Lesson Idea: Tourism in Peru

"There is only one place on earth that has it all.

Only one country has everything the planet has to offer: all the microclimates, all the regions, every type of animal, they are all here in Peru.

Like a giant catalogue Peru can show the best of its coastline, its highlands, and its jungle. Rivers, lakes, mountains, canyons, dances, customs, the food, drinks, rituals, cultures, historic ruins shrouded in magic. From pacific beaches up to the snow line, from the Sechura desert to the Andes, from flamingos to llamas, from Baracas to Lake Titicaca, from the Marinera dance to the Alcatraz, from dishes like "Ceviche" to "Aji de Gallina", from "Chicha de Jora" maize (corn)) beer to distilled Pisco, from Alga Rubina Carob Honey to the Ayauasca vine, from the lord of Cepan to Machu Picchu you can find everything, absolutely everything, in the same place.

Peru, a multicultural nation. Peru, the world's catalogue."

Lesson Idea:
Follow a format similar to this video to write a script that highlights the attractions in your country or city:
1. Climate and geography
2. Culture: art, music, dance, language, etc.
3. Food and drinks
4. Wildlife
5. Famous historical sites
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Wild South American Dance

I thought that flamingos only lived in Florida and the Caribbean. I wonder if Jeff saw any of these on his truck ride through the Andes.

"It's a lonely life, but that's why flamingos come here. With the place all to themselves, they have the privacy to dance.

This is how they choose their mates (partners; lovers). These are Chilean flamingos but wherever there are flamingos in the world, they do the same dance."
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$125,000 salary for Middle School teachers

TEP Charter school has figured out a way increase teachers' pay dramatically without changing state funding. Here's how they plan to do it:

1. TEP does not employ Assistant Principals or Supervisors other than the school Principal.
2. TEP does not incur professional development fees required to pay teachers or to purchase professional development materials or services.
3. TEP does not contract out Instructional Services to educational consultants or other organizations.
4. TEP does not employ a variety of administrative and support staff such as an attendance coordinator, a parent coordinator, or a discipline dean; instead each TEP teacher leads one whole-school process, program or project.
5. TEP does not incur any extra personnel costs for extended-day and other student activities, since these are led and staffed by TEP teachers.

Having worked in some tough schools, it's easy to come to this conclusion:
"The problems in our schools are primarily related to unruly, undisciplined children and bad parents, a subculture that denigrates education. All the money in the world isn’t going to change a thing."
Kstudio, NY

But what do we have to lose? TEP is not asking the state for more money. They are simply revising the organizational structure.

There are other aspects of their plan that also make a lot of sense:
Partner teachers share all prep periods in common. TEP’s professional development structure is based on an observation model in which each grade has 3 pairs of partner teachers (partners rotate each quarter). Each teacher observes his/her partner teacher 1 period per day and is observed by his/her partner teacher 1 period per day. Sharing common prep periods allows partner teachers to debrief the observations and plan lessons together.

I think that one of the fundamental problems in education is that the accountability system is flawed. I can't speak for all teachers but I know from my own experience that I am a much more conscientious teacher when I am in a team teaching situation. Not only do I learn a lot by seeing different approaches but being observed by another professional raises the bar on my own teaching. I believe that the majority of teachers are hardworking and responsible but the days when we give improvised, sloppy lessons would decrease dramatically if daily observation was built into the schedule. Giving and receiving feedback from colleagues on a daily basis would be vastly superior to the system currently in place where principal and vice principals observe once or twice a year and have very little time for meaningful, constructive criticism. Not only would it be a million time more effective in terms of accountability and professional development but it is also cost effective. This is one of the ways that TEP is able to eliminate the need for vice principals.

Here is their schedule:

Teach until 6:00 everyday for $125,000? Hell, I'd do it for
$120,000 ;-)
Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that this works...and spreads.
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Chill out

Check out the new musical gadget from Yamaha, the Tenori-On.

The creator of the Tenori-On, Japanese artist Toshio Iwai:

"In days gone by, a musical instrument had to have a beauty, of shape as well as of sound, and had to fit the player almost organically. [...] Modern electronic instruments don't have this inevitable relationship between the shape, the sound, and the player. What I have done is to try to bring back these [...] elements and build them in to a true musical instrument for the digital age."

It costs about $1,200.
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The people have spoken

The results of the elllo survey are in.

Some highlights:

I was amazed to see that 1,340 people responded to the survey. 76.4% of said you would like to have an elllo podcast and now you do.

The interviews are definitely the most popular activity at 61.3%. In second and third are the Listening Games (42%) and The Mixer (38%).

A majority of people (66%) felt that the level of difficulty was just right but 20% find it to be too easy. All of the ELLLO interviews are unscripted natural speech (in other words, we don't write down what we are going to say and then record it) so the level of difficult is exactly the same as what you would find in any English speaking country. However, you would hear a higher level of vocabulary on a university campus or on the news and we are already developing activities with a more academic focus that you will see soon on elllo. For a news oriented site made for ESL/EFL students, check out our friend Sean Banville's site, Breaking News English.

36% of you use elllo everyday. This is exactly what he had hoped for. One of the best ways to learn English is to keep at it, a little bit everyday, for a long time.

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Stuck in the Truck

An elllo original tune based on Jeff's interview--a podcast too.
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Adventure in the Andes

Jeff went through the Andes mountains in a truck. This guy did it in a wheelchair.

You may be wondering how three Canadian guys become lost and stranded (helpless, stuck) in the Andes mountains of northern Peru. Or you just may be wondering (thinking), “How the heck did the little guy in the wheelchair get up there?”

“We’re going to try to get to that town right there.”

“Well we are by ourselves...pretty tranquilo” (relaxed in Spanish).

“This is not a place I want to break my arm or leg.”

Meet my buddy Mitch, the little guy in the wheelchair. His condition is called osteogenesis imperfecta. Now without going into too much medical jargon(technical vocabulary), it’s basically a condition where he has extremely brittle (fragile, easily breakable, weak) bones that have kept him small all of his life.

“In the Andes, in the middle of nowhere.” This is Javier, Mitch’s younger brother. He has often been the collaborater (partner, colleague, helper) in many of Mitch’s pursuits and travels. Many of their travel ideas causes their parents back home in Canada to be apprehensive (nervous, afraid). Like the idea of traveling to their mother’s homeland of Peru in South America where we currently find ourselves lost and stranded on the side of this mountain.

“We’re 90 miles from the next town.”

“A ninety-mile walk from the next town.”

“It should be interesting because we are in the middle of nowhere.”

My name is Scott and I have no Latin American heritage (family, roots, history) that I know of but I have grown a great interest in the Spanish speaking continent to our south. I guess you could say Mitch’s desire to return to his roots rubbed off on me (I became interested too) while being friends with him back in Canada.


After filming a political documentary drama in Venezuela, we decided to continue our trek (trip, journey) further into South America to explore their mother’s native land in hopes of meeting the family they have never had a chance to meet before. But now, with the sun beginning to set (starting to go down) and at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, we begin to wonder how we will make it through the night.

“How am I going to wheel around in this?”

“Oh, it’ll be fine.”

“I don’t think we’re going to get very far until you get a flat tire.”

Just when we thought our situation couldn’t get any worse, Mitch’s wheelchair breaks.

“Damn it, frickin’ (polite way to say f@#%ing) wheelchair!”

“Do you have a screwdriver or a knife or something?”

With the sun going down and the temperature dropping, I was beginning to wonder, maybe this ????? wasn’t the best decision after all.
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I was just wondering if maybe um...

Jullian Gigglesworth and Lillian Yates studied the differences between how native English speakers (NES) and non-native English speakers (NNES) ask their bosses difficult questions like, "I know it's a busy time right now but can I take a vacation next week?"

In general, native English speakers used the following strategies more often:

1. First names

"Native English Speakers used more informal language, prepared their requests with greetings, let's talk routines...and almost all included the boss's first name."

I don't recommend that you walk up to your boss and say, "Hey dude, what's up?" That's too informal but it is very common to use the boss's first name like this, "Hi Joel, how's it going? Are you busy right now?" If you are a student, it's common to call your teacher Mr.(Last Name) but after you graduate you are always safe using first names, at least in the US and Australia where this study was done. Does anyone know if it is the same in the UK?

2. Sympathy

"um and ah I recognise that you know at present it's not a particularly good time for any of us to take annual leave but..."

"I know we're really busy and I understand that but..."

"Yeah,look, I realise um that we're really busy but I've just got this situation that um..."

Native speakers often show their sympathy for the difficulties that their request might cause the boss: Irecognize, understand, and realize that this may be painful for you but...I'm going to ask you anyway.

You may have also noticed that um and ah was used a lot. This helps signal to the boss that you are a responsible person and it is hard for you to be selfish and ask for a personal favor.

3. Softeners

I was just wondering if I could take you know 3 weeks as soon as possible becuase I have to go overseas..."

"I know it would put the company out a little but um would that be possible?"
"what I was thinking is maybe I could take the extra week off that I haven't had yet."
"I sort of want to take the leave at the moment."

All of these phrases, sort of, maybe, a little, and just make the request sound small and humble. You can use the boss's first name but don't be pushy.

4. Past tense and continuous

"Hi (first name), um I was wondering if I could get some annual leave"
"I actually wantedto take 3 weeks leave at the moment"

Most non-native speakers in the study used the phrase, "could you give me next month for this leave" or "could you help me about this problem".

It's good to know that there are many ways to get what you want. Let me know if it works.

Gigglesworth, J., Yates, L. (2008). Mitigating difficult requests in the workplace: what teachers and students need to know. TESOL Quarterly, 41(4) Read more!

Pic of the day: Indigenous Community Leaders: Andes, Peru

Jeff rode on the truck with Inca indians.
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