Monday, February 15, 2010

The Autoshow, Presentations

Hi all,

Wow, I've gotta get back in the swing of updating this blog. I looked at how many posts I put up in Korea, vs. back here in Toronto, and it's... a tad embarrassing. Well, consider me chastised. I shall recommence posting more often--depending on time. Gah, that's always the problem, isn't it?

Well, first of all, it's Valentine's Day. I admit to missing Korea's version--they have three days of this, starting with a day (White Day, I believe) in January, where Boys give presents to Girls. Then, Valentine's Day is the opposite of Canadian tradition, where the Girls have to give presents to the Boys. Then, there's Black Day. If you didn't get anything from either gender, you eat jjajeongmyeong, a "Chinese-themed" black sauce noodles.

It's funny to watch a lot of students eating their noodles in Korea--there's a sense of solidarity that makes me chuckle. Even in Canada.

Jen and I went to the Autoshow in Toronto. Lots of nifty cars everywhere, of course. I think the best show of the bunch was by, of all companies, GMC. I've never been a big fan of General Motors. Their vehicles became the butt of several jokes in my family, growing up, and even if Ford or Chrysler were equally notorious to us, we wouldn't even consider test-driving a Jimmy. Now, I'm a bit... well, impressed. I liked the pick-up trucks they showed off, and I'm not a pick-up driver. Jen is, and loved sitting in the giant cab of a Duramax Diesel truck, playing with the steering wheel. A marketer showed up, who obviously knew his stuff, and proceeded to rattle off the features, before showing us a few other trucks that were similar, and more suitable to city and highway driving.

We'd never buy one until they became Hybrids, due to fuel economy, but as Jen is a Northerner, and as I grew up in Texas, we both hold a special place in our hearts for big trucks. They're safe, tough, and, yes, a status symbol. Not to mention, they're great for hauling your boat around.

Hyundai had a good showing, as well--they have a new Elantra Touring out that I thought was nifty. They, and KIA, ironically, are becoming the new Toyota. Do you remember when Toyota was considered the car company, the best of the best? Funny how that's changed, and Hyundai appears to be filling in the gap they've left.

Don't get me wrong, Toyota still makes nice cars. So does Lexus. But they're overpriced, and they underperform. Worse, they're starting to get sloppy. The recent recalls Toyota's suffering is an example of this. Hopefully, it'll wake them up. It's unfortunate that most people looked like they didn't want to get into their cars, either, after all the bad hype.

Ford's material was boring, ironically--I remember them being amazing two years ago, with cool concept cars and Hydrogen-powered trucks. They weren't bad, but they weren't great. A bit stale, is all.

And then there's the classic cars. Holy smokes--the only Ford I would ever drive, other than an F-150 Truck, is a Mustang. And they had some classic ones in the show! 1967, Red and Black paint, bucket seats, manual transmission. I love classic cars. They also had some 40s and 50s-era British roadsters that were these little peppy things with an open top. How did we ever drive these things? You'd be wearing a mosquito mask!

I'm presenting a piece to my co-workers at school about using Drama to teach ESL. Really, I'm not using, say, an actual play to teach, but rather, some of the warm-up and speaking techniques from drama to encourage fluency and comfort in the class.

A lot of ESL tends to wind up as "brain-in-a-jar" syndrome, where the students are sitting in their chairs, talking, or writing. There's nothing particularly wrong with that approach, of course. Studying hard and working on conversation is important. However, as a kinesthetic learner, and as a former martial arts teacher, I cannot overemphasize the need for learners of language to reconnect their bodies to their words. We don't speak with our brains alone--we use muscles in our mouths and tongues, we use body language, we use posture and intonation... and by practicing these actions with drama techniques that encourage reaction to your partner, intonation, and yes, dare I say it, getting up and moving around in the class room, we encourage students to speak as they would on the street, outside the class.

Not to mention, kinesthetic learners require physicality to integrate whatever they're learning more effectively. If you can ground language in more than just speaking, writing, listening, and reading, but also into the physical actions required to express yourself to another human being--smiling, nodding, standing, shaking hands, maintaining eye contact, etc., you can learn a heck of a lot more.

On a final note: Happy Chinese and Korean New Year! Bring on the year of the Tiger!

Talk to you later,


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