I haven’t posted in while! Life here has been busy. Carolyn, Rose and I went to Tainan a couple of weeks ago to see the China Spectacular performance and ended up back there last week for a variety of services. I’ve wanted to get some eyeglasses here because the prices are so much more reasonable than in the US. So, I took advantage of having someone with me who could tell me what I looked like in the different frames to go ahead and purchase some in Tainan. (I can’t see without my glasses!) So, this weekend it’s returning to pick them up.

But, that’s not what this post is about! I promised something on technology a while ago and it’s time to deliver. Honestly, I don’t know how people who planned to return to the states after living abroad for a short while managed to adjust without technology. If one is planning to stay, they’re doing more mixing and mingling, actively learning the language and not trying to maintain ties at home.

I’ve written about the television situation. Movies are limited as well. Many movies from the US, Europe, China, Korea and Japan to eventually make it here, but its several weeks after they open in their homelands. Typically the only movies with English are those produced in English (i.e., no subtitles on Asian films). So, my laptop provides me with hours and hours of visual entertainment in the form of television shows and movies. I haven’t purchased DVDs (though I’d like to) because the ones here are in a different region from those in the US and will not play on my DVD player at home. I can play them on my laptop (which is called a notebook here) but I can only switch regions on my computer so many times before it locks to one region.

Cell phones make calling home extremely reasonable. The most affordable solution is to purchase a cell phone here and even more affordable than that is to use an Internet phone services such as Skype. I can call any computer that has downloaded the software for free. Calls to landlines or cell phones is much less expensive than other services. A note of caution: if you plan to use your US cell phone, be sure to understand pricing for services. While my text messages were supposed to be free, I was roaming and was charged for every text I sent. Yeah, they got me good. Real good.

After taking pictures, I’m able to upload them to an online storage site. I’ve been using Picasa, Kris uses Photobucket. Flickr is another, but they provide very limited storage space. Uploading photos to the net makes them available to folks at home (I send links everytime I upload) and it gives me a safe place to store photos in case my laptop crashes. I can also access the photos at school to incorporate them into lessons. (No filters here!!!!)

Like most elementary schools, mine has rather limited technology. It’s been very interesting communicating about technology in two different languages. Because the words are so new in both languages, they are usually very similar. ‘Blog’ in Chinese is something like ‘bluloga”. Something like that! Asking for cables and extension cords results in comical pantomimes. I often use a digital projector to display Powerpoint presentations (wonderful for displaying images and sounds to give meaning to vocabulary), YouTube videos which provide images and words for songs, cartoons with subtitles and movie clips which show certain actions. I also use it to project online stories or games found on the many sites for language instruction. In a pinch, I’m able to use my flat screen computer monitor to project to the class.

Most teachers use portable microphones in the classroom. There is a large amount of ambient noise which makes hearing the teacher a challenge. Even in the US, these devices are becoming more popular as students ability to hear decreases (from listening to the pounding bass and loud music) and because they’re reliant on hearing digitally improved sound. I’m beginning a blog with my teachers who are learning English after school. This is a way for a community of learners to practice and learn from each other.

Many of the Taiwanese websites are bilingual and I’m able to use them to get train information, book hotels, find out about upcoming performances and check out museums and exhibits. Webservices such as Tealit allows English speaking expats to form an online community and exchange survival information including taxes, mail, jobs, visas, shopping, buying cell phones and shipping stuff out of the country. I’ve connected with English speakers by finding their blogs. Kristen met many people before coming over through her MySpace and Facebook accounts. (There’s an interesting story there!) I met a school librarian in Taipei through my Ning account. These are all social networking sites that obviously bring together people all over the world. I’ve even used Facebook to stay connected to my Arlington students. I read about Christian making it to the state finals on the Star’s website and I do still have my IPS email account which keeps me connected as well.

I read Educating the next generation and Plan B 3.0both free onlinefull text books. New books to follow soon. It seems the second best way to get current books at good prices is to order them online.

I end my day by watching the evening news on msnbc.

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