Lessons about Islam from Muslim Students in AIEP

At The American Institute for English Proficiency, we get students coming from the Middle-East, and all of them are Muslims. I have always been so curious about religions other than my own and not in a way that I’d subject it to comparison. I just enjoy learning that way. Fortunately, The students were very happy to oblige in teaching me and others who were interested their beliefs, and philosophies, and for all of us who were given light about the subject, we ended up being enlightened. Islam, at least for me,is a religion that focuses on love and support, and I can undoubtedly say this because of all the things I have learned from my students.

First, I would like to point out their generosity. I believe that it is one of the five pillars of Islam, Zakat, that instructs Muslims to pay alms to help the needy. Not only the marginalized but also their friends who are not in need of any particular assistance are a witness to this. Non-Islamic students and I have already turned down so much food because they unceasingly share what they have to other people, and all of this happen because they have to observe not only Zakat but all the five pillars of their faith.

Apart from the Zakat, they also believe in the saying “in our first meeting you are my friend, in the second, my brother.” They call this a Hadith which, for me, is a proverb that is closely tied to their religion. So the more you become familiar with them, the more they will treat you like family, and we always take care of our family. It’s a very humbling experience.

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Another thing you can observe is their devotion to prayer. Salat, like Zakat, is one of the five pillars of Islam that commands Muslims to pray the five daily prayers of Islam. Although it causes some minimal disruptions in class because they come in a few minutes late after finishing the afternoon prayer, you can tell that some of our students are very devout Muslims that would not allow anything to hinder them in facing Mecca to pray.

Lastly, Sawm. Many are familiar with the term RamadanSawm is the pillar of Islam that tells Muslims to fast in the month of Ramadan. During this month, followers of Islam are not allowed to eat or drink starting from sunrise to sunset. I asked one of my students why Muslims fast in the month of Ramadan, and he said one of the reasons why they do it is so that they could feel what the poor and needy feel everyday. But of course, they are not allowed to fast during Ramadan if they are sick, pregnant, on they monthly menstrual period, or too young, for it may be physically demanding to the ones who practice it.

Talking about three of the five pillars of Islam shows me that there is more to the religion than we thought. Islam is a beautiful religion that practices devotion to prayer, generosity in its highest form, love, and so much more. There is indeed more to learn, and if we open ourselves not only to Islam but to other cultures, we would be better citizens of the world.

شكرا لك و الى اللقاء!

(Thank you and goodbye!)

Learning English through Television

I grew up in a home where English is not an everyday thing. My parents only spoke the language when they were talking to visitors from other countries, and I would only have to think in English when I was playing video games on my old Play Station because all the games I had are in English; though, it would be nice to understand Japanese to enjoy the games in its original format.

However, that kind of environment is not the best when it comes to learning English. In terms of grammar, I learned it in school, but speaking was not taught intensively. I guess, during my time at least, English in an academic setting focused a lot more on grammar, reading, and writing. Actually, the setting in some schools here in the Philippines is that you get teased when you insist on speaking English, but that’s another story.

Source: www.npr.org

Source: www.npr.org

But how did I end up having a well-trained American accent? When I was around 15 or 16, I got hooked into watching American TV shows. At that time, Heroes was the craze along with Supernatural and many others. I used to save money and buy DVDs just to binge watch on school nights or over the weekends. And I watched it a lot, too. Over and over again, in fact.

From time to time, the American Institute for English Proficiency would get students who are eager to learn English but have nobody to practice with. Apart from talking to the specialists and classmates, some students don’t really get a chance to seize the opportunity to practice the language outside our school, so I sometimes get questions about how one could practice English while they’re here in Metro Manila.

My usual answer in how to improve your communication skills in English is television. This is my go-to answer because it played a huge role in the development of my accent and grammar. I basically learned grammar in school and listened to different sorts of accents in English via television. However, you also tend to learn how sentences are constructed in English and see the patterns the more you watch TV shows which actually does improve grammar to a certain extent.

During my obsession over those shows, I also wondered about how your typical Juan Dela Cruz (an average Filipino like me) who speaks English compare to a native speakers. You should compare non-native speakers with the characters on TV shows, and then you’ll realize that there is a huge difference. So what I did was I tried mimicking the characters at first and repeated some of their lines. I also found friends who would watch it with me, so there would be people whom I can talk to about it. And that went on for a couple of years.

English has already played a big role in my family because some of my aunts married men outside the Philippines, such as a Filipino-American, a Hungarian, and a Canadian, and when I had to talk to them, people around the house noticed that I was speaking in English differently. It was better and natural.

Watching TV shows really helped me in my speaking skills. Although it may feel a bit awkward at first, saying lines like save the cheerleader, save the world!, but trust me, it works. And it really helps a lot if you have friends who can join you, too.

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Common Misconceptions of a Filipino English Speaker

Source: www.gmanetwork.com

Source: www.gmanetwork.com

When I was growing up, I noticed that many Filipinos react to English in the most peculiar way. Although it wasn’t my first spoken language, I never saw it as something other than just another language when I was young. I actually grew up in a Tagalog-speaking environment, but English was spoken from time to time because I had relatives who would bring friends from other countries, so it’s not a complete stranger to me. However, by the time I was in high school, my classmates and other peers would give strong reactions to people who spoke English, or Taglish which is the combination of Tagalog and English, very well because they think this person belongs in a particular group in society. Common reactions would be “don’t English me, I’m panic,” “I’m running out of English,” or even “my nose is bleeding (from all the English).” For most Filipinos who grew up in Metro Manila like me, it is not actually difficult for us to understand English, but only a few could express ourselves in a very natural way. They react and say things like that mainly because of three common misconceptions.

To begin, the first misconception that I would like to mention is that a Filipino who speaks English very well is mistaken for someone who belongs in a very wealthy family. Although this is not a general fact, it is commonly observed in high class families. However, some simple families also use English as their main medium of communication inside the house, and some wealthy families even use Tagalog as their main language in their home. For example, when I was in high school, we would normally speak Filipino. When someone speaks good English in a normal conversation, kids would brand that student as the rich kid in school simply for speaking a language other than Filipino. However, that particular student that had just been branded belongs in a more or less middle class family, but not excessively wealthy.

Another misconception is that people will think you study in a prestigious school if you speak fluent English in public places. These places are malls, parks, and restaurants. When I was in college, I’ve met a lot of people outside of school because of my original circle of friends. Since we didn’t go to the same school, meeting other people in big get-togethers is inevitable. In a table filled with strangers at a party, it became normal to me for people to assume that I belong in schools like Ateneo, College of St. Benilde, or De la Salle where, in fact, I was studying in Adamson University which is an awesome school, but I suffered the first misconception there which I always thought was funny. A funny story about this was when I was on the MRT going home from Quezon City, a random stranger asked me if I was from De la Salle University after he overheard me speak to a friend on the phone. I said no then she just ignored me until she got off the train.

Lastly, speaking in fluent English will make people think you either grew up in another country, you travel a lot, or you’re half something. For me, this misconception is more reasonable than the other two because this one actually made more sense, but I also see the connection between languages and social status and schools. Whenever I meet a new student in The American Institute for English Proficiency, they would sometimes ask me if I grew up in the U.S. or somewhere else because of my accent. I suppose having a natural or at least neutral accent can make someone be easily mistaken for someone who travels or lives of a foreign country.

Filipinos have always had a funny way of seeing other Filipinos who speak fluent English. Fortunately, it is becoming more and more common for Filipinos to speak English very well, so the branding is slowing fading away. Just because someone is good in speaking English does not necessarily mean they belong in a particular group. Some of these people just took the time to practice and sharpen their communication skills, and I guess that’s just a funny a side effect in taking the extra mile.

Learning Figurative Language Using a Rap Song

Figurative language is something you can use to be more expressive or be more creative in writing songs, poems, or even stories. There are many things where you can apply it in, and many even use it without being aware of it. Learning the different kinds of figurative languages can develop a person into a more natural speaker of the language. Another thing about figurative language is that you cannot find this in the dictionary. Meaning, one should know the difference between connotative and denotative meanings.

When you express something using its denotative meaning, it means you are saying what you mean to say. The literal meaning of any word. However, the connotative meaning of a word is usually used in poetry where one says a word but that word’s meaning is not found in the dictionary. Its meaning is usually based on implications. For example, when one says I am a lion, it doesn’t literally mean the speaker is an animal, but the speaker probably meant that the speaker was brave or strong.
eminem-performance-2014-blond-billboard-650To give examples of figurative language, I would like to use a rap song since the word rap is an abbreviation that stands for rhythm and poetry. Specifically, lines from the songs Lose Yourself and Rap God by Eminem, a prominent rapper from The United States of America. However, using art forms as reference can be tricky. An artist can basically say or write anything, but the meaning, however, cannot be accurately interpreted unless the author or composer states the purpose in why a statement was written that way.

To begin, a simile is a kind of figurative language that is used to compare an object with another object using words such as like or as. For instance, the line in the song that says Stay in one spot, another day of monotony’s gotten me to the point, I’m like a snail. The latter part where the singer identified himself as someone who is like a snail is a prefect example of a simile.

Next, from Eminem’s song Rap God, you can find a metaphor in the line that says Me? Me, I’m a product of RakimLakim Shabazz, 2Pac, N-W-A. When the rapper called himself as a product of other rappers he may have looked up on, he used a metaphor. A metaphor is similar to a simile but with the exception that the writer is not saying that an object is like another object but rather says that an object is another object. The example used in for connotative meaning in this article is also a good example of a metaphor. Another good example from the same song is We have nothing in common, poodle. I’m a Dobermaneminemrapgod

A hyperbole is also another figurative language that you can find in the same song. The line But for me to rap like a computer must be in my genes. I got a laptop in my back pocket uses a hyperbole. A hyperbole is an exaggeration that is not to be taken literally. When Eminem said he had a laptop in his back pocket is a hyperbole since keeping  a laptop in someone’s back pocket is impossible due to its size.

Lastly, a personification can be found in Lose Yourself. A good example is the line that says the clock’s run out, time’s up, over. Personification is when an object, usually an inanimate object, is given human abilities. When Eminem gave the inanimate object an ability that is impossible for it to do, he used personification to express himself.

When analyzing art, whether it is spoken or written, it is important to be aware of the different kinds of figurative language to avoid being confused. The idea is to not take everything literally because artists would always like to exercise poetic freedom in their work. Figurative language works that way and it can be used not only in creative writing. It can also be applied in normal conversations to make speakers sound more natural in using the language.

Ten Ways to Use the Comma

comma1Commas are tricky things. They have many purposes in writing, but people seem to use them incorrectly from time to time. I can’t blame anyone because there is just a lot of rules to follow when it comes to this particular punctuation mark. So today, I figured that I’d share some ways on how to use it.

1. To begin, for compound sentences, you write the comma before the coordinating conjunction. For example, if you have the sentence: Anna went to the mall and she met her friends there. The comma should be written before the coordinating conjunction and, so it should look like this: Anna went to the mall, and she met her friends there.

2. For complex sentences, the comma should be after the dependent clause if the dependent clause will come before the independent clause. For example, if you have the sentence: Because Anna’s friends were excited to see her they gave her roses. The sentence should be written like this: Because Anna’s friends were excited to see her, they gave her roses. You put the comma after the word her because it proceeds to the second subject of the complex sentence which is they.

3. You can use it for appositives. An appositive is a part of a sentence that gives more details about the subject, and it is always enclosed between two commas. For example: Amy, Anna’s sister, visited the Philippines to study English. Anna’s sister is the appositive in the sentence because it give a little bit of background on who the subject is. Also make sure that you write a comma before and after the appositive to let the reader know that it’s additional information about the subject of the sentence.

4. A direct address also requires the use of a comma. A direct address tells the reader who the statement is for. For example: I will cook, mom. You put the comma before mom to signal the reader that the statement is for the writer’s mother. Otherwise, the word mom will function as a direct object connected to the word cook resulting into having a sentence expressing that the subject will cook his or her mother.

5. You can also use commas to separate items on a list. For example: I need to buy carrots, potatoes, ground beef, and some tomatoes for dinner.

6. Commas can be used to separate subjects if a sentence has more than one of them. A good example of this is: Anna, Amy, and Jennifer are going to Korea to visit Kim in November. If there is no comma to separate Anna and Amy, for example, it may confuse the reader to think that Anna Amy is one person where Amy is Anna’s second name.

7. Commas are also used to separate multiple predicates in a sentence if it has more than one of them. For example: Kim teaches, paints, and exercises everyday.

8. Commas must be placed after transition words or phrases. Words or phrases such as howeverin addition, to beginin other words. For example: Amy is a skilled sketch artist. In addition, she is also a great singer. Commas are needed to come in between the transition word or phrase to indicate that it is a type of modifier that is being used for the sentence.

9. Commas should also be used after other introductory phrases. These phrases usually express time, a description of a place, or conditions. A good example of this would be: After getting her diploma, Anna didn’t take time and started to look for a place to work in.

10. Lastly, in tag questions, a comma must be placed before writing them. For example: Anna worked in a hospital in Korea, didn’t she? A comma is essential in separating the tag question from the rest of the sentence to show that it’s a question that asks confirmation whether the sentence is accurate or not.

And those are some ways on how to use commas. Knowing many of these rules will come in handy especially in writing academic or business reports, and unlike speaking, where you don’t verbally express punctuation marks, one needs to be familiar not only with the kinds but also with the rules on how to use each one of them.

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Teaching English is a Passion and Motivation

Lorale.aiepro.orgIf you’re wondering, what’s so special about AIEP to me? What keeps me going?

Well, most of our students say that everything seems so cool and fun in the school. Little do they know the real story behind the scenes, and the hard work we put up as a team. In class and in the front desk, we’re all smiles and laughter, just as in most companies. But when the clients are not around, unlike some companies, we become our own students as well. As specialists, we still continue learning and growing from each other.

Before I came to AIEP, I was a freelancer. I did all sorts of things that made me happy; teach English and music lessons, travelled to places, have sidelines here and there, among others. Until one time, I was invited by a friend to a Thanksgiving party at AIEP. I met a few common acquaintances there, and Vin, whom I’ve started networking with at that time, whom I had no idea was the co-founder of AIEP. When we got in, we were just in time to introduce ourselves and share what we were grateful for. After dinner and a few drinks, I saw another common friend of ours who happened to be the General Manager of AIEP, Chris. It was a lucky coincidence that we were English teachers. My friend jested that I should work here, and I played along saying “yeah, sure!” My friend said, “I think I saw the hiring post on FB.” Vin and Chris replied, “Yes, why not?” At first I thought it was the alcohol talking; I was actually getting referred by our common friend. The next business day, I got a text for an interview at AIEP and was asked to prepare a demo for a group class. On the first week of December, I got hired.  And the rest was history. I’ve become a part of the AIEP-family.

Now, four years later, here’s why I do what I do in AIEPRO:

English is Voice. As an English teacher, and a voice-modulator; English is my means of teaching. I’m able to apply my years of experience in teaching voice quality, intonation, and pronunciation. The proper way of speaking is similar to the proper way in singing. One of the signs of confidence comes from the use of your instrument, your voice. Many students don’t realize it until they get their speech assessed on their first day in class.

English is Social Life. Now for those who’ve met me in person, they’d say that I’m quite a chatty person. I love to laugh, I love to share experiences, and I love to mingle.  AIEP is a social school, and it holds annual events for the students to interact with other, build relations, and/or plan a business together. With my busy daily schedules from places to places, every day at AIEP is a socializing day. Our topics range from daily routines, to Business English, interview sessions, debates, speech presentations, and more. Our students learn from our specialists as well as the specialists learn from their students.

English is International. English, is without a doubt, the actual universal language. It is the world’s second largest native language, the official language in 70 countries, and AIEP happens to be the best English school for Filipinos and foreigners in the Philippines, and in ASIA! Since I was a child, English was the language I and family used at home. In school, I was exposed to different nationalities, cultures, traditions, and races. With that foundation, it gave me the privilege of easily making connections with our local and foreign students. We’ve had many students from different countries. Helping them achieve their goals in their communications skills, is a gratifying fulfillment.

So now you know why I do what I do in AIEP: It is a voice, my social life, and it is international. These are things that result to my passion, because it’s what I love to do. I love meeting new people, and it brings people together. Some students have asked me, “with your busy schedule, how do you keep up with everything?” Well my secret it simple! I compromise my time to do the things I enjoy doing.

 

LEARNING ENGLISH: IT CAN BE ALL FUN AND GAMES

Growing up, I’ve played a lot of different games. From board games to video games, I have tried so many that I’ve lost track with all of it. One thing is for sure though, each of the games I’ve invested my time when I was younger, and even today, it has improved my English a lot. English is not all work and no play, you see. But I guess that’s true for everything. So what are things that these games have improved in regards to my communication skills?

One would be my grammar. I’ve played a lot of card games like Pokémon cards and Magic: The Gathering. It’s a pain in the ass if you struggle with grammar and you start playing these card games because each clause and each rule plays with which moves comes first and which action happens last, and every player has to follow these rules. Verb tenses. Even with modals and conditions are very crucial. A game deciding action may come down to how well you understand the text in every card.

Hasbro card games from kerriathome.blogspot.com

Image Source: Google Images

Next, speech. Playing video games, especially the new ones, there will be a lot of talking. Apart from the hacking and slashing, that is. Video games nowadays is pretty much like watching a TV series. There is a story line, and there’s a lot of graphics. A gamer can get used to all the accent of the characters and learn all kinds of vocabulary just by playing video games.

Lastly, board games. Board games are very interactive. Players interact with the game itself, or players interact with other plays. Conversation skills become better the more you play. Monopoly, Cranium, and all the other likes of it are very good examples. Those are the games that make you negotiate with other players or make you sing, draw, and explain things.

Learning English can be very fun. These games don’t just help you with your communication skills, they also make you think more logically and critically. For starters, any game is good. Toy stores and hobby stores have good ones in stock. Just make sure you play with a lot of people to make it more enjoyable and exciting.  And one more thing: make sure that when you are playing, speak English as much as possible.

CHOOSING BETWEEN THESE ENGLISH LANGUAGE EXAMS: IELTS OR TOEFL

The American Institute for English Proficiency gives prospective students a chance to receive private lessons for English-language exams.  If you are going to be tested in academic-level English, you can choose either IELTS or TOEFL.  But what is the difference, and which one should you consider?

The two exams each test the English levels for those who wish to work or study in a country where English is the first language.  They each focus on English usage in Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.  But, IELTS, or TOEFL–what’s the difference?

Image: collegepond.com

Image: collegepond.com

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System.  It is based on British English.  It is therefore mostly used in the U.K. and her former and current colonies and dominions:  Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and others.  Those who desire to get a job or attend a university in one of those nations normally have to take the IELTS.  The IELTS is also offered in two categories: General and Academic.  The General IELTS is more for those who are looking to migrate or work, while the Academic IELTS is for those who are looking to work or study abroad.

The TOEFL, on the other hand, stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language.  It is based on American English.  It is therefore used in the United States of America, and is normally also accepted in Canada.  Those who desire to study in these nations might have to take TOEFL, but this can vary based on an educational institution’s requirements.  TOEFL is only offered in one level, but can be taken by two different methods: Paper-based and Internet-based.

As a tutor for IELTS and TOEFL test-takers, I deem IELTS to be less difficult in the Speaking and Writing, while TOEFL is less difficult in the Listening and Reading.

But keep in mind that no matter which you choose, the specialists at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Makati and Quezon City, Philippines can make you ready and confident for it!  Here is the link to the next IELTS Masterclass: https://www.facebook.com/events/182787005418704/

ENGLISH LESSON: WRITING WELL THROUGH SHOW VERSUS TELL

In the world of communication, it is important that we are proficient in expressing our ideas.  It is already a given that we should constantly widen our vocabulary by learning new words and phrases.  However, being fluent in the English language is not enough.  Knowledge in grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary are not enough to be an attractive writer.

Let us take a case of contrast between two people who are already fluent in the English language.  One is a professional writer, let’s say, a journalist or a novelisT, while the other is an ordinary person who doesn’t usually write.  If you have each them write an essay of the same topic or the same thesis statement, a reader may notice a difference in style, mood, content, and word usage in their essays.  The novelist would use simple words; yet, these words come to life with exquisite descriptive language.  The simple writer, on the other hand, may have used adjectives, but the description would come out vague.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

To illustrate my analysis above, here are two examples of the same situation and same topic:

  1. The man looks really angry.
  2. The man’s face turned bright red. His brows almost touched each other, creating two lines straight down. His lips tightened as his eyes widened.

Of the two examples, which one do you think is the novelist?  If you guessed the second one, you are right.  As you can see, both examples depict an angry man.  Both examples also use very common words; they are not complicated to understand. Yet, the second example is visual.  It moves the imagination.  The difference is that example one only tells; while the other example shows. This is what is known as descriptive writer.

Learning how to play with words is also important.  When we use descriptive language, we not only tell what the situation is, we also make the reader or listener sense it (see, smell, taste, feel, hear)–creating a movie in the mind’s eye. It is as if the reader or listener is really there to witness it.

To achieve this effect, I highly suggest using figurative language.  You may even ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Did I provide enough details for the reader to see a full picture?
  2. Did I use figurative language that invoke the five senses or the emotion?
  3. Will the reader be able to identify with the subject or situation that I intend to describe?

An effective speaker or writer always keeps the audience or reader in mind from the introduction to the conclusion of their piece, constantly thinking of ways to spark the imagination.  It also helps if you start with the general description then build it up to specific description. This way, the reader does not get confused what you are describing.

TESTIMONIAL: WILSON EDMOND N. NIEVA

Having been a student in The American Institute was a transforming experience. I gained confidence, developed critical thinking and became a proficient speaker who can adapt to different situations. AIEPRO taught me a lot of essential things that I was able to utilize when I went back to college.  Reporting in front of the class is never a problem to me anymore, and answering essay-type examinations became very easy.  With the knowledge and skills I have acquired from AIEPRO, I was able to become the debate champion in our university for two straight years.

WilsonDebateMedalWhat makes AIEPRO different from other English schools in the country is that they don’t just teach English inside the four corners of the classroom, they facilitate learning using a unique approach.  Unlike the traditional educational method in the country where the teachers are the ones who do the talking, AIEPRO let the students do most of the talking with their different effective modules and activities.

The lesson that I really enjoyed was the Five Elements speech. I learned how to construct a good speech using the patterns and structures. I also wrote my essays in school using the Five Elements.

One of the best things about being an AIEPRO student is you don’t just learn English, you also develop lasting friendships.  Five years since I became a student, I am still in touch with many of my classmates and the Specialists of the institute.

Without the skills I have learned from AIEPRO, I won’t be able to become a champion debater in our university. Their modules on public speaking and critical thinking really helped me lead my team to victory in each debate rounds since I am always the prime minister and the team captain.  I was even awarded as the Best Speaker during my sophomore year.

WIlsonAIEPLogoI am thankful to AIEPRO because they geared me up with skills in communication. I was able to use those skills when I became a resource speaker in two debate seminars in our province. I am very certain that I am not the only student who was transformed by The American Institute; every student past or present surely has transforming stories to tell.

WHY I LOVE TEACHING FILIPINOS

Being established in the Philippines, the American Institute for English Proficiency gets a lot of Filipino students. And as a Filipino and one of the English specialists of AIEP, it really feels great helping other “Juan Dela Cruzes” improve on their communication skills, but I’m not saying it’s a piece of cake. And don’t get me wrong, there are challenges when it comes to teaching Filipinos, or any student for that matter, but most of the time, I enjoy it. There are many reasons as to why I love teaching other Pinoys, so, today, I  thought I would give a few of those reasons.

To begin, Filipinos are easy to teach because they have a very strong background in English already. At a very early age, Filipinos learn English, and they have English as a subject even until they graduate from college. Outside of school, English is everywhere as well. At work, on television, on the radio. Everywhere. So it’s actually rare to meet a Filipino who cannot fully understand something in English.

Filipinos love to laugh. The Philippines is known to house one of the happiest people in the world, so this means they try to see the fun in every situation. In my classes, many of the Filipino students, try to get around the rules whenever I give them something to do just to shake things up and make things a little bit more interesting. It’s amazing how effortless they make it seem just to get a laugh to lighten up the mood. Filipinos would even laugh at themselves just to break the ice sometimes. They really put the class in a very friendly mood.

What I also love about teaching Filipinos, however, is their love for food. You would be surprised from time to time that when you walk inside the classroom you will find a huge box of pizza, bags of chips and biscuits, and/or chocolates on the table, and you can bet that a Filipino organized the food trip if not bring it. Many of the Filipino students in the American Institute organize little celebrations where the students are encouraged to bring food to celebrate the last day of one of their classmates. So it happens a lot which is fun.

Next, Filipinos like to hang out. I would hear from most of my Filipino students after class are invitations to hang out at the mall, cafes, bars, and even clubs. And when I say after class, that’s on a daily basis. I can relate to this because, I’m pretty much like that as well. Nothing beats chilling with friends somewhere after work or school.

Lastly, they like to be friends with everyone. Many of my Filipino students like to take time to know all of their classmates. It’s either you approach them first or they approach you. Whichever is fine because you will meet them and get to know them no matter what. I guess it has something to do with being happy all the time that they just want to make friends with everybody they come across with, and AIEP is the best place to that.

There are many more reasons to consider why I like teaching Filipinos in AIEP, but I would say what I like most about them is that they bring everyone closer together, local and foreign. Pretty much like a real family-you just have to ride along with it. So if you’re not enrolled in AIEP yet or you think you should re-enroll, these reasons would hopefully be enough to join us and help us help you have better communication skills.

CAREY LOVEN TESTIMONIAL FOR AIEP

Learning English can help you in many different ways. Yes, that’s true! I enrolled in a 50-hour English course at the American Institute for English Proficiency to increase my confidence when it comes to public speaking.  Before I enrolled, I learned that The American Institute is a popular English language learning school with branches in Makati and Quezon City.  I saw on their Facebook page that many of their former students have given them a rating of 5 stars, and the reviews they have given the school meant they learned a lot and gained a lot of knowledge and personality development.


I remember my first day of my school.  I was so thrilled to go to school because I missed being a student again, and I love learning.  It feels so great not only because we learned new things every day, but also we got to meet new friends.  I chose to have English class every day.  We did many activities, including one of my favorites, where we read English dialogue to help us learn new phrases and analyze grammar.


There’s a saying by Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  For me, that means that learning is succeeding, and  that’s why i chose to continue studying at The American Institute because English is one of the most important things we need to become successful.  Here are some things I learned in the American Institute and how it helped me:

I’ve  experienced how important it is to speak English because I had foreigner classmates; learning English is going to help me connect with people from all cultures.  Some of my foreigner classmates are Spanish, Arab, Chinese, Mongolian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Japanese.  We had this house rule that we should speak English only and no speaking of other languages to toughen the conversation skill or else we have to pay 10 to 20 pesos as a penalty.  This was more than okay for me because it really helped me a lot to practice my speaking skill, and we really felt good about ourselves because we realized that we have what it takes to learn a new language.

 

Eventually, I realized that learning the language not only includes studying vocabulary and grammar, but also includes communicating with others and practicing continually.  In addition to memorizing terminologies and important things, we did a lot of activities and assignments.

 

careyBut like in mastering anything, learning English and becoming more confident involve learning, practicing, making mistakes, and picking yourself up again. It takes time, but most of all, it takes will power.  Day by day, I realized that I already gained confidence especially when it comes to public speaking because I was no longer as shy as I used to be.  Before attending courses at The American Institute, I always got nervous whenever many people were looking and paying too much attention to me.  On my first day at The American Institute, I was really afraid and shy, but because of my friendly teachers and classmates, I already learned how to overcome that weakness!

 

I feel that there is a satisfaction that comes with learning a language.  For the first time, I understand a movies in full, am reading books written by American, British, and other English speaking authors without needing the translated copy, and it feels so rewarding.  And I also notice that I can now listen to music in its original and untranslated form, which gives me a more authentic listening experience.  Now, songs tend to be better because I can truly understand them. 

During the English course I took this year, I have accomplished a variety of goals I once thought were unattainable. I have not only grown as
a student, but as a person as well. I feel that through my experience in these English courses, I have gained the knowledge and confidence it takes to step out into the real world.


I went through that hard time in life trying to learn English before I enrolled at The American Institute, but I know it was meant to be.  My colleagues and even my boss became more proud of me because they noticed that I’m getting better in speaking in English, especially when they tell me that I am more confident instead of hesitating and stammering.

 

The better your English is, the quicker and easier you can learn from all the great sources of English.  If you are a shy person just like I was, I highly recommend you to study in American Institute.  I gained a lot of knowledge that I will forever cherish and use to reach my goals.

THEATER IMPROVES YOUR SENSE OF CULTURE AND THE ARTS

All over the world, people love entertainment.  There are several forms of entertainment that people enjoy: music concerts, talent shows, dance performances, theater and acting, and cultural shows among others.  Like most people, I am also appreciative of arts and entertainment.  One the most popular entertainment is theater: movies, live theater plays, musicals, and operas.  Most people are visual-emotional.  This means, their emotions respond quickly to what they visually perceive.  When an adult sees a baby cry, he or she automatically feels worried; when a person sees dirt and trash all over the streets, one immediately feels disgusted.  This is the same when anyone watches a play or a movie.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

When the theater curtains are drawn back, it reveals a reflection of people’s lives, situations, and conflicts.  In a sense the audience can relate to the story of what is happening on stage or in the silver screen.  There is a magnitude of emotions running through a person’s senses.  It is unavoidable that people will emotionally respond to scenes, but they must also be conscious of the value they would learn from these plays or movies.

My favorite German poet and playwright, Friedrich Schiller, said in his lecture, Theater Considered as a Moral Institute, “In the theater’s fearsome mirror, the vices are shown to be as loathsome as virtue is lovely.” As members of the audience, we must not only respond to our emotions and senses.  We must also think about how circumstances, shown in the theater, reflect what is going on in our society: politics, religion, education, pop culture, fashion, economy.  I have always believed that the audience must be better people when they leave the theater than when they enter it  They have a peek of the truth of what is happening around them.  The theater must allow people to realize for themselves of what they can conclude as a value.  In other words, people must be exalted, rather than degraded from watching plays and movies.

Entertainment can be fun, but, more importantly, it should be educational.  The English specialists at the American Institute for English Proficiency are also fond of theater.  In fact, some of us have been stage actors and have participated in theater productions as actors since high school.  Theater has helped us become more confident and more expressive when it comes to speaking English.  Join the AIEP specialists in a theater, and discuss ideas from it afterwards.

SPECIALIST PROFILE: LIZ ORALE

Liz Orale or “Lizzie,” is a graduate of Bachelor of Science, with a major in Business Administration, and is an English Specialist of the American Institute for English Proficiency located in Quezon City and Makati.  She helps people achieve their full potential through English communication skills, training, business development, leadership, and personal development.

She was born and raised in Israel, and studied in an international school that gave her a solid foundation to be exposed to people of different nationalities, races, culture, and traditions, at a young age.  She’s also a voice modulator and a piano tutor, teaching music students from second to tertiary levels.  Music, arts, linguistics, and traveling have always been a big part of her passion in life.  She’s a people person, and what keeps her goal-driven is being part of people’s success and achievements in their career goals.  Get to know more about Lizzie.

  1. Skills and talents: Playing the piano, singing, cooking, and linguistics.
  2. Hobbies: Watch movies, travel, playing the piano, sing, cooking, and enjoy some solitude-time.
  3. Education and Training: BS Administrative Management, major in Management; Music and Arts, major in Piano; Vocational studies in tourism.
  4. Personal motto: “If you don’t know how to kill time, time will kill you.”
  5. Professional Philosophy: If you make people happy, it’ll boomerang a thousand folds.
  6. Traveling experiences and preferences: Israel, Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
  7. Favorites (Sports, movies, books, food, etc.) Volleyball, true-to-life based stories, comedy/drama, and action/comedy, suspense for both movies and books. Food: Middle Eastern food, American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Oriental and Pinoy dishes. Pastries and desserts!
  8. Professional Experience: Vocal/voice modulation (8yrs), secondary/tertiary level English Tutorials (home-to-home based) (12yrs), new accounts officer and bank teller.
  9. Future hopes and goals: Business and Travel.
  10. Growing up memories: Growing up, my parents always made sure I had lots of extra-curricular activities and that I always interacted with people. They’d always enroll me into country clubs to be active and build my confidence. But one of the best experiences that taught me the real-deal about life was my independence after my dad passed away, moving to the Philippines, and starting fresh all on my own made me a strong person; it showed me what happiness truly means.

SPECIALIST PROFILE: MICHAEL ROWLAND

Michael Rowland graduated from DeSales University in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., where I also hail from.  He worked for several years in the U.S. for a political publication and its related policy committee.  He also studied classical drama (such as the works of Schiller and Shakespeare) in Los Angeles.  He came to live in the Philippines in 2011 and soon started teaching at the American Institute for English Proficiency.  He enjoys classical music, museums, astronomy, swimming, and hiking.  He loves imparting what I have learned in his various studies, adventures and learning experiences to his students at AIEPRO so they can not only learn to communicate in English, but also become more well-rounded individuals.  Get to know more about Mike.

  1. TALENTS: Although I’m more than a bit rusty, I once studied to sing classical music in a light baritone voice, as well as how to properly recite classical poetry and theater like Shakespeare and Schiller.  I also know a considerable amount about history, foreign cultures, and geopolitics.  If you want to know my opinion or analysis of what’s going on in the world, just ask me!
  2. HOBBIES:  I enjoy swimming, hiking (although I don’t have many chances to do it much nowadays!), astronomy, and reading.
  3. EDUCATION: St. Francis DeSales University; Center Valley, Pennsylvania
  4. MOTTO: Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.
  5. PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY: In my profession as a teacher, I, like Socrates, believe that the purpose of education is not just to feed a pupil information, but also to develop his or her faculties of virtue.
  6. PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE TRAVEL…
    • I have been to a lot of locations inside the U.S. In fact, I’ve seen 26 states, and even once drove all the way from Los Angeles, California to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That was a real adventure!
    • As for foreign travel, I’ve been to Philippines (of course!), Malaysia, Singapore, and China (Hong Kong).  I’d like to do a lot more foreign traveling.  It’d be nice one day to do a “triangular” Mediterranean tour of Greece, Turkey, and Egypt.
  7. FAVORITE…
    • MOVIE: The movie that really opened my mind in terms of history and politics was Oliver Stone’s  JFK.
    • TV SHOW:  If you want to learn lots of English slang and know about why major U.S. cities are being destroyed, watch The Wire.
    • SPORT: I loved to play roller hockey back in the States, but it’s nearly impossible to play it in the Philippines, so maybe I’ll have to get a new favorite.
    • BOOK: I have a lot, and picking a favorite really depends on the category.  Right now I’m reading the The Martian, and I’m really enjoying it.
    • FOOD:  This is a hard one if it comes down to choosing one.  But I’ll have to go with an onion bagel sandwich with cream cheese and lox.
  8. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:  In addition to various customer service jobs, I’ve also worked for several years for a political magazine and action committee headquartered in the greater Washington, DC area.  It was a great experience where I really learned a lot about the world.  I also got to travel all over the U.S.
  9. FUTURE HOPES/GOALS:  Above all, I hope that my son grows up to be a virtuous, kind-hearted, intelligent, educated, resilient, tenacious young man, and I hope to make that happen.
  10. MEMORIES:  When my brother and I were little boys, our father used to tell us a story each night about himself when he was growing up.  It’s one of those little things that you don’t recognize the full value of at the time because you were too young, but when you look back to how it shaped you, you understand its significance more.

SPECIALIST PROFILE: CHRIS DELACRUZ

Christopher Delacruz is the co-founder and general manager of the American Institute for English Proficiency and has a degree in Political Science from Seattle University in Seattle, Washington. He is a former school literary magazine editor, newspaper editor-in-chief, and has worked as a writing consultant at Seattle University’s Writing Center. He is a multi-award parliamentary […]

SPECIALIST PROFILE: WYNNEAL INOCENTES

Wynneal Inocentes or “Wyne,” a graduate of Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Communication Arts, is the Specialist Supervisor at the American Institute for English Proficiency.  She has enhanced her skills though various trainings, such as classical theater acting, public speaking, singing, and other performing arts.  She is a trained bel canto singer, and she can sing classical songs such as operatic arias, chorales, lieders, and Italian art songs.  Here are some things about Wyne.

  1. Skills and TalentsI grew up singing. I was involved in my high school’s glee club.  I was also a part of my college’s chorale.  When I was living in the USA, I learned how to sing using the Bel Canto method, which means “beautiful singing.,”  a  method used by opera singers.  I am able to sing Italian art songs and Arias and German lieders.  I also learned how to sing “Negro Spirituals.”I also honed my skills in acting.  I have undergone classical theater acting.  That means working on some pieces by classical playwrights like Friedrich Schiller and William Shakespeare.  This is how I further improved my English communication skills.
  1. HobbiesMy hobbies involve a lot of mental activities.  I enjoy sky watching.  This means I watch the movements of planets, stars, and constellations.  Not in a passive way.  I even try to calculate the time and degree of movement.  This also involves my pointing out the constellations in relation to another star.  This hobby of sky watching is ignited by my love for Greek mythology and its connection to astronomy.I also love watching historical documentaries, especially about ancient civilizations. Examples are Ancient Greece, Roman Empire, Babylonian Empire, Egyptian Empire, etc. This helps me understand human civilization better.I used to be so involved in physically challenging work-outs, such as boxing and tae-bo.  These work-outs really helped me focus.  I wish to go back to these kinds of work-outs again.
  1. Education and TrainingI grew up in the Philippines, but my pre-school was spent in the US. When I came back to the Philippines, I received education in a former exclusive school for girls from elementary through high school.  This was called Our Lady of Grace Academy  (now known as St. Mary’s Academy, which is now co-ed).  I went to Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros, Manila, where I received my Bachelor’s degree with major in Communication Arts.
  1. Personal MottoMy personal motto is in a form of a question: “What have you contributed to society?”  This question is important in building my identity.  It makes me happy knowing that I have done something for the future generations, whether I contribute politically or socially.
  1. Professional Philosophy“That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.” –Abraham Lincoln.  I keep this in mind with faith that Filipinos living in poverty also have the ability to achieve success.  This is what makes me feel empowered every time I teach my students because I know that I am part of helping them reach this.
  1. TravelsMy family didn’t really travel much when I was growing up.  We were content with visiting a nearby province and de-stress from city life.  However, that changed after college.  Immediately after my college graduation, I moved to the US to work.  I lived in California, mostly Los Angeles. I experienced living in San Francisco for six months. While in California, I enjoyed my vacations camping in the Santa Barbara Mountains and the Joshua Tree desert.  I visited Las Vegas, Nevada and stayed there for 3 days.I worked for four months in Leesburg, Virginia after visiting Washington D.C. for three days where I first met my life partner, Michael.  I enjoyed my week vacation in New York, especially Times Square.  I toured Massachusetts (Boston and Salem) with Michael and his family. I decided to move to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. While living there, we toured Philadelphia.  Later, I moved back to the Philippines. Since I have been with AIEP in 2011, I enjoyed exploring different places in the Philippines with the staff.  We went to Zambales, Baguio, Naga, Puerto Galera, Boracay, Tagaytay, Quezon, Laguna, and many others.In the future, I have my own dream destinations: Italy, Greece, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Spain.  I really hope to go to these places. Watching historical documentaries piqued my interest in visiting these countries.
  1. FavoritesI will list three of my favorite things: movies, food, and music.I really love watching movies, TV shows, and documentaries, specifically with topics of human interest or historical significance. Examples: Selma, The Help, Dream Girls, The Great Debaters, Turn, A Beautiful Mind, Boardwalk Empire, Pacific, etc.Food!!! I love eating. I will try any dish in the world as long as it is decent. No,  worms for me, thank you.  But really, I will try any restaurant.  My favorite is Thai food. I just love how they blend different flavors in one dish.  My second favorite is Indian food. My third pick is Japanese food.

    I enjoy two kinds of music:

    • Classical Music – I love chamber music, especially ones that are composed by Johannes Sebastian Bach. My all-time favorite opera composer is Giuseppe Verdi.
    • African American Spirituals – These songs make me feel very human. It uplifts me whenever I am troubled. They are so inspiring as it reflects the black-Americans’ struggle for equality and how they see hope despite of desperation.  They usually tell biblical stories and stories of hope from slavery.
  1. Professional ExperienceAlthough my mom exposed me to her business and trained me to be her admin, my first official job was at the Universal Studios Theme Park. I worked part-time in admissions and selling tickets.  My other part time job was in a laundry! Yes, I accepted work in the laundry business. I didn’t exactly wash their clothes. I was just at the front desk and took in laundry of other people.  Later, I was in a publishing company. First, I was part of their sales team; later, I started editing for them and even contributed articles for a magazine.  I was in clothing retail as well.  I love fashion; I love clothes. I enjoyed putting together outfits for men and women. Since I moved back to the Philippines, I have been with the American Institute for English Proficiency, now as a supervisor.
  1. The FutureAs a lover of singing and acting, I have told Chris and Vin that I want to have a cultural center where I can help people enhance their talents or even build their confidence.  I still want to do this! I envision myself having a small learning center. I also would like to provide quality education to my children. This may be realized in the United States of America or the Philippines.
  1. Growing Up MemoriesThey say that I have always been good in speaking, writing, listening, and reading English. It is actually the language that I am more comfortable with than Filipino. However, it is funny for me to think now that I am teaching English because I have always hated studying English grammar. In fact, I had very low grades in that particular subject (close to failure).  I thought that I would never be able to teach, also, because I used to have very short patience.  My mom would tell me that if that happened, my students wouldn’t like me because I was so impatient, strict, and angry all the time.  If she could see me now, she would also laugh at her own words because of my current professional practice.I also remember how I hated math.  My mind blanks out the moment I see numbers. I honestly didn’t enroll in any major that involves math, especially algebra. I didn’t even want to be an engineer because of it.  In 2003, I met two people who walked through shapes and motions with me, including movements of the stars.  This is when I fell in-love with physics, geometry, calculus, and astro-navigation.

 

ENGLISH WORDS FROM LATIN

The American Institute for English Proficiency (located at two spots in Metro Manila, Philippines) can help you improve your English vocabulary.  One of the ways for vocabulary development is to know root words, etymology, or origins of words.  For example, the word boondock comes from the Filipino (Tagalog) word, bundok, which means mountain.

It’s good to know, therefore, that English borrows a lot from different languages.  One such language is Latin.

Image: tumblr.com

Image: tumblr.com

How did this happen?  Well, from 27 BC to 476 AD, much of Europe and the Mediterranean was ruled by the Roman Empire.  The main lingua franca–i.e. common tongue–of  the Empire was Latin.  One of the places in Europe conquered by the Romans was the island of Britain.  Therefore, Latin became a major influence in the local languages in the land that would one day become England.

Even when the Roman Empire collapsed, Latin was still a very important language all over Europe.  It was–and still is–used by the Roman Catholic Church; being used in religious ritual and theological study.  Latin became a language of the learned, and Europe’s universities used to focus studies on Latin until the end of the 19th century.

Because of this, many English words derive from Latin.  A lot of them do this by employing prefixes or suffixes based on Latin words. Here is a list of some examples:

  • annus means “year”; it gives us English words like anniversay, annual, and per annum.
  • bene means “good”; it gives us English words like benefit, benefactor, and benign.
  • celeber means “famous”; it gives us English words like celebrity, celebration, and celebrant.
  • centum means “hundred”; it gives us English words like century, centipede, and centennial.
  • corpus means “body”; it gives us English words like corpse, incorporate, and corporal.
  • deus means “God” or “god”; it gives us English words like deity, deify, and deist. 
  • dominus means “lord”; it gives us English words like dominate, dominion, and dominant.
  • homo means “man”; it gives us English words like human, homicide, and hominid.
  • terra means “earth” or “land”; it gives us English words like terrestrial, territory, and terrain.

These are only some examples of the huge number of Latin terms that are now used in English. Try using them when you practice your English! And if you want to learn more English vocabulary, enroll at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Makati and Quezon City, Philippines!

ENGLISH AND THE JOY OF READING

Some of my students have encountered difficulties in writing or giving speeches.  For others, they are stunned when they are asked about a particular question.  It is a challenge many people have when they are asked to speak or write about something. They end up saying, “I don’t know what to say,” or “I don’t know anything about this.”  The answer to this is simple: read.  This prevents mental block.  I also had students who already may be good in the English language, yet they don’t know what to say.  Some of my students may say that they lack experience.  This is only partially true.  One must also have some knowledge about other things.  This can be solved through reading.

However, don’t limit yourself to what you already know. You may read something that you are already extremely comfortable with.  That only adds to the information that you already have.  Life becomes monotonous that way, but you haven’t really learned anything new to you.  You shouldn’t be afraid of learning things outside of your comfort zone.  Go ahead and read a book that may be a bit more challenging for you.  Pick something up that is not necessarily mainstream or pop-culture.  This way, you can widen your vocabulary and expand your knowledge with anything.  It opens your eyes to new things; you no longer become ignorant of perspectives of people from different countries, cultures, religions, histories, lifestyles, and specialist fields.  You are able to relate yourself and your knowledge to anyone you meet.  You are no longer afraid of becoming speechless.

Instead, you become more confident in coming face to face with others.  You even become more inquisitive towards others to verify what you have read.  From this formed habit, the learning never ceases.  You become excited to read articles because you enjoyed conveying it to others.  A spark of interest may even come your way when someone provides you an information you haven’t heard of.  Thus, you read further on the subject at hand.  You might also enjoy the fact that you are suddenly the center of attention because people are listening to you talk about anything.

I grew up in a household where books are everywhere.  These were no nursery rhyme books.  These were high school and college textbooks of my mother and cousins.  My dad subscribed me for a monthly edition of National Geographic magazines and children’s encyclopedias.  I naturally learned the English language this way.  I would be delighted to pick up any book that I can get my hands on.  I would be so excited each month to read the latest edition of Nat Geo delivered to our door step.

There were many terminologies that I couldn’t understand from reading these books, but that was all right with me.  I always kept a dictionary handy in case I encountered them.  I wasn’t limited to reading them; I would talk about them to my friends, family, and teachers.  This helped me in my school essays.  In fact, my school would even ask me to compete in essay writing contests and speech competitions because I am knowledgeable.  I may not be an expert on a certain subject, yet I was confident to talk about it in front of class.  The words, phrases and sentence structures stuck in my mind.  I would remember how they were written.  This habit helped me become a good writer and speaker.

People come up with several excuses just so they would avoid reading.  They might even say “it stings my eyes,” or “I have no time,” or “I prefer watching movies.”  However, you shouldn’t be afraid of reading.  It actually helps you with communicating your ideas.  You learn things and then you share them.  You can talk about several topics to your friends.  Also, I do suggest that you should not be afraid of picking up that giant book at the corner of the bookstore.  You may be quite surprised how delighted you’ll end up from reading it.

Source: www.aiepro.comI also suggest that you join the American Institute for English Proficiency and the Philippine Book Club for their book club meetings. Book Club Meeting with AIEPRO