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Learning Resources

Learning Resources (16)

Friday, 14 December 2018 01:10

DreyerCoaching 大使 Ambassador

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Do you like to help people?


Be a DreyerCoaching Ambassador!

成为Dreyer 大使!

Help your friends, and help yourself!


Our best ambassadors are our students and their parents, who are happy with their learning with To say "Thank You" to each person who introduces a new student who registers with us, we will give the introducer ONE FREE 1 on 1 English class -- an RMB 475 / NT$ 1,800 value! 



AND, from December 14-21, 2018, we are offering a special bonus. For EACH student you encourage to register with, before December 21, you get ONE FREE 1 on 1 class AND we will enter your name in a drawing to win the GRAND PRIZE:  50% off the tuition for one 2019-2020 small group class (September 2019 - June 2020)!

 还有,在十二月14-21日2018年,您所介绍的朋友报名上课了。会赠送您一次值美金$69元的一对一课程且会将您的大名(介绍一位,两位,三位或更多)放在抽奖里,您就有机会得DreyerCoaching的头奖(九月2019年-六月2020年)网路小组课打折 50%的学费。


When people register now, they get classes from January - June, 2019. AND, if they register soon, they can get the BONUS CLASSES during the week of December 17-20! 42497141 10217066690477368 8733907028247838720 n


We have NEVER offered this before, so take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Help your friends! Help yourself! Be a DreyerCoaching ambassador! 


Here is the current tuition for classes, January - June, 2019:

Small-Group Classes (2x/week--only 6 students maximum per class) (except for Writing Classes):

原价 RMB 8,950 / NT$39,550   RMB 5,500 / NT$ 24,500 (good until 1/31/2019)

Small-Group Writing or Conversation Classes (1x/week--only 3 students maximum per writing class):

原价 RMB 5,395 / NT$23,875   RMB 3,200 / NT$ 14,300 (good until 1/31/2019)

1 on 1 Class (with a USA Team Teacher)

原价 RMB 15,320 / NT$68,135   RMB 5,800 / NT$ 47,700 (good until 1/31/2019)


Do your friends want to know more about our classes? Give them this link.

Want to know more? Email Scott today! 

Wednesday, 28 November 2018 13:48

最佳进步奖 Most Improved Award

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The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.   

-German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

- Booker T. Washington, born in Virginia as a slave and later the first black to be a guest in the White House.


To celebrate success and improvement, we created the Most Improved Award (最佳进步奖) for the first quarter of the 2018-2019 school year, to help also celebrate our 10th anniversary online.


2018-2019 1st 9 weeks 


The FIRST winner of this new award, in November 2018, is Bob Liu, from beautiful Hangzhou, China. 

Why did Bob win this award?

His teacher Mrs. McKinney reports that Bob has made GREAT progress since she began working with him, and Bob attends almost EVERY Friendly Free Friday class he can. Bob knows that learning a foreign language is a long-term process, and on top of that, when my wife and I were in Nanjing in June 2018, Bob and his mother traveled two hours by train from their home to Nanjing, just to meet us in person. Wow! What commitment! Lastly, Bob is curious and likes to ask questions, and always has a GREAT attitude.


So, for all these reasons and more, Bob is our FIRST winner of the Most Improved Award. Congratulations, Bob!



2018-2019 2nd 9 weeks


The winner of the "Most Improved" Award for the second 9 weeks is Cici Liu, of Wuhan, China.


Over the past year or so, two things about Cici have made her stand out in my mind. First, she takes initiative to learn. At, we seldom ask our students to memorize passages, but several times her teacher, Mr. Woodson, told me that Cici had volunteered to memorize and then recite passages from her Reading 1 book about the US states like Vermont. He was so impressed, he would record her recitations and email them to me to look at. Second, once she learned the word "mayor" in English and when she realized the Chinese meaning, she told her teacher, "I want to be the mayor of Wuhan some day." When I met with her for her bonus class the other day to celebrate her winning this award, I asked her why she wanted to be mayor of Wuhan. She told me in English, "So Wuhan can be number one."   (Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, sits alongside the mighty Yangtze River and is home to more than 10.6 million people. That means, Cici's CITY has more people than the entire US states of VIRGINIA and WEST VIRGINIA combined!

When I told our teacher team that we have a new "Most Improved" Award, Mr. Woodson told me he wanted Cici to get it for the next 9 weeks. Below is his glowing assessment.


"I've been having 1 on 1 English lessons once a week with Cici Liu since July of 2016, and have seen remarkable improvement in her English reading, listening, and speaking skills over this two and a half year period. She is a highly motivated student who often scores at the top of her Wu Han school class in Chinese and math. This motivation clearly carries over into her online English class. Several times last year, Cici would recite from memory the text from her previous reading lesson, and she did so from her own motivation; this wasn't something I asked her to do at all. Her responsibility for her own learning is also shown when she regularly asks questions about vocabulary or concepts in a lesson that she doesn't understand. She frequently tells me, in English, about her school successes and interesting things she's done with her family. 
Cici has steadily progressed from beginning vocabulary such as clock time, ordinal numbers, simple present tense verbs, classroom objects, etc. to the level 2 reading book, and she's almost finished with the level 2 spelling book. Frequent entries in my lesson log for her go like, "Great lesson; good lesson; lots of improvement". 
Cici and Scott
2018-2019 3rd 9 Weeks
For the spring of 2019, this award goes to Thomas Lee in Hsinchu, Taiwan! Thomas' teachers, Mrs. McKinney and Mr. Woodson, are impressed with Thomas' consistency and growth. Thomas attended Chinese-language schools for most of his life, then in middle school switched to a new, international school that uses English as the language of instruction. At first, Thomas took ESL classes at his new school, but his English has progressed so quickly, he has finished those ESL classes and is now "mainstreamed" with all his classmates in normal-track classes. Thomas has both excellent attendance and punctuality, and always shows a great attitude. He has taken writing, SAT/vocabulary, and 1 on 1 classes with DreyerCoaching to improve his overall skills, and it is showing. Thomas is not only imposing language-wise, but he is also imposing physically, with a height of some 190 cm, and he has yet to enter grade 10! No wonder he loves to play basketball! Congratulations, Thomas! 
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Tuesday, 07 August 2018 18:59

Basic English

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Here are some resources to help you with learning basic English. Thanks to team-teacher Dennis Woodson for finding these resources!


Learn to read and know basic sounds:


Learn days of the week:


Learn the months of the year:



Screenshot 129

      Do you want to help your child learn English? Learn more about our basic English online classes; contact Scott today to find out how we can help you or your family!


Tuesday, 16 January 2018 19:39

Language Drills

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Do you remember times in school when you thought the teacher sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown, kind of like this?


As a teacher since 1987, I wonder how many times I sounded like that to my students? And when it comes to teaching a foreign language, I think the risk for sounding like this can be HIGH. Much research shows that a foreign language should be taught in the target language, as much as possible. But many times it's easy to talk ABOUT the foreign language instead of IN the foreign language, and there is a difference.


A slow, boring pace can be another "cardinal sin" of teaching. Sure, teachers don't want to go so fast that we lose or frustrate our students. However, it is easy to go so slowly, that we bore them too.  At, we want to find the right class speed. Not so fast we "lose" our students,  but not so slowly that we bore them.


This is where language drills can come in handy.


I first experienced these in the 1980's when I was a student at William and Mary. First, I encountered it as a sophomore student in French 101x. William and Mary required all students to reach a fourth semester in foreign language ability, (which thanks to high school German, I was able to do quickly.) The "x" stands for intensive, because the school offered intensive classes so students could fulfill their foreign language requirement quickly. Here's how it worked: students took French (or another language) with the professor four times a week, Monday - Thursday. Those sessions had the normal explanations, lectures, tests, etc.  However, in the afternoon, the students had a SECOND sesssion, called the "drill session." Here, the groups were kept small, usually eight to ten students, and they were led by an upper-level student. In our case, the drill was a senior girl who had just returned to W&M from her junior year abroad in France.  The professors gave the drill instructors a dozen or so drills to do each day, drills that gave us intensive practice using the grammar points we had learned in our lecture class that morning or in the previous day or so.


Drill topics might include vocabulary practice; working with masculine, feminine, and neuter nouns; verb tenses; forming questions, etc. 


How drills worked:


It was called "drill" because it literally "drilled" the information into our heads! The instuctor gave us the clue, a sample response, as a group we gave a choral response. We did this about 3-4 times, for some familiarity. Then she would give the same clue as we had in the choral response, snap her fingers, and point to one of us. If we got it right, great; then she went to clue #2 and the next student. If we got it WRONG, she just repeated the clue, snapped her fingers again, pointed to ANOTHER student, who then (hopefully) got it right, then she snapped her fingers and pointed to the person who got it wrong, giving that person the chance to say it correctly this time. If the student STILL missed it a second time, she repeated that procedure AS LONG AS IT TOOK for that person to get it right. So the good news is, the student ALWAYS got it right--it just might take awhile. But at least the student DID get it right, and that was a confidence booster. The teacher did a combination of  individual and group questions: usually about 3/4 individual questions, and 1/4 group questions. The teacher both starts and ends each individual drill with the choral response. You start with it to build confidence with the new grammar structure, and you end with it to end on a successful note. This intense drill session went on for 50 minutes, without a break! Needless to say, we learned A LOT of French that year!


Two years later, when I returned to W&M from my junior year abroad in Germany, I was thankful when some professors asked me to be a drill instructor for German 101x. That experience let me make some new friends, help people learn German, earn some extra pocket money, AND it was my first paid teaching gig! So even though I did not get my Virginia teacher's license and start full-time teaching until 1987, I actually became a paid instructor  in 1986, as a (very part-time) staff at William and Mary! 


So let's talk about English.


There is NO SHORTAGE of places where students can learn English. However, I wish I had a nickel for each time a student or parent told me, "I [my child] learned English for years, but never learned to speak it. Every time I [my child] sees a foreigner, all I [my child] can say is 'Hello. How are you?'"


So, with, one of our main ways to add value is to give our students lots of chances to speak English so they build their skills and confidence. 


Let's say you want to teach a key, high-frequency  language point. Sometimes, we need the slow, methodical explanation. For our basic learners, explaining it in Chinese can be a HUGE help too. But to give the students LOTS of chances to have verbal practice, and to keep the class pace lively, look for times to use drills. For each drill, I suggest using 5-7 clues, and use them over and over till the group can master the grammar point.)



Drill 1. Teaching "be" verb conjugations. The teacher should show a chart of some visual, maybe in the book, and explain how the "be" verb changes based on the pronoun. (Note: Chinese has NO verb conjugations! So that's one reason why Chinese is easy to learn, but it's hard for Chinese speakers to learn English.)

After the (brief) grammar lesson, try a drill. 

T: Teacher

SS: all students in class (choral response)

S1: first student

S2: second student, etc.


One idea behind drills is to START EASY, where the students only have to produce one item. You can add complexity as you go on, by gradually adding new elements to each drill sentence.

In person, the teacher snaps his fingers, then turns and points to the student who is supposed to speak. However, in an online class, the teacher can give the clue, then call the student's first name.)


T: I ... I am nice.    I... (waves arms in sweeping fashing, to signal "choral response.")

SS: I am nice.

T: I ... I am nice.   I... (waves arms in sweeping fashing, to signal "choral response.")

SS: I am nice

(Repeat 3-4 times, so students are confident with it. EACH student should be repeating.)

T: I  ... Jessica

Jessica: I am nice.

T: I ... Tom

Tom: I am nice.

T: You ...  Jerry

Jerry: You are nice.

T: You are nice. (wave arms for choral response)

SS: You are nice.

T:  He ...  Jack

Jack: He is nice.

T: They ... Jessica

Jessica:  They is nice.

T: They ... Jack

Jack: They are nice.

T: They ... Jessica 

Jessica: They are nice  (teacher smiles)

T: Mrs. Smith ... Fred

Fred: Mrs. Smith is nice.

T: Mr. and Mrs. Smith ... Jessica

Jessica:  Mr. and Mrs. Smith are nice.

T: You ... Jerry

Jerry: You are nice.

T: You  (wave arms for choral response)

SS: You are nice

(repeat 2-3 times, to build confidence and end on successful note.)


Drill 2: Reviewing "be" conjugations and teaching nationalities

Note: Give the pronoun and country; then model for students to conjugate the verb and say the adjective. Notice how this drill is a bit harder: the students have to conjugate the verb AND change the country to an adjective. Ideally, we want to always be moving our students to higher and higher levels of complexity and competence. 


T: I ... China (wave arms for choral response)

SS:   I am Chinese.

(repeat 3-4 times to build confidence)

T: You ... Russia   (Jack)

Jack: You are Russian.

T: He ...  Vietnam  (Fred)

Fred: He is Vietnamese

T: They ... Mexico  (Jessica)

Jessica: They are Mexican

T: She... Brazil  (Tom)

Tom: She is Brazilian

T: We ... France (Jack)

Jack: We are French

(Note: try to keep the clues consistent. That is, always use "they/Mexico, she/ Brazil, we/France" etc.  


Drill 3: Countable and non-countable nouns (Note: Again, Chinese does not have this distinction, so it's a challenge for our students to master this. And let's face it: many native speakers of English make mistakes here too. How often do we see the ad "Less Calories"?)

T: Tomatoes ... delicious  (wave arms for choral response)

SS: Tomatoes are delicious

(repeat 3-4 times)

T: Milk .. delicious (wave arms for choral response)

SS: Milk is delicious

(repeat 3-4 times)

T:  Pizza ... Fred

Fred: Pizza is delicious

T: Chicken ... Jessica

Jessica: Chicken is delicious

T: French fries ... Tom

Tom: French fries are delicious.

T: ice cream ... Jack

Jack: Ice cream is delicious

T: ice cream cones  ... Jessica

Jessica: Ice cream cones is delicious 

T: ice cream cones ...  Tom 

Tom: ice cream cones are delicious

T: ice cream cones ... Jessica

Jessica: ice cream cones are delicious

T: peas...  Jerry

Jerry: peas are delicious

T: Peas are delicous (wave arms for choral response)

SS: Peas are delicious 

(repeat 3-4 times)


Drill 4: Forming questions

(Language note: It is easy to form most questions in Chinese. Many times you just say the sentence, then add the question word "ma" at the end, and that makes it a question. So, when one has to switch the word order to make a question in English, that is difficult for many students.)


T: You are a student.... Are you a student?

(Repeat 3-4 times)

T: You are a student (wave arms for choral response)

T: You are a student .... Fred

Fred: Are you a student?

T: He is an American ... Jerry

Jerry: Is he an American?

T: We are going ... Tom

Tom: Are we going? 

T: She is from France. ... Jessica

Jessica: Is she from France? 

T: They are from Japan ... Fred

Fred: Are they from Japan?

T:  They are from Japan ... Are they from Japan? (wave arms for choral response)

Are they from Japan? 

(repeat 3-4 times)



Drill 5: Using irregular verbs in past tense

These are difficult for even native speakers, so they are very hard for ESL learners.  Let's say you want to drill these: be, bring, eat, get,  read, ride. Say the infinitive form of the verb. Pause 1 second. Then say the sentence with the present tense. Students say the sentence in the past tense. 


(Note: Here is a list of irregular verbs. Some are more commonly used than others.)


T: BE.  He is happy. 

He was happy. (repeat 3-4 times)

T: He is happy.   He was happy. (Teacher waves arms for choral response) 

SS: He was happy.

T: BRING...She brings cookies to the party....  Tom

Tom: She brought cookies to the party.

T: EAT... I eat a sandwich.... Jessica

Jessica: I ate a sandwich.

T: GET....He gets a book....  Jerry

Jerry: He got a book.

T: READ...I read a book..... Jack

Jack: I read a book.

T: RIDE...She rides a bike.... Jessica

Jessica: She rode a bike.

T: RIDE: She rides a bike. (wave arms for choral response)

SS: She rode a bike.

(repeat 3-4 times)



Would you like to know more about learning or teaching English online? Contact Scott today.  


Chinese New Year is coming! 

 每年寒假很多家长很喜欢把握利用寒假期间来加强他们孩子的英文基础。因此, 为此需求开办了进阶小组课和一对一的课程来服务大家。

In honor of the holiday, normal classes will stop from Monday, Feb. 12 - Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. However, during those two weeks, we DO offer two extra kinds of classes! For many years we have offered intensive English classes during the holiday, because schools are out, students have more free time than normal, and many parents and young people want to improve their skills in an intensive way during these two weeks.  For example, during Chinese New Year 2017, we offered two book studies: 1984 and To Kill a Mockingbirdin addition to 1 on 1 classes. Please remember, since our classes are online, you can attend from anywhere you have an internet connection! You can spend all day relaxing and enjoying time with family, and attend just two hours a night, to keep improving your English! (Note: we do NOT have classes on Feb. 15 and 16, Chinese New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.)


Our Class offerings for Chinese New Year 2018 

What Kinds of Classes? Group Classes 小组课 1 on 1 Classes 一对一
What will be the topics students will learn?

课程内容:第二十世记历史的最重要事件之教授---此课程乃是Scott老师 在美国高中教书时所开创的授课资



This year, we are offering a new kind of group class. Scott is to present a history class, an overview of some key events of the 20th Century, using class materials Scott made himself when he taught the class he created, "20th Century European Totalitarianism," at a local public high school. Specific topics include:

  • World War I and its consequences
  • Russia in World War I and the Russian Revolution
  • The Roaring 20's
  • The Great Depression 1930's
  • World War II
  • The Cold War (if time allows)


Topics will depend on the student's English level and interest



Who should take this class?

 Students who want to:

  • deepen their knowledge and undestanding of key 20th historical events
  • improve their social studies vocabulary
  • prepare for later classes in US, European, or world history
  • better understand how the past shaped the world we live in today
Students who want to improve their English skills, 1 on 1, during the Chinese New Year holiday while schools are closed. Students can improve their listening, speaking, pronunciation, vocabulary, reading, and writing skills
What English level is required? Step 8 or 10, Reading/Vocab. 2 or 3, and Writing 5 or 6. The class will be taught in a seminar/lecture format, with many opportunities for Q&A. Since the class pace will be fast and it will include many terms specific to history and social studies, a high-level of English is required.  Any level, Step 1 to Advanced
What are the dates and times of the classes?  Feb. 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 (8 evenings, 16 sessions total), 8:00-8:50 pm and 9:00-9:50 pm China Standard Time   Any evenings, 7:00-10:00, Mondays through Saturdays, Feb. 12-24, 2018
What is the investment?  RMB 1,900, NT$ 8,600 (Registration due by Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Minimum of 3 students required to open class; spaces limited! Register today! RMB 400, NT$ 1,800, per 50 minute session. You can register for as many 1 on 1 sessions as you like, from Feb. 12-24. (Registration due by Mon. Jan. 22, 2018. Register today!)
Who will teach it? Scott Dreyer  A highly-qualified Team Teacher (we will attempt to match the student with his or her normal school year teacher, when available.)
How to find out more or register?  Contact Scott today!  Contact Scott today!


Some topics and people we'll learn about in our group class!


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Thursday, 05 October 2017 20:31


Written by


Do you want to improve your English? 

Do you have a question about English or life in the USA?

Join a FREE class with Scott Dreyer, president and founder of Scott speaks Chinese, so feel free to ask him questions in Chinese; however, he will be joining you in class live from his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, USA.

When? Fridays at 8:00 p.m., (Note new time) China Standard Time  

How do I join?     Download the free software at then on Friday at 8:00 p.m. click 

How long will the class be?  About 30-45 minutes.

What level does my English have to be to join?  Since Scott speaks Chinese, you can be at any English level, or speak none at all and just speak Chinese!  However, most of the discussion will be at a Intermediate Level (Steps 4, 5 or 6) or above. 

What kind of questions can I ask? Feel free to ask Scott any question about life in the USA or the English language, from basic level to advanced

Sample questions might include:


  • When do I use BORED or BORING?
  • What is the difference between a RUG, CARPET, and MAT?
  • What is the difference between a SHIP and a BOAT?
  • What is the difference between the words FOUNDER and PIONEER?
  • Do I say "The Philippines IS a country" or "The Phillipines ARE a country"?
  • How do I pronounce AGE and EDGE, SHIP and SHEEP?
  • You can even tell Scott a Chinese sentence and ask him to translate it into English for you.

What ages can join this class?  Any age is welcome, but due to the content and format, it is probably best for students ages 10 and over.  Adult learners welcome too!

Do you have a question you want to ask now, before class? Feel free to email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or leave a message on WeChat or LINE at:  scottdreyer

Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, 02 August 2017 21:10

Interview Questions to get into a new school

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Helping a boy in South China:


Back in the spring  a few years ago, I got a message on WeChat from a mother in Shenzhen, China. It went something like this:


We met about a year ago, when you talked with my son online. We did not sign up for your classes then, but we are in trouble now. My son has applied to an American school here in Shenzhen. He has passed the written part of the entrance exam, but he has failed the oral interview with an American teacher. He has taken the interview two times and failed both. He has a third interview in late May, but that's the last time. If he fails that one, he cannot get in. I am almost feeling desperate. Can you please help us?



How we helped that boy:


Of course I wanted to help her, so we set up a time to meet online. I assessed her son's English level, heard more about about their goals, and we made a plan. Her son would have four 1 on 1 classes each week with a teacher, over the next two months or so, leading up to the interview. Each class lasted fifty minutes. His teacher used these and other questions as the teaching material.

1. The teacher would ask the question, so the young man would practice his listening skills. Let's face it: if you can't understand the question, there is NO WAY you can answer it correctly!

2. The student would try to answer the question, to the best of his ability.

3. The teacher would coach and correct the student, to help his word choice, pronunciation, and overall clarity. 

If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is. As the old saying goes, "There is no shortcut to success." But the student and teacher met consistently and worked diligently for many weeks, about four nights per week.

The result? During the last week of May, I asked his mom how things had gone. This is what she told me:

Thank you, teacher, we are so happy! My son passed his interview and will enter the new school this fall. Thank you so much! 


That mother's news made the other teacher and me SO delighted to hear. Thanks to that targeted, intensive time of classes, that young man got into his desired school so he can pursue his dream. That's what we want to do at Help you make your dreams come true!


Helping other students too:


Ever since we helped that student get into a famous school in Shenzhen, we have also helped students get into US schools too. During 2017-2018 we offered six classes a week (Monday - Saturday) to a student in Beijing so he could prepare to attend a high school in the US state of North Carolina. Last time I spoke with him and his mother, he was very happy and successful there! During the spring of 2019, we are helping two other students, also in Beijing, prepare to enter US high schools in Illinois and Virginia. 


The application and interview process:


In short, here are the steps to enter a US school:

1. Apply to the school.

2. If the school officials like your application, they will schedule an online interview with you, to assess your English skills and other traits.

3. Take the online interview with the school.

4. If the school officials offer you admission, they will start the process to issue a US student visa.

5. You will receive notification to attend a second interview, this time at a US embassy or consulate in your home country. A US diplomat will interview you, also to judge your English level and suitability to attend school in America. This is second interview total.

6. If you pass that second interview, you will then be issued a US student visa, so you can make travel plans to come to America. However, if you do NOT pass that second interview, you will need to schedule another one, and try again. As you can see, this process has many steps and can take several months, especially if you have to retake your visa interview. Therefore, it is usually good to find a school and start this process in February or March of the year you plan to start your studies in the US. 

**For more information about the process to attend a high school or college in the US, please contact Scott Dreyer today to find out more and create a plan just for you or your child.



What the US school officials are AFRAID of:


When you apply to a US school (high school or college), it is normal for you to feel scared and nervous. However, you need to realize the school official is scared and nervous too! Why? The official is scared that if they choose a poor student for their school, everyone will lose.  The school will lose, because the teachers will complain that the student is not doing well. The parents will lose, because their child is not growing as he or she should, and the student will lose, because you are only young once and the student is losing precious time.


Specifically, the school officials are afraid of:

  • a student who is coming to the US, because they were not successful in a school in their home country. Some parents are frustrated because their child is not working hard and doing well in their home school, so the parents think, "I will send my child to the US, because American schools are a lot easier than Chinese schools."  True, the workload in most American schools is probably a lot less than in Chinese schools, and the school days are shorter, etc. However, some parents do not seem to understand something. In the US, all the school work--the lectures, reading, notes, tests, writing--is in ENGLISH. Also, ACADEMIC ENGLISH is much harder than simple CONVERSATIONAL English where you can just talk with a friend. In ACADEMIC ENGLISH, you will have specific terms for science, history, math, etc., and the vocabulary overall is at an advanced level. 


  • a student who comes to the US but does not "dig in" to life here. What does that mean? That is the student who rides to school looking at Chinese on his or her phone; sleeps a lot in class because he or she was up late the night before watching Chinese movies or listening to Chinese music; stays mainly with other Chinese students at school so they can speak Chinese together; goes straight home instead of joining after-school activities; and stays up late that night watching more Chinese movies, etc. Then, if you ask them "why aren't you spending more time with American friends?" they may say, "I don't understand what they are talking about." It is very sad, but if the student would "dig in" to life here more, they would get more out of it.


  • a student who is cheating. Rather than doing the "hard work" of actually preparing and learning English, some students try to cheat on their testing or online interviews. Some school officials have told me they have actually heard a person off-camera whispering answers to the student. In early 2019 the world was shocked by the college bribery scandal, where many wealthy parents had paid to cheat their kids into top universities. So, school officials now more than ever are looking for students who actually "know their stuff" and have the English and maturity to do well in school. At, our philosophy is to give students the skills and confidence so they can open their own doors by their own merits.


If you are applying to a Christian school, the officials might also be afraid that you will have a bad attitude toward their religion. Most Christian schools require a Bible or religion class every day, and probably a chapel once a week. In addition, if you are living with a Christian host family, they will probably expect you to go to youth group, Sunday School, and church with them each week. These activities might take 3-4 hours during the week, outside of school. And when you go to church or youth group, you should stay awake, sit up straight, be friendly, and try to understand what is going on. Nobody will force you to believe what you are hearing or accept a religion--but you should be respectful. Besides, even if you do not accept Christianity or believe the Bible, going to youth group and church is a GREAT way to improve your English, make friends, and better understand American culture! For example 25% of the TOEFL test is listening, so even if you do not believe what you hear in the Bible classes or at church, just listening to the speakers and understanding what they are saying is GREAT practice for the TOEFL, communicating in English, and understanding the American mindset

Friday, 29 May 2015 00:55

"A Summer to Remember..."

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This morning I was having class with Queenie, a middle school-aged girl in Shenzhen, South China. We were working on  some Q&A about a reading passage, and as I usually do, I asked "Do you have any questions?"
(Cultural note: many Chinese students, for various reasons, are often reluctant to ask questions, so I am always glad when my students do.) She asked about question 4 in the book: "Why is the bridge in India a bridge to remember?" The answer was, it carried 100,000 automobiles a day. However, she was curious about the phrase, "a ______ to remember." So, I was able to explain it thus: In Chinese, it's most like 很难忘.   It is literally "Hard to forget." So, you might have sentences like:

Graduation from high school is a night to remember. (Since our son David is graduating from high school in a few hours, that thought was on my mind.)


Our visit to Hawaii in 2010 was a trip to remember.


Hiking on the Appalachian Trail

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail--an experience to remember!

The baseball game where we went into extra innings and won by one run was a game to remember.


And I asked Queenie, "Last summer, you came to our summer camp. Was that a summer to remember? She said, "yes!" So, Queenie can say, The 2014 Summer Camp with was a summer to remember."


Queenie in America


Are YOU looking for a summer to remember, for yourself or a child or other loved one? Join one of our summer or winter camps! Watch this short video to see Queenie (the second person speaking) and her friends from Vietnam and Brazil telling about "a summer they'll never forget." Contact me today for details!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 00:08

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

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Fear of Public Speaking

(This came in an email from Brian Flanagan, a man I had the pleasure of meeting when Zig Ziglar and his team came to the Roanoke Valley a few years ago.)


According to that great medical journal, The Readers Digest!, speaking in front of a group of people is still the number one fear in America.These three strategies might help you deal with that fear, whether speaking to a group of two, or 20, or 200

1. Preparation compensates for a lack of talent! Prepare the talk in advance. Organize your visuals, handouts, props, and material. Practice and rehearse not only the content, but also the delivery. Analyze the audience by asking yourself these questions: In what are the attendees interested? What is important to them? How do they want to feel or think about the topic at the end of my presentation?

2. Your "first burst" is important! You should practice, rehearse, memorize, and/or choreograph your "first burst." This is your opening sentence or paragraph. The purpose of the "first burst" is to grab the attention AND the interest of your audience. Using hilarious humor, quotable quotes, startling statistics, topical stories, and/or a focusing question can accomplish this. Use your imagination when creating your "first burst."

3. Your audience is more forgiving than you are! Loosen up, lighten up, and have fun when making a presentation. Don't take yourself too seriously. The audience is not expecting perfection and neither should you! Remember: angels fly because they take themselves lightly.

One more thing: when in doubt, just get in front of the audience and "let 'er rip."

This rhyme summarizes my point. It seems a 17-year-old boy was debating whether to kiss his girlfriend. He dropped to his knees and prayed. "Lord, Lord up above, should I kiss the girl that I love?" A voice came back saying, "Sinner, sinner down below, pucker up and let 'er go!"

When in front of an audience, remember to "just pucker up and let 'er go!"

Now, go sell somebody something!
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Bryan's website

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 11:18

Keeping it Real

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When I began my teaching career way back in 1986 (instructing a daily German 101 intensive drill class at William and Mary--I was a senior who had just returned from a Junior Year Abroad program in Germany), I made a decision to try to "keep my teaching real." That is, I wanted to connect my teaching with real life, and the real needs of my students, in a real world--not the "vague otherness" of a fake world of textbooks only. So, as I taught the German grammar and pronunciation drills, I also tried to explain when the students would use those patterns, with a few illustrative stories from my year in Europe thrown in.

In the intervening 29 years I have been blessed to be in this very rewarding and satisfying teaching career, I have certainly spent a fair bit of time in the artificial world of textbooks. And I do not mean to unduly criticize textbooks-- they have their place and role. (Disclaimer: I have also co-written at textbook.) But wherever possible, I believe it is best to try to "meet students where they are" and try to "make connections" between the material I am trying to teach and the real life and experience of the students.

Now in our eighth year of offering online English classes, the wonderful team of teachers I am blessed to belong to is able to teach students, by the miracle of the Internet, across the world, from China to France to right here in the USA. And so it is a particular delight to see other members of this team making real-life connections and building relationships with students in other countries, from other cultures. For decades I have encouraged my students to "learn your foreign languages!", and as we at help students improve their English skills, they will be better-able to communicate with others and I hope, in a small way at the individual level, be better-able to contribute to a world of peace and understanding.

So it was a pleasure to receive this photograph from Mrs. McKinney, a master teacher on our team, of her recent class with Jason, a young student in South China. He plays the clarinet, and to "keep it real" in class, he played a few tunes for his teacher, across the 8,000-some miles (13,000 km), in real-time. What a fantastic way to build the student-teacher relationship and take a personal interest in the lives of the students we are are blessed to work with on a weekly basis.


My mother tells the story of her mother, who was born in the milestone year of 1900, in southern Indiana. As a young girl in a one-room schoolhouse, my grandmother vividly remembered the day when the peace outside was shattered by the novel noise of a passing-by motor car--a newfangled invention the children had never seen before. (Imagine the peace and quiet the world must have had, not to mention the slow pace of life, before the advent of the gas-powered engine and cars.) Naturally curious, all the children sprang from their desks and bolted to the windows to see that new spectacle: a motor car! At that moment, my grandmother also vividly recalled, the teacher barked out an order for all the children to return to their wooden desks, to continue their lessons uninterrupted. As a teacher, I think of that story and ponder: what a waste! For those children (and that teacher) in the early 1900's in rural Southern Indiana, they had caught their first sight of an invention that would soon spread round the world and change life for all of us, forever. Yet the magic of the moment was quashed by a teacher focused on getting through her lesson plan. Thank you, Mrs. McKinney, for making those real-life connections with our students. Let's "keep it real," fellow teachers!

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