Sunday, 25 October 2009

Hallowe'en


Hallowe'en came early at school this year too, as students in Hungary have their autumn break this upcoming week.  I put up the decorations on Tuesday and we did all sorts of activities.  Many thanks to the Nemes family for delivering 13 beautiful pumpkins.  We had the carving contest for the grade nines and tens on Wednesday and the winners went on display in front of the principal's office.  Thursday evening the school had its first Hallowe'en party.  Many thanks again to the students who did a great job of organizing it, the cafeteria looked amazing, with all the jack o' lanterns, flashing disco lights and lasers and even a smoke machine.  Costumes ranged from a blue Celtic warrior, Tarzan,  to black cats and a princess.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

A trifle bit late


Something I wanted to share was our fun with food on the first week of school.  As a gastronomic motivational tool I made a nice basic trifle for my students and then had them make their own the next day to be judged by the principal. Needless to say it was a great hit and gave a sweet start to the year.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Spiritual Roots and the USA


I gave a presentation today on the the spiritual roots of modern American society.  My original presentation on the USA has grown into a series and one of the offshoots is this presentation..  It examines some of the various spiritual and ideological influences that have, and continue to be a part of the American psyche.

English Competition in Mezőtúr

I had the pleasure of being on the panel of judges for the Reformed Church secondary school English competition held in Mezőtúr yesterday and today.  It was a superbly organized event (thank you to Mrs Kati Kőmives ) that hosted students form Presbyterian high schools throughout Hungary.   The venue was the Szegedi Kis Istvan High School.  We judges came from various institutions throughout the country.  We saw power point presentations with biblical themes yesterday and conducted interviews and listened to students today.  While the other judges deliberated I gave a talk on the spiritual roots of the USA.  The students won lovely prizes given by publishers and the Reformed Church.  Our hosts did a wonderful job of making us feel at home, a great thanks for their hospitality.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

E. A. Poe's funeral... again


If you missed Edgar Allen Poe's funeral last time, that is, 160 years ago you just missed it again!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8301128.stm
I love his stories and with my grade tens we are reading a simplified version of some of the stories in Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

Happy Thanksgiving


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in Canada (where the harvest is a bit earlier than in the USA)  I put out the decorations at home (the kids wondered if it was already Hallowe'en - there is some overlap in the decorations).  Lunch was turkey breast with rosemary, thyme, apples and carrots, with a side of mashed potatoes.  This week's lesson plans will feature lots on this lovely Christian celebration held dear by so many people in North America.

Friday, 9 October 2009

And Then There Were None


Just finished it and I loved it.  I remembered seeing the theatrical version of this do, also written by Christie but with an altered ending at the Red Barn Theatre on Lake Simcoe with my mother when I was much younger.  I had, however forgotten the ending thus allowing the novel to be as tense and grim as it was intended to be.  I was surprised by the ending and later debated it with my wife (also a fan of Christie).  My wife finds this novel far too gloomy and the end unsatisfactory. I had to agree that though in hindsight the foreshadowing is all there it is only with the explanatory letter that all becomes clear, and there are a few far fetched circumstances.  Nonetheless I think it is a masterpiece in its genre.  According to one source I found, it is the seventh most popular novel written.  The book itself I chanced upon at a summer garage sale in Toronto and purchased it for about 50 cents.  Money well spent.

Summer Reading

 
This past summer I finally took the advice of my friend and colleague Zoltan Bene and read some Michael Crichton and John Grisham.  I have to say I was a bit skeptical but they were quite thrilling.  I read the two Jurassic Parks, and the Sphere from Crichton.  I found Grisham's overt political bias at the beginning of the Pelican Brief unpleasant but the story took off and swept me away with it.  I`m still reading the third book in Christopher Paolini`s Eragon cycle, the trilogy has definitely slowed down. Meanwhile I`ve started Agatha Christie`s And Then There Were None (previously published under different titles), However I can already see that that book will deserve its own post 

Kettlebell


On a personal physical fitness note, I wanted to mention that I'm beyond my 15th kettlebell session. What on earth is a kettlebell you ask... Well, as explained to me it is a traditional mode of Russian weight lifting providing a full body workout. The "bell" itself comes in different weights, we at the school work with the basic 16 kg one, which at this point is more than enough. After about 20 minutes to a half hour you're finished, really you couldn't do any more if you wanted to. I have teacher Bence Czako to thank for getting me hooked and helping me and others to work out. No I'm not Mr Universe yet... just on the way.

WALES, LIVERPOOL, LONDON


I've put together this years excursion, and it's to London, and North Wales with a day in Liverpool. If you're interested in the sights I've chosen to visit you can find the detailed invite on www.szentangela.hu, just look for the waving flags.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Twitter


After hearing much about the professional applications of twitter I've decided to open a twitter account to follow some of the goings in the ELT world.
I can be found at AndrewMileELT

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

IATEFL - Hungary

This weekend past was the 19th annual IATEFL confernce in Budapest, Hungary. My role was as international coordinator and then at the conference as announcer, or as Rakeesh from London coined it the "Conference Crier". Meeting the representative from the neighbouring countries was a true pleasure and a good opportunity to share ideas and experience. The conference itself was beautifully organised, all praise to the organisers. The speakers were terrific! I 've had a hand in writing the thank you letters to the speakers, participants, and exhibitors and I now find it hard to say something new about the conference . Suffice to say these truly are remakable opportunities for intellectual engagement and professional develpment.
I encourage you to visit the IATEFL Hungary website at www.iatefl.hu to find more information about IATEFL Hungary and the conference

Coming Up... Almost Naked...


I'll jump ahead for a post. Something to lok out for this school year will be my cooking shows. Yes, I propsed the idea to a few ELT conferences and they loved the idea. What will I Andrew Mile the "Almost Naked Chef" be doing? Showing teachers what dishes they can prepare in a classroom and what traditional holiday foods can be prepared at home by students.
Food has a long been a part of my teaching. I've brought some of the beloved dishes of English speaking nations into the English classroom (and once into the staff room). We started this year by making trifle, needless to say the studetns loved it as did the principal who acted as our judge for the "bake off". I'll be showing teachers how they can give their teaching a gastronomic dimension. It should be a lot of fun and hopefully inspire teachers to teach about food (something we regularily do) with the object of the discussion before them and "accessible". Imagine English lessons finger lickin' good!

Native Reserves

A few interesting encouters this summer were with Canada's First Nations. One of the first was travelling to Simcoe (not the lake) Ontario to visit my Grandmother and stopping on the fringe of a Reserve to purchase cigars (I have been known to indulge). I very pleasant surprise was that there was a promotional event, where I recieved free a box of small cigars. In a country where tobacco products can no longer even be displayed in stores this was highly unusual. The cigarillos themselves where produced by the Natives. We also bought bison meat (not native to southern Ontario) from an enterprising farmer nearby. Buffalo burgers taste great!
The summer home is on Lake Simcoe and across from Georgina Island, and although I spent many many summers there, I never visited the Island, which is a Native Reserve. So one day we all climbed into the GMC Yukon (great super-car-truck) and headed over via ferry. I enjoyed the drive around the island, which seems to be a lovely peacful community.
A highlight of the summer for me was the trip to Rama Reserve Casino in Orillia Ontario. Originally the plan was to play a few tables and go to the Tom Jones concert. However things did not go as planned... Tom had a sore throat and after three and a half songs cancelled the concert to much disappointment. He is performing in Budapest in November. The game room was packed and though I love a good game of cards I felt very very much out of my league, we did lose ten dollars on the slots. Nonetheless it was fun to see the place, a sort of "Indian" Las Vegas, I hope to return at some quiet time and imagine myself James Bond as I play roullette.

Summer Exhibition from the Holy Land


We visited the Royal Ontario Museum on two occasions, this summer once with the children to look at collection and once with Father Szabolcs Sajgo, parish priest of St Elizabeth of Hungary church in Toronto. On the second occasion we viewed the special exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I have to say I found the exhibit very well done. The curators did an excellant job of putting the scrolls into context. The various diffent theories on the authors of the scrolls were fairly presented and artifacts from the time period, including a couple of stones from the second temple created a "contextual intimacy". This atmosphere did impress a feeling of luminescence in an otherwise very cold room (for the sake of preservation). I do hope this exhibit will travel to Europe and Budapest.

My Home and Native Land (or at least one of them)

Well I decided to go chronologically and hope that I don't forget recent events.
The summer's monumental event was a trip by the whole family to Canada. It was the first time in ten years I'd been, and the first time for my three younger daughters. The flight going and coming was just fine I was quite satisfied with the service Lufthansa provided (only a couple of small customer service gliches here in Budapest going and there in Frankfurt coming back) Once in Toronto it was fabulous to be at the "old homestead" the kids loved the house and new garden.
We did so many things it's hard to list them all, everything from "all you can eat" at Mother Tucker's to the CN Tower, the ROM, the Metro Zoo, pool parties, Lake Simcoe and Martyr's Shrine in Midland Ontario, not to mention horse back riding lessons, and garage sales! I really should write about thes in greater detail and muse about them in seperate posts. Maybe I will.
An enormous thanks go to my parents for this trip almost every aspect of it. Thank You! It was seven magnificent weeks!
to be continued

Catching up


My goodness I have fallen behind on my posts, and so very much has happened and is happening. I hardly know where to start. Should I go back in time or chronologically?