Weekly Roundup: The Games are over.

Matt | Blogroll | Friday, August 29th, 2008

Now that the Olympic games are over, it’s a cool and weird vibe in Beijing.  It’s like combining 15 years of Christmas and New Year’s rolled into one, and then the feeling you have the next day: head is sore; got a weak, empty feeling in your belly; emotionally you’re spent.  Looking back it was a great Games and I’m happy to have been here for them.  Now that the big Games are over, although we still have the Paraolympic games coming up, I’m not sure what people, and myself, will focus on.

China Briefing recently wrote The Beijing Olympics: A Fifteen Year Long Ride talking about how these Games were 15 years in the making.  I enjoyed reading the background and buildup to these Games.

Here is a great article from China Law Blog – Where the News is always good showing the differences between how one story, was printed differently in The New York Times and in the Beijing Evening News.  I found it quite interesting, especially the author’s postscript.

At Lost Laowai, I stumbled across BBC’s Cool Gorillaz’ Monkely Olympics Video that the BBC had put together for their opening ceremonies created by Gorillaz’ and BBC.  I loved the music, the funky video, and how it told the famous Chinese story of Journey to the West and the Monkey King.  Check it out.

Want to be a better teacher? Join Toastmasters

Matt | Teach English in China,Toastmasters | Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Do you want to be a better teacher?  Join Toastmasters.

Do you want to be a better student?  Join Toastmasters.

Do you want to be a better leader/manager/all-around person?  Join … well… you know.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m a big fan of Toastmasters. Actually, it’s the main reason I’m teaching English here in China.  And now that I’ve found a club in China (there are many by the way) I’m quite happy about it again.  The reason I say Toastmasters can help you is that it’s a Communication and Leadership program. So anytime you need to communicate and/or lead this program can help.

How can Toastmasters help me become a better teacher?

Toastmasters helped me become a better teacher in many ways.

First, it helped me get comfortable standing in front of a group of people speaking.  A few years back I was deathly afraid of public speaking.  Joining Toastmasters helped me overcome and tame this fear.

Toastmasters also helped me get to China.  I was able to network and meet new people, “a friend of a friend, knew a recruiter in China, who was living in Toronto and who needed teachers”  and I landed my first teaching job in China.  So, Toastmasters is a good way to network and to meet such interesting people from different backgrounds.

But specifically, how can Toastmasters help me in the classroom?

Planning

In preparing speeches, or planning and organizing a TM meeting, one of the first steps is to decide on your objective.  Do you want to inform, entertain, persuade or inspire?  What’s the objective sentence of your speech?  This step, usually, is what makes the difference between a good speech and a bad speech.  Funny enough, having an objective is also what makes the difference between a good class and a bad class. When I look back on my bad classes, or English corners, I realized that usually the big reason was that I didn’t have a focused objective to the class

Giving Feedback

Through Toastmasters, I’ve learned and continue to learn better ways to give feedback.  I used to not give any or I would simply give very positive comments to keep up my students’ confidence.  But through Toastmasters I’ve learned that giving feedback, giving constructive comments, is how we can learn. It’s only through knowing these weak points and strong points can we do something about them; only by knowing our mistakes can we learn and improve them.  So now as a teacher I can give better feedback.

I’ve also learned that people don’t always like hearing all their faults, especially if you are like me and have a few (ahem ok more than a few).  Again, Toastmasters has helped me learn how to give feedback with the hope that the person listening will actually listen to what I say, take my advice and act on it.  The approach is called a sandwich approach: give some positive praise; give the negative feedback with specific details on how to improve; then end with a positive comment.  Again the more specific the better.

Evaluating

At Toastmasters we give a lot of evaluations, pretty much every kind you can think of: verbal: written; speech evaluations; meeting evaluations; grammar and word usage evaluations; clear speech evaluations (“Ahs, Uhms, nei ges”); time usage evaluations.  I’m learning that to be a good evaluator the first step is to be a good listener and to be able to focus your listening, usually, by listening through your eye contact and engaged body language.  I’ve also learned a technique called WCILFH. I often write this at the top of my page if I sense my interest leaving the speaker, which stands for

What Can I Learn From Him/Her?

As Confucius and Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, we can learn from everyone, and so in that everyone is my teacher. These evaluation and listening skills have helped translate into better evaluations by me to my students.

I still have lots of room to learn and to grow, but I’m quite sure that my teaching skills have improved dramatically because of Toastmasters.  I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here teaching in China without Toastmasters.
Thank you Toastmasters.

Analects of Confucius – Chapter 13 Management Lessons?!

Matt | Analects of Confucius | Monday, August 25th, 2008

Can we learn management lessons by Confucius, from 2500 years ago?  Why not?  The master teacher was also a famous student; always learning, always asking, always growing.  Can you say continuous improvement?

Here are some of my favourite “posts” from Kong Zi’s Analects – Chapter 13:

1./ Zi Lu aksed about government.  Confucius said, “Urge the common people to work hard by setting an example yourself.” Zi Lu requested for more advice.  Cnfucius said, “Do not slack on your duties.”

Always lead by example.  Do what you need to do.  Fulfill your duties.

2./ While serving as a steward of the Jisun’s Family (who were high officials in Lu), Zhong Gong asked how to govern.  Confucius said, “Set an example for others to follow, be lenient to minor mistakes, and promote men of talent.”  Zhong Gong went on asking, “How to distinguish men of talent? Confucius said, “Promote those you know well.  Will others then fail to promote those you do not know well?”

Again, being a steward/manager/leader I think this advice still holds true.  Set an example.  Be lenient to minor mistakes, and make sure people learn from their mistakes.  Promote the best; promote talented people.  Promote those you know well; hire from the inside so you know them well and know they’ll follow a similar pattern.

5./ Confucius said, “If a man knows the three hundred poems of The Book of Songs, but fails when given administrative responsibilities;and if he fails to act according to circumstances and to deal with affairs independently when sent on diplomatic missions, what is the use of so much learning?”

You need to learn, and then to put it into practice and you need to do; to perform; to produce.  Otherwise what’s the point of the learning?  In the past I’ve been in this mode where I focused more on learning, less about applying it, doing, and putting it into practice.

16./ Duke She asked about government.  Confucius said, “If people under your reign are happy, people will be attracted to come from afar.”

Would this advice not also hold true for a company?  If your employees are happy (ie Google) people will be attracted from afar.  As well, can’t this work for customers too?  If customers are happy, they’ll come back.

17./ When Zi Xia became county magistrate of Jufu County, he asked Confucius about government.  Confucius said, “Do not make haste, do not covet small gains.  If you make haste, you cannot reach your goal; if you covet small gains, your efforts will not culminate in great achievements.”

Do not rush into making decisions.  Do not act only on the urgent things.  Do not think small.  If you do, you will not be able to achieve great things.  Same in life or in business.  Again, I must remember to not just think about or write about these things, but also to DO something.

18./ Duke She said to Confucius, “In my hometown, there is a straight and upright man.  When his father stole a sheep, that man accused his father of theft.” Confucius said.  “The straight and upright men in my hometown are of a quite different type: the father will conceal the son’s mistake, and the son will conceal the father’s too.  This is an expression of straightness and uprightness.”

Note: Confucius’ philosophy of ethics is based on the principle of paternal love and filial piety.

This one may not have a business lesson, but I truly love it.  Actually, a business lesson could be to have principles that help you guide your life.  Another one could be to be loyal to your family.

23./ Confucius said, “A gentleman unites with people of principle and never follows others blindly.  A petty man follows others blindly without regard to principle.

Again, I like the idea of following your principles, not others blindly.  To decide who you’ll be with and why you are with them.  And to surround yourself with good people who have similar principles that you do.

Good advice by the first “management consultant” or “leadership guru” Confucius.

Need an Idea for English Corner? InsideOut.com

Matt | Insideout.com,Teach English in China | Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Recently I was scrambling to get an English corner topic ready a few minutes beforehand and a friend of mine gave a great tip: go to InsideOut.com, become a member for free, and check out their e-lessons.

This site has some fantastic ideas that are perfect for a one hour English corner lesson. They come with student notes, teachers notes and supplemental material. A great site for teachers on the rush.

4th August – Beijing Olympics

This week’s lesson focuses on the huge international sports event beginning in China on 8th August: the Olympic Games.

Level
Intermediate and above (equivalent to CEF level B1 and above)

Student’s Worksheet
PDF (40K)
DOC (66K)

Teacher’s Notes
PDF (22K)
DOC (32K)

Glossary based on the Macmillan English Dictionary and the Macmillan Essential Dictionary
PDF (28K)
DOC (43K)

Example:

The Beijing Olympic Games worksheet A

There is no (1) _________ that the Olympic Games, which begin on 8th August in Beijing, China, will be one of the biggest sporting events in history. Around 3 million Chinese and foreign visitors are expected to arrive in the city during the games, and more than 10,000 athletes will be (2) _________ at a total of 37 different venues. By the time the closing ceremony takes place on 24th August it is (3) _________ that between 3.5 and 4 billion people, out of the Earth’s total population of 6.7 billion, will have watched some part of the games on television.

This year’s Olympics consist of 28 different sports, some of which are divided into various different ‘disciplines’. Athletics, for example, consists of ‘track’ events such as (4) _________ races, and ‘field’ events such as pole-vaulting and javelin-throwing. Athletics is widely (5) _________ as the most glamorous part of the Olympics and probably gets the most international TV coverage, with hundreds of millions of viewers watching the finals of races such as the 100-metre sprint. The athletics events always take place in the largest (6) _________ , in this case the Beijing National Stadium, which has the nickname ‘the bird’s nest’ because of its unusual

(7) _________ from the outside.

Other Olympic sports that attract large TV (8) _________ in many parts of the world include basketball, football and gymnastics, while sports such as canoeing and archery have smaller audiences.

All the different venues in Beijing have been ready for some time – unlike in many previous Olympics, when some of the (9) _________ work was only completed at the last minute. There are, however, concerns about the possibility of air pollution affecting the competitors.

As always, some countries are very likely to do well in certain events – such as the East African nations (particularly Kenya) in the long-distance running, and Brazil and Argentina in the men’s football. The United States finished top of the medals

(10) _________ in the last Olympics in Athens in 2004 (with China in second place, Russia in third, Australia in fourth and Japan in fifth), and not many people would (11) _________ against their athletes repeating the achievement this year. However, it’s also the case that there are always some (12) _________ , such as when Argentina won the men’s basketball in Athens.

The Beijing Olympic Games worksheet B


Exercise 1

Fill in the gaps in the text on Worksheet A with the correct words from the table below. There are four extra words.

feared

journalists

venue

bet

winning

running

surprises

seen

table

disaster

competing

building

appearance

doubt

expected

audiences


The Beijing Olympic Games worksheet C

Exercise 2

Below is the text from Worksheet A, but it has been copied incorrectly and now contains twenty mistakes. Find and correct the mistakes.

There is no doubt that the Olympic Games, which beginning on 8th August in Beijing, China, will be one of the biggest sporting events in the history. Around 3 million Chinese and foreign visitors are expected to arrive in the city during the games, and more than 10,000 athletes will be competing at a total of 37 different venewes. By the time the closing ceremony takes place on 24th August it is expected that between 3.5 and 4 billion people, out of the Earth total population of 6.7 billion, will have watch some part of the games on television.

This year’s Olympics consist 28 different sports, some of which are divided to various different ‘disciplines’. Athletics, for example, consists of ‘track’ events such as running races, and ‘field’ events such as pole-vaulting and javelin-jumping. Athletics is widely seen as the most glamorous part of the Olympics and probably get the most international TV coverage, with hundreds of millions of viewers watching the finals of courses such as the 100-metre sprint. The athletics events always have place in the largest venue, in this case the Beijing National Stadium, which have the nickname ‘the bird’s nest’ because of its unusual appearance from the outside.

Other Olympic sports that attract large TV audiences in many parts of the world include basketball, football and gym, while sports such as canoeing and archery have smaller audiences.

All the different venues in Beijing are ready for some time – unlike in many previous Olympics, when some of the building work was only completed at last minute. There are, however, concerns about the possibility of air pollution affecting the competers.

As always, some countries are very like to do well in certain events – such as the East African nations (particular Kenya) in the long-distance running, and Brazil and Argentina in the men’s football. The United States finished top of the medals table in the last Olympics in Athens in 2004 (with China in second place, Russia in third, Australia in fourth and Japan in five), and not many people would bet against their athletes repeating the achieve this year. However, it’s also the case that there are always some surprises, such as when Argentina won the men’s basketball in Athens.


The Beijing Olympic Games worksheet D


There is no doubt that the Olympic Games, which begin on 8th August in Beijing, China, will be one of the biggest sporting events in history. Around 3 million Chinese and foreign visitors are expected to arrive in the city during the games, and more than 10,000 athletes will be competing at a total of 37 different venues. By the time the closing ceremony takes place on 24th August it is expected that between 3.5 and 4 billion people, out of the Earth’s total population of 6.7 billion, will have watched some part of the games on television.

This year’s Olympics consist of 28 different sports, some of which are divided into various different ‘disciplines’. Athletics, for example, consists of ‘track’ events such as running races, and ‘field’ events such as pole-vaulting and javelin-throwing. Athletics is widely seen as the most glamorous part of the Olympics and probably gets the most international TV coverage, with hundreds of millions of viewers watching the finals of races such as the 100-metre sprint. The athletics events always take place in the largest venue, in this case the Beijing National Stadium, which has the nickname ‘the bird’s nest’ because of its unusual appearance from the outside.

Other Olympic sports that attract large TV audiences in many parts of the world include basketball, football and gymnastics, while sports such as canoeing and archery have smaller audiences.

All the different venues in Beijing have been ready for some time – unlike in many previous Olympics, when some of the building work was only completed at the last minute. There are, however, concerns about the possibility of air pollution affecting the competitors.

As always, some countries are very likely to do well in certain events – such as the East African nations (particularly Kenya) in the long-distance running, and Brazil and Argentina in the men’s football. The United States finished top of the medals table in the last Olympics in Athens in 2004 (with China in second place, Russia in third, Australia in fourth and Japan in fifth), and not many people would bet against their athletes repeating the achievement this year. However, it’s also the case that there are always some surprises, such as when Argentina won the men’s basketball in Athens.

This was a life saver site for me and I highly recommend you visit for future ideas for your class.

Matt goes to the Olympics

Matt | Olympics 08-08-08 | Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

I was very lucky to have gone to the Olympics twice. The first time it was a perk of being an English teacher. Actually, it was the perk of dating a teacher who’s students like her. Recently my girlfriend got two tickets to see a football match: Italy vs. Belgium. It was a wild atmosphere here at the Olympics. Seeing the game, cheering and watching the underdogs, Belgium, upset Italy. So it pays off to be friendly with your students or to be fortunate enough to date someone who is.

Weekly Roundup: Olympics Update

Matt | Olympics 08-08-08 | Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Recently, I wrote a negative piece on my students view of sports and the Olympics. I’ve heard some of my friends comment on this and I may have been too critical of my students. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have gone to an Olympic Game: watching Belgium upset Italy in the quarterfinal 3-2. At that game I saw lots of Chinese fans cheering for non-Chinese teams. The atmosphere was electric. At one point the wave the fans produced was so intoxicating that I was looking more for it than and the game. Hearing the cheers, “Jia You”, “Jia You I-Da-Li”, “ta-ta-ta- Bel-Gium”, my favourite was a combination of an Italian guy yelling, “I-tal-i-a” and the fans yelling, in unison, “Jia You” to make a beautiful combination of “Jia You,” “I-tal-i-a”, “Jia You,” “I-tal-i-a”. It was a great experience.

Lately, I’ve found some interesting reads on the Olympics, buying scalped tickets, the Olympics in QIngdao and the history of Olympics and politics. All quite interesting reading.

China Briefing’s Olympics an Outstanding Success.This is nice to read. It’s good to hear the games have been so successful so far. The games have been quite emotional too, especially after seeing Liu Xiang the other day. Overall, it’s nice to hear the games are going off successfully. From my point of view, the venues, security and volunteers have been fantastic. They’re volunteers almost everywhere you look in blue and white shirts ready to help with a nice smile and a great attitude.

China Briefing’s Scalping Officially Discouraged. This one I’m not too happy about as I unfortunately do not have tickets. From reading the short piece, it sounds like selling tickets is highly discouraged, while buying them may not be. A friend of mine bought some yesterday to see boxing for RMB100 per ticket instead of the RMB30 ticket price and they were fine.. As a person living in Beijing, watching the TV and seeing the stands half empty, it really upsets me that I cannot buy tickets. I guess like with everything: buyers beware.

China Law Blog: Qingdao Olympic Update talks about the sailing competitions at Qingdao and the overall feeling there towards foreigners. I understand the author’s point, when he mentions the Chinese are very afraid of foreigners making “trouble” for China. This piece does a good job capturing what it feels like to be living in China during the Olympics. Even though I’m living in Beijing, a bigger and more “open” city than Qingdao, it still often feels as closed and protected as Qingdao.

Olympics as a political arena, from The Asia Times, talks about how the Olympics and politics have been linked since the beginning of the games. Quite interesting.

Beijing Olympic Games 2008. For anything to do with the games, or medal counts, this is the best site I’ve found so far. Enjoy the games.

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