My whirlwind book tour of Taiwan

I’m traveling about Taiwan this week, promoting my new books, which I won’t plug…here and now. But:

I have no idea idea if I’ve met Forumosans, but if I have I’d like to say hi, thanks anyway, and get some feedback.

First stop: Hualien. Great weather today: cool and cloudy. Yum. Had a good demo, good response from the crowd, and met some cool foreign teachers from a forward-looking school.

Great dinner at a Japanese BBQ place. Sweet. Much thanks Pierre and Catherine, Ki and Leslie. :slight_smile:

It’s good to know that people are really interested in teaching fun, education stuff in a non-Taiwan-traditional way. There seems to be a lot going on in the underground of English teaching. I hope it shakes off the soil and comes out into the sunshine, where it belongs.

Off to Ilan tomorrow.

If you saw the demo, tell me what you thought. (I’ll deny all the bad stuff though! :slight_smile:)


(I hate doing these things, as I’m incredibly shy. That’s why I always look at the floor when I search for words. )

Oh, come on, let us know the titles at least. :slight_smile:

Too bad you didn’t say where you would be today, as I am an Ilanian, and I am always interesting in new/different methods/books. Maybe next time.

Well, I don’t like to use Forumosa for shameless plugs. It’s the Caves Books ELT (English Language Training) program. It’s a series of presentations about how to effectively teach books, and a place to showcase the new books entering the market. Mine are the latter. The books are called Smart Start, which is a beginning to intermediate level reading series. It starts with a TPR based book 1, which gets the students active and accumulating/assimilating English quickly and effectively (yes, I know, all authors say that! :slight_smile:) Then books 2-3 begin to build critical thinking skills, and a structured method for breaking sentences down into meaningful fragments in order to build up comprehension. Books 4-6 continue the reading skills build up and enhance the students’ critical thinking skills. Books 1-3 are finished, 1 and 2 are published.

Anyway, any more, and this would be a shameless plug. Ilan was great. About 50 teachers and owners turned up on a beautiful day, and they responded well to the book. So many people are fed up teaching A A a a apple and are looking for newer, better ways to teach. They just don’t want the traditional easy sentence substitution books.

The only bad part was finding a taxi to the train station. I had to walk with a backpack, a notebook PC and a big portfolio of posters. Then, a block away from the train station a taxi guy calls to me, “Need a taxi?” Ugh.

I hope the teachers I met and will meet will encourage others to raise the bar of English education in Taiwan. We all know we can do so much better and so much more. It doesn’t have to be difficult. And it should be fun.

Today is Taipei, Chung Shan N Road, in the building next to the Caves Books Store.


I hope the teachers I met and will meet will encourage others to raise the bar of English education in Taiwan. We all know we can do so much better and so much more. It doesn’t have to be difficult. And it should be fun.
[/quote] i hope you are able to do this. As this is a profession that can do many things, and go far, but we have to step up to the plate if things are going to ‘happen’ . Best of luck on your tour!!!

Thank you nama.

Taipei went alright. A LOT of people there and the room was very long so I had to use a microphone, which I hate doing. They loved watching the VCD of me using the first book to teach my son’s kindergarten class.

I think watching a video of how something works as opposed to just talking about it, is so much more effective.

I do think that the bar can be raised if everyone realizes a few crucial points:

  1. Teaching beginning students to write is not a great idea. They don’t know the language, so the writing is sort of meaningless scribbling.

  2. Build up their vocabulary using TPR actions that allow them to quickly and effectively assimilate the language, which in turn gives them the ability to learn to read faster and easier. This happens because it is easier to read what you already know.

  3. Introduce new material slowly at first. More than five new words per class for beginning classes will lead to lower retention levels. If you control the input and keep saying things that they understand, then they will be more and more able to accept newer and more difficult things later on.

and don’t forget to have fun. :slight_smile:

Ok, just got back from Hsin Chu. The presentation went well, better than Taipei I thought. Lots of good questions.

Seems that most everyone is concerned with the same things:

*How long will it take to get through the books? We all have schedules to keep. (books 1-3, we do in 6 months. But they are flexible enough to extend or speed up the program you use. Depends on the class’s needs and the Teacher’s time constraints.)

*Why don’t I teach speaking from the beginning? (My answer is: because why teach them an answer to a pattern question that they will remember phonetically, when you can use that time to genuinely build up their English comprehension via listening and TPR actions. And honestly, what are they going to say to me?? :slight_smile:

*What about older students who have never studied before, who need to get ready for the tests? (I said there is no way a kid can cram for the tests in a short period of time and actually be able to viably utilize the language. She may pass the test, but that’s about it. My suggestion was go thorugh the crucial beginning build-up phase, teach them some critical thinking techniques, instill some confidence. Then start thinking about the tests.)

Taichung tomorrow and then Cha yi.

Taichung was great! Teachers all pumped up. I love it. Had lots of short talks with teachers about how to change things…like their boss’s minds.

If the boss pushes you, push back. You know the classes, the materials, the students. tell them what the kids really need. Change from within.

Visited a couple of schools. To the folks at Merryland, thanks. You were so nice and INTO teaching. It’s so good to see that! And the folks at Boston Kindergarten were also very nice…sorry I was late!

ok…tired, but psyched up for Chayi tomorrow.

So great to see progressive thinking teachers. Keep pushing back!


and it was GREAT seeing KENT again. Come see us, bud, you and the kidS. :slight_smile:

The Chayi crowd was awsome! I had 25 minutes of Q&A.Sorry for eating your time again Ian. Forgive me. :slight_smile:

It’s not about me. It’s about doing the right thing at the right time. We all talk about building a foundation…yet rarely complete it before we move on to grammar, or writing, or vocab lists.

The people I’ve met like the simple plan. I can’t do complex…it doesn’t compute. You want to ride a bike? IMHO get on the seat, kick off, and peddle like mad.

The folks at Kay school were great. Thanks so much for so much of your time. Your school is beautiful!

I love the network aspect of this tour. I want the feedback. I’m willing to meet with people and learn: their needs and concerns. I have a few ideas. They are simple…for beginners…doing it the right way from the git-go. The teachers I’ve met like the flexible DIY aspect of the Smart Start books and I’m soooo gratified. I wanted them to be that way. Different schools, different teachers…one book series. Why not?

What one man can do, another can do. (please read woman when necessary.)

Let’s raise the bar!

Thanks and peace.

Exhausted and very humbled


Well, the tour is over. Tainan and Kaosiung were great too…huge crowds, 100+ and 200+.

I’ve been mentioning the “revolution” to some of them. I have this idea of networking for the betterment of teachers and DIY schools…the ones that don’t want to follow the chain school path. And the response from these people has been awsome. Marvin at DBG school in Tainan is one of them. He’s plugged in. And I thank you and your kind teachers for listening and for the tour.

Kay school in Chaiyi. You guys too. So plugged in to what is better for the kids.

I have also heard from some elementary school teachers and principals who also recognize the system now in place needs revamping. It’s not written in stone. It too can be changed for the better.

I’m putting out an open letter to all who feel the same way. Let’s get together, brainstorm and work with the publishing powers that be to raise the bar of “Education Entertainment.”

The most wonderful thing I’ve learned from this tour is that I’m not the only one out there that is pushing for something better, something more effective.

Let’s re-write the whole thing. Woe be to those who stagnate.

Peace. We CAN do this!