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Thursday, 23 April 2015 11:19

You know you're getting old when...

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Ok, so I am facing a "milestone birthday" in a couple of days...for which I'm thankful! The way to have a long life? Keep having birthdays!


But still, maybe "age" has been on my mind more the past few days. So, let me set the scene:

I was teaching my SAT writing class today. We had had a great class, lots of good editing and discussion. The students all attend the highly-respected Science Park School in Hsinchu, Taiwan   (國立新竹科學工業園區實驗高級中學) where I served as teacher and college adviser, 1992-1997.Class was over, but one student who had 8th grade exams the next day asked, "Mr. Dreyer, can I ask you a question?"

(When time allows, I like to let the kids ask extra questions about things beyond our class content. This extra "homework coaching" is an additional benefit for our students with

His question: "How can I do better at learning the locations of the European countries, especially the Balkans?"

(Side note: I am DELIGHTED to see people learning geography; I taught world geography at his school for five years back in the 1990s, and said, "Please tell your teacher how glad I am that is he is making you learn the countries of Europe.)

My answer: Try an online quiz game, like this one.

You can also print off a blank map and label each country, and then check your answers.

"However, it was a lot easier when I was a kid, because...." (I wanted to continue, "because we only had to learn Yugoslavia, but now you have to learn six or seven countries.")

But, he piped up! "You had the Ottoman Empire!"

In case you did not know, the Ottoman Empire fell in the 1920's, having basically been dissolved after WW I and the Versailles Treaty, because they were on the losing side. (Also, countries get punished when they lose wars--sometime, they cease existing altogether!)

So, we all had a good laugh, and I told the student, "I might remember the Ottoman Empire...if I were 100 years old!"

(Now, I was blessed as a boy to have a friend and next-door neighbor, "Aunt Lou," who was born in 1892 in Franklin County, Virginia: she would have remembered the Ottoman Empire! She clearly remembered Teddy Roosevelt! But she passed away in 1997--at the age of 105.)

Still, that young man had a good point: people back then did have an easier map to memorize! You didn't have to memorize names and places like Yugoslavia, Turkey, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq...well, you get the point.


Ottoman Empire


Ottoman Empire

That kept me laughing for the rest of the class, and off and on the rest of the day. Still, if you need some help with your English writing--or history--or geography--contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We want to help as many people as we can at you remember the Ottoman Empire or not!

Read 21508 times Last modified on Thursday, 27 July 2017 15:12
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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