When Being a Hot-Blooded Teacher Is Actually a Good Thing

Teacher Nate has taught with BGL at Tsai Hsing School for the past 7 years. He describes one of the secrets to his longevity below:

I should start with the caveat that “hot-blooded” in Chinese, rèxuè (熱血) is actually a very positive trait. In Taiwan, being a hot-blooded person means you are enthusiastic and full of passion. So when somebody refers to you as being hot-blooded here in Taiwan, they aren’t calling you a “hot-head” like in my native U.S. Rather, it’s a compliment!

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This linguistic difference is just one of the myriad cultural nuances to navigate when teaching abroad. This, in turn, is just one of the many challenges you face while daring to pack up your life to live and work in another country. Two more challenges are finding a community outside of work and staying engaged in your professional life. It was these two birds that I killed with one stone: Spartan Races.

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Having always been into fitness I was excited when in 2016 these events made their way to Taiwan. Spartan Races are essentially an obstacle course race completed either competitively or as a team-building event. I enjoy both aspects and soon they became a real passion of mine. Through Spartan Races, I have made good friends and recruited others into the sport. This has helped to make Taiwan my home away from home. After enthusiastically helping with some Spartan promotional activities, Taiwan’s Spartan organizers now refer to me as “the hot-blooded teacher” within the Spartan community.

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Keeping my life exciting out of the classroom has made me more driven within my classroom as well. Students can be greatly moved by the things that matter to their teachers, and my students know I’m passionate about Spartan Races because I often use the races to make real-world connections and extend content across our curriculum. And so eventually some of Tsai Hsing’s students signed up for the kids’ version of the race. I made sure to run next to them through the course and encouraged them on each obstacle. They might have gotten involved on their own, but I think at least some were inspired to try the Spartan Races because of my “hot-blood.”

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This all reminds me that though a person can keep work life and private life separate, they are interconnected. The adage “work hard to play hard” goes both ways, so one could also say “play harder to work harder.” My advice: be sure to find what makes you “hot-blooded” and pursue it, especially if you teach abroad.IMG_7040.jpeg

Want to teach abroad? Go here to see BGL’s teach abroad opportunities in Taiwan and China!

Music Videos for the New School Year

Hey everyone!  While y’all have been enjoying your summer (we hope), we here at BGL have been working tirelessly to make sure the 2019-2020 school year starts off with a bang by creating fresh videos to brighten up your new classroom.  

Songs for Routines

A great way to greet new students and build routines is with classroom songs, like our newly released Hi There! Hello! Good Morning! and See You Tomorrow. The catchy tunes bring such a smile to the kids’ faces as they sing along, simple words make for quick and easy sing-alongs, and fun dances make saying “hello” and “goodbye” a happy part of the day for young learners.  For the silliest song to teach manners while getting out some giggles, check out May I Please!

Songs for Phonics: Sophie Sounds

We all know that phonics is an important part of a balanced kindergarten diet, but it can be less like a boring vitamin and more like a rainbow sprinkle ice cream cone with Sophie Sounds. Young learners can explore the magic world of sounds, letters and words with Sophie and friends. Aligned with the BRIDGES curriculum, students can see words from their book come to life in the short, sweet animated adventures of Sophie Sounds.

 

Want more?

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the latest phonics adventures of Sophie Sounds and browse our library of free quality educational content for young learners. If you love what you see on BGL’s blog and want to become part of our collective of educators and innovators, see our job postings.

Thanks, Team!

A special thanks to our BGL media production team that brings the magic to life!

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Happy teaching, everyone!

Next Vista Project: Winners and Reflections

BGL‘s 8th grade students from Tsai Hsing School recently participated in the international Next Vista Competition. Next Vista inspires students to become teachers by creating informational how-to videos. Below, students reflect on the process and the media-development skills they refined through their Classroom Live experience. 

But first, let’s take a look at the video by Andria and Justin which won the competition! (And, you can see why.)

 

Here is Andria’s reflection on the process:

A few months ago, our teacher announced that all of us THSH DL students were going to participate in a global competition. The context, simply put, was to compete to see who could make the best “How to” video.

I remember when the teacher was explaining the rules to us. I could feel the cogs in my mind running, searching for what type of interesting thing I could do this time, searching for what idea could leave my classmates in awe. Such events always excited me; I liked to do my very best to see if I could surpass even more people than before when it comes to using my artistic talent. Seeing amazed, smiling, even shocked expressions always brought me unexplainable joy.

However, the grouping bothered me. I thought about being in a group alone, since I”d already decided on what I was going to do— an art tutorial— and it wasn’t easy to do it with others. In other words, I’d end up doing all the work if I was grouped.

By the end of the period, I was grouped with Justin, a boy with quite fluent English. He asked me if he could join me since he was sick of doing all the work during past projects, since he’s also the type to carry his teammates’ burdens on his shoulders. Not giving much thought, I accepted, letting him do part of the speaking in our video. Perhaps his voice could help our video, I thought.

This project contained three important steps, all of which I was confident of: drawing artwork, speaking English, and digital editing.

-Filming-

It took some pondering to find out where I could set my camera, or rather, my phone. Professional setup didn’t exist in our small home. My solution? Tape! Tape fixes everything and is the solution to everything. Yep, that’s right; I taped my phone onto my lamp, setting the camera to time lapse. My phone was on fire by the time I finished filming all my 40 minute art progress.

-Script-

While I did that at home, I wrote the script for the video at school. The teacher had opened a “Next Vista Storyboard.” I made sure that it was simple and easy to understand, so that people of all ages could understand, even the students in my class that hadn’t been learning English for long. I assigned Justin some lines to read, while I read the others, and the both of us spoke together during the opening and closing. We recorded in the Voice Memos app in the hallway to make sure there were to disturbances. Of course, earphones were required, and there was still a bit of background noises, but it got covered once I added the background music.

-Editing-

Next was the editing. I’ve edited videos for computer class, other competitions, PowerPoint homework that actually didn’t require so much work but I did so anyways, and just for plain fun, such as my sister’s birthday, so I was also confident in these abilities. I used Corel Video Studio, a software my sister downloaded in her computer long ago.

This software was professional but not too complicated, easy to understand and not hard to use. I’ve learned to use most of the abilities by clicking around myself and asking my sister for help in the past. After this event, I’ve gotten even more familiar with this software!

My account has multiple failed uploads I didn’t get to delete after submitting. One has misspelled captions. One has a missing credit. One has cut audio. It took a while to get a version I was content with, and it’s still imperfect. But of course, there’s no such thing as perfection, so I’m not worried! If perfection existed, we wouldn’t be able to improve after reaching the highest point. What fun would there be in that?

Thanks to all my free time, my strong determination, Google Drive, and the plug that was placed conveniently next to my computer (my phone kept running low in battery), it didn’t take long for my video to be finished.

I think a very crucial part of my success is how I loved what I was doing. I literally sat in front of my computer for a whole day with no rest, only editing the video, not being able to move, since I didn’t want to end my progress.

Of course, along the way, most of my classmates gave me funny looks when they noticed how hard I was working. They saw this assignment as “another one of those things” while I saw this as “an important opportunity.” Just this fact made me surpass all others. People just don’t understand the pride of gaining a new achievement. Until now, as I type this article nonstop, my classmates are playfully judging me as they take their break time.

I do not regret doing so though. Winning this contest made me very happy, and even until this day I think it’s one of my biggest achievements. I’m happy that one day, I’ll look back to this day, and I’ll think to myself, “Oh, I’m so glad I worked so hard on the contest during eighth grade.”

To the people who are working hard or going through a hard time, don’t stop just yet. I’m sure your hard work will pay off soon! What other people think isn’t important, your ambitions are far more important!

I will never forget this moment of my life.

 

And, here are some more reflections from the class:

Ring:

This time is our second time to participate this contest. This contest is about making a teaching video. We make a video of cheesecake. It is really happy that we can make a food video. Although it takes a long time to make it. But we learn that make dessert needs more patient. Making a cheesecake also spent a lot of money of ingredients and models. It is also needs focus of measuring the ingredients. But when you eat it in the very end you will get a sense of accomplishment. It’s really fun to make, but you should think about your budget is high or low.

 

Ryan:

What is the Next Vista competition? This contest is mainly about showing people videos that can teach you things. People could choose the article whatever they want. Example like, teaching people how to shoot a basketball. I have done a video about how to do push-ups. My teammate did many push-ups and I just recorded him. I thought it was a really easy job, but in fact it wasn’t. We had to make a credit and add words in the videos. The audio and volume need to make sure it’s clear and perfect. Although we didn’t get any reward, I am still happy with our video because we finally did it!

 

Sophia:

Next Vista competition is a competition of teaching videos. We can post any video that teach the watchers how to do something. My partners and I decided to make a video that is about how to make a bow.

First, we decided on what we will say, and what are our scenes about. I think this was the most difficult part, because it was hard for me to create something like a play. After we finished the script for the video, we started filming. Luckily, everything went well. My partner and I filmed quickly. Next, We added some subtitles, music and credits to make the movie more clear. Then we finished. During the filming, I think the challenge was that I deleted one section of the video! I decided to use the screenshot to film it again.

I am happy about my video, because I think it was clear. This video made me learn that being a teacher isn’t easy.

Teaching Abroad in Taiwan: A Home for the Restless Wanderer

The following is Teacher Joanna’s reflection on her teach abroad experience.

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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.

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Joanna’s pic of the Himalayas, to which she traveled from Taiwan.

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.

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Golden Waterfalls in Taiwan.

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.

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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

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Teaching in Taiwan

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Travel Hub

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Field Trips Live: Petersen Automotive Museum

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:

 

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Credit: Shutterstock.com

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.

 

 

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A young visitor to the Petersen knows he is the right size to drive this concept car, but is unsure about how to get in. Credit: Travis Moyer

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.

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Credit: Shutterstock.com

 

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.

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Credit: independent.ie

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.

Field Trips Live: Holiday Round Robin

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. 

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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!

Chadwick:

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!

Vanessa:

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!

Henry:

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.

Amber:

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.

A Year in Pictures: Teacher Joanna’s Kindergarten Class in Taipei

Upon finishing up her tenure at Tsai Hsing School in Taipei, Taiwan, BGL’s Teacher Joanna created a photo essay that paints a pretty accurate picture of the teach abroad classroom experience. Her comment: ApparentlyI wore a lot of headbands this year.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, we’ve got 39k words from Joanna below. The details you will find describe our campus, curriculum, kids, coteachers, celebrations and stories.  We hope you enjoy. Thanks, Joanna!

If you’re interested in teaching abroad, check out our hiring page!