Reah's Blog | Education, Language, Technology

Congratulations to the New Professional Teachers!

By on Nov 27, 2012 in Education | 2 comments

Congratulations September 2012 LET passers! The more teachers the Philippines have the merrier! And I want to thank you for letting me be part of your journey to achieve your dreams. It is a heartwarming experience. Now, let’s take this road together in educating fellow Filipinos!    

10 Good Books to Read for Teachers

By on Jul 13, 2012 in Education | 1 comment

The following article is a guest post from Ryan De Guzman, a fellow writer and colleague. Visit his own blog Nevermore Nonsense to read more of his posts. Admit it, shaping the minds of the children is one of the highest calling there is. It is the enormous responsibility teachers are bearing in the classroom daily. And since big jobs demand big relaxations, here are seven of the best books that pay tribute to that profession; best enjoyed on those weekend breaks from the class. The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. (The Freedom Writers, 1999) A non-fiction authored by The Freedom Writers, a group of students from Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, and their teacher, Erin Gruwell. Everything started when Gruwell first met her band of “unteachable, at-risk” students, and next is a story about violence, drug abuse, and racism, and how each student changed and overcame those obstacles. These are their memoirs. Get this:  This inspired the 2007 movie Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank.   Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy (Helen Keller, 1985) We all know how Helen Keller, a deafblind girl who worked her way to become the acclaimed author, political activist, and lecturer, through the help of her teacher. Well, Anne Sullivan Macy is that teacher. The fantastic book tells the story of how the Irish-American teacher from Massachusetts conquered hindrances in her life to become Helen’s savior, instructor, and constant companion. Written by no other than the famous student herself. Get this: Anne herself was also blind due to untreated trachoma.   Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom, 1997) This modern literary classic undoubtedly put teachers and professors alike in the pedestal. Told from the perspective of one of his students, Morrie Schwartz is a retired, 78-year-old sociology professor from Brandeis University dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Being reconnected after 16 years, Albom, now a flourishing sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press, visited and met with Morrie during the last 14 Tuesdays of his life. The old mentor recounted the past, and imparted his student lessons about life, death, and the gem of acceptance, essential things that university life will never cover. Get this:  This non-fiction masterpiece topped The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers of 2000.   To Sir, With Love (E. R. Braithwaite, 1959) This autobiographical novel delves into racism and challenges the rules of conventional education, set in post-World War II Great Britain. Ricky Braithwaite is a British Guiana-born engineer struggling to find a job to no avail due to anti-black attitudes. Once he found one, he faced with a group of utterly disconcerted, semiliterate, and semi-articulate students. Trying a new approach and with an ironclad persistence, he treated the students with much respect and eventually won their hearts. Get this: The novel also tackles interracial marriages, another sensitive issue during the 1950’s.   Anne of Avonlea (Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1909) We all had read (or watched) how Anne Shirley survived and made her way with the Cuthberts, and changed everyone in Green Gables. Now, follow the redhaired, freckled, and bright heroine as she expanded her sphere of enlightening from their humble farm to the local school of the town of Avonlea. But teaching is not easy as she constantly faced repulsions and withstood prejudices from the community. Get this: As with the first book, Anne has a lot of run-ins here; one including selling her neighbor’s cow, having mistaken it for her own.   Goodbye, Mr. Chips (James Hilton, 1934) Set in Great Britain as it marches towards World War II. Mr. Chirping was a teacher to an all-boys British public boarding school, who needed to prevail over his apprehensions of teaching to a big class of 500 boys and married a young woman along the way. The opening “When you are getting on in years… you get very sleepy at times, and the hours seem to pass like lazy cattle moving across a landscape.” will move you as it is poetic and foreboding as the entire book. Get this: Hilton admitted that he modeled Mr. Chirping (or Chips)’s character after William Henry Balgarnie, schoolmaster at The Leys School, where the author attended college.   Pnin (Vladimir Nabokov, 1957) A clash of culture and language disguised in a soft-hearted, funny, and otherwise convoluted facade of being a stranger in a strange land. Timofey Pnin is an old Russian professor teaching (in his native tongue, that is) at the Waindell College in upstate New York. Emigrating from Soviet Union to avoid what he calls “Hitler War”, he found the school and the country an alien landscape. And next is a succession of hilarious, yet sympathetic episodes of dealing with language barrier and the complexities of American life. Get this: Pnin also turned up as a minor character in one of Nabokov’s novel, Pale Fire.   Wonder Boys (Michael Chabon, 1995) Not purely a book about academic life, but a brilliant novel about a teacher’s life nonetheless. Grady Tripp is a Pittsburgh professor and author on the way of completing another masterpiece novel. Everything is fantastic, but the night before the college-sponsored WordFest, Tripp’s world turned upside down when his wife left him and her mistress (the Chancellor and wife of the College Dean) turned up to be pregnant with his child. To make matters worse, one of his students, a promising writer as well, was...

10 Modern Philosophers and their Contribution to Education

By on Jul 10, 2012 in Education | 71 comments

The following article is a guest post from Ryan De Guzman, a fellow writer and colleague. Visit his own blog Nevermore Nonsense to read more of his posts. Two and a half millenniums ago, Plato stated that knowledge is justified true belief, an influential notion that shaped educational theories across time. Since then, modern thinkers had never stopped seeking knowledge about the human psychology, development, and education. Here, are the ten greatest. John Locke and the Tabula Rasa Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher and physician, proposed that the mind was a blank slate or  tabula rasa. This states that men are born without innate ideas, and that knowledge comes from experience and perception, as opposed to predetermined good and evil nature, as believed by other thinkers. On his treatise “Some Thoughts Concerning Education”, he emphasized that the knowledge taught during younger years are more influential than those during maturity because they will be the foundations of the human mind. Due to this process of associations of ideas, he stressed out that punishments are unhealthy and educators should teach by examples rather than rules. This theory on education puts him on a clash with another widely accepted philosophy, backed by another brilliant mind   Immanuel Kant and Idealism They never lived at the same time, but history always put Locke and Kant on a dust up. A famed German thinker, Kant (1724–1804) was an advocate of public education and of learning by doing, a process we call training. As he reasons that these are two vastly different things. He postulated “Above all things, obedience is an essential feature in the character of a child…”. As opposed to Locke, he surmises that children should always obey and learn the virtue of duty, because children’s inclination to earn or do something is something unreliable. And transgressions should always be dealt with punishment, thus enforcing obedience. Also, he theorized that man, naturally, has a radical evil in their nature. And learning and duty can erase this.   Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Emile Plato said that each individual is born with skills appropriate to different castes, or functions of society. Though Rousseau (1712-1778), a Genevan intellect and writer, paid respects to the ancient philosopher, he rejected this thinking. He believed that there was one developmental procedure common to man; it was a built-in, natural process which the main behavioral manifestation is curiosity. On his book, Emile, Rousseau outlines the process of an ideal education through a hypothetical boy of the titular name, from twelve years of age to the time he marries a woman. Critics said this work of his foreshadowed most modern system of education we have now.   Mortimer J. Adler and the Educational Perrenialism Adler (1902- 2001) was an American philosopher and educator, and a proponent of Educational Perennialism. He believed that one should teach the things that one deems to be of perpetual importance. He proposed that one should teach principles, not facts, since details of facts change constantly.  And since people are humans, one should teach them about humans also, not about machines, or theories. He argues that one should validate the reasoning with the primary descriptions of popular experiments. This provides students with a human side to the scientific discipline, and demonstrates the reasoning in deed.   William James and Pragmatism William James (1842-1910), an American psychologist and philosopher, ascribed to the philosophy of pragmatism.  He believed that the value of any truth was utterly dependent upon its use to the person who held it. He maintained that the world is like a mosaic of different experiences that can only be interpreted through what he calls as “Radical empiricism”. This means that no observation is completely objective. As the mind of the observer and the act of observing will simply just affect the outcome of the observation.   John Dewey and the Progressivism Dewey (1859-1952), an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer, was a proponent of Educational Progressivism. He held that education is a “participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race”, and that it has two sides; the psychological, which forms the basis of the child’s instincts,  and the sociological, on which the instinct will be used to form the basis of what is around him. He postulated that one cannot learn without motivation.   Nel Noddings and the Ethics of Care A notable American feminist, educationalist, and philosopher, Noddings (1929-Present) is best known in her work Ethics of Care . The Ethic s of Care establishes the obligation, and the sense, to do something right when others address us. We do so because either we love and respect those that address us or we have significant regard for them. In that way, the recipients of care must respond in a way that authenticates their caring has been received. The same goes for education. As teachers respond to the needs of students, they may design a differentiated curriculum because as teachers work closely with students, they should respond to the students’ different needs and interests. This response should not be based on a one time virtuous decision but an ongoing interest in the student’s welfare.   Jean Piaget and the Genetic Epistemology Piaget (1896-1980), a Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher, was recognized for his epistemological studies with children, and the establishment of Genetic epistemology. It aims to explain knowledge, on the basis of its history, its sociogenesis, and particularly, the psychological origins...

Use Images and Charts to Learn Descriptive Words

By on Sep 6, 2011 in Education, English Language | 6 comments

Growing up, I had a limited English word list to describe emotions, actions, or even people in certain ways. During the past three years, however, I’ve been adding new adjectives to my list more actively than before. One of the ways I’ve been doing to learn new adjectives is using images and charts. Back when I was in high school in the Philippines, I looked at a facial expression chart posted inside our guidance counselor’s office. Drawn in the chart were faces showing different emotions, and below each face was the English word to describe the expression. I didn’t think of learning words from the chart that time. I just thought it was creative and cool. Now, I think of it as a learning tool as well. Using the facial expression chart as a learning tool was probably the primary intention of the first person who created a chart like this. And it’s good that I found some charts online to show to you as examples. The first facial expression chart is from Bardsville. Take a look at the “big” adjectives used in the chart such as incredulous and despondent. The second facial expression chart, posted below, was created by Cedarseed to illustrate how to draw different faces. Cedarseed made it as a guide for artists, but it is also a very good chart to get familiarized with the faces and the words of facial expressions. The last image is not a facial expression chart but a screenshot taken from’s Adjectives page. Now, with the image samples displayed above, do you think it is easier to learn some adjectives using images with text rather than learning them from using words...

Use an English Visual Dictionary When Learning Nouns

By on Sep 5, 2011 in Education, English Language | 1 comment

When learning new English nouns—the words that refer to people, places, things, or ideas—a visual dictionary will help you retain the words in your mind effectively. It’s just like when a child learns what the word apple means, a parent will show the child an apple or an image of an apple to help the child create a mental image of an apple, which is usually a red fruit (sometimes it’s green!). So next time the child sees the actual fruit, she will remember to call it apple. There are more nouns that are uncommon than apple, however, and you will likely want to see images of these nouns to remember them. Thus, you may want to use a visual dictionary in this situation. The highly-recommended visual dictionaries that you can look for copies in your library or bookstores are: Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary by Merriam-Webster (Oct 1, 2006) Ultimate Visual Dictionary by DK Publishing (Oct 31, 2011) One Million Things: A Visual Encyclopedia by Peter Chrisp (Jun 16, 2008) There is also an online visual dictionary from Merriam Webster, and you can access it here: Their online dictionary has more than 6,000 images from different themes such as House, Arts, Clothing, and Society. I actually owned a children visual dictionary when I was around 8 years old. And I really enjoyed learning the English words by looking at the pictures. You can’t learn all the nouns conveniently from a visual dictionary though. The nouns that refer to ideas or concepts need more special attention; because in most cases, these nouns cannot be easily represented by one image and requires further explanation. Internet and freedom are two good examples of such nouns. A mind map, however, can do the trick to explain these...

101 Ways to Improve Your English – For Non-native Speakers

By on Sep 5, 2011 in Education, Language | 10 comments

Having English as a second language, I played kids vocabulary games, watched English TV shows with captions on, read English books aloud, and thought in English all day—all so I can be fluent in English. How hard can that goal be? Hard but fun! And as if those “hard-but-fun” activities are not enough to accomplish my goal, I created my own word games, made bike riding an educational activity, and tested myself on how many English words I could spell correctly in an hour. The last one sounds overboard, don’t you think? But I did it. Let’s say it was the product of too much enthusiasm (and free time?) Ha! That activity made me a better speller though and it is just one of a few examples of what you can do to improve your English too. In fact, at the end of this article is a 101 list of activity ideas, so be ready to fill your to-do lists and desks. No need to do all the activities listed at the end of the article. No rush too. Just pick out those that match your learning style, personality type, or level of proficiency. You can even just select the ones that use materials commonly found online, at home, at school, at work, or in the library. And if you want to do it with your family and friends, choose the activities that require interaction with other people. Now, enjoy reading the 101 activity ideas to improve your English and do not forget to take notes of those activities you want to do. For your convenience, you can download and print the pdf version of this article so you can write your notes on it. By using images and drawings 1Use an English visual dictionary to learn words referring to people, animals, places, and things. 2Use images to learn descriptive words. 3Take photos or draw scenes and items you see every day, then write their captions in English. 4 Label images indexed in Google Image search. 5 Use Google Translate and Google Images together to learn names of places and things. By using your first language 6 Keep and use English dictionary with you that translates to your first language. 7 Translate words, phrases, and sentences you always use in your first language. 8 Translate questions you commonly ask in your native language to English. 9 Translate your local TV shows to English at 10 Translate songs written on your native language to English. 11 Fill a jar with strips of paper containing random sentences written on your native language. Then once a day, draw a strip of paper from the jar and translate the sentence to English. By using real items 12 Learn new words from reading English texts printed in product labels or packaging. 13 Label things found in your house or in your office. 14 Hold or point to the actual item when you are describing it. By using videos 15 Watch English TV shows. 16 Watch English TV shows with English captions on. 17 Watch news from English-speaking news channels. 18 Watch English videos that teach you how to do things. 19 Watch movies and shows without English subtitles. 20 Watch free lectures that interest you at 21 Watch English video lessons online. 22 Watch free English documentaries online. By listening 23 Listen to English radio shows, commentaries, and advertising. 24 Listen to the correct pronunciations of words online. 25 Listen to English audio books, which you can probably find in your local libraries. 26 Listen to English podcasts. Through Lists 27 Master the 1000 most commonly used English words. 28 List and memorize new English words and phrases you think you will be comfortable using. 29 List and group words that are in any way related or similar to each other. Through music 30 Learn from singing popular English songs like those from the Beatles and Abba. 31 Sing English nursery songs. 32 Listen to songs made for teaching English grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Through games 33 Play Scrabble. 34 Play Boggle. 35 Answer English crossword puzzles. 36 Play word guessing games. 37 Play English typing games. 38 Choose English as the default language of computer games you play. By reading 39 Keep and use an English dictionary with you that has sample sentences. 40 Read English books and magazines regularly. 41 Read English webpages that write about topics that interest you. 42 Read book and product reviews in 43 Read comments written by English native speakers online. 44 Take the meaning of the word from how it is used in the text you are reading. 45 Read blogs that publish tips on English usage, grammar, and vocabulary. By learning English patterns and word usage 46 Learn and master the basic patterns in English grammar. 47 Compare English grammar with that of your first language. 48 Learn the rules of parallelism and practice using it. 49 Learn how to use modifiers, and practice using them. 50 Learn how to use phrasal verbs and idioms, and practice using them. 51 Get any copy of the best grammar books. 52 Learn English spelling patterns. 53 Spell English words on paper or spell it out loud, over and over again. 54 Research and familiarize yourself with slang words and phrases. By speaking 55 Spend an hour reading English texts out loud. 56 Recite English words...