Living in Asia

Fashion, Hip-hop, Lifestyle………………BlackLight

Things We Can Learn From Expats

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Expats, in general, are friendly. They want to meet you, and know your story. They’re fun to be around. They’re people who “do” rather than plan.

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Free Chinese Learning Online

Learning one of the world’s hardest languages can be daunting.   Here are the Top 4 free Chinese learning tools available on the web.

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1) FluentU
A new way to learn Chinese through authentic video content such as music videos, movie trailers, news, and inspiring talks. Each video features interactive subtitles allowing you to get more information about individual characters, create vocabulary lists, and review content from the videos you’ve watched. Visit at: http://www.fluentu.com.

Pros Cons
Unique approach to learning with engaging and comprehensive video content Videos are sourced from YouTube, posing a problem for users in mainland China
Learn the language while also exploring the diversity and vibrancy of modern Chinese culture Relatively new website that’s still improving and working out the kinks
Interactive captions allow you to get more from the videos and create your own vocabulary lists There is no mobile app currently available
Learn from authentic content that you’ll be able to use in today’s society

2) Anki
Anki is a flashcard application for your computer or mobile device that uses a spaced repetition program to help you learn more effectively. The program supports various types of content, including text, images, audio, and videos. Download at: http://ankisrs.net.

Pros Cons
Allows you to create your own flashcards or download user-created lists Can be a bit complicated at first; takes time to learn how it works
Operates based on your prior performance, allowing you to learn more effectively Some of the more advanced features aren’t very user-friendly
Flexible and customizable iOS app costs $25, though AnkiWeb is free
Available on practically all devices Geared toward more serious studiers
Allows you to sync with AnkiWeb for web-based study

3) Lang-8
Lang-8 focuses on writing in a foreign language. It is a social website that lets you write journal entries in the language you’re learning and then get those journal entries corrected by native speakers of that language. You can also help others learn your native language by correcting their writing. Visit at: http://lang-8.com.

Pros Cons
Provides a free platform for practicing writing Geared toward more advanced students
Offers a two-way learning environment with a very friendly and helpful community Beginning students might not understand the corrections/grammar
If you help others out, your entries will get corrected very quickly Requires a commitment to writing on a frequent basis to get the full effect
A great way to meet other Chinese learners

4) Livemocha
Livemocha focuses on learning a foreign language through courses and communications. To learn Chinese online, you can start a Chinese course, submit your answers, and chat with the members whose native language is Chinese. Visit at: http://livemocha.com.

Pros Cons
Free access to native speakers, language tools, and exercises You need to review others’ submissions in exchange for more detailed courses
Includes a variety of courses for studying as well as outlets for practicing the language Some of the grammar isn’t explained very well
Offers a chat function to talk with native speakers around the world

 


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Pros and Cons of Teaching English in Taiwan

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When I first decided upon teaching English in Taiwan, I would never have thought that I’d be coming to a country where the people are as friendly and as hard-working as Taiwanese people are.  There is a sense of pride in what they do.  It’s inspiring.  I’m going to look at a few key areas and answer some of the burning questions the readers have.

Lifestyle and Entertainment

Taiwan is an easy country to live in, especially if you reside in any of the more notable cities, such as Taipei, Taichung, or Kaohsiung (Taibei, Taizhong, Gaoxiong).  Here, you have access to world-class rapid transit, with enough subways and buses to get you where you need to be in a short, clean and comfortable time.   There are loads of night markets and traditional day markets where you can fill your belly and your fridge, all while having a sufficient amount of cash left in your wallet.  As far as entertainment is concerned, the cities are loaded with nightclubs, bars, and restaurants to balance out your work life and bring a little joy to your week.  If you love shopping, there are enough malls and markets to dive into.  For the health conscious individual, there are gyms and riversides spread all across the cities.   Gyms are affordable and convenient and offer a variety of classes, such as Yoga, dance and Jiujitsu.  The riversides often have more than enough basketball courts, soccer fields, and football fields, along with some baseball diamonds.  It’s simple to travel in Taiwan and there are so many outdoor activities to engage in.  There’s a lot of nature to explore, from biking to hiking and mountain climbing to scuba diving.  Stay fit and entertained while you explore a new lifestyle and culture.

Food

For those who don’t cook, Taiwan is known for its affordability and convenience.  Most street corners host 24-hour convenience stores that sell just about anything you might need, from a T-shirt to a chicken sandwich.  There are also countless independent venders everywhere who sell all varieties of food and drinks, many of which remain open until midnight.  Markets are also a great place to find a vast selection of tasty treats and hearty eats.  If you prefer to cook your food, day markets, or traditional markets, are the place to be.  They open  at the crack of dawn, and they sell fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats until the mid afternoon.  They are much better than your average grocery store.  It’s the best choice for health conscious individuals.

Teaching

A large majority of the foreign residence are either teachers or students.  There are also many who work with the elderly.  For teachers, there are so many English schools in the cities.  These are referred to as either cram schools or buxiban.  These are schools where primary and elementary school students go after their regular classes.  Essentially, it’s school, after school.  Most cram schools will provide lesson plans, while some are more free-form and are accepting of your input.  It’s rather simple to follow the lesson plans.  Like any job, it takes a while to get into the flow of things, so don’t beat yourself up when you face challenges.  As a teacher, you are the language expert.  You cannot forget this.  You are paid a handsome wage to deliver quality and care from the perspective of a native English speaker.  Understand your value and purpose and you’ll reap the rewards.  It’s simple to get interviews.  You could very well send out resumes, via e-mail, and a quick call at that very moment and find that you have an interview in a few hours.  If the job opening is posted, they want it filled, immediately.  A lot of people teach elementary school students, but there are many who only teach adults.  Both options are great, but the adult teaching game isn’t as widespread outside the cities.  Try to pick up one or two private students for conversation to fill out your time.  It’s well worth it in the bank and it’s a great way to be social.  Those who have teaching certificates and degrees may work in elementary schools or even high schools, where they work longer hours, but earn a sufficient amount more.  The life of a teacher in Taiwan can be amazing.  Since you’re only working 15-30 hours per week, you’ll have a lot of free time to study the language and travel.  If you have an independent business idea, this is the place to allow it to grow.  Make a plan and see it through.

Housing

Living is affordable in just about every area of Taiwan.  Whether you’re living alone or sharing a place with friends, you’ll find that it is simple to find a place that suits your needs.  It’s safe to say that you can find a 2 bedroom apartment, complete with a bathroom, living room, and a kitchen for around $500CDN per month.  Most apartments are at least partially furnished, some completely.  You may have to purchase some odds and ends.  Amenities are beyond reasonable.  The closer you live to a subway (MRT) line or bustling area, the more expensive, naturally.  Housing is not an issue.

Money

As mentioned earlier, you will be paid a handsome wage for your work.  This is mostly by Taiwanese standards.  You may be paid two or three times the amount of your average Taiwanese local.  You should be getting paid a minimum of $20CDN per hour, to start.  The more professional schools will offer regular raises, either at the end of the year or half-year.  Learn the conversion rate and learn how to manage your money.  Many new-comers tend to spend much more than necessary, because they are wowed by low price tags.  Understand how Taiwanese people use their money and look carefully at what they view as expensive.  It will prove to be beneficial in the end.  With food and living expenses as low as they are, you should have no problem saving money and sending some back home, monthly, to keep your other accounts active.  Living here is more about how you spend and save, as opposed to how much you earn.  When you understand that balance, your wealth will increase.

Written by  Mr. Blends