Some of the most fun we have here at BGL is when we write original songs and produce music videos to go along with them.
The following are intended for a kindergarten English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) audience, but try them out with your little ones at home and sit back as the inevitable booty-shaking sing-a-long commences!
Here’s a sampling of some of our favorites from the past year.
Does your curriculum yearn for some content-connected songs and videos? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment to find out more about our services.
The following is Teacher Joanna’s reflection on her teach abroad experience.
The last place I ever thought I would call a home is Taipei, Taiwan. I am originally from the midwestern hub of Chicago, Illinois but have spent a significant portion of my academic and professional career living outside the United States. I have lived in Spain and South Korea and traveled to more than 25 countries, yet, there I found something different in Taiwan. Taiwan is special; it is an overlooked gem in the heart of Asia.
Prior to my stay in Taiwan, I was working as an English Teacher in Daegu, South Korea. I had taken a brief three-day trip to Taipei on a spontaneous travel whim. It was pleasant, but I was not blown away. Throughout my travels, I had experienced a grab-bag of emotional, heart-stirring encounters upon first contact with a new place. I had gazed upon the splendor of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and wistfully dined with a baguette and cheese picnic in front of a lit-up Eiffel Tower. I had stood above the world in the icy mountain tops of the Swiss Alps in Zermatt and stayed in a bungalow on the Gili Islands in Bali, a bike ride and ten coconut trees away from a stunning ocean view.
So what convinced me that Taiwan was worth a long term chance, you might ask?
At first, the attractive job offer at BGL‘s Tsai Hsing School. The allure of adventure and accessible travel to other places was hard to pass up, with an all-inclusive offer of excellent pay, adorable children, and perks like free accommodation and roundtrip flight bonuses.
Accepting that offer led me to one of the happiest, most fulfilling experiences I’ve encountered in my life’s journey thus far – and yes, even amidst that large grab-bag of “Instagram-post-worthy” emotional travel whims.
After a first impression, the true joy in Taiwan is the journey of its discovery: the people and the hidden gems that reveal themselves when you really know and understand a place. I didn’t fall in love with Taiwan because of a short-fleeting, lustful “one night stand;” I fell in love because I put in the work to have a long term relationship with it, work that is required to reach true understanding.
Taiwan is more than a short-term study abroad destination or a brief stopover on the way to another city. The friendly people, luscious greenery, unending hiking trails, mountainous beach towns, diverse food tastes, vibrant art scene, bustling night markets, and local festivals make this country a place you can actually stay. Taiwan perpetuates a value for life, one that simultaneously upholds its unique traditions while openly embracing all the innovation and progress that define the “new.” It is an evolving city that accepts all that it is a part of it: the good, bad, ugly and beautiful.
Taiwan is genuine and authentic; a place that will undoubtedly offer you another home.
If you’re interested in teaching in Taiwan, check out the current offerings here.
Otherwise, here’s a collection of some of my best photographs of the experience.
Life in Taiwan
Teaching in Taiwan
It is no surprise that with 4.12 million miles of highway, 88% of the people in the United States own cars. What better place for a car museum than Los Angeles which is notorious for its amazing cars and terrible traffic? Recently, after completing their own car design project, BGL’s Grade 8 Classroom Live students Tsai Hsing School took a Field Trip Live to the Petersen Automotive Museum which as building is on its own, depending on who you talk to, either a marvel of engineering or an eyesore. We’re going with the former, but see for yourself:
This FTL brought students to a location that is unlike any experience in their home country. The Petersen owns nearly 400 cars. 150 are on display. You can visit the rest in the vault unless they are out on loan or being repaired. Everywhere in the museum there are docents; these are people ready to answer your questions about the cars. Docents always carry sheepskin mitts so that when they are not helping visitors they can keep the cars buffed to a high shine.
The Model T Ford is known the world over so the United States is often mis-credited with inventing the automobile. Karl Benz invented the first motor car in Germany in 1885. People were so uncertain of the safety or utility of the vehicle that he had his wife drive it 66 kilometers on her own to show that “even a woman could do it!” The first Model T came off the production line in October 1908.
In addition to cars which made history, there are always exhibits of particular types of cars – and cars of the future. Did you know that the first electric car was made (by Ford) in 1914? There were also steam cars. Some of the cars of the future on display include solar and wind powered cars.
A favorite with the students was the movie cars exhibit. Among others, they saw James Bond’s Aston Martin, the Bat Mobile and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. One of the few touchable cars was this one from the movie, well… Cars.
In addition to our virtual student visitors from Taiwan, there were several students from the Art Center College of Design, drawing cars and designing cars in a special computer assisted design lab. Cars are imagined, drawn by hand, drawn on a computer, mocked up with a variety of materials, and if the process goes further, sculpted in clay. Students go on to not only design cars, but design film sets, video games and more. Teacher Travis interviewed one soon-to-be-freshman while students observed via Travis’s iPhone and asked questions of their own:
Afterwards, students used the valuable information field trip as inspiration to design their own cars as part of a larger unit on the physics of modern car design. Yet another example of how BGL is changing education for a changing world.
Flashing back to the holiday season, the following is a highlight reel of reflections from BGL’s junior high superstars at Tsai Hsing School. This special event was a multi-point Holiday Field Trip Live that connected the students live to teachers in North Carolina, Portland, OR, Los Angeles and Taipei simultaneously. In a brand new round-robin format, students moved digitally from room to room to hear personal reflections on December holiday traditions.
A critical component of BGL’s FTL model is to facilitate thoughtful activities after the trip so that students can synthesize and apply whatever they learn during the trip. The students chosen to share their work here showed great attention to detail, thoughtful word choice and a true showcase of their refined English skills!
Christmas is an especially important holiday for Christians. There are lots of different kinds of ways to celebrate Christmas. Some people wear a Christmas hat and dress up. On the other hand, some people prefer to decorate a Christmas tree or even have a great big meal. Americans have some fascinating ways to celebrate Christmas.
First of all, some people in America get together and do special things. Some make cookies and others make a gingerbread. Some people even make a very big cake for their relatives. Others go out and have a big meal. Same as always, they have a long break and people go out.
Second, Americans help others. Sometimes if they have cookies or some small snacks that they cannot finish eating it, they give poor people their cookies. Some people even invite poor people to their house and celebrate with them.
Last, people decorate lots of things. People usually decorate their house to make their house bright and shiny. Most famous landmarks, such as Venice Canals, put some fantastic decorations to make people feel warm and delighted.
Christmas is a really big day you can spend time with your relatives or friends. You just finished my article. Why not go home and spend time with your favorite people from anywhere in the world and say “Merry Christmas” to them!
On Christmas, Americans spend time having fun with their family. They have a Christmas tree, stockings, and lots of fun things to do together. They put lots of gifts under the tree for their children. The children think the gifts are from Santa and are excited about the gifts. Children put their stockings on their bedroom door for Santa to put gifts in. People sing Christmas songs with family to spread Christmas cheer. Some people bake cookies and make gingerbread houses with friends and family. Christmas sounds like it is so much fun, I would like to celebrate Christmas, too!
Christmas is a well-known holiday in many countries. Today, there are many different ways to celebrate Christmas, not only sending presents. The Christmas tree is always a must on Christmas. Now, people buy artificial trees to replace real trees that were cut down. It is more eco-friendly and more convenient. You don’t need to go to the forest to cut down trees every year just use the same tree is appropriate. If you got the tree, the next step is to decorate it. Ornaments now are more choices not only balls and strings. You can put up your photos from young to old around the tree or write some wishes on a paper hang it up.
Some gingerbread on a cold day is a great enjoyment. Roll the dough and cut the shape you want with cutters. Caroling is also important on Christmas Day. Singing the traditional songs for Christmas is making the day better and more fun. Now, more people don’t send gifts to family members but homeless shelters. They don’t have a home or a family so it kind of you to send them some blankets or hot tea and cookies.
All in all, Christmas is a day of joy and love. Presents or gifts aren’t as important as you think if you do something more than you do normally. Try to celebrate your Christmas a different and fun way.
Americans celebrate Christmas in different ways. Many Americans celebrate Christmas with their families or friends. They exchange gifts and eat dinner together. They put their gifts under Christmas trees or in socks on Christmas Eve. And on Christmas, they will happily open their presents. Some Americans will buy Christmas trees and decorate it. The decorations are warm and often have a big star on the top of it.
Some Americans make Christmas snacks, like gingerbread houses and candy canes. Christmas is a warm holiday to celebrate. Every American’s celebration is unique and can’t be replaced. All Americans have their own traditions, we should respect all of them.
BGL’s Field Trips Live (FTLs) are changing education for a changing world. Students now have access to the highest quality educators and experiences no matter where they are as technology lifts the limitations of physical location. FTLs are particularly well-suited for connecting students with dynamic experts in any given professional field.
An example of this new approach in education plays out in this video. 8th grade classes at Tsai Hsing School in Taipei, Taiwan welcomed Dr. Adriana Galvan, a psychology professor from UCLA, into their classroom as a guest speaker. Suddenly the 6,774 mile distance between their campuses did not prevent them from creating a meaningful connection. This was great news considering that the subject of the the research conducted by the award-winning professor is precisely the age group of the students she conversed with over Zoom.
The question-and-answer session with Dr. Galvan about her work as a research psychologist – which focuses on adolescent decision-making – spawned a fascinating dialogue between the 8th grade novices and the seasoned professional. Important for the impact of the experience, the conversation did not occur in a vacuum; rather, beforehand, the students researched adolescent decision-making and took the industry standard Flinders decision-making questionnaire. The results of the survey shed light on which which factor was most influential in the respondent’s decision-making processes: self-confidence, vigilance, panic, evasiveness or complacency.
The results were surprising for the teenage students. For example, when asked what they thought would be the most important factor for their own decision-making, the vast majority of students responded either self-confidence or vigilance:
However, when they were asked specific questions about their decision-making students realized that each of these five factors played significant roles in decision-making within the class as a whole. Students were asked to reflect on why they thought the results came out the way they did and many had interesting takes on their own psychology. For example, one student who scored high on panic said that she was worried about how her decisions would affect other people. When pressed to explain it further, she discovered that it was less about how the decision would affect other people and more about how it would affect their perception of her. It’s a reasonable fear to have, especially for a teen, but one that she may not have been aware of were it not for exposing them to the field of psychology at such a relatively young age.
The talk with Dr. Galvan gave students an opportunity to gain valuable insight into the results of the Flinders questionnaire. But the floor was also open for the students to ask any question they wanted about Dr. Galvan’s work in addition to their own psychology and that of their peers. Not surprisingly, what ensued was educational gold. Here are some of the more compelling questions asked by the students:
- Why do I think my parents know nothing about me while they think they know everything about me?
- Why do we have emotions?
- I think it’s quite interesting that the video used scientific researches to explain the crazy stuff that teenagers do all the time. I want to ask: if we finish our brain development at the age of 25, then why do the laws want us to take responsibility at the age of 20?
- Why do teenagers talk on the phone so much?
- Why don’t I like to study?
- What is a difference between the brain of a humorous person and an un-humorous person?
- Why do we dream?
Dr. Galvan’s answers were fantastic. Some of the bigger hits were the following:
- Student: Why do teenagers laugh at things that aren’t funny?
- Dr. Galvan [paraphrased]: People use laughter in different ways for different reasons, it’s not just when something is funny. One thing laughter is used for is to create bonds between people. So when teenagers laugh at things that aren’t funny, maybe they are doing it in order to make friends.
- Student: Why am I not tired when I go to bed?
- Dr. Galvan [paraphrased]: This is very interesting. There’s a phenomenon called “temporal separation” that we see across many different species. The adolescents of a species stay up later than children and than adults in order to potentially give them the opportunity to experiment with being the ones in charge. So, it’s like they are using the temporal separation to try out adulthood while the adults are all asleep.
See the conversation with one of the two classes here:
All in all, this was a fantastic example of how FTLs and can provide the very best educational opportunities to students no matter where they are in the world.
For more from Dr. Galvan, check out her UCLA faculty page and her TEDxYouth talk with over a half million hits on YouTube:
BGL‘s Teacher Erin is in her first year of teaching kindergarten at Tsai Hsing School in Taipei, Taiwan. Erin and her travel companion, Alex, are the creators of a successful YouTube Channel that catalogues their adventures in Taiwan.
Recently, they produced the following video: a guide to teaching in Taiwan:
And, they wrote the following blog post for those who prefer the written word.
As always, check out our available job listings here!
Switching jobs in your home town can be stressful, regardless of your chosen career path. But packing up your life and moving to another country isn’t exactly the same as quitting your job at McDonald’s so you can work at Burger King.
You’re on the internet, so you’ve seen the blogs, YouTube videos, Snapchats and posts from all those smiley too-young-to-be-rich people swimming in exotic beaches and riding camels – and suddenly, hauling your entire existence to (what might as well be) a different universe seems a little more attractive.
WELCOME TO TEACHING ABROAD!
The video that accompanies this blog is specific to Taiwan – and although I am a firm believer that Taiwan is a perfect place to begin your journey – the principles in the video can really be applied to anywhere.
No matter where you’re looking to go, you’re going to need to gather all the documents that prove you’re a teacher, then you’ll most likely have to get them notarized and maybe even translated and authenticated.
Aside from that, you’re basically going to do what everyone has to do until they die: follow your gut. Just remember to ask all the right questions and keep your head straight.
Sure, moving to Italy sounds romantic but did you ask about the housing allowance? Cuz it’s not the cheapest place in the world.
Of course everyone wants to live and teach on an atoll like Vanuatu, but did you ask about the utilities? Because you’ll probably not have internet and you’ll probably have daily power outages.
I’m not saying anything should deter you from going to the places you dream of going, I think you should go. Just ask all the questions first and don’t get too hung up on romantic ideas of surfing in the sunset or eating baguettes on cobblestone streets before you get the real facts.
SO… WHY TAIWAN?
Simple: it’s a balance of all things.
It’s a yin yang of modern and ancient.
It’s accessible – and by that I mean there’s wifi all over the island and unlimited internet is super cheap. So you can literally live stream from ancient temples or from the jungle…
The people are insanely friendly and accommodating. We’re Canadians, but the Taiwanese people make us look like jerks.
The food is killer and on the days you just want to have a burger and fries and pretend you’re at home, no problem.
If you get hurt, they have top-notch health care, and you’ll get it for free when you get your Alien Residency Card. (Are you listening, America??)
They have a major international airport that has direct flights to almost anywhere in the world.
Speaking of flights, it’s SO CHEAP to visit other countries.
We went to Okinawa for the weekend…
That’s right people, for the WEEKEND!
If your parents are fraught with fear about you moving to a foreign country to teach for awhile, tell them to chill. There’s almost no crime here. I once left a GoPro on a UBike (Taiwan’s bike share program…where you never see the same bike twice) for an entire day, and nobody touched it. Nobody would touch it because opportunistic crime like that is simply not present in their cultural mores.
I’m fairly confident that if I left my wallet on a park bench that it’d be there the next day…
Ok, its super hot in the summer, less hot (and sometimes chilly) in the winter and when it rains… its next level.
There are earthquakes, which become kind of fun after you get over the initial anxiety of realizing that we are but puny little ants on this massive earth.
Yes, there are typhoons, but listen, this isn’t Taiwan’s first rodeo ok, they’ve always had typhoons. So don’t you think they’re kind of prepared for that by now?
Basically, the weather is either tropical and awesome, or it’s at least more interesting than yours.
WHAT ABOUT THE TEACHING?
Well, again, most of this is explained in the video…
But if you’re used to teaching in the USA or Canada, you’re in for a real treat.
The kids are more obedient than a class full of young jedis.
Lunch is provided…just before teacher nap time.
There’s Taiwanese teachers in the classroom at all times and they are likely to help you out if you need it.
BGL makes sure that there is a system in place to make sure you actually have somewhere to live, whether it be housing allowance or an actual apartment.
The expat community is amazing so you won’t feel lonely, and the other English teachers are generally willing to help you out.
You’ll punch out at 4pm almost every night, so that’s plenty of time to go downtown and explore all the great dinner spots or catch a flight to the Philippines for the weekend.
The only real risk is that you’ll actually never go home once you get here.
And that’s it in a nutshell! Feel free to leave a comment here to ask your questions, and don’t forget to watch our travel videos to get a better idea.
Authors: Alex Vaan and Erin Bibby