stories you’re ready to tell through your lens.

And don’t buy the cheapest camera out there. You only get what you pay for. Buy cheap and your travel memories will reflect the quality of the camera. You have splashed out to travel, so don’t skimp on your memories.

Steve


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Tips For Teaching English Online.

This will help you if you are an English teacher teaching online.

Knowing your Students. 

Knowing your students makes all the difference.

And the first step is to introduce yourself and learn your students names, however difficult they may be to pronounce. You may want to introduce nicknames if you can’t master the tones of their language.

When you teach English online, you encounter learners from diverse backgrounds with unique needs. You’ll want to understand these differences and tailor your teaching strategies accordingly. For instance, some students might be visual learners while others prefer auditory methods or hands-on activities.

This brings us to the next piece of the puzzle: your virtual classroom. Creating an environment that’s both welcoming and conducive to learning is key. This isn’t just about having a stable internet connection or using a quality webcam; it’s also about the digital tools and platforms you choose. From whiteboard apps to interactive quizzes, the right tech can transform a lesson from mundane to memorable.

Now, let’s talk about cultural sensitivity. You’re going to be engaging with students from around the globe, and each one of them comes from a rich cultural tapestry that shapes their learning perspective. Understanding and respecting these differences are not just professional; they’re essential to creating an inclusive and effective learning experience.

I’m here to help you make those connections between students’ backgrounds and their learning processes. By doing so, you’ll be setting them—and yourself—up for a much more enriching educational journey.

So what comes after setting this foundation for success? You guessed it: engaging them with effective teaching techniques, which is exactly what we’re going to explore next.

Engaging and Effective Teaching Techniques

I’m going to share a secret with you: the best English teachers are magicians. They transform the screen into a stage and captivate their audience with words. How do they do it? Interactive tools, storytelling, and adaptive feedback are their wands.

First up, interactive tools and resources make a huge difference. I’m talking about quizzes, polls, and games that students can participate in real time.

These are not just fun; they’re essential for keeping attention spans hooked. Use platforms like Kahoot! or Quizlet to create dynamic learning sessions that feel like play.

QuizletStorytelling

That brings us to storytelling. Stories carry the power to transport us to different worlds, and they can do the same for your students. Introduce a complex grammatical structure within the context of a captivating tale. You’re going to find out that narrative context makes abstract concepts much more digestible.

Feedback.

I can’t stress enough how important feedback is. This isn’t just about correcting errors. it’s also about praising efforts and guiding students toward self-improvement. Strive for a balance of positive reinforcement and constructive critique. Remember, feedback is a two-way street, encourage students to give their thoughts on lessons as well.

Choose techniques that resonate with you, because your passion will shine through and enhance the learning experience. And don’t worry too much about each session being perfect; teaching is a journey, and you can always adjust your approach down the road.

You can find some of the best FREE online tools here. Free OnlineTools

Sustaining Motivation and Retention.

Keeping students motivated in an online English class can be just as challenging as the teaching itself. But don’t worry too much about it.

I have some strategies that I use that will help you sustain your students’ motivation and thus increase retention over time.

Goal setting with students is more than just a buzzword. it’s a practical way to steer their learning journey. You’re going to find out about the effectiveness of setting clear, achievable objectives that align with their ambitions. This isn’t just about learning English; it’s also about connecting the language skills to their future success.

Building a community online might seem like a lofty goal, but it’s achievable with the right approach. Choose something that resonates with you, whether it’s group projects, discussion forums, or virtual coffee breaks. These approaches foster a sense of belonging and can turn a disparate group of online learners into a tight-knit community.

Lastly

Your first attempt doesn’t need to be your last when it comes to keeping lessons fresh. Just don’t focus too much on perfection. A lot is happening very quickly in the world of online education, and there’s a lot of opportunity to experiment with new content and teaching methods.

Adaptability is your friend here; you can always adjust your approach down the road.

My name is Steve, hope this helps.

If you like this check out my blogs on speech -to -script and script-to-speech tools on my YouTube site.

youtube link

Please support me on Ko-Fi so I can continue to bring you FREE resources like this.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Please give me your thoughts, what do you think? Good or bad. Leave a comment below.

TET Vietnam Holiday 2024, A Good Time or Not?

TET In Vietnam 2024.

After living in Vietnam now for 16 plus years I think I am pretty qualified to let you know what TET is like in Vietnam.

From the firecrackers one year that sounded like machine guns (Or were they machine guns) to the cleaning of the house to appease the spirits, or the wife, to the utter boredom of eating pork and eggs until you hate pigs. lol.

This is what it is like over TET in Vietnam.

First What is TET?

You might have heard of the TET offensive, this is when the USA got their butt kicked.

Basically, with a bit of help from AI, this is what it was about. A mixture of butt-kicking and lunar new year.

The Vietnam War.

During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese forces launched a significant military operation known as the Tet Offensive against both the South Vietnamese and the Americans12. On January 31, 1968, the first day of Tet, the lunar new year, it started.

Over 100 South Vietnamese cities and outposts were simultaneously attacked. The goal of the offensive was to undermine American support for the war and incite a rebellion among South Vietnamese citizens.

And it worked. sadly so many good people on both sides died on this day and days before this. I am not trying to be flippant, but it was a terrible time for so many people. It is time we laid it to rest. I salute all.

Now All is Forgotten

Some of the older people remember the war, but Vietnam is predominately a young persons nation and they have forgotten and don’t care as much. But they are still respectful.

They are more interested in V-pop, K-pop, or Techno. Their aspirations are similar to Western culture however they are a lot more family-orientated.

This brings us to, what is it like now.

Vietnam TET 2024.

Now let us get into the good stuff. What is it like now and is Vietnam worth visiting over TET?

Yes and no. Let me explain.

When is TET

It changes with the lunar new year so even the kids do not know. And I am not sure if the adults do as well, lol.

But generally, it is in the first or second week of February. I’ve been here so long and still do not know the exact date, damn I am becoming Vietnamese.

What is TET About?

TET is generally about family but there are traditions you need to abide by. For example, wait till you are invited to see someone as it is important who walks through the door first. If you are not invited and just roll in, then it may be viewed as bad luck for the hosts.

And don’t sweep the dirt out of the house on TET because you will be sweeping out money. Love that, another excuse not to clean the house.

TET starts slow as everyone prepares and buys food and flowers. Much like the pictures above. And the video below.

A year or so ago, but the same stuff, damn almost said Krap.

When you do get to someone’s house, what do you do? Drink beer (Don’t pass out) , and wine and eat an enormous amount of food. When drinking you will commonly hear Morb, hai, ba YO. Which is basically 1,2,3 ..drink. And you might hear something that sounds like “chum a chum”, which means drink your whole glass of beer.

This is a Normal TET for me.

Tomorrow we start with this healthy stuff. I promise it will go downhill from here.

A swim, yippee.

Location: You’ll find it at 48/10 Dien Bien Phu Street, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District.

Operating Hours: The pool is accessible to the public from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m

Entrance Fees:

Weekdays (Monday-Friday):

Adults: VND 70,000

Children: VND 40,000

Weekends (Saturday and Sunday):

Adults: VND 80,000

Children: VND 50,000

What Is My Plan?

Drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll, NO, I can’t say that.. let’s be serious…

Back to normality, we need to take the kids home first.

No Teaching for 2 weeks is a bonus so what is next….hehe…

Next is… Reality

A more family-orientated activity.

Clean the House.

Everyone goes on a cleaning binge and wash the floors, take down and wash the fans and if it is dirty…it gets cleaned.

This is the one time everything is spotless. I try to hide and drink beer all day and pretend I am working on my website.

Pork and Eggs

If you have been in Vietnam for longer than two TET holidays you will know about “pork and eggs”. It is a staple food source over these holidays and the first year I spent with my Vietnamese family I ate it for 5 days straight.

To say I am over it is an understatement. This is what it looks like.

Pork and EggsBuying Flowers

Buying some flowers. everyone must spend money on flowers to leave outside their doors.

Here are 7 of the most popular flowers used during Tet in Vietnam, with their Vietnamese names and meanings:

  • Apricot blossom (Hoa Mai): A symbol of spring and the Lunar New Year, apricot blossoms are often used to decorate homes and businesses during this time. They are believed to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year.
  • Peach blossom (Hoa Đào): Another symbol of spring, peach blossoms are also associated with beauty and love. They are often given as gifts during Tet to express good wishes for the new year.
  • Kumquat tree (Cây Quất): Kumquat trees are small, citrus trees that are often decorated with red kumquats during Tet. They are believed to bring good luck and prosperity, and they also symbolize wealth and abundance.
  • Daisy (Cúc Mẫu Đơn): Daisies are a popular choice for Tet decorations because they are simple and elegant. They are also associated with purity and innocence, which are qualities that are valued during the Lunar New Year.
  • Marigold (Cúc Vạn Thọ): Marigolds are often used in religious ceremonies and are a symbol of good luck. They are also believed to ward off evil spirits, making them a popular choice for Tet decorations.
  • Orchid (Hoa Lan): Orchids are considered to be a symbol of elegance and sophistication. They are often given as gifts during Tet to express good wishes for the new year.
  • Chrysanthemum (Hoa Cúc): Chrysanthemums are associated with longevity and happiness. They are often used in Tet decorations to bring good luck and prosperity to the home.

These are the favorites and normally sit outside the gates of the house to the left or right. And they are never stolen, although I have been tempted. After TET most are thrown away apart from the very expensive ones which are then sometimes sent back to a farm to look after.

TET Superstitions.

TET is accompanied by some superstitions and traditions believed to bring good luck and ward off bad fortune. Here are some common superstitions observed during the TET holiday in Vietnam:

Cleaning before TET.

It is believed that cleaning the house before TET can sweep away the bad luck of the previous year and make room for good fortune in the coming year. However, cleaning during the TET period itself is avoided, as it is believed to sweep away the good luck.

Avoid black and white clothing.

Wearing black or white clothes during TET is considered inauspicious, as these colors are associated with mourning and funerals in Vietnamese culture. Instead, bright and vibrant colors, especially red and yellow, are preferred to attract good luck and prosperity. Although this is now considered old fashioned with younger people.

Money and giving lucky envelopes.

It is customary to exchange red envelopes, known as “lì xì” or “mừng tuổi,” during TET. These envelopes contain lucky money, which is believed to bring good luck and blessings for the new year. New money is best to give with fresh crisp notes.

Avoiding borrowing and lending.

Vietnamese people believe that borrowing or lending money during TET can bring financial difficulties in the coming year. It is considered better to settle any debts before TET and avoid engaging in monetary transactions during the holiday period.

Firecrackers and loud noises.

Firecrackers used to be a common part of TET celebrations in Vietnam, as the loud noises were believed to scare away evil spirits and bad luck. However, due to safety concerns, firecrackers are now largely prohibited.Apart from a couple of years ago when someone in my area set off firecrackers that sounded like a machine gun. Damn.

First visitor of the year.

The first visitor to a house after midnight on New Year’s Eve is considered significant. The belief is that the first guest can determine the luck and prosperity of the household for the entire year. Usually, a respected and successful person is chosen as the first visitor to bring good fortune.

These are just a few examples of the many superstitions and traditions associated with TET in Vietnam. So was I lucky this year. Read below.

What Happened to Me this TET.

All my good intentions of going to District 1 to look at the flowers and walk around and video for this blog went out the window. How did this happen?

My Vietnamese wifes friend invited us to her shop to drink beer and eat. The food was amazing and the company was great. My wifes boyfriend is a policeman and a big drinker and a big guy. Also very funny.

Unfortunately after drinking about 15 beers, he brought out the whisky. It laid me low for 3 days. but this is what happens over TET and you have to roll with the flow.

All in all, I did have a great TET but did miss out on the flowers in District 1. Walking around with thousands of others….hmmm.

If You Were in Hanoi

You would have seen this amazing show. The video is a live drone show in Hanoi during the New Year festival, showcasing a spectacular display of drones in a 4K60 HDR format. Amazing.

And in Ho Chi Minh City

And if you were in Ho Chi Minh City, this is what you would have seen.

Hanoi is the capital and there is also some leftover animosity so I am sure the funding is not the same.

However, every city and town has its own TET celebrations and each is special in its own way.

Final Words

I hope you liked a look at what Vietnam has to offer and the experiences you can have if you come here to work as a teacher.

So is TET fun and a good time to visit? Vietnam is never boring but be prepared for a lot of shops to be closed over the official TET holiday.

Steve


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There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

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Addressing Cultural Differences In ESL Teaching

Vietnam views

Don’t Be Offensive.

I’m going to be talking about why cultural sensitivity isn’t just a bonus in ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching; it’s a necessity. Imagine you’ve got a classroom bubbling with students from Brazil to Bhutan, navigating not only a new language but also a new cultural milieu. The way you handle cultural diversity can make or break their language acquisition journey.

Cultural differences influence how students interpret language cues and classroom dynamics. For instance, notions of politeness, directness, or even humor vary drastically from one culture to another. Recognizing these differences helps in tailoring teaching methods that don’t just communicate language, but also respect and celebrate individual cultural identities.

Creating an inclusive learning environment goes a long way. It boosts confidence, fosters mutual respect, and makes the classroom a welcoming space for everyone. This isn’t just my opinion; there’s ample evidence from educational research that demonstrates how inclusivity can spur student engagement and improve language retention.

Take a look at some case studies and you’re going to find out about schools where teachers have embraced cultural diversity with outstanding results. From using bilingual assistants to celebrate language days, strategies that incorporate cultural elements into the ESL curriculum have been shown to significantly enhance student participation and performance.

Now, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty of communication. How do we, as ESL educators, facilitate a more nuanced understanding of the language that goes beyond mere grammar and vocabulary? Well, that’s going to include an exploration of non-verbal communication and cultural nuances, which is exactly what we’ll dive into in the next section.

Breaking Language Barriers: Communication Beyond Words

When it comes to teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), there’s much more to consider than grammar rules and vocabulary lists. If you’re an ESL teacher, you’re going to find out about the significance of non-verbal communication and cultural nuances, which are just as crucial as the words used in conversation.

Cultural expression is a huge part of how we communicate, and it’s often overlooked in language education. In my opinion, as an educator, you must balance the technical aspects of language teaching with activities that immerse students in the cultural subtleties of English. This is where the use of culturally relevant materials comes into play. Whether it’s through literature, film, or music, exposing students to a variety of media can help them pick up on idiomatic expressions and societal norms.

Role-playing is another fantastic tool. By simulating real-life scenarios, students get a chance to practice their language skills in a context that mirrors the diverse cultural situations they might encounter. In other words, they’re learning to read the room, not just the textbook. This includes understanding body language, personal space, etiquette, and humor, all of which vary widely across cultures.

So, what’s next? It’s critical to weave these insights seamlessly into the very fabric of your curriculum—that’s going to include designing lesson plans that resonate culturally with your students. That’s what I’m going to cover next, giving you practical tips to integrate cultural competence into your everyday teaching, ensuring your students are not just linguistically prepared, but also culturally attuned.

Curriculum Design: Integrating Cultural Competency in Lesson Plans

When you set out to create lesson plans for your ESL classroom, you’re not just shaping grammar and vocabulary lessons; you’re designing experiences that should resonate with every student, regardless of their cultural background. That’s going to include a variety of tasks to ensure that each individual feels accounted for and understood.

Designing culturally responsive teaching materials requires a blend of creativity and insight. It’s all about making sure that examples, topics, and activities reflect the diverse world we live in. Texts, videos, and images representing a spectrum of cultures can make lessons more engaging and relatable.

Adapting curriculum shouldn’t be a one-off effort. It is a dynamic process that involves regular revisions based on your students’ feedback and the latest pedagogical research. This ensures the materials remain relevant and sensitive to the evolving cultural landscape.

Incorporating cultural celebrations and traditions from the students’ home countries can bring a real-world context to abstract language concepts. Imagine celebrating the Chinese New Year or Diwali in class—I’ve seen it ignite students’ enthusiasm and provide a shared experience for language practice.

But remember, continuous professional development is key. Engage in ongoing cultural competency training. This not only broadens your own global awareness but equips you with the latest strategies to handle diverse classrooms effectively.

You can always adjust your approach down the road by staying responsive to both your students’ cultural needs and the latest teaching methodologies. The ultimate goal here is to construct a learning environment that not only teaches English but also fosters cross-cultural understanding.

Here is a lot more about “Lesson Plans and Free Stuff”

Fostering Inclusive Classrooms: Strategies and Best Practices

I’m here to help you with a few strategies and best practices that can transform your ESL classroom into a hub of inclusivity. It’s not just about acknowledging the mix of cultures but actively promoting an atmosphere where every student feels valued and heard.

In my opinion, the role of the teacher is paramount in cultivating an inclusive space. This involves being proactive in addressing any biases, ensuring equity in student participation, and being open to continuous learning about different cultures.

You’re going to find out about techniques like setting ground rules for respectful communication and regularly checking in with students to understand their perspectives. It’s crucial to make room for students to share their cultural backgrounds and experiences as part of the learning process.

If you want to effectively manage culturally sensitive scenarios, it begins with education. Equip yourself with knowledge about potential cultural conflicts and have plans in place to navigate these with sensitivity and respect.

Peer learning and collaborative projects are instrumental in bridging cultural gaps. Choose activities that encourage students to work together, learning from each other’s strengths and cultural insights.

Learn more here about “How to Teach English in Vietnam”

Finally,

You can always adjust your approach down the road, based on the measurement of success. Assessing cultural awareness growth among students is essential. Use reflective journals, feedback sessions, and inclusive practice surveys to gauge the classroom’s progress toward cultural competency.

Steve


 

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

ESL Grammar Activities For Teachers

Grammar is the Cornerstone of Language.

I’m going to kick things off by addressing why grammar is the cornerstone of language acquisition for ESL learners. Without a solid grasp of grammar, students may struggle to communicate effectively or be misunderstood, which can lead to a lack of confidence. That’s why it’s imperative for you, as an ESL teacher, to have a strong command of essential grammar rules.

You’re going to find out about the common hurdles you might encounter when teaching grammar. It’s not unusual to face a classroom with diverse language backgrounds or students with varying levels of proficiency. Each student might have unique challenges with different grammatical concepts, and your job is to navigate these waters skillfully.

This isn’t just about memorizing rules; it’s also about understanding how these rules apply to real-world communication. Approaching grammar teaching with a student-first mindset means tailoring examples and exercises to be relevant to students’ lives and interests. It’s about fostering an environment where grammar isn’t daunting but rather a tool for unlocking the full potential of the English language.

Choose techniques that resonate with your teaching style and your students’ learning preferences. Introduce grammar in a way that’s engaging and thought-provoking, ensuring that your lessons stick. That’s the strategy I like to leverage to transform grammar from a feared subject into an approachable one.

In the upcoming section, ‘Fundamental Grammar Building Blocks,’ we’re going to cover the indispensable parts of speech, sentence structure, verb tenses, and subject-verb agreement. Just remember, your first attempt at introducing these concepts doesn’t need to be flawless. It’s a learning curve for both you and your students. Let’s prepare to lay down the foundation for building strong grammar skills.

Fundamental Grammar Building Blocks

You’re going to find out about the core elements of English grammar in this section. Think of grammar as the scaffold that supports language construction; without a firm grasp of these basics, students’ language abilities may remain shaky.

Parts of Speech.

I’m going to start by discussing parts of speech because they’re the foundation of every sentence. Nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections each play a critical role, and they need to be taught early on in ESL education for optimal understanding.

Sentence Structure.

Next up is sentence structure. Crafting sentences that are both clear and grammatically correct is a cornerstone of language learning. I’ll talk about the importance of subject-predicate construction, the use of objects, and how phrases and clauses fit together to convey precise meanings.

Tense Consistency.

I’ll also dive into tense consistency, teaching you how to guide students in using the past, present, and future tenses effectively. ESL learners often struggle with the concept of time in English, so I recommend adopting a consistent approach, using timelines and real-world examples to elucidate this topic.

Verb Agreement.

Finally, I’ll cover subject-verb agreement, because it’s crucial. Whether a subject is singular or plural, the verb must agree. This isn’t just about memorizing rules; it’s about understanding the logic behind them, which can be a sticking point for many learners. I’m here to help you with strategies and tools to explain this concept with clarity.

Contextual Grammar: Beyond the Basics

Contextual grammar takes the rules and principles of English and applies them to real-life situations. This isn’t just about memorizing rules; it’s also about understanding how language works in various contexts. As an ESL teacher, you’re going to find out about some nuanced aspects of grammar essential for your students to communicate effectively.

First up, modal verbs. These helpers (can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, must) are crucial in conveying possibility, ability, permission, and obligation. Your students might struggle with their subtleties, but I’m here to help you guide them through the maze.

Conditionals are your go-to for teaching probability and possibility. They can be tricky because they’re not just about the form—’ if this, then that’—it’s also about the meaning behind each conditional. From zero to third conditionals, it’s vital to show how each one fits into everyday conversation.

Direct and indirect speech is where things can get tangled. You’ll be helping your students learn how to shift from reporting speech (‘She said, “I am tired”‘) to conveying the message without quoting word for word (‘She said she was tired’).

Lastly, let’s talk about relative clauses. These are the bits that connect ideas within a sentence (‘The book that you gave me is on the table’). They’re excellent for adding information without starting a new sentence and they help in keeping stories flowing. But, you’ll need to explain the difference between essential and non-essential clauses to prevent confusion.

So, now you’ve got a handle on these advanced topics, let’s move on to something even more exciting—bringing grammar to life in the ESL classroom. You can always adjust your approach down the road, but with these advanced grammar foundations, your students will be better equipped to express themselves with clarity and confidence.

Click here for over 15,000 downloadable Grammar sheets at “Grammarism”

Grammar and Engagement: Interactive Teaching Techniques

Now, harnessing the power of play in the classroom isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must for helping students internalize grammar rules. That’s where games and collaborative activities step in to transform rote learning into an interactive experience.

Feedback and correction are like the guardrails on the road to language mastery. Done right, they provide direction without discouraging learners. Remember, it’s about building confidence as much as competence.

Grammar teaching isn’t just about the ‘what’; it’s also about the ‘where’ and ‘how’. Folding cultural nuances into your grammar lessons can provide rich, real-world context that gives rules relevance.

Assessment shouldn’t be a source of dread for your students. When you use methods that emphasize understanding over memorization, you promote long-term retention and more meaningful learning. It’s true, that change can be slow, but even small shifts towards engaging, practical assessment can yield big improvements in how students grasp grammar.

How to Make Grammar Fun.

Making grammar fun for ESL students can greatly enhance their learning experience and engagement. Here are some ideas to make grammar lessons more enjoyable:

Interactive Games:

Incorporate grammar games into your lessons, such as grammar bingo, board games, or online quizzes. This adds an element of competition and fun while reinforcing grammar rules and concepts.

Use Multimedia:

Utilize videos, songs, and interactive online resources that focus on grammar. Engage students with visually appealing and entertaining content that demonstrates grammar rules in a relatable context.

Hands-on Activities:

Include hands-on activities that promote kinesthetic learning. For example, create grammar flashcards for students to match, or have them physically rearrange sentence cards to practice sentence structure.

Role-plays and Skits:

Incorporate role-plays and skits where students can use grammar rules in context. This enables them to practice grammar more dynamically and creatively, fostering communication skills alongside grammar acquisition.

Storytelling and Creative Writing:

Encourage students to write stories or engage in creative writing exercises where they can showcase their grammar knowledge. This allows them to apply grammar in a creative and personalized manner.

Gamify Learning:

Implement a points or rewards system where students can earn badges or prizes for mastering grammar concepts. This gamification approach adds an element of excitement and motivation to the learning process.

Incorporate Technology:

Integrate educational apps, online grammar games, or interactive websites into your lessons. These tools can make grammar learning more visually appealing and provide instant feedback to students.

Group Projects:

Assign group projects that require students to collaborate and apply grammar rules. For example, create a grammar poster or a grammar-themed skit to encourage teamwork and application of grammar concepts.

Real-life Context:

Teach grammar within real-life contexts and situations that students can relate to. Incorporate examples from everyday conversations, news articles, or popular culture to help students see the relevance of grammar in their daily lives.

Celebrate Progress:

Recognize and celebrate student progress and achievements in learning grammar. Praise their efforts, offer positive reinforcement, and showcase their work to the class or school community.

Click here to find my “Favorite 10 ESL Websites” to help with resources.

Remember, creating a positive and supportive learning environment is crucial when making grammar fun for ESL students. Adapt your teaching methods to cater to different learning styles, provide ample practice opportunities, and foster a sense of enjoyment and curiosity in your students.

Final Thoughts.

I’m here to help you with these strategies, so you can take your teaching to the next level. I hope that you’ll find this advice not just theoretical but actionable in your next lesson.

Have you got other effective grammar-teaching tactics? Share them with us—we’re all on this journey together! And if you’re looking for even more insights, stay tuned for my upcoming articles on teaching English as a Second Language.

Check out my No. 1 ranking Website “VietnamESL”

Steve


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Vietnam Is Not All Sunshine And Sweethearts.

Things I Dislike about Vietnam

Generally, I love Vietnam and its people and the magnificent landscape that never fails to “awe: me.

After 16 years of living here, I consider Vietnam my home for reasons above and beyond being married to my wonderful wife.

Listening to foreigners whingeing about Vietnam is one of my favorite “sports”. I have heard people complaining about being “shortchanged” 10,000 dong and seen arguments over 50,000 dong.

While this is quite petty, there are some valid reasons for people to feel aggrieved. Especially if they have been here for a while.

Not that we want special privileges for lasting so long, lol. More for the fact that we know that you know the scam about to be perpetrated.

Here is my small list of “complaints”. Just another whingeing foreigner, go home “”Om Tay” or, my favorite “Tay balo”…..Mr Backpack. Lol.

My Favorite Peeves.

My normal response to people who moan and complain about a country they were not born in, is…to go home. But there are things over the last decade and a half that I have tried to avoid but not always successfully.

Before I start my “decompression”, let me start by saying every place has its pros and cons and luckily the cons far outweigh the pros, albeit you can find a lot of them here too. Lol.

Sitting over a hot computer and a cold beer (75c U.S.A)here is the list I have come up with.

The Heat.

It is not so much the heat, but the consistency of the heat. Yes, I could move out of H.C.M.C. Unfortunately, that is where our business is.

One of the best jobs in H.C.M.C Vietnam would have to be a weather forecaster. There are seasons, but they all revolve around hot. For example, hot and dry or hot and wet. Sometimes even hot and windy.

The Traffic.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Vietnam has the second-highest motorcycle ownership in the world, after Taiwan. As of 2016, there were over 37 million registered motorcycles in Vietnam, accounting for more than 90% of all vehicles on the road.

Motorcycles are the main mode of transport for most Vietnamese people, as they are cheap, convenient, and flexible. However, they also contribute to many traffic problems, such as air pollution, noise pollution, road accidents, and fatalities.

And I feel like I am caught in the middle of it. Just crossing the street can be hazardous let alone driving. I do not know of any foreigner who has stayed for a long time and not had a traffic accident of some description or another.

The traffic congestion in Vietnam is mainly caused by rapid urbanization, the lack of public transport infrastructure, the poor road quality and design, and the low compliance with traffic rules.

HCMC is the most affected city by traffic jams, as it has a population of over 9 million people and an area of only 2,095 square kilometers. The average speed of vehicles in HCMC during peak hours is only 15-20 kilometers per hour, and sometimes even lower than 10 kilometers per hour.

Traffic Accidents and fatalities in Vietnam.

The road accidents and fatalities in Vietnam are also alarming. According to the WHO, Vietnam ranked among the top 10 countries with the highest road traffic death rates in the world in 2018, with 26.7 deaths per 100,000 population.

Roads are being fixed and things are slowly changing, but it remains one of my pet peeves. Just about everyone I know has witnessed a fatality. I have seen two very traumatic fatalities and even watching it leaves you shaking.

Higher Prices for Foreigners.

Even after living here for 15 years I am still obviously viewed as a foreigner, and because of that the natural assumption is that you are rich. Because of this when shopping in a lot of markets, especially the touristy ones you are charged triple the normal price.

The best way to deal with this is to quote a reasonable price and if it is not accepted, walk away. Quite often you will be called back grudgingly and the price agreed upon. But please don’t haggle over a few thousand “dong”. The merchants do need to make a profit and it is embarrassing to see foreigners haggling over a few cents.

Petty Crime in Vietnam.

Vietnam is one of the safest countries I have ever lived in. It is safer than Australia and most Western countries.

But opportunistic petty crime can be a pain. It is not rampant, but there is enough to make you nervous about holding your mobile phone in a street situation. I have seen and been a victim, of people on motorbikes snatching your phone or bag if you are negligent in safety.

Vietnam Hospitals and Doctors.

The doctors who have helped me here in Ho Chi Minh City have been great. Let me tell you my hospital story about bowel cancer and then the little niggling things that don’t quite add up.

Approximately 11 years ago my stomach swelled up and I was rushed to hospital after several days of constipation. I had a bowel blockage caused by a cancerous growth.

I was taken to surgery ASAP and operated on over 17 hours. The doctors saved my life, however it did cost me about $15,000. Probably not much for the USA, but a lot here. Anyway, I certainly couldn’t complain.

That being said, medical communication in Vietnam differs greatly from that of medical communication in my own country. In Vietnam they give you only the essential information here, ignoring any things they consider to be “optional.”

Not being able to buy what I want.

After living in Vietnam for so long it can become difficult to buy certain things, especially clothes in Western sizes. Purchasing specialized sports goods, hardware, large-sized clothing and shoes, and other uncommon items can be quite difficult in Vietnam.

I am frequently compelled to buy goods from abroad or arrange for a family member to buy them for me and have them shipped to Vietnam. Of course, this operation means that there are often long delivery delays—up to one month.

A real pain if you want the right-sized underpants.

Final Say.

Overall I love Vietnam, but if you are thinking about staying for a while it is also good to know about the problems.

Steve


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

 

 

 

 

 

Learn A New Language With AI.

Learning Languages With an AI App

Learning a new language is easy for some and downright difficult for others. As an ESL teacher, I strongly recommend a classroom approach to learning a language. But that does not mean I do not agree with other styles of learning. One of the best I use for myself is having an app on your phone you can use anywhere.

So let’s dive in and see if you agree with some of my statements.

The Symbiosis of Classroom and App-Assisted Language Learning

  • Benefits of Traditional Classroom Learning for Language Acquisition: Traditional classroom learning provides a structured environment for language learning. It offers direct interaction with a teacher and peers, which can enhance understanding and fluency. Classroom learning also provides immediate feedback, which is crucial for language acquisition. And possibly even more important, it provides students with seeing how words are formed visually, and rather than having to hunt for answers if using an app, you can ask the teacher to explain.
  • Identifying Gaps in Classroom Learning and Leveraging Apps for Reinforcement: While classroom learning is beneficial, it may not cater to individual learning styles and pace. Language learning apps can fill these gaps. They allow learners to practice at their own pace and according to their own schedule. Apps can reinforce what is taught in the classroom and provide additional practice in areas where a learner may be struggling.
  • How Apps Offer Personalized Repetition and Aid Retention: Repetition is key in language learning, and apps excel at this. They can offer personalized repetition exercises based on a learner’s performance. This targeted practice aids retention and helps learners master the language more effectively.
  • The Importance of Immediate Corrections and Native Pronunciation Examples in Class Versus Apps: Immediate correction in a classroom setting helps learners rectify mistakes in real time. However, native pronunciation examples may be limited in a classroom. Apps can provide a wide range of native pronunciation examples, helping learners understand the nuances of the language. Some apps even offer speech recognition technology for immediate pronunciation correction, making them a great supplement to classroom learning.

The Role of AI in Language Learning

  • Introduction to AI-Driven Language Learning Apps: AI-driven language learning apps are like smart tutors in your pocket. They use Artificial Intelligence to make learning a new language easier and more efficient. These apps can adapt to your learning style, provide instant feedback, and even understand and correct your pronunciation.
  • How AI in Apps Adapts to Individual Learning Styles and Paces: Every person learns differently and at their own pace. AI in language learning apps can understand this. It observes how you learn and then adjusts the lessons to fit your style and speed. This means you get a personalized learning experience, which can help you learn a new language faster.
  • Examples of Speech Recognition and Machine Learning in Language Reinforcement: Many language learning apps use speech recognition. This means the app can listen to you speak and correct your pronunciation. Machine learning is another technology used in these apps. It allows the app to learn from your mistakes and your progress, and then adjust future lessons accordingly. This constant reinforcement helps you to better remember and use the new language.
  • Contrasting AI’s Immediate Translations with In-Person Teacher Guidance: AI can provide immediate translations, which is very helpful. But it’s different from having a teacher. A teacher can explain things in different ways and answer your questions. They can also understand your feelings, like if you’re finding a lesson hard. AI is getting better, but it’s not the same as a human teacher. Yet, the two can work together to provide a powerful language-learning experience.

Remember, the goal is to show how AI-driven apps and traditional classroom learning can complement each other in language learning. !

Finding Your Learning Style:

  • Different Learning Styles and Their Impact on Language Study: People learn in different ways. Some people learn by listening, some by seeing, and others by doing. These are called auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning styles. The way you learn can impact how quickly and effectively you pick up a new language.
  • How to Identify Your Personal Learning Preferences: It’s important to know your learning style. You can do this by thinking about how you learn best. Do you remember things better when you hear them, see them, or do them? Once you know your style, you can use it to help you learn a new language.
  • Strategies to Combine Classroom Lessons with App Learning for Various Learning Styles: Classroom lessons and language apps can work together. If you’re a visual learner, you might use an app that has lots of pictures. If you’re an auditory learner, you might use an app that lets you listen to native speakers. And if you’re a kinesthetic learner, you might use an app that has interactive exercises.
  • The Role of Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic Elements in Language Apps: Language apps use sound, images, and interaction to help you learn. These match up with the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning styles. So no matter what your learning style is, there’s an app that can help you learn a new language.

Remember, the goal is to show how understanding your learning style and using the right strategies can make learning a new language easier and more effective.

My Top Language Learning Apps.

Mondly

Mondly is a language-learning app that uses gamification to make learning a new language fun and engaging. It offers short and engaging lessons that focus on useful vocabulary. However, it doesn’t place as much emphasis on grammar or speaking skills as other apps. Let’s look a bit closer. (Click the above link to find the latest deals)

Upon logging in, the first screen you see is the Mondly dashboard, which has a map-like appearance. There are several landmark icons on this map, and each one stands for a distinct subject or idea.

You can view each of these various “landmarks” by swiping left to right across the interactive map. Among many other things, these subjects include the weather, travel, and family. Once you click on a topic, there are typically six to eight lessons within it.

Mondly offers daily lessons that you can either finish directly by diving into one of these “stand-alone” topics. Because the topic lessons tend to build upon one another, the daily lessons are really just Mondly’s suggested order of operation.

The curriculum’s core lessons are these daily ones, though you can always go ahead and skip lessons if you’d like. You can also access a weekly quiz if you finish all of your daily lessons for the week. In addition, you can access a monthly challenge after finishing all of your weekly quizzes.

Hopefully, you can see where this is going. Consistency and streaks are important to Mondly, and you typically adhere to this by taking the assigned daily lessons.

The Lessons

Each lesson consists of about twelve short, interactive drills and exercises covering the four main communication domains: speaking, reading, writing, and listening.

Among these drills are:1. Spelling words and phrases; 2. Listening to words and phrases in your target language and then repeating them; matching phrases to images (which is very similar to Rosetta Stone); 3. Completing mock conversations by choosing the appropriate response; translating sentences between languages; and listening to a question and choosing the appropriate multiple-choice answer.

Mondly makes an effort to gamify and enjoy the process of learning a language. It’s pretty cool that the main dashboard has the appearance of an interactive map, and you can always view your stats from the navigation bar.

Virtual Reality

Mondly provides virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) learning apps in addition to their standard app and language courses. These apps are intended to supplement the standard lessons.

This is the main way that Mondly sets itself apart from rivals. Mondly is kind of a pioneer in the field of digital language learning because of the novelty of the programs.

You can immerse yourself in virtual environments with the Mondly VR app. You’re thrown into a variety of scenarios where you have to communicate with locals, such as making travel arrangements, ordering takeout, or going grocery shopping. Put another way, the app aims to use virtual reality to mimic authentic scenarios with native speakers.

In case you lack a VR headset, Mondly provides their augmented reality app at no cost when you register for a premium account. Using augmented reality technology, the AR app scans your room and creates animations and a computer-generated teacher for you to enjoy in your own home.

Please go to Mondly to view their pricing. They do have a free version, however, that is very limited. Most people go for the premium price structure which is only $10 per month or $48.00 if paying yearly in advance. Mondly is very cheap when compared with other language apps.

My Opinion

There are a lot of good points about Mondly. Gamification and low cost are the obvious ones. But it does let itself down in the grammar department and it isn’t the best in developing your conversational skills. But you can’t beat the price.

Babbel

Babbel is an online, self-paced language-learning program that offers high-quality lessons unique to each language. It’s more challenging than most other language apps, but the exercises can be tedious. Babbel is best for people already skilled at learning languages or those who already speak a language related to the one they want to learn

Babbel is a language learning app that offers courses in 14 different languages. It uses a variety of methods to teach languages, including interactive lessons, games, and real-life conversations with native speakers. Babbel is designed to be user-friendly and accessible, and it can be used on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

The app is based on the spaced repetition system, which means that it repeats words and phrases at increasing intervals to help you remember them. Babbel also uses a variety of other techniques to help you learn, such as interactive exercises, quizzes, and games.

One of the things that sets Babbel apart from other language-learning apps is its focus on real-life conversations. The app features dialogues that are recorded by native speakers, and you can practice speaking and listening by recording your own responses. Babbel also offers live tutoring sessions with native speakers, which can be a great way to get personalized feedback on your progress.

Babbel is a subscription-based service, and the cost varies depending on the length of your subscription. The app is available in both a free and a paid version. The free version gives you access to a limited number of lessons, while the paid version gives you access to all of the app’s features.

Overall, Babbel is a well-designed and effective language-learning app that is suitable for a variety of learners. It is easy to use and accessible, and it offers a variety of methods to help you learn.

In my opinion, though it will not make you a fluent speaker of the language you have chosen.

Rosetta Stone.

The cleverly named language app “Rosetta Stone” was a key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, which allowed scholars to read and understand ancient Egyptian texts and inscriptions.

But our Rosetta Stone is a comprehensive language-learning software that helps you build a solid foundation in a foreign language. It’s excellent for beginners and offers a ton of additional content for more advanced learners. However, it won’t make you 100% fluent.

Rosetta Stone is a language learning app that offers courses in 25 different languages. It uses a variety of methods to teach languages, including interactive lessons, games, and real-life conversations with native speakers. Rosetta Stone is designed to be user-friendly and accessible, and it can be used on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

The app is based on the immersion method, which means that it teaches you a foreign language through context versus through translations. Rosetta Stone courses used to be entirely software-based (meaning you had to purchase a physical CD or download the program to your computer). However, courses are now offered through online subscription so users don’t need to buy the course outright. 

One of the things that sets Rosetta Stone apart from other language-learning apps is its focus on pronunciation. The app features speech recognition technology that helps you practice your pronunciation by comparing your voice to that of a native speaker. Rosetta Stone also offers live tutoring sessions with native speakers, which can be a great way to get personalized feedback on your progress.

Rosetta Stone is a subscription-based service, and the cost varies depending on the length of your subscription. The app is available in both a free and a paid version. The free version gives you access to a limited number of lessons, while the paid version gives you access to all of the app’s features.

Overall, Rosetta Stone is a well-designed and effective language-learning app that is suitable for a variety of learners. It is easy to use and accessible, and it offers a variety of methods to help you learn. However, some users may find the immersion method challenging, and the app may not be suitable for those who prefer a more structured approach to language learning.


TalkPal.

Talkpal is a brand new app. that has just come onto the market and offers 57 languages that they say offer a new way to learn.

What distinguishes TalkPal from other applications for language learning?

TalkPal employs cutting-edge AI to offer an interactive, enjoyable, and captivating language learning experience, in contrast to existing language learning applications. With the use of artificial intelligence and an active learning strategy, users can become fluent. TalkPal replicates authentic situations in which users engage with native speakers to acquire knowledge.

TalkPal provides two membership options: TalkPal Premium, which has more advanced capabilities and no restrictions, and a free subscription with restricted features. TalkPal Premium offers the choice of monthly or yearly payments. These begin at $10 a month, or $5 if paid annually.

TalkPal provides comprehensive coverage of grammar, allowing you to understand the subtleties and complexities of other languages and, as a result, improve your speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension abilities.

The four basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are covered and while it is still a new app all the feedback has so far been very positive.

My Opinion.

From an ESL teacher’s perspective, each of these apps has its own strengths and weaknesses.

For example, Mondly’s focus on vocabulary can be useful for beginners, but its lack of emphasis on grammar and speaking skills might be a drawback.

Babbel’s challenging content can be beneficial for advanced learners, but its exercises might be tedious for some.

Rosetta Stone’s comprehensive approach is great for building a solid foundation, but it might not be enough to achieve fluency

Testimonials.

As for testimonials and success stories, many users have found these apps helpful in their language-learning journey.

For example, some users have found Mondly’s gamified learning experience enjoyable and effective. Babbel users have appreciated its challenging content and unique lessons for each language. Rosetta Stone users have praised its comprehensive approach to language learning. Duolingo users have enjoyed its fun and engaging learning experience.

In terms of a comparative analysis of app features, each app offers unique features that align with different learning objectives. For instance, Mondly’s VR & AR apps are game changers in language learning.

Babbel offers live classes and focuses on vocabulary that’s actually useful.

Rosetta Stone offers optional online tutoring sessions. So whichever app suits your style of learning and budget, I wish you the best in your language-learning journey,

The Best App for You!

Choosing the Ideal App: A Comparative Guide for Aspiring Polyglots

  • Criteria for Selecting the Best Language Learning App for You: The best app for you depends on your needs and goals. Consider factors like the languages offered, the teaching method, the type of content, and the cost. Also, think about your learning style and how much time you can commit to learning each day.
  • A Closer Look at User Interface, Content Quality, and Language Options: A good app should be easy to use, with a clear and intuitive interface. The content should be high-quality, engaging, and updated regularly. And of course, the app should offer the language you want to learn!
  • Analyzing Pricing, Subscription Models, and Accessibility of Each App: Some apps are free, while others require a subscription. Consider what you get for the price – does the app offer enough value to justify the cost? Also, check if the app is accessible on your device and if you can use it offline.
  • Closing Thoughts on Commitment Beyond Apps for Achieving Language Proficiency: While apps can be a great tool for language learning, they’re just one part of the puzzle. Achieving proficiency requires commitment and practice beyond the app. This includes speaking the language with others, immersing yourself in the culture, and continually challenging yourself.

The goal is how to choose the right language-learning app and how to use it effectively.

If you choose your app on price alone, Mondly stands out against the others. There are a lot of other language apps and each of them has its good and bad points. So take your time and choose one that you feel most comfortable with.

Steve


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There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

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Free ESL Lesson Plan for Kids

Lesson plans should be a part of your skillset as an EFL or ESL teacher. Using this time wisely will help a lot when you are in the classroom.

Building a Lesson Plan.

Building a lesson plan is essential if you want a defined outcome for your class. Students and some teachers need structure and a determined direction to move from one learning point to another. And even though you may feel that “after 15 years I can wing it easily”. A lesson plan is like the “ABCs” of learning English. A good lesson starts with a good lesson plan.

I have wanted to provide free lesson plans for all classes. However, after thinking about it I believe each teacher is unique much like their students. And we should be doing our own lesson plans depending on the teaching styles we use. 

For example, I use the T.P.R style of teaching or Total Physical Response as it fits in with my personality. T.P.R revolves around using all aspects of communication to teach English. I use body language, visual representations like flashcards or newspaper clippings, and music to enhance my lessons.

Wikipedia has a good understanding of TPR and click the link to find out more.

Mapping Out a Lesson Plan.

It does not take long to map out a good lesson plan and there are a lot of different resources on the internet that can help, from templates to word searches and everything in between.

The following is the lesson I did tonight for fifteen 8-year-olds who need movement in the class to help stimulate the brain cells.

This is what I wrote and what I did. I do not keep rigidly to a lesson plan and if something doesn’t work I will drop it immediately and use something else. What you should take away from that statement is “always have an extra 15-minute segment” that you can use in the classroom if something you have planned does not work.

Also, look at How to Design a Lesson Plan.

Free Beginners ESL Lesson Plan for Body Parts.

I keep my lesson plans short and then that gives me enough room to improvise depending on the students’ questions or responses. The best attribute a teacher can bring to the classroom is the ability to think on one’s feet. 

My class size was 15 students and the class time was 1 hour and 30 minutes. I think this is the best length for an 8-year-old class without them getting bored. At 8 years old you still need to move them from activity to activity to keep their minds engaged in learning.

I broke my lesson down into 4 parts.

1. Introduction.

We had two new students starting so I wanted everyone to introduce themselves. At this level, it is not the easiest thing for the students unless you provide an outline for them to write. If you look up ESL introduction templates or images you will have a wide selection to choose from. This is what I chose tonight.

I usually do my class time allotment in 5-minute blocks for younger children and I estimated this would take 3 blocks or 15 minutes.

By the time I had explained everything and the children had written and filled in the gaps, we were on the 11-minute mark.

I then got the children to read and they did a pretty good job so I rewarded them with “points.” It took about 20 minutes for these exercises to be finished.

I used ESL Printables for this.

What’s This Points Thing?

At the start of the class, even before we did the introduction worksheet I split the class into two teams, Boys and Girls. Vietnam is very competitive and it can really help in learning and class control at this age.

There are 8 girls and 7 boys in this class, so thankfully a perfect (almost) split. Otherwise, I would go A and B. The reason I use teams is if they do a good job, I reward them and if they are noisy I will penalize them. Peer pressure is quite a deterrent at this age, and anything that helps in their learning works for me too.

Also at the start of the class, I will go around the class with the alphabet and if anyone gets the letter wrong they lose a point to the opposing team.  

I do the same with days of the week and months of the year and numbers from one to 50. It is a great way to review the basics or go over a past lesson.

2) Body Parts Game and Video.

Because my whole lesson revolves around learning new body parts and learning the correct pronunciation I use all the different TPR styles that I can in 90 minutes. 

The game is very basic but extremely funny. The students must follow you in touching various body parts. You get them to watch and participate 4-5 times and then they have to do it (as a group) alone. For example, I will say…touch your nose…touch your eyes…touch your mouth, etc, and they must follow your actions. I one team member gets it wrong they lose a point to the opposing team.

I break it up with, stand up, sit down, and raise your left arm (watch how many copy and still follow with the right hand) Thus you have to teach left and right. I blocked this out for 2 units of time followed by a video that ran for 5 minutes. 

I improvised after the great video and handed out a sheet of paper for the students to listen, follow, and draw the face that was explained in the video. It was an easy video for the students to follow and we all had a lot of fun. We ended up watching the video twice because of the improvised drawing and the time stretched out to a 25-minute block.

3. Body Parts Writing and Matching.

After a few minutes of very noisy activity, I had to quiet them down and get back to doing some writing and matching words to their respective body parts. There are a lot of great worksheets for this and this is the one I used today.

Body Parts

After the students completed this chart, we read out the body part names for pronunciation purposes and then we had a flashcard game. This game uses the “family and friends” body part flashcards. 

I then go individually through the flashcards pronouncing the words and placing them face down on the ground so the students do not know which card is which. I then choose one person from each team to come and pick a card that I have asked for. I may have said “I want a nose”, and they may pick up an arm…Lol, no points. If they get the correct card then it is 2 points for the team.

I estimated this would take up 3 blocks of time or 15 minutes and I was almost correct, it went for 20-plus minutes because the children didn’t want to stop. If you are looking for Flash Card games click on the link to an older post.

4) Wordsearch and Final Game.

Even though I am not a big supporter of word searches as they can sometimes be overused by teachers who don’t want to teach, I do sporadically use them myself. Especially for the younger students and as a reward if the lesson has gone well and the students seem to have absorbed the content of the lesson

.This word search is from English 4Kids.

You can also use these types to elicit the spelling of the words from the students. This took about 10 minutes.

My Final activity was reinforcing the new vocabulary by getting them to stand up, touch your eyes, nose, mouth, hair, etc.

The Girls won and then we all went home. 

Final Thoughts.

It needn’t take a lot of time to write a lesson plan and it should be flexible enough to change at the drop of a hat. Some of my best lessons have happened when I left the boundaries of the lesson plan. 

The lesson plan took me less than 15 minutes to do, although I have been doing them a long time and know where to get most of my resources. I also have 15 years of material for teaching in several folders. Prepping time has become much shorter.  

But a good teacher should always prepare a lesson plan for no other reason than to determine what you want to get out of today’s lesson. What improvement do you want to make to your students English skills?

Steve the ESLMAN


Some links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through these links, I will make a commission on them. There will be no extra cost to you and, you could actually save money.  Read our full affiliate disclosure here.