Students Know What They Are Told to Want: The Non-Native Teacher Debate

TEFL Equity Advocates

“The mind knows not what the tongue wants.” That was bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell during a 2004 TED Talk, quoting famed American market researcher and psychophysicist Howard Moskowitz. The talk, entitled “Choice, happiness, and spaghetti sauce,” detailed Moskowitz’s revolutionary research which profoundly altered the food industry.

Most famous for his research into people’s tastes for spaghetti sauce in the early 1980s, Moskowitz fundamentally changed the way food companies thought about making clients happy. Two of the most famous spaghetti sauce companies, Prego and Ragu, both hired Moskowitz to fix their brands, both of which had grown financially stagnate.

At the time, the two dominant types of sauce were plain and spicy. However, after creating and offering 45 different variations of hand-made sauces he prepared for the American population, Moskowitz determined that there was a third sauce type that was deeply desired: extra-chunky. The mystery was that neither Prego nor…

View original post 958 more words


Showing respect: The Filipino Way

I would like to start this section of my blog by talking about three most common ways of how Filipinos show respect for others.As a father raising a four-month old daughter in a foreign country, it is my ardent hope that I can teach her all these Filipino values and practices.


A little girl doing pagmamano
A little girl doing pagmamano

Pagmamano is the most common gesture of showing respect to elderly. It is done by asking for the hand of the elderly and let it gently touch your forehead while bowing and saying “Mano po” which literally means ” Your hand, please”. In return, the elderly blesses you by saying “Kaawaan ka ng Diyos” (God bless you). Elderly refers to parents, grandparents, godparents, parents of friends or colleagues, and cousins who are at least 10 years older than you.  We do the pagmamano when we arrive home or when we leave the house; or whenever we meet an elderly like at the mall, market, or at the church. During Christmas time (and birthdays), children flock to their godparents to do the pagmamano because they will not only receive blessings but also wonderful gifts. When visiting the Philippines, foreigners are not expected to do pagmamano but imagine their fondness, hospitality, and love for you multiplied ten times if you practice it, too.

Po and Opo

We use ‘po’ to show respect to the person we’re talking to. It is the equivalent of ‘kha’ and ‘krab’ in Thai except that ‘po’  is used by both genders. For instance, saying “Magandang umaga” (Good morning) sound okay but it would have been better if you said ” Maganda umaga po“. It’s like saying “Sawasdee kha/krab” which is better than just saying “Sawasdee”.
Opo” is a polite way of saying “oo” which is a very casual way of saying ‘yes’.If you travel in the Southern Tagalog region, you will hear people saying ‘ho’ and ‘oho’ instead of ‘po and ‘opo’. Don’t worry, they mean the same thing.


 Kuya is used for someone old enough to be your big brother while Ate is for someone who is old enough to be your big sister. In Northern Philippines where I come from, we used ‘Manong’ and ‘Manang’ instead of Kuya and Ate. In addition, the Manongs and Manangs address the younger ones (both genders) as ‘Ading’ as a form of endearment.

Kuya Alex = ‘Big Brother’ Alex
Ate Cathy = ‘Big Sister’ Cathy

Manong Michael = ‘Big Brother’ Michael
Manang Susan = ‘Big Sister’ Susan
Ading Tom = ‘Little Brother’ Tom
Ading Jane = ‘Little sister’ Jane

Learning from a Kid

“I don’t know how long I’m gonna live but I’m gonna live it one day at a time and make the most out of it.”


I was requested to sit as one of the judges for the Impromptu Speech Contest (Lower Secondary) held during the 7th EP/MEP Open House held at Satreesisaket School in Sisaket a less known province in the northeast region of Thailand. To be honest, I’ve been doing this judging stuff for the past 6 years already so you could only imagine how boring this might have been for me. But you see, I have a way of always looking at the bright side of everything thrown my way. So instead of thinking of the boredom of sitting there for  almost a day judging some 40 high school students talking about family, entertainment, environment, etc, I focused my energy at making it an inspiration or subject for my next blog post.

The competition started at 9AM and as I entered the room, I cannot deny the excitement on the faces of students and coaches  alike. Some of them are still reading on their notes hoping they’ll pick a topic they’ve prepared  for. After a few announcements from the Thai teacher and some clarifications regarding the criteria and mechanics, everyone settled down and got ready for the  first speaker.

I was starting to give in to boredom when this little girl took on the stage and started talking on the topic ‘The Best Thing About Me’. It was the topic she randomly picked from 16 other possible topics. He voice was soft yet full of confidence and some sort of authority. I honestly did see it coming when she looked at me straight in the eye and said: The best thing about me is my ability to understand a simple fact about life: I don’t know how long I’m gonna live; so it is nice that I make the most of it while I’m still breathing. For instance, I joined this competition not only because I want to win but also, and more importantly, I want to experience how it is to speak before a group of people and have my voice be heard. 

I was not so sure how I felt right there. I thought it must have been the exact words I’ve been wanting to hear. For a moment, this little girl’s words made me reflect on how I’ve been living my life. She reminded me of my regrets, unfulfilled dreams, broken promises…

The competition ended revealing the champion that was not the little girl. When I looked for her from the crowd, I saw her enjoying her selecta ice cream never taking it to heart that she lost. I asked how she feels and she replied to me with a smile: I can join again next year…if I’m still alive.

I replied: I’ll see you then again next year…if I’m still alive, too.


Why I Blog?

Being a teacher allows me to interact with different personalities every single day. I am personally amazed at how I am able to adapt myself so quickly to differing group of students like from a smart yet noisy group to a slow but disciplined students. Trust me, the teaching principles taught at the universities play a little role in the actual classroom settings.

These experiences encouraged me to pursue another endeavor: blogging.

I want to blog because I want to use this platform like a journal while at the same time sharing these experiences to my fellow teachers or would-be teachers hoping that they can relate in a way and could give some advice or tip to better our teaching skills.

Another reason why I blog is that I want to polish my communication skills. Writing is communication and blogging is writing. As a teacher, it is imperative that we should be excellent communicator in order to optimize the teaching-learning process. I think being a great communicator provides great benefits for the rest of our life—both personal and professional lives.

Since writing requires some degree of thinking, I am confident that by blogging, I become a better thinker. Being a better thinker will surely enable to better understand myself and my job. I will be more discerning in dealing with my students’ diverse background and skills and be able to help them improve themselves and their skills.

Blogging allows me to meet other people in the cyberspace. As a foreign teacher in Thailand, I’ve learned that nothing beats homesick better that making friends and become a family. Through my posts, I am hoping that I can make new friends to go along this exciting and rewarding world of blogging.

What about you? Why do you blog?