Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What I learned from painting

There was a temporary hiatus in my sporadic blogging career (if you can call it that). I spent  the past few months indulging myself on watercolor painting instead of publishing articles. Something about painting -- mixing shades and hues, and soft music that is very soothing to the soul no matter how turbulent things around are.

Now before you get any ideas that I can paint a Monet, let me tell you that I didn't have any background on art at all except back in kindergarten. But one day out of a whim, I just bought a  watercolor tube set, brushes and paper to practice. The output wasn't bad. I was able to paint decent pictures of nature, most of them copied from somebody else's drawings. However because I didn't study the technique and the rules on how to correctly compose a painting, my artworks were not consistent, that to a point it became frustrating.

And then one day, I decided to go to Upper Arlington Library and searched for watercolor books.  It was fascinating to realize how learning the basic techniques and having the right tools can create the most interesting pictures. Lesson learned: if you are not a natural genius at something, you have to read  books and learn.

This is true to studying the English language. Although some are more gifted in learning languages, some people people need to spend more time to absorb and gain fluency. Grammar is the framework of sentence structure. Sentences will be lame, clumsy and even incomprehensible if it's not correctly applied. Grammar, as most of my students complained, is boring. My answer is, "Yes, it (used) to be boring." But that was before online ESL quizzes and games were invented!

Check out these websites and have fun while brushing up your English skills:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Raising Bilingual Children" Lecture Series

"How did you raise your kids to be bilingual?" My Korean friend, Soyeoun, asked me this question during one of our interesting conversations. She's a mother of a precarious and adorable two-year-old daughter who's learning new words everyday.

She was quite impressed that my sons can speak English fluently without having to go to special English Academy which is a common practice in Korea where people have begun to recognize the importance of learning this international language. She wanted to know the "secret" how my sons can confidently speak English like native speakers despite being raised in the Philippines where it is only a second language.

My answer is simple: Use English in daily conversation. You're probably thinking, "easier said than done." And it is true especially if you're living in a country where most people don't normally use English in common conversations.

A lot of Korean mothers are eager and willing to do this but are hesitant and shy because they think their English ability is not good enough to help their children. And this concern is understandable because you were not raised accustomed to the language. Your mothers didn't give you English instructions and now that you want to do it for your own children, it feels like an unfamiliar ground that you're about to  tread.

I have learned from her that buying books with English expressions for raising kids are very popular in Korea. Moms memorize dialogues to teach their children. And we both agreed that this is one of the good ways to learn English.

Memorizing dialogues, however, is not the most effective because it is better to speak with spontaneity than using rehearsed lines. We have to totally grasp the usage of the English language so we can apply it properly to daily situations.  Without an instructor, you might not gain enough confidence to use those expressions you learned from books.

An English tutor will guide you on the faultless usage, correct pronunciation, proper sentence structure and most of all build up your confidence by constant  practice through regular lessons. English classes will give you a venue to try out your newly learned vocabulary and actually enjoy the use of this colorful language. And this is something you can pass on to your kids.

Because of this conversation with Soyeoun, I started a new course entitled, Raising Bilingual Children. It  is a series of lectures which teaches you English expressions that you can use with your children in daily life. Every session tackles common situations such as "changing baby's diaper", "cleaning up with your daughter", "a busy morning when your kids don't want to go to kindergarten" and a lot more! This class will truly help you speak English naturally in everyday life whether you're talking to your baby or even to your husband.

I have been getting positive responses and I'm encouraging more mothers out there to try this class which you can take for 25 minutes before you go to work or while your baby is at school. You will absolutely find this very helpful in creating an English-speaking environment at home.

You can send an email to to get a free lesson for 20 minutes or drop me a message at skype id: daphne703. Try it and make it!


I. Putting on a Diaper

기저귀 차야지~  You must wear your diaper.
바닥에 쉬야하면 어떡해. You might pee on the floor.
어여 일루와~ Come to mommy, sweetie
기저 귀 차자. Let's put on your diaper
여기 누워볼래? Will you lie down here?
차기 싫어? Oh you don't want to wear it.
그래도 차자~ However, you have to.
누 웠구나, 착하네. Lie down, good girl.
가만히 있어봐 Please don't move
엄마가 발 들게 I'll lift your feet up
엉덩이 쑥 들자. And raise your bottom
보송보송 새 기저귀 아래 깔구 place a fresh diaper under your bottom
이렇게 테이프 ? 붙이구 Tape the flaps to the front.
움직이지마~ Don't move.
다원이 잠시만~ Wait a second.
아 다됐다! All done!.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Raising Bilingual Children

I was raised in a home that speaks two languages –English and Filipino, the latter as my native tongue. But I learned the English alphabet sooner than I did Filipino. My father was my first teacher. We worked on a small blackboard with engraved letters on the edge and dusty white chalk as he patiently taught me the phonetics of English. Obviously, this was long before the age of Google’s Kindle and Apple iPad. I learned how to read fairytales before I turned five years old. And since then, my love for reading books has never ceased. 

Learning English as a second language greatly paid off. It opened a vast door of opportunities and it’s a real-life experience I share with my students.

Here are some benefits that a child can gain from learning a second language at an early age:
  • It is known to have a positive effect on intellectual growth and enhances a child's mental development.
  • It exercises the students’ mental flexibility, better sensitivity and recognition to language, and also develop better ear for listening.
  • It improves a child’s ability to communicate with people which builds self-confidence.
  • It gives a student a head start in language requirements for college.
  • Learning English increases job opportunities in many careers where fluency is a real asset. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Keeping up with Work, Kids, and ESL Lessons

I have ESL students who remarkably toggle career, family life and English lessons every single day except on weekends. Most of them are in their mid 20's and early 30's whose kids are still hyper toddlers.

Being a mother myself, I recognize the internal struggle that my students must be having in balancing these three aspects of their lives. Working through the rat race of their jobs, they are on a steep climb for career advancement which is one of the reasons why they are taking English language lessons to begin with. Mothers also work to keep the family financially sound or sometimes for the fulfillment of having a career. Among all the various reasons given, these impressive women are in constant quest to find balance in their lives.

Here are a few simple tips for working moms on how to improve their ESL skills in the midst of a chaotic routine on a work week:

1. Think English.
It starts with initiative and effort. Remember how we usually wake up, linger a little longer on the bed while planning our day. Naturally, we think using our native language. The trick is to map out your daily activities in English.

“I am going to work at 8am.”
“I need to shop for dog food and also buy some fruits at the corner store.”

It doesn’t have to be complex sentences, just simple ones to get you into the habit and it can be an enjoyable language exercise, too.

2. “Sweetheart, I’m home.
Learning a language needs continuous practice, not using it constantly will make it fade out. Involve your husband by surprising him when he comes home with phrases like “welcome home, honey. What do you want for dinner?” whether he gives you a weird look or smile, I’m sure he’s secretly pleased by the sweet gesture.
And it’s never too early to practice English with your kids whether they’re still infants or toddlers. They have an amazing retention for languages and constantly speaking will help them develop interest, and expose them to the sound which will be advantageous to them in the future.

3. Where’s your mp3 player?
It’s easy to download podcasts from ESLpod and listen to it on your way to work or going home whether you’re stuck in traffic or just walking around the block. This can also be your background noise as you do your morning chores or while preparing a nice dinner.

4. Listen to English songs
Learning new songs is so effective for children, I don’t see why it work for you, too. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. Not only are you enjoying some rhythm but also picking up some new words and phrases.

5. Keep a journal of double-liners.
A pen and a notebook is all you need. You can begin this journal by writing two sentences a day describing anything from your emotions to an incident you witnessed , a gossip you heard or anything at all that interests you.

Studying ESL doesn’t have to be so time consuming if we learn how to integrate it to our common day activities. Working moms are excellent multitaskers after all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is Communication an Art or a Skill?

Is communication an art or a skill? Why are some people better at it than others? Are there any secrets to unlock and learn to achieve it?

It is an understatement to say that communication is an important tool to succeed in life. This is whether to get an upper hand in one’s career or to establish better interpersonal relationships.

David Menacker, editor of New Yorker and editor in chief of Random House has a new book, A Good Talk, which dissects the science behind the art of effective communication.

In a recent interview with Time Magazine, he answered interesting questions such as:

What do you do when you’re talking to a boring person?
Does hanging out in bars really help out someone to become a better conversationalist?
Is a phone interview considered an actual conversation?
How do you talk about politics and religion without affecting people’s sensibilities?

Please click here to read the interview.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Romance with blogs, adverts and Web 2.0

I haven’t written anything for days. It’s ever present on my to-do list but once I get started with daily tasks, it ends up being the one procrastinated.

Number one rule to write better is to practice often, something I advise my ESL students to do. Freestyle writing technique is the easiest method to use in developing the habit of writing. It allows you to get lost in your thoughts and words,oblivious of grammatical errors so you can capture your ideas and emotions in its raw form. Needless to say, you have to do the editing after scribbling everything down.

In this age of blogs, web 2.0 and  Google calendar to organize my personal activities, I still rely on my old-fashioned pen and notebook to doodle notes, dates, tasks,  what-have-you which is I guess why this blog template appealed to me. I have not totally succumbed to technology although I guess I’ll go nuts without internet.

Speaking of technology, I was trying my hand on being internet savvy by attempting to figure out html syntax (I’m guessing that’s what you call it). I wanted to take a shot at creating a  customized Craigslist advert for Tim. Viewing the page source was dizzying I wanted to give up right at first glance. Days later, I’m proud to announce that I’m slightly html literate than I was a week ago. Thanks to W3, it’s an amazing site for webpage design dummies like me.
Another interesting discovery today was when I checked Dmegs online directory and saw that English Notes was on the top 10 sites and blogs under education / online school category. I guess my ESL students are the driving force behind this pleasant surprise clicking away when they're bored.

Another work week gone by so quickly. I don't have plans for my Friday night maybe I'll just grab my pen and notebook and write away.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Impact of Positive Words to ESL Students

People who naturally notice negative information over positive information are more susceptible to Add Imagestress, research has revealed. The findings increase our understanding of what makes people vulnerable to stress and could lead to new forms of therapy.

To equate negativity to stress is nothing new nor does it take a rocket scientist to figure this out. It seems that the more we think we dislike something because it is difficult, the longer it is for us to grasp it and therefore the more stressful it becomes.
This is true in learning English as a second language as well. Learning a new language in itself can be challenging but the hurdles are harder to overcome when students are not interested to get over it. To recognize that these challenges cause a lot of stress to ESL students is already a step towards finding a better method of helping them learn the course or better yet like it.
It is therefore good to have a pocketful of positive vocabulary when dealing with mistakes. Here are few examples:

I don’t say………
The sentence structure is not right
We can improve your sentence.

I don’t say………
The grammar is wrong.
Let’s look closely at the sentence and correct the grammar

I don’t say………
I can’t understand what you mean.
Please give examples so I can understand you better.

The good relationship I have with my students is a proof that words have tremendous power and that positive ones build great friendship and draw warm response that creates a great learning atmosphere and also builds self-esteem to empower them towards excellence.

About Me

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I'm a reader,a mother, a spirited watercolor painter, a coffee lover and a passionate learner of life, love and Web 2.0. For questions regarding ESL lessons, you can send an email to: