The English Harmony System will improve your spoken English and help achieve English fluency! English fluency Mentor Robby Kukurs publishes loads of useful articles about all possible aspects of improving spoken English and English fluency, and from those articles alone you can gain massive amount of free tips and tricks you can immediately apply on your English fluency improvement routine.
Of course, you must be, it’s Christmas Eve and New Year is about to begin after a few days and everybody is super pumped up for everything.
So what do you like to eat more during these eves?
Cake or pizza?
What did you just say?
You must be thinking what am I rambling on, isn’t it?
I got no problem if you like any of the above two options, but same scenario (one-word answers) occurs whenever I hear a non-native stating their choice.
Conversation is all about two or more people interacting equally with each other. Now if a person asks you about choices and you give him a one-word answer, it kind of puts him on the stand to lead and balance the vacuum you created for the further conversation. And I can tell from my personal experience that following up every time after such gaps is definitely not a piece of cake on the other end, hence the conversation ends out of nowhere.
It doesn’t mean that I am telling you to exaggerate the situations or answers. The thing is, one-word answering is one of the top conversation killers in spoken English.
Well, how to deal with such issues?
Luckily, dealing with these issues is not that tough how it seems. Using one of the three formats of sentences that I am about to mention down below, you will start noticing your conversation skills improving and you the one leading the conversation.
So without beating around the bush, let’s begin:
Method 1: Question: What do you like- Pizza or Cake? Answer: Although some people like cake, I prefer pizza because I love its toppings and cheese.
Method 2: Question: What do you like- Pizza or cake? Answer: Some people like cake; however, I prefer pizza because I love its toppings and cheese.
Method 3: Question: What do you like- Pizza or cake? Answer: Even though some people like cake, I prefer pizza because I love its toppings and cheese.
In all three methods above, we have talked about the negative part first and then explained why we prefer our respective choice. You can see yourself how better it sounds than just one-word answers like- Pizza or cake.
Make sure you start applying these strategies in your spoken English and you will notice your conversation skills improving day by day.
Merry Christmas to you and your family and enjoy your time. May you have an amazing year ahead!
In the time I’ve been teaching I have taught around 100-200 students as well as had conversations daily with many more language exchange partners. In this time I have seen certain mistakes and patterns appear time and time again and I would like to share these insights with you so you can avoid these same problem areas!
Some of these are very basic and so I’d like you to keep an open mind. No matter what your level of English, it is possible you are still making some of these errors so double check every point mentioned in this article to make sure you aren’t making these mistakes.
Missing ‘s’ suffix
This one is a big one when speaking. A lot of languages won’t change the form of a word to imply whether it is singular or plural (it is based on context). For this reason, the ‘s’ tends to get missed off of the end of words when foreign students are speaking English. This is a big NO! Although we can probably guess from context what you mean, missing this suffix is a big clue that you are conversing with a non-native speaker.
Another pronunciation point: – ‘ed endings’. There are 3 ways to pronounce these depending on the word. However, these endings frequently get mixed up or students will just pick one way of pronouncing it and stick to it. Learn the right way to pronounce these now so you can practice them the right way.
(The ending sound will be either ‘-d’ / ‘-t’ / ‘-id’)
This is an interesting area. Although most students know the basics, there are many areas where mistakes are being made very frequently so make sure to double check you are comfortable using all of these: –
Large numbers (100,000+)
Units of measurement (km, mm etc.)
Another thing to consider with numbers is that there are regional differences (mainly between American & British English) to consider. An example is that in British English we tend to insert ‘and’ or ‘n’ to join up bigger numbers to smaller numbers (e.g. 105 = one hundred and five). What is important is that you are aware of this difference and whichever style you are learning, make sure to stick to it. (No mix and matching!)
This one is very basic but it gets mistaken often. There are a few reasons why, one of them is that some languages might not have a difference between these words and rely on context for their pronouns. The other reason is that they just sound so similar! Whatever the reason, be careful with this (this warning also applies to “his/her”). Getting this one wrong can be quite embarrassing!
This area deserves an article all to itself! In English there are some rules that can help (e.g. countries don’t have an article unless it contains common nouns in the name such as ‘united’, ‘islands’ etc). That being said, it can feel like articles are used randomly from noun to noun. What’s important to know is that these can be learned, if you struggle then use a flashcard system like Anki to memorize them and/or consume as much native material as possible to get used to them.
A simple one, but I do see problems here often, (especially with students who are more used to speaking or watching movies for practice).
Remember! Capitalize the first letter in these situations: –
If it’s a proper noun (name, e.g. place, person etc.)
If it’s the first word in a sentence
When using the pronoun ‘I’
There are too many to list in this article but make an effort to learn your ‘noncount nouns’. Generally things that we struggle to count will be a noncount and as such cannot have an ‘s’ suffix when pluralized (e.g. water, rice). We have to say things like ‘some water’ or ‘a bit of rice’. Here are some other common noncount nouns used in the right way.
(None of these should have an ‘s’ suffix when in a plural form).
I have a lot of stuff. Can you help me?
That’s a lot of information to understand!
Can you lend me some money? I don’t have much right now.
I need to expand my vocabulary, it’s quite small
I have so much music in my collection.
There are also certain problems that arise with students from certain countries that tend to have problems in the same areas. This article, however, looks at common areas that I see with students from ALL backgrounds. Make sure to double check that you aren’t making any of these mistakes, even if you think you’re getting it right every time, get a teacher or a native speaking friend to check. So… to recap: –
Make sure you are adding the ‘s’ suffix to plural nouns (also make sure you are pronouncing this sound when reading).
Learn the 3 ways to pronounce the ‘ed’ ending and get it right every time.
Check that you can express numbers in all their different forms, practice, practice, practice!
Use the right pronouns to avoid some embarrassing situations!
Use the right article. When in doubt, ask the Internet.
Use capital letters in the right place to make your writing look more professional.
Learn your noncount nouns!
About the author :
Jonathan is a native English Teacher who has experience teaching abroad (China) and now currently specializes in teaching English online.
As well as teaching, he runs the website English +XP, an online English learning resource.
“Do you know the man you saw yesterday in the park was ambling instead of just walking?”
“The rogues rambled around in the vicinity of our society this afternoon.”
In both sentences above, ‘the man’ and ‘the rogues’ were just walking, but the way they walked is best defined by the words ‘ramble’ and ‘amble’.
People walk differently with different mood and intentions, hence situations give birth to new words describing it even more clearly rather than just using the word ‘walk’.
Hence, in this article today, we see 16 ways to walk and what it means.
So without further ado, let’s get down to the topic and learn some new vocabulary describing ways to walk-
16 words describing ways to walk 1: Amble- to walk leisurely.
Example: The newly wedded couple ambled beside the beach and shared the words of love.
2: Flounder- to walk with difficulty due to some problem.
Example: The old man floundered around in the water.
3: Limp- walk impeded due to some injury.
Example- The player limped off the ground after being hit by the ball on his toe.
4: Strut- to walk in a proud way trying to look important.
Example: Robin strutted around the hall to get every girl’s attention.
5: Stroll- walk in a leisurely way.
Example: I love to stroll along the beach after the sunset.
6: Stride- to walk in long steps.
Example: He strode in the balcony thinking about his bitter past.
7: Stalk- to walk in an angry or proud way.
Example: She stalked out of the room after we questioned her why she failed the test.
8: Stagger- Walk or move unsteadily, as if about to fall.
Example: He entered staggering into the room.
9: Waddle- walk unsteadily
Example: The poor man waddled due to swollen legs.
10: Stumble- to miss a step and fall.
Example: He stumbled over his son’s toy.
11: Trudge- to walk slowly with a lot of effort, especially over a different surface or while carrying something heavy.
Example: The mountaineer trudged back up the hill.
12- Skulk- move stealthily.
Example: We called the police when we saw an unknown man skulking in the bushes.
13: Saunter-to walk in a slow, relaxed way, often in no particular direction.
Example: I saw John sauntering in the park yesterday.
14: lurch- a sudden movement forward or to one side.
Example: Joe lurched to his feet at dance practice today.
15: Parade- to march in a procession
Example: The military officers paraded during Independence Day celebration.
16: Wade- to walk with effort through water or other liquid or viscous substance.
Example- They waded out till the water reached their waist.
So I hope you will know the difference from next time, whether you should use ‘saunter’, ‘wade’ or ‘ramble’.
Each word has a different meaning that describes the particular situation to the listener, moreover, you are definitely earning a plus point if you use these words in your written English (Today’s tip!!!!!)
Make sure you read this article thoroughly and practice it with your own examples so as they become your second nature.
Today I want to share with you how phrasal verbs can help you improve your English vocabulary and how you can easily learn them.
Here’s an example: ” I don’t like if someone cuts in while I talk”.
In the sentence above, phrasal verb ‘cut in’ means to interrupt in between. Phrasal verbs are undoubtedly one of the most crucial parts of our daily conversation. Hence, I thought why not shed some light on their types and what they are.
So before we jump to their types, let’s see in brief.
What is a Phrasal verb?
A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and another word or two, usually a preposition or an adverb. They are very important in English as they help you sound more natural when you speak or when you write.
Natives usually don’t find it hard to understand them (of course, because it’s what they have been listening to since birth), but when it comes to a non-native, it is definitely not a piece of cake to understand and use in their spoken English, especially if you are a beginner.
TYPES OF PHRASAL VERBS
Some say there are two types of phrasal verbs, while others four. It has always been a topic of discussion and different English teacher explain it depending on the sources they learned from. I don’t say books or sources they learned from were wrong. I went through many of the English books, blogs, and resources and found a different answer at every place which can make a learner even more confused with the concepts and types.
So without beating around the bush, let’s see their types and what they are.
Phrasal verbs are basically of two types :
Intransitive phrasal verbs
Intransitive phrasal verbs are the phrasal verb that does not require a direct object.
• Hurry up!
• Robert dropped by at my place yesterday.
• I didn’t do that good; I am just expecting to get through.
Many of you will comment that the second example is wrong because you see an object in the sentence. So before you all do that, let me explain what direct object means.
“A direct object is the group of words that is acted upon by the verb. And as you can see, in the second sentence “at my place yesterday” is not acted upon directly by the verb ‘drop’, so the sentence doesn’t have any direct object and the phrasal verb is intransitive.”
Transitive phrasal verbs
Transitive phrasal verbs are the phrasal verbs that have a direct object.
• I am going to throw these biscuits away because they have expired far before.
• My boss turned down my leave for my brother’s marriage.
• My mother came across my lost earphones while cleaning the house.
Transitive phrasal verbs are of two types: Separable phrasal verbs- The phrasal verbs in which you can put a direct object in between and separate them, hence they are called separable phrasal verbs.
Examples of separable phrasal verbs
• You can’t even do the initial steps properly; you need to do it over.
• He doesn’t want to let his mother down by failing this time.
Inseparable phrasal verbs- The phrasal verbs in which you cannot put a direct object in between and separate them are called inseparable phrasal verbs.
Example of inseparable phrasal verbs
• I ran into one of my old colleagues yesterday on a bus. (CORRECT)
• I ran one of my old colleagues into yesterday on a bus. (WRONG)
• He can easily get the role as the lead artist in his brother’s absence; both brothers take after their father almost 100%. (CORRECT)
• He can easily get the role as the lead artist in his brother’s absence; both brothers take their father after almost 100%. (WRONG)
So that is it for today.
I hope you have a clear understanding of their types and the difference between them.
You can find here more articles and examples of phrasal verbs.
If you live in an urban area or a city, you probably spend a lot of time stuck in traffic. You can use this time productively to learn English and practice speaking it in the car.
If you live in an urban area or a city, you probably spend a lot of time stuck in traffic. This often interferes with other things in your life and needlessly sucks up precious time that could be used to finish a job assignment or learn a new skill. If you’re not a native English speaker and you are looking to learn and improve your language skills, what better time to learn English than when you’re on your commute to work or school? Here are some tips to help you with that:
Listen to English Podcasts
This point particularly applies to those who drive themselves and can’t safely use their hands to flip through books or their phone. There are lots of podcasts sites that cater to aspiring English language learners. The BBC, British Council and EnglishClass101.com run podcasts touching on every aspect of English history, culture and language, tailored for learners at different levels, from beginner to advanced. Some of the podcasts are free while others require a subscription, so be sure to check on that when deciding which one to go for. What more, listening to podcasts presented by native speakers teaches you a lot on diction and pronunciations, which are essential to language mastery.
Listen to English Radio
Listening to English speakers casually talking can boost your understanding of the language and teach you how to pronounce certain common words. This is why you should try to listen to English radio stations such as BBC Radio, WSSN, and Riviera any time you get. That way, you may get to hear of some phrases and colloquial expressions you may have missed in your lessons. Additionally, you also get to listen to some English music, which can further give you an idea of relevant topics and themes in the Anglosphere.
Carry Some Offline Material
Sometimes, using the Internet when on the road it’s difficult due to a weak signal and you may find yourself stranded if all your learning materials were based online. This is why we recommend downloading all the resources you need, including podcasts and tutorials, to your phone or laptop before leaving your house. This way, you won’t have to suffer through unending buffering and sound freezing when you enter a tunnel, and the network suddenly decides to act up.
Play Lots of English Music
You most likely have an MP3 player in your car, and even if you don’t own a car and commute by bus or train, you probably play music through your phone. You can effectively learn English with songs, particularly by repeatedly listening to particular tracks. If you have the means, we suggest that you download some English tunes and listen to them on your commute. If you’ve never listened to English songs before and are not familiar with English artists, you can easily find relevant playlists on popular music platforms like iTunes, SoundCloud, and Spotify. Some widely accepted English-speaking artists you may want to listen to include Adele, Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, and Eminem.
Keep Up With English News
You will find it easier and more fun to learn English by not only focusing on the rigid formal structure but by also keeping abreast with daily English news. Just like with radio and music, reading or watching the news in English enables you to pick up some terms, phrases, and pronunciations that may not appear in your lessons. Additionally, it is in the news that you will hear, and get to know, of socially, politically and culturally relevant people in the Anglo world. This will help you understand the formal and informal language structures better. So, next time you’re on a trip, pick up your local English paper and get reading.
Get Some English Learning Apps
If you’re not occupied with driving duties, try downloading some English language-learning or vocabulary building apps to keep you busy on the road while still improving your English. Examples of such apps include Duolingo, Memrise and Hello English, all available for free on various app stores. Notably, most free apps only contain some simple information so you should just use them as a supplement of your paid lessons. If you want to improve your fluency, you can listen also to the English Harmony System.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you have a company, preferably an English speaker, you can have simple grammar quizzes to test your understanding while on the road. We recommend getting some vocabulary lists and flashcards for this unless your company is very proficient in the English language. You can also try saying phrases and words out loud and correct each other when you go wrong. That’s not only lots of fun but a pretty good way to learn and practice your language skills.
Whether you have your own car or use public transport, the tips above apply either way and if followed right, can hugely improve your English knowledge and speaking skills. You may not have enough time to attend many lessons, especially if you have a busy schedule. But you can always make use of time spent on traffic to learn a language while driving. But before that, drop us a comment and let us know what you feel about the article. Questions are welcome too!
About the Author:
Scott Pine is a team building coach in the social marketing sphere, expert in life insurance company, traveler and car lover. Scott also works on several own projects, including AutoExpertGuides.
I am so happy, or you can say, I am on cloud nine today. I mean it feels like achieving something you have been waiting so long to do and I think I made it.
Sorry, “we” made it.
First and foremost, I would like to thank all my dear readers who have been a part of this journey right from day 1. Thank you all for your positive responses and active participation in this course we named as “Free 30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course”.
It wouldn’t have been possible, had it not received such a beautiful positive response from you all, and I think if not all, at least a few would have surely got benefited from this series of articles.
By the way, in case you missed the starting, you can always go back to day 1 anytime and start back again.
And you know what?
I have been in your shoes in the past and I really know what it feels like to work on your English and not get the desired results.
Back in 2008, I used to stumble upon many words and could not even speak fluently.
It was so hard for me to hold a conversation with anyone. I used to fear a lot that sometimes I had to switch to my native language.
Fortunately or unfortunately, everyone goes through their phase of struggle and learn from their mistakes.
I know many of you might be seeing yourself in the above scenario, and all I can say is, you just need to keep going and be patient. Good things take a little bit of extra time and some struggles for sure.
Just make sure you keep learning and growing your vocabulary, but please, never start learning the words from a dictionary or making a list of phrases from it and writing in your notebook because ultimately you will just be wasting your time if you do so.
Whatever you learn, make sure you learn it with context so it remains in your active vocabulary longer and you know exactly how to use it.
I really love you all guys and I really wish I could personally help you guys improve and become a fluent English speaker and it is for this reason I did this all for FREE without asking even a single buck from your pocket because I know exactly how badly people wanna improve and grow. But there are certain things that I don’t control and English vocabulary is one of them. Now I say so because it is so diverse.
I mean it was not possible for me to cover the entire vocabulary about every aspect of life in these 30 days. A month was way too less time to cover such a diverse topic.
It is for this reason, be it me, Robby or any other English blogger, we are also a constant learner. It’s not that we are the complete encyclopedia of English.
English learning is never ending process. I became a fluent English speaker back in 2012, but that doesn’t mean I stopped learning or acquiring knowledge. It’s been more than 6 years now, still, since I learn, practice and improve each day.
With the right methods, tips, and consistent effort you can see a major improvement in your spoken English and it begins with you taking the right step.
It is, for this reason, Robby developed “English Harmony System” that follows spaced repetition technique to ensure whatever you learn, gets subconsciously absorbed into your mind and you don’t have to force your mind into learning a long list of phrases. So in case you want to take a step further, English Harmony System can be a great tool that will definitely help you improve.
So I wish you all the best for your English journey!
I am so pumped up that it’s the 30th day of our “Free 30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course” and I am damn sure so are you. I have a hell lot of things to say and tell, but let’s not get carried away at the moment and put it off for the time being (that just means we do it in the next article).
Today I am gonna teach you some extra expressions than how much we used to learn daily, as it’s the last day of our course (and I am so excited), so take your seat and be ready to learn and pick some awesome vocabulary.
Medha- Hey, What’s up Shiv?
Shiv- Nothing much! I am just done with my college assignments.
Medha- Let’s go outside to have some coffee and toast.
Shiv- I am sorry Medha, I just had a hunk of bread right now so I don’t feel like to eat anything. By the way, you can go if you want.
Medha- No, it’s alright. I was just getting bored at home so I wanted to go somewhere outside.
Shiv- Did you see the premiere of Robin’s new TV series yesterday?
Medha- Yeah, I did. It is doomed to fail for sure; I mean there was not even a flicker of emotion in the entire episode. One can clearly notice a yawning gap between his previous TV series and this one. I just can’t believe he did it.
Shiv- I completely agree with you on that one. His previous series does not bear any comparison with this one. That was so good.
Medha- Exactly! The director can just pin his hopes on Robin’s die-hard fans now to make it a hit; else there is just a glimmer of hope that it will even cross a million in its earning.
Shiv- I agree! By the way, you said you wanna go outside. Would you like going for a long drive?
Medha- I would love to. Let’s go!
Vocabulary to Acquire Today
Put it (something) off Meaning- To procrastinate or delay something for other time. Example- We decided to go for an outing this Wednesday, but as John was so sick we put it off until next weekend.
Even a flicker of emotion Meaning- It is a colloquial way of saying ‘even a little emotion’. Example- There was not even a flicker of emotion when he was apologizing for his mistake. I just can’t believe how can a person be so emotionless.
A glimmer of hope Meaning- Just a little hope. Example- There is just a glimmer of hope that the council will re-examine the case, else the career of these sportsmen is completely finished now.
A hunk of bread Meaning- Thick slices of (bread, cheese or meat). Example- I cannot eat even a single bite now as I just had a hunk of bread at café.
Yawning gap Meaning- An enormous difference. Example- There was a yawning gap between his sayings and his actions.
Doesn’t bear comparison with Meaning- Can’t be compared with. Example- His policies just don’t bear comparison with our ex-director. He was way too good.
Pin your hopes on Meaning- To rely on. Example- He can just pin his hopes on his previous achievements, else there is just a glimmer of hope that he won’t get fired this time.
Doomed to fail Meaning- sure to fail. Example- With such an undedicated staff member and no financial support, the company was doomed to fail.
How did you find today’s chapter?
I hope it added some new vocabulary to your arsenal of active vocabulary which will be definitely useful in your daily life. Make sure you read this article thoroughly and practice it with your own examples so as they will become your second nature.
See you tomorrow in a new article where we can draw some conclusions from what we learned, so I would definitely expect your attendance.
Welcome back yet again to another chapter of our “Free 30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course” where you’ll learn something new every day about a topic with context and examples, and so will you today.
So without any ado, let’s get down to the business and see today’s context-
Robin weighted more than 100kgs which was way too much for a 20-year-old boy. He was continuously growing in size and weight which worried his parents about his health down the line.
When they took him to a doctor, the test results were quite normal. Seeing the reports, the doctor confirmed that he was absolutely normal and his overweight has nothing to do with any hormonal imbalance or any disease.
It was just because of the high consumption of junk foods and no physical activity.
Robin’s father, John, who was an ex-army man, seemed quite concerned about his son’s health. He knew exactly how adversely this overweight could affect his son’s life, so without wasting any further moment he directly went to a dietician and got a diet chart prepared for his son to follow.
Noticing a continuous increase in weight, the dietician strictly forbade Robin to eat any food that’s high in fat or with added artificial preservatives.
He was also advised to run 5km daily and work out as well, this way he will start losing some extra fat.
Running 5km was easier said than done, but if he wanted to carry on a normal, healthy life, he just had to do it.
It was tough at first, but as he got habituated to it, it became his second nature.
By the way, can you run 5km at once?
I know it’s easier said than done, especially if you are not running that frequently.
So by now, you must have got what this expression means, don’t you?
I am sure you must have understood till now, but for those who are still confused, it simply means that something is easy to say but very hard to do. Example: It is easier said than done to complete the entire project work in a single day.
How did you find today’s chapter?
I hope it added some new vocabulary to your arsenal of active vocabulary which will be definitely useful in your daily life. Make sure you read this article thoroughly and practice it with your own examples so as they will become your second nature.
See you tomorrow with some new topic and vocabulary.
This article was written by Todd Squitieri, an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher. Todd wanted to share some of his experiences (he has taught in over 5 countries) as an English teacher and pass on some advice on how to make teaching less complicated.
There are plenty of ways to store your energy without going insane in the school community. When it comes to teacher-colleagues, you have to be far more delicate because these are the people who will make or break you in the school environment.
In my first year as a teacher, I had a rather nightmarish co-teacher who would swing back and forth in moods and give me contradicting recommendations (they were more like orders) on how to improve the class so that the students were interested in the material and continued coming to my class. Everyday became an altercation and she could sense my aggravation and nervousness and only grilled harder.
In truth, I probably would not have renewed my contract had I needed to work with this individual again the following year but I persisted in trying to solve my problems by reaching out to other colleagues and telling them about the situation. I earnestly wanted to do a good job and I didn’t know how to rectify such a negative situation. I gathered up information as I went through this investigative process, learning about how co-teachers had typically done the work in the school and learning about what they did to handle a situation like the kind that I was in.
If you find yourself questioning the judgment of your co-teacher, you need to reach out to other people to bring yourself back to reality. Colleagues, especially your co-teachers, can distort reality and make it seem like you should be doing more work than you’re supposed to do. Some teachers said that I could do what I wanted in the class and were blatantly shocked by what they were hearing me say when I told them about what was transpiring.
Taking A Vacation
There are plenty of ways to retreat and escape the confines of a profession that will zap the energy right out of you. In a school where you’re virtually in front of people at all times, it can be quite difficult for you to conserve your energy. Although it’s nice to be wanted by people consistently for your services, often times it can be quite draining and you need to find ways to not have people suck the life out of you.
Vacations can fill that void that you experience. Let’s face it: teaching can get pretty boring, even at your best when you’re trying to develop new and innovative material for your students from the work of other people. Sometimes the pattern that you fall into can make the job tedious and unfulfilling. To break that pattern, you can consider going on a temporary escape to a different country.
Leaving a host country for another country has its perks. When I visited the Philippines, I visited mostly nice establishments, albeit in some rather shady areas of the city. The first night I was in the Philippines, I met a guy named Jojo who threatened to beat me up if he ever saw me in the streets again. But Manila was still a fun place. For one thing, you can see what you’re missing in the world and what’s taking place outside of the bubble that you’re usually cloistered in as an English teacher. This is not only refreshing but it can give you ideas about where to take your career next.
It’s also nice to be in a country where you know absolutely no one at all and can start afresh with new insight and no preconceived notions. There’s something fun about being able to walk the streets and just observe people doing their daily activities, even when no one is talking to you or paying attention. Some countries are better at this than others. When I was in the Philippines, everyone stared at me unless I was in a crowded marketplace, like near Binondo, in the Chinatown district. Sometimes I would feel uncomfortable but I nevertheless always found time to be by myself and absorb the vast amounts of energy that I had lost while teaching at school.
Vacations can really be expensive and eat a hole in your wallet, thereby eliminating other options for you in the future if you don’t have enough capital. I only recommend taking out-of-country vacations as a last resort.
Searching For An Accommodation
You can find a host of nice apartments on Airbnb or do some hostel-jumping or hotel searching with Agoda.com. I’ve tried some of these and they’re great for short term stays. I generally do not recommend couchsurfing.com because you have to spend a lot of time getting to know the couchsurfing community and you have to practically make friends with virtually everyone you meet or else it becomes a futile exercise. If you’re going to make friends, my thinking is you should make friends with people who share similar interests to you and then work backward to couch surfing possibilities from there. Not the other way around.
To me, making friends with people just because they might have a spare couch is a little phony and just not my style. The other issue is that most people don’t trust men—I understand this actually—and so they are less inclined to help you out unless you can produce the proper paperwork—criminal background check, blood tests, and the like. If you really want to make couchsurfing work at all, you had best get started now, from the moment you read these words.
So the point I’m trying to make is that couchsurfing is entirely possible when you want to get away from it all. You just have to do your planning and make sure you do it at least a month in advance because most people need to be prepped for something like couchsurfing, even the best hosts on the planet, because people are going to live their lives and some moments in their lives will be more convenient than others. If you show your awareness of this, and be sensitive to people’s needs, you’ll likely be able to find a couch for the place you want to escape to.
Either way, you spend your time on a trip away from your host country and school community—be it to lounge in a chair or to go hiking in the mountains—is bound to reinvigorate you for your classes when you return. Don’t underestimate the need for even just a change of pace.
If you can’t live your location, find places in your building to retreat to whenever you need to be alone—bathrooms are some of the best private areas around for this sort of thing, even if the bathroom can be grimy and disgusting. Corridors are another option as is unoccupied rooms. Keep pleasantries and smile at the students when you’re walking through the hallways. Keep conversation at a minimum and keep it casual.
If you’re in a busy school where people are constantly approaching you with favors and tasks and conversations, maintain that you’re a very busy person and tell them that they can get in touch with you at a specified period of your choosing (but not in that moment).
I think it’s okay to even tell your students that you’re tired (and that you’re not going insane). To let them know that you need a little space. It humanizes you more and lets them know that they can’t just freely approach you with favors because they know what a tired person you are. When you’re on the brink, you gotta draw a line in the sand somewhere!
About the author:
Todd Squitieri holds a BFA from New School University and an MA in Applied Sociology from William Paterson University. He has taught in over 5 countries and currently resides in Da Nang, Vietnam where he is writing a book about his experiences. He may be reached on his website at www.ToddSquitieri.com.