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28 October 2018

Memory Aids

  • Diversify your study time, place, and methods. Reading your notes aloud, rewrite key sections, use flashcards between classes or while on the bus on your way to school or home, have someone cross-question you, or leave yourself phone/e-mail messages about test notes.  Anything that would help you to remember previous lessons to pass your quiz or exams.
  • Outline material, restate ideas in your own words, or explain key concepts to someone else.
  • Use acronyms to remember bullets or longer materials. Example: CTA = Call to action, ESL = English as a Second Language.

3 October 2018

Woes in English Communication.

Image from Google search.

English is called the universal language. The Filipinos' exposure to English was pronounced in the course of the American's residence in the Philippines and was not limited in schools alone, the language is widely used everywhere; at the government, businesses and industries, mass media and social institutions. It is considered a sign of sophistication and education if one can converse fluently in the English language. Throughout the colonization of the Americans, the cultural influence was so extensive that the Filipinos spoke the English language with a relatively same manner as these native speakers. Sometimes, we go as far as to sensor and look down on each other for not being able to have an impeccable grammar. Where native English speakers do not really mind if a non-native attempt to converse in broken English, majority of "schooled" Filipinos shame their own countrymen instead of educating them.

As time went on, the people who run the Philippine educational system realized that in the aspect of preserving the Filipino's cultural identity, a shift was necessitated. The educational system has given emphasis to the shift from English to Filipino language. Subjects which were discussed in English has now been taught in Filipino and extended outside of the classroom. And where government publications, businesses and other transactions still use the English language  for some technical terms that the Filipino language do not have, English and Filipino has relatively become the two official language in the Philippines and you will find two versions and translations within a document.

Because of this shift, the current generation of Filipino students have not had much opportunity to practice the English language, and because we do not speak English to each other at home, the student develops a dilemma with their communication skill in the English language. They find it difficult to convey their thoughts and emotions because they scramble to structure their Filipino language into English and the result could be problematic. The lack or absence of coherence and cohesion of the acknowledgment can be misunderstood and there is risk of miscommunication.

As a non-native speaker and English as a Second language teacher, I am sympathetic of my students who struggle to express their thoughts in English. Despite my fluency, I still struggle in many chunks of the English language, obviously, I'm sure anyone who reads this may find errors in my syntax still. Which is why it is very important for teachers to learn and gain patience and to continuously find improved techniques for a simpler and clear instructions especially for beginner students. As basic communication involves reading, listening & writing, by experience, it is also best to give emphasis on these other skills as they all go hand-in-hand together. It is impossible not to learn how to write the words if you only know how to read. How can your student identify what he's reading if he do not know how to write it, in the same way, you cannot miss a word when you hear it because you also know how to write and read it.

On my next post, I will try to illustrate how I initiate my students to the English language and what strategy I find effective in teaching the language.

1 October 2018

My ESL teaching is now powered by PLDT!

I am now finally hooked up with PLDT Fibr and my students were amazed to see & hear me clearly this time. I was starting to have reservations when I didn't hear any more from my agent but I was surprised to receive a call from the installers that they were on their way. It was a quick install and I was like a kid playing with my new toy in no time. My students exclaimed excitement when they noticed that my camera feed & voice are more clear than the previous day. I told them that I finally changed to a new internet provider. They are very pleased with my switch because I can share my desktop through Skype and they do not have to wait for it to load and the image was clearer

Later in the afternoon I called Globe to discontinue my service and they calculated my adjustment bill plus termination fee and they quoted me Php5,000. My daughter was a little upset that with all the grief I went through with them, they still have the gall to charge me for the disconnection fee. I can't say I blame my daughter for feeling this way because she had seen me cry with one of my phone calls with Globe customer service because of too much frustrations and cancelled classes. We're all the same relieved that I do not have to go through that again. I can look forward to working in peace from here on.

30 September 2018

Getting back on Blogger.

Whew! The blog finally appeared after a scare that I messed up the configuration of DNS settings and I'm just glad that Death by Grammar is now back on Blogspot hosting.

I am also very pleased finding a new theme for the blog. Simple and clean. Truthfully, I've been fickle with responsive templates but I didn't have trouble liking Glossier.  Uncomplicated, simple & elegant, clean and easy on the eyes.

I also made changes with my blog entries. 

3 June 2018

Where I hope my writing takes me.

Credits to

My writings can be erratic and I do not really follow any guidelines which is why my posts are often far and in between. Unlike blogging for money where you’re at times obligated to force puke compressed words, trying to make a sense out of bumbling stringed libretto, personal writing for me is better when provoked and the mind is stimulated by intimate encounters. Where I previously document details of my life and paraded my dirty laundries in public, let me be the source of my own shame that despite the negative strike it did on my on-line persona, it was and has been therapeutic for me to dump my thoughts and feelings on my blogs. It's not that I have nobody to talk to, but I also realized that I am not being fair to my friends and love ones that I am passing my negative vibe onto them, blogging was the next best thing. Of course, I have made a lot of changes in my blogging behavior since then. Issues that needs to be addressed in private are now kept in my paper journals.

For a while, I also stopped publishing my writings for reasons too personal to disclose. I even believed that I would stop going on-line entirely! There had been so many times when thoughts come flooding my mind and I feel that longing to write, and like a knee-jerk reaction, I find myself stringing words even on a tissue paper too! Clearly, writing will always be a big part of me. However, in my case, my writing skill hasn't developed as my English skills in the way I hoped. I always find myself struggling and stressing over how I can articulate myself in written form: am I demonstrating fluency and coherence? At the same time, I realize that many have done exactly the same things and their grammatical mistakes didn't mattered as far as contextual awareness is concerned. What's the point of claiming that I only write for my own enjoyment if instead of proving to myself that I can, I'm too worried about people's introspection of my personal learning in life? Isn't the point of personal learning is to grow in your own pace and learn to recognize each season? Perhaps I will always be a learner of life and that's good. 

I'm not fantasizing to become a best seller author, rather, I'd like to write about the things that piques my interests and what I am passionate about. To write about the things that motivates and enlightens, because that's how I would like my children, grandchildren and their children to find my written works. I would like to write endorsements &/or campaigns for companies, reliable reviews and more!  I would like to one day travel and see more of the world and write my reflections about the experience. And for me to achieve this objective, I need to first learn how to write maturely and properly.

Welcome to the new Death by Grammar blog!

Hello, it's my pleasure to meet your acquaintance!

If you're new here and curious what the heck this all is about, let me tell you how I came up with the concept of this blog by this fairly longwinded introduction: I'm Filipino, born and raised on the island of the Philippines and my native language and ethnic group is Tagalog (taga 'native' + ilog 'river'). I have been exposed to the western culture through the lifestyle of adults that surrounded me early in life. Most of my preferences whether in music or entertainment, food and styles were basically regurgitated from that experience and where part of my childhood was also Sesame Street. It shouldn't be a surprise that when I started schooling, although English is not my native language, my English skills & comprehension was practiced considerably and it gave me an academic advantage. Meeting non-nationals also encouraged me to work on my confidence when it comes to effectively conveying my point across, but it doesn't mean that I have perfected my English communication skill. Just to get this out of the way, let me be the source of my own shame that laziness is one of my bad traits, and there are times when I am confronted by new words, idioms, slangs, or any of the part of speech like the grammatical term third person, I still get bewildered.

Onto the main point of this rambling: As pointed out earlier, English is not my native language which is why a lot of times I stammer and hard to find the right word/s to use, that illustrate coherence & cohesion on a more technical device of the figure form, if not trouble-free fractured syntax and that is just the spoken form. You may think that writing is easier, but there's still that consistent tone in writing which I still wrestle with, etc. Nevertheless, my struggle to hone my linguistic skill does not discourage me from expressing myself in the English language though I struggle with a figurative nosebleed, hence, Death by Grammar.

And before I end this maiden entry, I would like to send my gratitude to one of my very good friend, Jay-Ar of Malay ni Jay for giving me this domain name. I am privileged to be given such love. Thank you so much and I pray that God returns the love you give a hundredfold.

25 March 2018

An enlightening experience at the IELTS fair.

I found out & realized early in my teaching profession that I should not only be perceptive of my student's needs, a teacher should also be well-rounded. Knowing how to put variation in your class time keeps the student interested and excited to learn. Especially with online teaching where you do not have the physical ability to make the student comply with class rules. It really takes a lot of effort. That is why I make every attempt to be more studious and open-minded to new things. Old and new techniques, combined together make a good teaching method. You can improvise and improve your tried and proven teaching strategies.

I emphasized on my introduction that English is not my native language, even though I've been immersed in the western culture very early in life, my skill in English speaking & comprehension was practiced considerably. Meeting foreign nationals also gained me the confidence when it comes to intercommunication. Of course this doesn't mean that I have perfected my skill in the English language. Just to get this out of the way, let me be the source of my own shame and admit that laziness is one of my bad traits. There are times when I am confronted with new words, idioms, slang or any part of speech like the grammatical term third person and etc. I get myself confused and just let it slide and "hope for the best." Haha!

When I learned that the IELTS British Council here in Manila was launching a fair for FREE, I didn't blink and encoded my details in the invitation. I figured, even though I do not have enough formal education when it comes to teaching, at least I can learn and absorb more & new knowledge also strategies at no cost. And because I'm a sucker for freebies! The goal was to pick people's brains & learn from second-hand experiences. Keeping myself up-to-date for my students. I am just simply always elated & delighted to share my knowledge to anyone who's interested to learn.

An enlightening experience.
At the event, my insecurities was wiped off and I learned that I haven't really missed on a lot at all. While I didn't exactly finished my course in college, it does not define my ability to learn and teach or convert my learning into applied skills. Being surrounded by learned people made me realize that I haven't really tapped into my potential because I've been fearful all these time. I let my insecurities dictate my steps. When I use to feel like I'm not going to see a positive outcome about something, I reject myself first so nobody can do it. No heartaches, right? Dead wrong. Instead of fearing rejection, make it a tool to help you gauge the ground you're standing on to make improvements or changes. I am now more determined to challenge to break myself and see what I'm capable of accomplishing, even-though I still feel the pain of rejection, I still challenge myself until I achieve my goal.

My BPO Employment & IELTS
I realized that I have not been paying attention in school because I have been learning IELTS in the past and with my BPO & call center trainings. The IELTS Pretest includes listening, reading, writing & speaking training and assessment. It's just like Foundations Training with Eperformax!

Anyway, I just can't hide my excitement in anticipation of my pretest scores. They're actually only raw scores because it's a free opportunity given to participants at the fair. I know I made a lot of mistakes but it's alright because the goal is to find out where I need to improve to make adjustments. After that, I will know what to do next.

19 March 2018

Criticisms by students & class hostility in online ESL teaching

Coming from personal experience, class hostility or student aggression doesn't just happen in the physical classroom. This is also common in on-line class, especially if you are dealing with an unwilling student who was only compelled to participate to learn the English language, or if a student is dissatisfied with your performance in class, or that they are feeling they're not learning from you. While on the physical classroom, you can still manage your class's behavior, this is almost impossible on-line because they own the liberty to cut you off by logging out of their computer.

How do you keep your sanity when this happens? 
When you feel that they are upset with something, just simply ask the student, like: "Is there anything about this lesson content you feel confused?" Let them express their displeasure and assure them that you are there to help.

I know it's easy to say not to be affected by the student's behavior and this is not true. You will, at some point, be at that boiling point and either feel inadequate as a teacher or you may unconsciously demonstrate the same hostility back to the student. Yes, patience is key and you will need to learn lots of it. What I would do is condition myself and put on a brave face.

How do you deal with a hostile student?
If you find yourself at the receiving end of a student's dissatisfaction or displaced anger. Just keep an open mind and understand that just like you, they have concerns that bothers them. Or maybe they are just tired and the class time isn't conducive to their learning. I had this student who took a midnight class and she'd always end up snoring on me. So I would just leave her a note on Skype and give her homework, stating that it's to compensate for the lost class time. You just have to learn to keep your cool. In the context of the customer is always right, a teacher fighting with a student doesn't yield an attractive outcome. Just simply express your eagerness to help and present a different approach.

How to repel student criticisms?
Dissatisfaction is part of our humanity and no matter how much effort you put into something, on teacher-student relationship, if the person's mind is set, all that you can do is give it your best and know that you have done well despite the challenges. For online teaching, one of the best strategy to fend off student or parent criticism is establishing a strong footing with your teaching method. By this, I mean that you should have:
  • Set up your attendance record. Start and end on time.
  • You make sure that the student understand the lesson material by reviewing before class time.
  • Establish house rules. Having a principle that you stand by when it comes to class time.
  • Even if you do not have the answer to a question now, you still follow through a rain-check.
  • Infuse a little fun with illustrations, paper puppets for kids, a reward system like giving them a virtual award, medal or certificate screen shot for them to keep.
  • A good relationship with your manager.
Although popularity may puncture the ego bubble and disprove complaints, integrity is still your good weapon to fend off a student or parent's critical remarks.

How to redeem yourself?
No matter how patient one can be, we all have our boiling & breaking point. What if you find yourself in trouble because of aggression in class and you haven't really established a good impression as an on-line tutor? Simply acknowledge and take care that you will not give in to the student's antagonism on succeeding class or encounters, take things with a grain of salt, and decide to start building yourself up. Refuse to dwell on the embarrassment because your student will feel it and may repeat the deed just to get you upset. In my case, when a student is inhospitable with me, I just keep the session open-ended.

In conclusion, I learned that teaching is a humanitarian cause. It doesn't discriminate, nor it makes excuses for people's behavior. And it's a good way to sharpen your edges, so-to-speak.

Hope this helps.


10 March 2018

When feeling lost about your work & career

Life comes easy if you're passionate about what you're doing; you're having fun at the same time earning yourself living for something that you love to do.

If you're passionate about your career, work-life comes easy. But for some who see their jobs only as the means to pay the bills, their daily routine becomes a drag. Sometimes we're our own enemy, we always think that we're too busy with our profession and our daily routine to pursue anything we're passionate about and we start to burn out. Or we start to lose our way in the midst of a transition of obligations and we become frustrated, uncertain of our direction in life. If you want to avoid that proverbial rut, start carving away time for your passion, whatever they may be. The key is "if there's a will, there's a way."

Of course, you just don't jump ship too fast without careful consideration of the repercussions of sudden unemployment. My career mistakes were because I rushed my way through, and made snap-decisions based on my emotions at the time or because I'm just being me. Though I do not regret choosing family over a career, I realized that, in a way, I could have made better arguments. Although sometimes because of the demands of single parenting, I would lose foresight.

Plan better & prioritize effectively.

So while you're still trying to carve your way to achieve success, what do you do with your current position or career? Fake it, 'till you make it. This methodology may seem irrational, but pretending to be happy with your job help condition your mind to accomplish the tasks at hand. You're the only one who can strongly motivate yourself at this point in order to survive and make it to your real main goal. Aside from that, you still have obligations with yourself and your family, you cannot take the risk of leaving a permanent or a paying job on a snap-decision or you will only prolong your success.

Of course, the first impulse is to find a way to get out of the mess. But you have to find the courage to try new things to find hope in any way possible. The most difficult step is the first steps but you have to will yourself to make it in spite of the challenge.