Two nights in Manila

If you can visit another country, you should do it! I had the chance for a very short visit to Manila in the Philippines and it was really interesting. My friend and I visited Guam Island for a week and we transferred planes in Manila so it didn’t cost any more money to stay there for 2 nights.  We stayed at a hostel near the airport and we arrived pretty late in the evening. The next day, we spent the whole day looking around Intramuros, an old Spanish walled city, the museum and main park, as well as Mall of Asia (a lot like West Edmonton Mall)!  We travelled by jeepney, which was very cheap, to get around the city. We saw very poor areas and we also took a train to visit a big mall with very expensive stores. There was a lot of history in the city and there were also many American businesses. I was very surprised to see so many guns because every business and building had guards with guns. For a short trip, I saw a lot!

The Game of Life: Six Calgarians chose to reinvent themselves after losing their jobs | Calgary Herald

Many people start to study Engish when they are making a big change in their lives. Maybe a partner is taking more education, a parent has remarried and moved, home feels too dangerous, or your marital status has changed.  This is a great article about 6 people from Calgary who had to make job changes.  Your identity changes a lot, along with your employment status and where you live.  Read for some good ideas about how to “reinvent” your life.

We talked to six Calgarians up to their necks in the messy, but necessary, business of professional transformation.

Source: The Game of Life: Six Calgarians chose to reinvent themselves after losing their jobs | Calgary Herald

Immigrants say thank you to Canada | The Province

Thanksgiving is a unique holiday because we don’t give presents and there aren’t any large, public celebrations.  Most people use the time to meet family and friends for a large meal, as well as to reflect on the good things that have happened in the previous year.  Click the link to read and hear what the immigrants below say about their new lives in Canada

On Thanksgiving weekend, 11 recently arrived immigrants from eight different countries tell us why they’re thankful.

Source: Immigrants say thank you to Canada | The Province

Lovely Lakeland! Late season paddling

I’ve already posted about two trips to Lakeland Provincial Park, and I hope that there are many more in my future.  It’s just wonderful to be able to paddle around lakes where nobody can drive to the edge.  There are a few smaller motorboats on the lakes, but they’re generally busy fishing and they don’t do much to interrupt the peace and quiet in this lovely area.  In fact, we also realized on this trip that there are some great trails, with picnic areas and outhouses for cross-country skiing in the winter, so I may be able to enjoy another season in the area!

This trip was interesting for me because it was organized by the Borealis Canoe Club, in Fort McMurray.  I “joined” several canoe clubs around the province on their Facebook pages, so that I would have more opportunities to join in on trips. I had never met anyone from this club, but I posted a lot during the Fort McMurray fire when I found helpful information about services that were available for evacuees. They apparently have a tradition of visiting Lakeland every year for the Labour Day weekend, at the beginning of September.  As soon as they posted this trip, I signed up.  After my canoe rack broke, I checked back to see what I should do.  I could have rented a rack in Edmonton, but it would have cost a huge amount of money.  Luckily for me, the club offered to bring one of their boats down with them, carrying 2 canoes on one vehicle.  Their plan was to leave Fort McMurray around 6 am Saturday, arriving at Jackson Lake around 9 am.  I reserved a site at Beaver Lake, on the road to Lakeland for Friday night.

Friday, I organized and packed all my gear, after spending a couple of weeks evaluating what I really needed and didn’t need. I knew that it was likely to be pretty cold and wet. I picked up groceries and gas on the way, stopping for a little while in Lac la Biche. I checked in to the campground just before the office closed at nine, and it was very dark by that point.  It was also raining extremely heavily. I decided that I didn’t want to pack up a wet tent in the morning, so I settled down in my car for the night, inflating my Thermarest and getting out my sleeping bag.  I actually slept quite well, although I got completely soaked when I got out of my car to pee during the night.  I had locked my car before going to sleep, and it was awkward in the morning because my doors were locked.  Finally, I reached into the front seat to unlock all the doors.  After I heard the click, I hopped out of my car, closed the back door, and went to open the front door.  There was a lot of swearing after that!  Instead of unlocking all the doors, I had locked them all.  My keys, purse, food, and phone were all inside the locked car!!  It was about 7 am.  Luckily, I had dressed in warm, dry clothing just before that.  I searched for a way to get into my car, but nobody had a wire coat hanger, and that didn’t work, once I found one.  Luckily, my neighbours in the campground took pity on me.  They let me use their phone to call AMA (the Alberta Motor Association) to get a locksmith to come out, and then they let me check my Facebook, to find the phone number of my new-to-me paddling partners.  Luckily, they were still on the road because there’s no phone service at the parking lot.  Finally, around 9:30, the locksmith arrived (he had to help someone who had locked a baby in the car!) and he opened my car.  I grabbed a quick snack and then drove to meet my fellow paddlers.

When I arrived at the Jackson Lake Staging Area, I was still pretty stressed, so I tried to take my time packing up my gear.  I hadn’t unpacked very much the night before.  Everyone else was ready and waiting, and they were very calm and patient while I got ready.  Finally, we started out on the 3-kilometre+ portage with our canoes and gear loaded onto carts.  As soon as we got started, the rain began again, and it didn’t finish until late that night!  After our portage, we paddled to the middle of Kinnaird Lake.  For about 20 minutes, we battled huge (to me) waves and heavy wind on Jackson Lake.  As soon as we got under the bridge, onto Kinnaird Lake, the wind and waves stopped.

One of the group members had started out ahead of us, to make sure that we had a campsite in Kinnaird Lake.  When we arrived, most people pulled out food, and started eating, but I went straight to set up my tent and change into dry clothes.  It took me awhile, and when I finished, I realized that I had no more warm, dry clothing, other than what I was wearing.  I came out to join everyone to eat a little bit, but even under a tarp, the wind and rain meant that I would be wet again very quickly if I stayed outside.  I gave everyone my regrets and crawled back into my tent, wrapping up completely in my sleeping bag and fleece liner.  At that time, it was only about 3 pm.  For the next 5 hours, I slept, waking up occasionally to change position, but I didn’t take off any clothes or layers until at least 8 pm.  I could hear the others saying goodnight around that time, but I wasn’t willing to come back out into the rain.  I read for an hour or two and then went back to sleep until 7 or 8 in the morning.  At 3 am, I could hear that the rain had stopped, so I stepped out to go to the bathroom, then crawled back into my sleeping bag.  In the morning, I had a headache from eating so little, but I still didn’t have an appetite!  Apparently, I was pretty hypothermic the day before!

 

Unlike Saturday, Sunday was an excellent day for being outside.  The weather was cool and cloudy, but there was NO rain!  After all of us prepared and ate our breakfasts, the group decided that we would attempt to make a full inner circuit of the lakes, while our gear stayed in camp.  I would highly recommend this method of making a circuit of the area since it’s a WHOLE lot easier to portage unloaded canoes!  One of the group members brought an excellent cart for our portages, and another member seems to prefer carrying his canoe on his shoulders! We paddled to the bottom of Kinnaird and found carts available for the 600-metre portage.  At the end, there was a further detour of about 200 metres which wasn’t passable with the carts.  Next, we were in Blackett Lake, and paddled to the longest portage, about a mile long (1.6K).  A kayaker was here after going to the other end to pick up a cart.  We used what we had and this trail was relatively smooth to portage.  Now we were in McGuffin Lake, and we visited a large campsite in the NE part of the lake, taking a short walk to visit the memorial cairn for Squadron Leader W. C. McGuffin, a Calgarian who was killed in WWII. It was interesting to see that a minimum security work crew (prisoners) had created their own “memorial” at the site, paving a small picture of a wolf.  This campsite is located on a trail system, which may be groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter (accessible from Shaw Lake staging area).  From McGuffin, there was one more short portage (300 metres) into Jackson Lake.  Along the shoreline, we gathered firewood, now that we didn’t have to carry the canoes anymore.  There were a number of dead birch and spruce trees that were pretty easy to saw branches off of.  The last stretch was a longer paddle, but preferable to more portaging.  The water was quite calm.

Sunday evening, we all prepared larger meals and enjoyed a great campfire.  Throughout the last 2 days, we saw a great variety of birds, including migrating sandhill cranes and Canada Geese, Bald Eagles, a kingfisher, many loons, and some grebes and gulls.  There were plenty of rose hips on the bushes, and a wide variety of mushrooms and fungi, none of which I can identify.  There were no mosquitoes or horseflies and sunscreen wasn’t necessary.  I took a quick dip after supper, to clean off.  The water was brisk but tolerable.

Monday, we got started by 7:30 am, in order to have enough time to take care of everything.  People packed up pretty quickly after breakfast and we had a pretty easy paddle back to the Jackson Lake portage.  Once we were on the water, the sun put on a show for us.  It wasn’t a hot day, but it was sunny!  The final portage seemed like it got longer while we were on the lakes!  Back at the parking lot, everyone was excited to change into clean, dry clothes.  I opted to sponge off in the bathroom at the Lac la Biche Boston Pizza.  We had a fabulous lunch there before my new companions returned to Fort McMurray, and I came home.  Alberta has so many highways, so I drove on a route that was new to me, with no traffic to worry about.  I stopped at Linda’s Market Garden in Smoky Lake to load up on the last of the lovely fall veggies and fruit.

Reading Print Books versus E-Books: Student Writing

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My students asked me to choose a topic for them to write about, so I found the subject of e-books versus printed books, a common topic for a standardized language test.  We read an amazing article for inspiration, and that may have influenced everyone’s choice, but you can see that there were many perspectives offered on the subject.

We cannot say that e-books can completely replace printed books. With technology, there is a big change; in fact, a revolution has come into our lives. Some people say that in the future, printed books will vanish because of eBooks. Electronic books are more convenient and more efficient. In some ways, e-books seem more useful but it’s hard to collect them for a long time while print books are collectable. And if you really love books, you don’t want to lose your collection. Print books are always favorites and famous because of the different experience of reading them and owning them. Attractive and beautiful covers and lots of details on the book, make it easy to select a good printed books. In short, for book lovers, print books are always their first preference.

Printed books are not going to die.

 

Some people say that we are not going to use printed books in the future, because we need to care for our environment, and because computers will replace paper books as well. However, I think printed books will never die, due to several reasons.

First of all, printed books are collectible and reviewable, while e-books are not easy to collect or review. Sometimes, people choose physical books because of the beauty of their book covers; meanwhile, e-books do not have physical beauty. We can review printed books easily, however, if we need to review an e-book, it is not easy to find a particular passage.

Second, printed books have provenance and we can share them. We are able to use old or valuable books, which have belonged to someone else. In addition, we can borrow or lend paper books if we want to share them. However, we cannot possess any e-book for a long time even if we really like it.

Overall, there can be many benefits to using e-book or computers, such as avoiding deforestation and instant access to information. However, there are many advantages to having printed books such as collecting, sharing and having some memories. Therefore, paper books cannot be replaced by e-books.

Printed Books vs e-books

I like to read printed books rather than e-books. Printed books are always convenient for people because they don’t need any electronic device. Readers don’t need to spend money on the internet or find a charger. Lots of people look at a book’s front cover. If there are good cover pictures, they like to choose that book. So the front cover also helps readers to choose the book. Some people like book collections too.

Printed books last longer. They can stay in the family from one generation to the next generation. People read those books with great interest and passion. We have one Ayurvedic book, which my grandmother’s dad used. He gave that book to my grandmother, she gave it to my dad and my dad gave it to us [my brother and me]. It is not in good condition but some words are written in it by my great grandfather and we like to see his handwriting. So, books can always last a long time, with great memories.

Some people like to collect books. There are so many different kinds of books we can see on the shelf. We can also find a mini library . We can read those books anytime and anywhere. Sometimes we can get good solutions from these good books. If we read print books, they give us satisfaction.

Blind people can read books, which are written in their language (Braille). They cannot easily use electronic devices. It is good for them to see the world by books. If we see a book lying on the table, no matter whether we are interested in reading that book or not, we will take the book and flip the pages. In this way, people can create interest in reading and writing.

I prefer printed books for school students because otherwise they can become distracted by electronic devices. Some people are not familiar with e-books, so for them also, printed books are like a heaven. Considering all these points such as printed books last longer, interesting cover pages, as well as passing books from one generation to another, I am strongly in favor of printed books.

Printed vs. digital books

Since the first appearance of e-book readers in the year 2000, a battle embarked between the sales numbers of printed and digital books. Even though digital copies bring certain advantages to our lives, especially with the future possibilities of technology, physical copies will still remain in people’s lives. Perhaps they will have different or extended purposes other than only reading their content.

One of those reasons is that printed books can be collected. The collection does not only incorporate the simple possession of books it also contains the possibility of keeping memories and stories in connection to these books. A novel that was read to someone by a loved one who has already passed on, a documentary read on one of your travels around the world, or simply a book you enjoy while sipping your coffee on cold winter days next to your fireplace.

Furthermore, printed copies not only allow you to read them, they also give you the chance of marking and highlighting important passages, paragraphs or interesting quotes. You either want to keep them as a reminder but also to share them with other interested parties. This is also one of the magical impacts that a physical book has on the experience of a reader and the way that people can build special and personal relationships with these books. These books can be reminders, give you comfort or make you laugh in times when you are sad.

Moreover, the process of selecting your book in a bookstore is like walking in a meadow of flowers. The shelves are full of different publications, where each one looks more interesting than the other and still you have to make a choice. The different and exciting criteria that fall into a readers’ consideration can only be found in printed versions. For example, a book’s cover, the chosen paper, the paper’s thickness, the fonts used for the copy text, the book’s weight and smell are attributes that make them individual, when compared to others.

Despite the fact that e-readers and e-books are constantly on the rise, paper books bear a certain value for readers that digital copies will never be able to replace. This could be either the remembrance of special happenings, the former possession of your relatives or a keepsake or comfort to go to in difficult times. Not only the possession of books brings the readers enjoyment, it is also the strolling through libraries and bookstores, smelling the air of used paper and carrying the weight of old stories that will make most bookworms smile, bring a sparkle to their eyes and force them to keep them for a lifetime.

 

Eating Right Can Save the World | Outside Online

If you want to read some very good quality writing, as well as learning about all kinds of amazing adventures around the world, then I highly recommend that you look for “Outside Magazine”. This article is very long, and includes a lot of information that might be confusing, but it’s the best analysis that I’ve seen for how various eating choices affect the environment. If you are planning to take a language proficiency exam, or if this is an interesting subject for you, I recommend that you read this article. Maybe you might want to read a couple of paragraphs/day, instead of trying to read the whole thing in one sitting. Get the main idea first, and then look up words that are unfamiliar to you.

The endless cascade of nutritional information—about localism, vegetarianism, veganism, organic food, the environmental impact of eating meat, poultry, or fish, and more—makes the simple goal of a healthy, sustainable diet seem hopelessly complex. We talked to scientists, chefs, and farmers to get the ultimate rundown on how you should fuel up.

Source: Eating Right Can Save the World | Outside Online

English for talking about makeup and cosmetics | PhraseMix.com

A lot of my students are very interested in fashion, shopping, and makeup.  There is a LOT of vocabulary about these subjects, but you can learn it pretty easily if it’s important for you.  I recommend that you look for English fashion magazines, which contain a lot of photographs.  Generally, there will be a very detailed description of each of the styles that are in the book, including colours and styles.  Many women’s magazines also contain a lot of ads and articles that relate to cosmetics.  Take some time to browse, if fashion is important to you!

Aaron’s Phrase Mix covers a lot of English expressions and idioms, and you can follow Aaron on Twitter @phrasemix

English for talking about makeup and cosmetics | PhraseMix.com.

 

Make way for the yurts! Comfortable camping has come to Alberta! | Mike’s Bloggity Blog | Canada’s Entertainment Blog | Movies, Television, Music, Radio

Mike Morrison shares his thoughts and photos from a long weekend spent camping in a yurt, in an Alberta campgrounds.  Yurts are very common in the nomadic regions of Mongolia, but they haven’t been so popular here.  These yurts are part of a move by the Alberta and National parks systems to make camping easier for new campers.  The cost might compare to a night in a hotel, but it’s a lot cheaper than going out and buying all of the equipment you need for camping in one trip.

Enjoy the article, but if you’re one of my writing students, I hope that you’ll note some of the errors, such as subject-verb agreement.  For example, “there’s the people…”  Since “people” is plural, the sentence should say, “There are the people…”.  This kind of casual grammar can be common in blogs since they are often written in a conversational style.

Enjoy the beautiful photos, taken at Pigeon Lake!

Make way for the yurts! Comfortable camping has come to Alberta! | Mike’s Bloggity Blog | Canada’s Entertainment Blog | Movies, Television, Music, Radio.

Books2Buy | Edmonton Public Library

We are very lucky here in Edmonton because the library sells many of their used books, several times a year, in a massive sale.  All books cost only $1-2 each, and they have books of every variety available, including cookbooks, kids’ books, and science and nature books.  I always take my class to the sale, since you’ll never have another opportunity to buy such high-quality books so inexpensively!  Reading for pleasure is an excellent way to improve all of your language skills, especially vocabulary and grammar.  When you own the book, you can write in it, and make notes about what you read, allowing you to read quickly for the main idea, and then go back to read more deeply for understanding.

Books2Buy | Edmonton Public Library.

Local homeowner worried about grasshopper infestation

Farmers and gardeners are very worried about the lack of rain and high heat in Alberta.  These 2 news stories talk about the conditions.  See what new vocabulary you can find.Local homeowner worried about grasshopper infestation

Local homeowner worried about grasshopper infestation.

Parkland County east of Edmonton has de­clared a state of agri­cul­tur­al dis­as­ter.

A com­bin­a­tion of drought and grass­hop­pers have dev­as­tat­ed crops in the re­gion, the county said in a news re­lease Tuesday.

County of­fi­cials will re­quest a dis­as­ter re­cov­ery program be set up by both the prov­in­cial and fed­er­al gov­ern­ments.

Local homeowner worried about grasshopper infestation

5 things you should know about how your brain learns | USA TODAY College

I’m very interested in how the brain takes in new information, and how to improve the learning process.  I always encourage students to learn more about their brains, to better understand how to learn well.  There are a few things that I do regularly, based on what I’ve learned about the brain so for.

  • Ask students to talk about “what’s new”.  This builds social skills, but it also allows them to practice using vocabulary they already know, and to expand on that vocabulary with new words, expressions and idioms that relate to their everyday experiences.  I hope that this regular activity will also encourage them to “English” any of their everyday activities, since they know they’ll have to share something with the class.
  • Work on exercises individually, review with a partner, then correct the exercise with the whole class.  Good students will also do the connected workbook exercises after each class.  This provides several repetition and reinforcement opportunities since we rarely learn something new, the first time we’re exposed to that information.  It also allows connections to be strengthened between existing and new knowledge.
  • Individual, narrative writing that connects to each new subject area, as well as grammar.  Again, this allows students to reinforce new knowledge, connect it to existing knowledge, and expand their “English” thinking about the current subject.  As students write, I collect their writing, edit it, and send back the writing that all of the students have done, so that they have a grammatically correct “template” for expressing themselves on the subject.  Also, this provides reading material that is interesting, and not too challenging for students to read independently.
  • Regular “fieldtrips” to go use the target language in a real, yet safe and enjoyable environment.  This means visiting restaurants or grocery stores when learning about food, a nearby gym while learning about staying in shape.

I hope that these various methods are helping students to incorporate their language learning as quickly as possible!  Please share any other tips and tricks that have helped you to learn or to teach a new language.

Click the link below to see what scientists are saying about the brain.

 

via 5 things you should know about how your brain learns | USA TODAY College.

Books2Buy | Edmonton Public Library

Many students ask me how they can improve their vocabulary, as well as their writing, and in my opinion, the best way to do that quickly is to read as much as you can in English, about subjects that interest you.  New books are expensive, and if you borrow books from the library, you may find it hard to finish them within 3 weeks.  An excellent way to learn about many new things is to visit the Books2Buy booksale, which is held several times/year at the Stanley A. Milner Library, in downtown Edmonton.  It’s just upstairs from the Churchill LRT station.  The best selection is available early Friday morning, and the best deal is available on Sunday, when you can fill a whole box with used books for only $10!  For only $1-2/book, I recommend buying a good selection: some children’s books, non-fiction, English learning, and books that teach you how to do something new.  Don’t miss this opportunity!

Books2Buy | Edmonton Public Library.