a transplanted life in China 


Apartment Hunting for Foreign Students – downloadable PDF

Click image to view / download






How to remember new Vocabulary – PowerPoint

Click image to view / download in PDF format

Click here to view / download in Powerpoint 97-2003 format




Culture Shock presentation – PowerPoint

  Click to view / download in  97-2003 .ppt format [25 MB]

For a smaller version [9 MB] click here to view / download as a PDF file

I’ve given this presentation about 10 or 12 times over the past few years, and it’s always a big hit.  Afterward, I show the students a portion of the film Lost in Translation.





Global Warming – PowerPoint presentation

Click on image to open / download as a 97-2003 PowerPoint document [8.24 MB]






Run and Write Dictation Activity

Click on image to open / download as a 97-2003 PowerPoint document





The Marshmallow Challenge Team-Building Activity


Marshmallow Challenge title Slide


 Click on image to open / download as a PowerPoint 2010 document




Information Gap activities for telephone role plays

Here’s one of my handouts from a partner activity I used recently, as part of our unit on Telephone English. It’s an “Information Gap” activity, which means each student has some information that the other needs. In this case, Partner A is the Course Coordinator at UCLA in Los Angeles; Partner B is a Visiting Scholar from a foreign country, and needs to use the telephone to ask the Coordinator questions about how to sign up for a class.

Here’s what the two sheets look like for Partners A and B. Notice that there’s enough space at each step to write down the information that your partner gives you.

To view/download as a Microsoft Word 2010 document, click on an MS Word icon below:


Information Gap activity – Signing up for a class

Here’a a second activity, involving a foreign student in London who managed to lose their notebook computer at Victoria Station, after getting off their train. This necessitates a phone call to the Lost Property Office:

Information Gap activity – Lost Property Office

Setting up the telephone role-playing situations might take some time when you first use this activity, but my students are used to this kind of pairwork now. The instructions on each worksheet are pretty clear, and I stress that the activity is as much about reading and following written instructions (very important in a different language or country) as it is about getting and recording the answers to their questions.

Skills involved include: reading, writing, speaking, and listening; using correct telephone phrases; using correct question forms with the “W” words; responding to questions in complete sentences; and the social/cultural/linguistic skills to navigate bureaucracy in a foreign country.

When you look at the forms, you can see that one sheet has a line at the top where the opposite partner can write his/her phone number. This gives the activity some realism, as the students are actually communicating by phone in a foreign language. This works only if all students have “local” cell phone numbers, so they don’t incur long-distance, roaming, or international charges. Using actual cell phones simulates real situations because:

  • They must negotiate meaning without being able to see each others’ facial expressions or body language;
  • The added nervousness of talking on the phone in a foreign language to a stranger will help prepare them for when the real thing happens;
  • Finally, in real life there are always background noises, interference, bad connections, people speaking too fast or too softly, cars honking, etc.

Alternatives to using students’ own cell phones include letting them sit side-by-side to do the exercise together, or (more challenging) making students sit back-to-back. This makes them work harder by having to speak above the surrounding noise (everybody will be talking at once) and occasionally having to speak louder or to repeat (or spell) what they just said.





on the road

Searching for material to use for my American Culture class, I decided to focus on the concepts of the “frontier” and the “open road” as important components of the American psyche. My first installment focuses on the frontier mentality, fostered by the westward movement of the 19th century. You can view/download the presentation in PDF format by clicking on the photo. Below that is the icon to download a 7-page set of readings I put together for the “on the road” project.


on the road title slide - sm

on the road presentation (PDF format)


readings for on the road

6 Responses

  1. Tammy

    Hi – Just wanted to let you know I really like your blog. The pictures are great and the LessonPPTs and downloads are very helpful. I’ve only been here in China teaching for four months – so I’m very grateful for tips from others’ experience. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Leo

    Hi there,

    Wow, ur blog is wonderful, i really like reading them!!
    I graduated from university 5 months ago, now working in Macau.
    Your pics are very good, nice!!

    Best regards,

  3. Tracy

    Hi, thanks so much for these resources – I am going to use the run-and-write activity with my Year 7 class today – they are a very competitive group, so they will love it! cheers, Tracy from Perth, Western Australia


    I have a task to make a scenario of teaching learning process using information gap activities. would you like to share your idea how to make it?

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