GoFundMe: My daughter’s tuition


In September of this year I took a leave of absence from my job as an ESL teacher at Midea International School in Beijiao, near Foshan, China. I had several reasons for doing so, not the least of which was that I wanted to undergo cataract surgery in the USA.

I am currently unable to see anything except lights and shadows in my left eye and, according to my doctor, cataracts are beginning to form in my right eye. My surgery is scheduled for November 15th.

One of the benefits of being a teacher at Midea School was a sizable discount on my daughter’s tuition. However, since it has taken longer than anticipated to obtain insurance and schedule appointments, my school has requested me to pay at least half of my daughter’s tuition. Unfortunately, I need help doing this.

In China, schooling is “free” only in the village where one’s family is registered. Unfortunately, we live a long way from the place where my daughter’s “hukou” is of any use. Education is actually quite expensive in China and it is not uncommon for a family to pay more for education than they do for housing.

Even where education is “free” there are costs for books and miscellaneous fees. In the past, headmasters expected “hongbao,” (red packets of money) from parents. Fortunately, this tradition is changing.

Anyway, I hope I have answered some of your questions. If you would like further information, please let me know.

Your interest and generosity is greatly appreciated!

Here is the link to my Go Fund Me campaign: My Daughter’s Tuition

Regards,

Ron

 

 

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Angry Birds, Angry Words


http___web-assets.angrybirds.com_abcom_img_games_223_Icon_download_ab_223x223“What if instead of tabbing over to the web browser in search of some nugget of gossip or news, or opening up a mindless game such as Angry Birds, we could instead scratch the itch by engaging in a meaningful activity, such as learning a foreign language?”

Enjoyed this post.

Angry Words

How to Travel the World and Get Paid to Do It!


The Bucket List
The Bucket List
Is your bucket list full and bank account empty? Perfect. Now’s the time to plan an extended vacation abroad! Sound crazy? Not really. If you have portable skills or residual income, there are many countries where your talents are in demand and your money will stretch a lot further.

Even if you aren’t in the group just mentioned, don’t despair. You may be able to put your ability to speak English and your knowledge of Western culture to practical use. Ever thought of teaching English as a Second Language? Here are the steps.

Step 1

Update your resume. Having a college degree is a definite plus, however there are courses you can take towards certification as an ESL teacher. These courses usually take about one or two months to complete and can often be done online. Check out the Internet to learn more about different types of ESL certification.

Step 2

Place your resume online. There are numerous websites where you can browse ESL jobs and also post your resume. Before you put up personal information, however, be sure to read the website directions and disclaimers.

Two of my favorite ESL sites are ESL Teachers Board and Dave’s ESL Café. By the way, some countries prefer a CV, which is like an expanded resume concentrating on your academic experience.

Step 3

Get your passport. If you’ve never had a passport, you’ll need to apply in person at your nearest passport facility, which is quite often the local U.S. Post Office. Details are available on the official government website: Travel.State.Gov

Step 4

Screen carefully. After you post your resume online, you’ll start getting invitations to teach. Unfortunately, not every invitation you receive may be legitimate. The ESL websites I mentioned in Step 2 have a wealth of information about finding the right teaching position and being safe in the process. Do your homework.

Step 5

Negotiate a contract. This is sometimes easier said than done, however a good way to tackle this chore is to ask the school if you can speak with one or two of their current or former ESL teachers. If the school has nothing to hide, they should be willing to let you do this. If they are reluctant, keep looking.

Step 6

Get ready to travel. Many schools will offer some reimbursement for your travel expenses, so be sure to ask. Travel lightly. If you’ve established contact with another ESL teacher at the same or similar school, ask them what to bring. The best thing you can take along is an open mind.

Tips and Warnings:

In addition to your passport, you may need a visa for travel to certain countries. Once you know which country you will be working in, check out the official website of their Embassy or Consulates for more information.

Prepare yourself for jet lag and culture shock. Perhaps the best preparation you can make is just be aware that you will experience them.

Never put yourself in a position where you don’t have enough money to leave if things don’t work out.

Get ready for the experience of a lifetime. I’ve been living and teaching in China since August, 2004. Every day is an adventure. Good luck and good journey!

Encore!


The following is, by far, the most popular post I’ve written to date. If you missed it, here it is again:

How Do Chinese Use An English Computer Keyboard?

Business cards in China are offered and accepted with both hands. It’s a sign of courtesy and respect. After a couple years of exchanging cards, I’d managed to fill a rather large desk drawer with them. One day a fit of efficiency overtook me and I decided to go in search of a Rolodex or business card organizer. It took longer than I expected; most things do in China.

It wasn’t until I’d made my purchase and returned home that it dawned on me – there is no Chinese “alphabet.” At least, not in the way we think of one. Hence, no way to organize most of my cards. Duh. Which brings me to today’s topic, “How do Chinese use an English computer keyboard?”

Firstly, there are such things as Chinese computer keyboards. However, they’re not standardized and not widely used. There are also writing pad interfaces that work well for Chinese characters. However, most Chinese rely on software to change their keystrokes into Chinese text.

Chinese Keyboard
Chinese and English Keyboard

Perhaps the two most  common software transcription methods in mainland China are Wubi and Pinyin. Wubi means “five pen” or “five stroke” and is based on the idea that Chinese characters can be categorized with five fundamental pen strokes. In contrast, the Pinyin method is based on pronunciation of Chinese “syllables.” Each method has advantages and drawbacks.

In it’s simplest form, Wubi could be input with just the number pad of the keyboard: one for horizontal strokes, two for vertical strokes, three for downward right-to-left strokes, four for dot strokes or downward left-to-right strokes, and five for all other strokes. To utilize this method, users must be familiar with the correct order of strokes, which is actually fairly easy to learn.

Once a user has input the correct strokes in the correct order, Wubi software presents a number of possible Chinese characters from which to choose. This method is probably most suited to individuals with Chinese language background.

Pinyin, on the other hand, is a method more suited to individuals with an English language background. Pinyin breaks Chinese down into “Romanized” syllables. However, because Chinese is a tonal language, the user must also be able to select the correct tone for each syllable.

Mandarin Chinese has four basic tones. They are: first tone – “high and level,” second tone – “rising,” third tone – “falling then rising,” and fourth tone – “falling.” There is also a fifth tone which can be thought of as “neutral.” Cantonese is more complex, with between 6 and 9 tones depending upon the dialect.

A classic example of the difference tones make is with the syllable “ma.” With first tone the word means mother, with second tone the word means hemp, with third tone the word is horse, with fourth tone it means scold, and with the fifth tone the word becomes an interrogative often used at the end of a sentence. Here is an example of a “silly sentence” using the word ma.

Pinyin: māma mà mǎ de má ma?
English: “Is Mother scolding the horse’s hemp?”
(source: Wikipedia)

How Do Chinese Use An English Computer Keyboard?


“With thousands of individual characters, ever wonder how a Chinese person sends an email?

Business cards in China are offered and accepted with both hands. It’s a sign of courtesy and respect. After a couple years of exchanging cards, I’d managed to fill a rather large desk drawer with them. One day a fit of efficiency overtook me and I decided to go in search of a Rolodex or business card organizer. It took longer than I expected; most things do in China.

It wasn’t until I’d made my purchase and returned home that it dawned on me – there is no Chinese “alphabet.” At least, not in the way we think of one. Hence, no way to organize most of my cards. Duh. Which brings me to today’s topic, “How do Chinese use an English computer keyboard?”

Firstly, there are such things as Chinese computer keyboards. However, they’re not standardized and not widely used. There are also writing pad interfaces that work well for Chinese characters. However, most Chinese rely on software to change their keystrokes into Chinese text.

Chinese Keyboard
Chinese and English Keyboard

Perhaps the two most  common software transcription methods in mainland China are Wubi and Pinyin. Wubi means “five pen” or “five stroke” and is based on the idea that Chinese characters can be categorized with five fundamental pen strokes. In contrast, the Pinyin method is based on pronunciation of Chinese “syllables.” Each method has advantages and drawbacks.

In it’s simplest form, Wubi could be input with just the number pad of the keyboard: one for horizontal strokes, two for vertical strokes, three for downward right-to-left strokes, four for dot strokes or downward left-to-right strokes, and five for all other strokes. To utilize this method, users must be familiar with the correct order of strokes, which is actually fairly easy to learn.

Once a user has input the correct strokes in the correct order, Wubi software presents a number of possible Chinese characters from which to choose. This method is probably most suited to individuals with Chinese language background.

Pinyin, on the other hand, is a method more suited to individuals with an English language background. Pinyin breaks Chinese down into “Romanized” syllables. However, because Chinese is a tonal language, the user must also be able to select the correct tone for each syllable.

Mandarin Chinese has four basic tones. They are: first tone – “high and level,” second tone – “rising,” third tone – “falling then rising,” and fourth tone – “falling.” There is also a fifth tone which can be thought of as “neutral.” Cantonese is more complex, with between 6 and 9 tones depending upon the dialect.

A classic example of the difference tones make is with the syllable “ma.” With first tone the word means mother, with second tone the word means hemp, with third tone the word is horse, with fourth tone it means scold, and with the fifth tone the word becomes an interrogative often used at the end of a sentence. Here is an example of a “silly sentence” using the word ma.

Pinyin: māma mà mǎ de má ma?
English: “Is Mother scolding the horse’s hemp?”
(source: Wikipedia)

How to Travel the World and Get Paid to Do It: Teach ESL


How to Travel the World and Get Paid to Do It

Is your bucket list full and bank account empty? Perfect. Now’s the time to plan an extended vacation abroad! Sound crazy? Not really. If you have portable skills or residual income, there are many countries where your talents are in demand and your money will stretch a lot further.

"The Bucket List"
"The Bucket List"

Even if you aren’t in the group just mentioned, don’t despair. You may be able to put your ability to speak English and your knowledge of Western culture to practical use. Ever thought of teaching English as a Second Language? Here are the steps.

Step 1

Update your resume. Having a college degree is a definite plus, however there are courses you can take towards certification as an ESL teacher. These courses usually take about one or two months to complete and can often be done online. Check out the Internet to learn more about different types of ESL certification.

Step 2

Place your resume online. There are numerous websites where you can browse ESL jobs and also post your resume. Before you put up personal information, however, be sure to read the website directions and disclaimers.

Two of my favorite ESL sites are ESL Teachers Board and Dave’s ESL Café. By the way, some countries prefer a CV, which is like an expanded resume concentrating on your academic experience.

Step 3

Get your passport. If you’ve never had a passport, you’ll need to apply in person at your nearest passport facility, which is quite often the local U.S. Post Office. Details are available on the official government website: Travel.State.Gov

Step 4

Screen carefully. After you post your resume online, you’ll start getting invitations to teach. Unfortunately, not every invitation you receive may be legitimate. The ESL websites I mentioned in Step 2 have a wealth of information about finding the right teaching position and being safe in the process. Do your homework.

Step 5

Negotiate a contract. This is sometimes easier said than done, however a good way to tackle this chore is to ask the school if you can speak with one or two of their current or former ESL teachers. If the school has nothing to hide, they should be willing to let you do this. If they are reluctant, keep looking.

Step 6

Get ready to travel. Many schools will offer some reimbursement for your travel expenses, so be sure to ask. Travel lightly. If you’ve established contact with another ESL teacher at the same or similar school, ask them what to bring. The best thing you can take along is an open mind.

Tips and Warnings:

In addition to your passport, you may need a visa for travel to certain countries. Once you know which country you will be working in, check out the official websites of their Embassy or Consulates for more information.

Prepare yourself for jet lag and culture shock. Perhaps the best preparation you can make is just to be aware that you will experience them.

Never put yourself in a position where you don’t have enough money to leave if things don’t work out.

Get ready for the experience of a lifetime. I’ve been living and teaching in China since August, 2004. Every day is an adventure. Good luck and good journey!