December 30, 2008

My Newsletter of 2008

Wow, it's about the end of the year. I think no matter how busy I have been in the whole year or what good excuses I have got for not writing more stuff here, I should at least commit a little my time now to a year-end review of myself. Here it goes.

no matter how 不論如何的...
excuse 藉口, 理由
at least 至少
commit 承諾,撥出
year-end review 年終回顧

To look back the year, I think I am a lucky guy. I know some of you may have faced a pay cut over the last few weeks or months, and what's worse is that some got unemployed. I feel sorry for those who have been suffering from this year-long economic recession. To some degrees, I am fine at present. So far I have only got notified about cancellation of two classes only. Just a minor loss on my pay, frankly speaking.

pay cut 薪水刪減
unemployed 被解職
suffer from 受...之苦
year-long 整年的
economic recession 經濟不景氣
at present 目前
to some degrees 某種程度而言
so far 目前為止
notified 被通知
cancellation 取消
minor loss 輕微損失
frankly speaking 坦白而言

I am still in love of teaching, and getting much more interest in doing it. My friends in class and I are like a family sometimes. I know how to entertain them and what is the key to being a successful teacher. As I always mention to you, repetition of reading and listening is the most important thing in learning a language. I am still doing it as well since I am also a learner to language learning. So are you doing it, right? I am planning to learn different languages for year to come, so don't be surprised if you hear me speaking different languages in class.

entertain 娛樂
mention 提及
repetition 重複

Brian will soon finish his first semester of the Fourth Grade in his school. Maggie quit her job in the middle of the year, and now she is a "full-time" worker doing house chores every day. Brian has some problems with math this semester, and he is still working on it. Maggie doesn't seem to find a job in the short run, especially after we kept our first dog at home. She now is too busy taking care of our dog to consider getting back to work. Well, I don't mind being the only bread winner for my family as long as my income is sufficient.

semester 學期
grade 年級
grade school 小學
quit 辭去
house chores 家事
math 數學
in the short run 短期來說
especially 特別是
consider 考慮
bread winner 養家的人
as long as 只要
income 收入
sufficient 足夠的

Alright, I have to stop here even though I still have a lot to say. At any rate, I wish everyone the best in the future, Happy 2009 to you all.

at any rate 無論如何

October 11, 2008

Try this way to help your kids learn a language

Since I have soaked up many different ideas on how to learn a language in a more cost-effective way, I recently found a good idea doing it on my own. My son, without question, has become the guinea pig in this experiment of mine. Here is what I do.

soaked up 吸收
cost-effective 省成本的
recently 最近地
without question 無疑問地
guinea pig 實驗鼠
experiment 實驗

First I write down something on a piece of scratch paper which I suppose my son may be interested in. For example, my family, my dog, my favorite music, and just to name a few. These topics as well as their contents must come very closely to the real things happened to my son. In fact, I don't want to play any English-learning CDs for my son because I know he won't be interested in them. I found them too unreal and too boring for him.

scratch paper 便條紙
suppose 假設,認為
to name a few 舉幾個例子

as well as 和
come very closely to 非常接近
in fact 事實上

Then I record the things I wrote into a music file format, say wav or mp3. And that's it. I burn the files into a CD and play it every night when my son goes to bed. There are not only English words in the CD but also translated words into Chinese after each word in English is read by me, so he can immediately get to know the meaning of each English word. I repeat the whole sentence again and again in both languages. Day after day I add different topics into the CD, so more and more new words and stories have been generated. More importantly to say, these stories are authentic things going around in his everyday life.

burn into 燒成
not only...but also... 不僅...而且...
translated into 翻譯成
immediately 立刻
get to 有機會去
repeat 重複
generate 產生
authentic 道地的

If you try doing the same thing as I did, you will find, your pronunciation skills in English is improved, your kid is more likely to listen to such an "English-learning" program done by no others but you. It's rewarding task to try. Believe me.

pronunciation 發音
improved 改進的
more likely to 有可能去
listen to 聽
rewarding 值得的
task 工作

July 12, 2008

If she weren't here, she would be....

I met this student again, not in the class but on the street.

I was crossing the street when she came across me on her motorcycle. She was on her way home from some sort of party with her co-workers, and I was about to go home from work that night. Frankly I don't know her well. She is actually no one but a student of mine. The only one time when I talked to her went back to one evening in class. I just happened to have a question for her, which went "Did you ever live abroad?" I liked to ask her the question because she looks different than the average people in my class. To be more specific, I must say she just resembles most of the America-born Chinese I had ever met with while in the US. Consequently, I got a positive answer. Yes, she was there before.

cross 跨越
come across 遇見
some sort of 某種的
co-worker 同事
be about to 準備要去
happen to 剛好有機會去
average people 一般人
to be more specific 更仔細的說
frankly 坦白講
resemble 相似

consequently 最後
positive 肯定的

Now back to the street where I met her. Since she turned off her motorcycle trying to pull it over a bit to the side of the road, I realized that she was ready to have a small talk with me. I was happy to do that too, if it wasn't taking me too much time. So, the conversation began.

turn off 關掉
pull over 車開到一旁
a bit 一點點
small talk 閒聊

She was born there but for some reason she relocated to Taiwan when she was 12. I didn't ask why because I thought it would be too rude to ask some private questions. However, there must be an interesting reason behind. She must have had a terribly hard time here in the beginning. Since then, she proceeded to live her life on the island just like you and me. She went to school here, learning Chinese language from scratch. Maybe she just could already speak our language in the first place but writing could be a headache for her. Now she seems to have sorted out all the problems. She has become a full-fledged and independent woman and needs no help from anyone at all to survive in this fast-pace surrounding. Good for her, I definitely think. And I used to encounter the same problems as she did. The difference between us is that I was suffering the cultural shock in the US.

relocate 搬家
rude 無禮的
private 私人的
behind 在...之後
deal with 應付
perhaps 也許
proceed to 繼續去
from scratch 從頭開始
headache 頭痛
sort out 解決
full-fledged 羽翼豐滿的
independent 獨立的
survive 生存
fast-pace 快速步調的
surrounding 環境
definitely 一定地
encounter 遇見
suffer 受苦
culture shock 文化衝擊

After we ended our talk that night, I began to ponder something in my mind. I wondered what her life would have been like if she hadn't moved here. Did she ever regret moving down here? Would she be happier than now if she still lived in the US? Would she have a better career life, or a more harmonious relationship with people? I am not sure, but I guess she would be totally different than now.

end 結束
ponder 沉思
wonder 想知道
regret 後悔
career 事業
harmonious 和諧的
relationship 關係

April 14, 2008

I finally found a new home.

I am excited now about buying a new home after having rented apartments for many years.

excited 感到興奮的
rent 租
apartment 公寓

The whole process of buying it is not completely settled yet because I am still negotiating the price with the dealer with the construction firm. This guy told me since the price he offered to me couldn't be accepted by both of us, he needed to ask his manager to get it lowered a bit more so their bottom line and mine can meet eventually.

whole process 整個程序
completely settled 完全地搞定
negotiate 協商
dealer 仲介
construction firm 建築公司
offer 提供
accept 接受
lower 降低
bottom line 底線
meet 符合
eventually 最後地

Actually I can tell you now that our agreement to the final price is only fifty thousand NT/ 1700 US dollars apart, which means just a jump from the touch down. I think even if they insist on their price, I still will pay for that higher amount because I really love that place. I have already paid ten thousand NT dollars so far as a deposit for price negotiation fee to make sure no one would be able to bid for that place before I give up.

actually 實際上
agreement 同意
apart 相隔
a jump from... 離...咫尺之遙
touch down 達陣
insist on 堅持
deposit 訂金
fee 雜費
bid 出價
give up 放棄

Hopefully by next Monday the deal will have been done, and what I have to do afterwords will be such things as checking the place wall to wall to make sure its condition is totally sound. And next if everything on the checklist is all right, I will have to start giving the down payment. Some association fees may also be charged to me by the way. And applying for home loan from the bank is a must-do as well, or I will not have enough money to buy it.

hopefully 順利地話
deal 交易
afterwords 之後
wall to wall 從這頭到那頭
condition 狀況
totally sound 全部穩當地
checklist 核對用的清單
down payment 頭期款
association fees 手續費
charge 索費
apply for 申請
home loan 房屋貸款
must-do 必做之事
as well 也

In any case, it will take a long time to get everything done, including buying new furniture, room decorations, moving, and much much more. I assume the end of May or early June is a probable moment for a wrap up.

in any case 無論如何
furniture 家具
decoration 裝潢
assume 認為
probable 大概的
wrap up 結尾

February 02, 2008

Count-Down Clock

The count-down clock shown above is to indicate the remaining days of presidency for the Taiwan current president- Chen Shui Bian. The clock shows how many days are left before he
steps down.

count-down 倒數
indicate 指出
remaining 剩下的
presidency 總統職位
step down 下台

According to the opinion polls in Taiwan, more than 80 % of the population agree that Chen is the lousiest president in Taiwan's history. Over the past seven years under Chen's regime, he has done merely nothing good to its land and people. The economy of Taiwan has come to an extremely sorry state. His corruption along with his family's scandals also led his supporting party, DPP, to a unprecedented failure over the congressman election. Some said that Chen will be the best helper for Ma, the KMT's candidate to the 2008 president election.

according to 根據
opinion polls 民意調查
population 人口
lousiest 最糟糕的
regime 政權
merely 只是,僅僅,不過
extremely 極度地
sorry state 悲慘狀態
corruption 腐敗
along with 加上
scandals 醜聞
led 導致
unprecedented 空前絕後的
failure 失敗
congressman 國會議員
election 選舉
candidate 候選人

On the other hand, the DPP's candidate Hsieh is still facing a huge challenge, all because of Chen's rotten presidency.

huge 巨大的
challenge 挑戰
rotten 腐壞的

January 02, 2008

Extension Pronunciation #1: The Basics

by Weijen

Pronunciation is crucial to other language skills: word memorizing, listening, grammar, writing, reading…its importance cannot be over-emphasized. There are only 26 letters and 40 something phonemes, so why don’t so many people just take some time to master those few sounds?

Thus comes the pronunciation course.

The course does not pretend to change your life, but that doesn’t sound too far-fetched if you would use English to mold your lips, tongues, teeth, throats to move swiftly in a new way – after all, it’s not about new knowledge, but about new “movements” you have to adjust your lips to. It does not take intelligence; it takes practice. The course might be tedious, but boy, be patient.


When you want to say something but you can’t, it is a situation of “implosion.” That means you might know grammar and words well, but might have ignored practicing the movements of your lips, teeth, tongue, and even throat in an English way. It might be difficult for some, but not that difficult.

The difference between written and spoken words

A written word has meaning(s) and connotation(s), but a spoken word carries much more than that, such as authority, personality, awkwardness, anger, tenderness, delightedness, confidence, cultivation, nationality, mood…you name it. Showing those emotions is a very trait of being human.

However, sounds are fleeting, and they make non-native speakers uncomfortable.

East vs West

We pronounce Chinese words one by one, but it seems westerners pronounce English words by stringing them together. In other words, the way they process words is like eating the whole beef kabob, rather than consuming the meat balls one by one.

How good should our English pronunciation be?

You don’t need to sound like an ABC (American born Chinese); maybe you should even love your indigenous accent, considering that many non-English speaking peoples will forever keep their native accents. In the global village, there are all kinds of accents. Therefore, I think, in the new world game, a certain compromise needs to be set – we need to learn English and those
foreigners need to get used to our accents. It’s not too much an ask.

The goal of a language is simply to help us carry information and emotions. It’s not too difficult and it’s wonderful if you can do just that. Do not get tied up by correct use of grammar, great pronunciation, intelligent use of words…give yourself a break.

Try not to stutter though.
English has never been a phonetic language
English is the formation out of more than 100 languages (mainly, Greek, Latin, French), and it
explains the unpredictability of its pronunciation when looking at the letters of a word.

Therefore, one can say that there are no regularities in English pronunciation. On the other hand, I also noticed that American kids could pronounce some difficult words the first time they read them. It suggests that there is an underlying structure within this complicated sound system, and the only way to acquire the underlying, or hidden, structure is through extensive use of the language.

Yet, it’s too slow to learn pronunciation through a dictionary, and it is way too ineffective to learn it from an electronic dictionary.
The best (fastest) way to improve pronunciation, in my view, is through imitation – from TV, movies, CD, whatever, where contexts of English use are provided.


  • Vowels / consonants
  • Syllables (each syllable contains one vowel)
    Ex: entrepreneur / comprehension / sophisticated
    A vowel (V): I, ooh.
    Open syllables (CV): me, so, play…
    Closed syllables (VC): am, ants, eel
    Onset and coda (CVC): cat, sat, jump, clump (not a t all / did you)
    Syllable boundaries: e-xtra or extr-a or ex-tra? stan-ding or stand-ing?
  • Connected speech:
    Assimilation: ten balloons, good night (g’night), bridge score, church street, won’t she…
    Elision: p’lice, t’mato, c’rrect, acts of parliament, next day, government, mashed potatoes.
    Strong and weak forms: determiners, pronouns, auxiliary verbs, prepositions, conjunctions…(and, that, his, from, of, to, some, there, have, were, do, must..)

How will we proceed?

Before each class, I will upload the word and sound files on the Extension Website: (on Tuesdays) and you will need to download those files to practice pronunciation. (you need to sign up to the website) Please practice the same thing every day for at least 10 minutes. (7 days a week)
We will read the KK phonetics and related words together, and you will read some poems for us. I will do my best to correct each person’s pronunciation and we shall learn from each other. I hope you have fun. Be free to make all mistakes imaginable. Love them, cherish them, and let them catapult you into excellency.

Last time I did not care much about attendance, but this time I care a hell lot of if because, first, so many people could not get in this course and you are in now, so be serious. Second, it is simply very important.