Teaching English is Fun!

This video (4.5 min­utes) records one of my classes of nurs­ing stu­dents in Zhengzhou, Henan, China in 2010.


The secret key to teach­ing well is to learn from stu­dents, and odd as it seems, the stu­dents who learn best are nearly always those who are most eager to teach. Some­how, swap­ping ideas keeps the uni­verse in bal­ance. Nowhere is this more true than in lan­guage teach­ing and lan­guage learn­ing. Human lan­guage that is worth know­ing about is always an exchange. It can be so inter­est­ing. We all like to share fun, and nearly all of us hate being treated like zom­bies. When a teacher tells me she is bored with teach­ing, I know that she is a bur­den to her stu­dents and a fool to her­self. Life is so short, and there are so many won­der­ful things to find out about. Since 1976, in seven coun­tries and every imag­in­able kind of set­ting I have taught Eng­lish lan­guage and lin­guis­tics, some­times directly and some­times to those learn­ing to teach. That has been a priv­i­lege and a fas­ci­nat­ing jour­ney, by no means com­plete. I see myself as a wan­der­ing scholar, an ancient tra­di­tion that keeps one forever young.

My doc­toral dis­ser­ta­tion on lan­guage teach­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity can be seen at http://thormay.net/lxesl/lxtangle_abstract.html.

Thor May,
thor­may AT yahoo.com
Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China
June 2010

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The Journey of a Passionate Skeptic

speech to grad­u­at­ing stu­dents at Holmes/ZRVTC, Zhengzhou, China  by Thor May PhD, June 8, 2010


Hon­oured guests, ladies and gen­tle­men, teach­ers, stu­dents, friends, 大家好 (da4  jia1 hao3) !

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the first grad­u­ates of our Inter­na­tional Joint Ven­ture with Holmes Insti­tute at Zhengzhou Rail­way Voca­tional & Tech­ni­cal Col­lege. I’m really glad to see that you didn’t all run away ^_^. You didn’t give up. You made it!

Con­tinue read­ing

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Born 1945 – Still Running Strong

This short video (2.5 min­utes) was  made in China in 2010 for the pur­pose of show­ing the Chi­nese Pub­lic Secu­rity Bureau that “I wasn’t dead yet”. If was a futile exer­cise since they threw me out of China a lit­tle later for the crime of turn­ing 65.


A high school teacher told me once that I would never win a race. Well, nobody has ever got­ten away with telling me what I can or can’t do. I’ve been dis­tance run­ning ever since. Sure, it wasn’t Olympic stuff, just 10km runs up hill and down dale wherever I hap­pened to be liv­ing. The real race is always the one against your­self. It’s the per­sonal chal­lenge that you have to sur­mount. It isn’t always easy, but the rewards for get­ting out of your com­fort zone and doing it are always far ahead of wast­ing life away as a couch potato.

Con­tinue read­ing

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Times Sixty on Frosty Gyemyeongsan

A poem of age and age­ing, ugli­ness and beauty, and the age­less peak of Gye­myeongsan loom­ing behind Chungju, in South Korea. I wrote it in 2006. You can see the words here.

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Extraordinary – a love poem

This is one of my own poems. I wrote it in 1995. You can see the words here. Hope you like it.
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Tiger in the Night

This is one of my own poems (for the rest see my main site, thormay.net ). “Tiger in the Night” tries to cap­ture some of Korea’s spirit, ancient and mod­ern. There’s a lot to this place, for those who care to look, but with­out the magic key of Korea’s own lan­guage we are apt to hear just our own voices, see just our own foot­prints, and per­ilously for­get the tiger on the moun­tain tracks.

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Sea Fever by John Masefield

This poem is ter­ri­fic for learn­ing the rhythm of Eng­lish (if you are an Eng­lish lan­guage learner). For those of us who have steered a boat under sail, it catches some­thing mag­i­cal.

John Mase­field (1878–1967) was the British poet lau­re­ate (the Queen’s poet) for many years. As a young man he had indeed sailed on a tall ship. The words of Sea Fever can be seen here.

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