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Learning English through Movies

I often tell my ESL students to invest in a Netflix account. Watching movies and TV shows in English with English subtitles is an extremely fun and easy way to pick up language. Not only are students able to relax and enjoy a show of their choosing, they can pick up many skills such as: listening, vocabulary, paralinguistics, cultural knowledge, and linguistic knowledge.

Here’s an interesting application from my friend Allan, directly teaching the narrative of Harry Potter along with vocabulary:

It is important for students to self-select what they are interested in, as this affects how motivated they are to learn and understand the material. For beginning students, slice of life shows like sitcoms may be better suited for their learning goals because of the high frequency words and repetitive nature of these shows.

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Lake Elsinore, CA – March 16, 2019 – Wildflower Super Bloom

About two years ago, I drove by the Lake Elsinore bloom on my way to Anza Borrego. The bloom looked pretty but not spectacular. So, when my best friend Sarah, who lives nearby in Temecula, invited me out for an early hike on a Saturday in Lake Elsinore to see the flowers, I shrugged and said yes because I hadn’t seen her for a while and I also haven’t hit the trail for quite some time.

It was an absolutely spiritual experience. Nothing can come close to describing the beauty of millions of golden poppies opening up for the gentle morning sun with flocks of painted ladies alighting gently on said flowers. Sitting up high overlooking this spectacle, I felt hope that even though we see so much darkness and death in the world everything was going to be okay. After years of drought and fire and death, here is Spring dancing and alight with fresh life and beauty.

Here are some pictures that don’t do it justice:

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“Self-Portrait of the Artist” Phase 1: Dinosaur Kid

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As promised for #inktober2018, I am doing my artist autobiography in the form of comics. (I suppose these are more of a glimpse into my artistic life rather than a true and accurate retelling.) In any case, one of my earliest memories of drawing is tracing a toy dinosaur after watching Jurassic Park for the millionth time. I loved dinosaurs then and to be honest, I still love them.

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My Favorite Artists Through History – Yayoi Kusama

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Who is she?

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation, but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts. (Via Wikipedia)

Why I love her:

I had never even heard of Kusama until I was visiting the Pompidou in Paris where they were exhibiting a retrospective of her artwork. I remember walking into a hallways with her giant paintings and immediately feeling overwhelmed with emotion. It’s hard to say what sort of emotion: somewhere between feeling small and lost in a colorful polka dot void. Rarely do I have such a visceral reaction to paintings, but that emotion has stuck with me for a long time. Her installations are equally powerful. She transforms spaces into a weird mind-bending alternate dimensions that displace the viewer (in a good way).

I really hope that someday I will be able to see her Infinity Mirror Room collection at the Broad in Los Angeles. When I went soon after the Broad’s opening, the wait time to go into the room was over 5 hours. Not going to lie, it made me very sad, but at the same time, I’m really glad that so many people will be introduced to this amazing artist. The Infinity Mirror Room is also a great place for people to take art selfies, which adds another layer and complexity to the public’s art appreciation. This is particularly interesting to me as Kusama’s work is about self-obliteration and very much anti-ego. This interplay of social media best virtual self and artwork with the opposite in mind is very intriguing to me.

More Artwork:

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Watercolor Speed Painting Video

I’ve always wanted to do a speed painting of my artwork. I’ve finally acquired everything to do so. I got a camera to stream my artwork, but for right now it seems more feasible to just record it, speed it up and throw it up on my youtube channel.

I really like the way this piece turned out. If you are interested in buying this piece, please click here.

Art Materials:

Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencils

Marine Blue

Strathmore 300 Series Student Watercolor Paper

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Set of 6 tubes

Video creation materials:

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, Widescreen Video Calling and Recording, 1080p Camera, Desktop or Laptop Webcam

Adjustable Microphone / Mic Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand, ELINP Compact Mic Stand Made of Durable Steel for Radio Broadcasting Studio, Sound Studio, Stages, and TV Stations

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How to Get your First Teaching Job Part II: The Cover Letter

This is a series for aspiring teachers (particularly those who wish to work at community colleges)

Part I: Job Hunting Advice for New Teachers

There are millions of resources out there for teachers for writing your resume or CV. The cover letter is just as important (if not more important) than your CV.

What’s the difference between a resume and a cover letter? 

The CV/resume tells your potential employer that you are qualified for the position. Your cover letter is your elevator pitch that explains why you are the best person for the job. Your cover letter should be the lovechild of a narrative essay and the copy of an advertisement. A strategically told story with a call to action. In short, your resume shows what you are and your cover letter shows who you are and how you got there. So how do we make this happen?

Start simple, work smarter

When you are fresh out of grad school looking at different job openings, everything can start to feel overwhelming. Most job resources will tell you to write a new cover letter for each job posting. Going through the whole writing process for each and every job you apply for is wasted effort. I recommend creating generic templates for different categories of jobs, then tailoring them to specific job postings. But before we even begin drafting, we are going to:

  1. Categorize the types of jobs we are aiming for
  2. Research ! Research ! Research !
  3. Look at common descriptors that each category of job is searching for
  4. Make a list of those descriptors for each category
  5. Compare with our resume

Thinking through the eyes of a potential employer is a powerful tool we can use to get our first job. They are looking for specific things. For teachers, we are going to be highlighting our core teaching philosophy and praxis, our competence, and our humanity. We will tailor this to specific English programs, depending on what their mission is. For example, if I am applying for a summer job teaching vacation English to tourists, I’m not going to highlight my rigorous academic writing syllabus in my cover letter. This cover letter will not be appealing for a summer program for tourists that want to learn speaking and listening for traveling around the States.

Get to the point!

I mentioned that cover letters are like elevator pitches: they should be short enough to be understood within the time it takes to ride an elevator. So, unlike an essay that has an elaborate introduction, we will start with a short and to-the-point introduction:

  • Greetings, explaining who or where you found the information to contact the hiring manager/committee
  • Who you are, what you are applying for, and why you are the best person for the job

Here’s an example from one of my own cover letters:

Dear Hiring Committee,

I am applying for the part time Non Credit ESL instructor position at Community College. I graduated with my MS TESOL Master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton in 2016.  I have been teaching noncredit ESL grammar classes at Community College as well as credit classes at Community College. I believe that I have the knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm necessary for this position.

Back it up!

Now that we have our main thesis, we will need to back it up in short paragraphs. Structure is paramount to a short, punchy paragraph. Here’s a refresher on paragraphs:

    • Topic sentence that refers back to a specific quality you mentioned in the thesis.
    • Specific evidence/examples supporting that quality
    • Explanation as to how this has improved your skills as a teacher
    • Transition into more specific evidence/examples
    • More explanation
    • Transition to next paragraph

If you are fresh out of grad school, you may not have teaching experience to fall back on. Tutoring also will help you get a teaching job. It shows that you are still working with students, and hopefully applying what you are learning in school to the real world. You will have to show what you learned in class, and how that will help you as a future teacher. Here’s another example showing the knowledge part of my thesis:

Besides the core classes of the MS TESOL program which include speaking/listening and reading/writing, I have taken two relevant elective pedagogy classes offered in my program: Pedagogical Grammar and Teaching Vocabulary in the ESL/EFL context.  I received A’s in both of these classes and immediately started applying the knowledge gained in these classes to my own teaching and tutoring jobs. Celce-Murcia’s book on grammar will never leave my possession since it taught me how to teach articles and verb tenses. At my job as an ESL tutor at Coastline, students will wait for me with their most complicated grammar questions, and even the other tutors love to ask me to settle grammar disputes.  The vocabulary class has also been an asset to my professional development. As an ESL tutor, I can quickly diagnose the root vocabulary issue that students may have. Moreover, I do a lecture on vocabulary word knowledge for my Freshman English class, as well, to help them become more aware of the intricacies of their own word knowledge.

Don’t forget your manners

At the end of your cover letter, you should be sure to thank the hiring manger/committee for their time, and ask them to contact you should they have any questions.

Example:

Thank you for taking the time to review my application. I look forward to going over my qualifications with you in person. If you have any questions regarding my application, please feel free to contact me via phone or email.

If you are an aspiring teacher, or looking for a job, and have questions you would like me to answer, please let me know.