Do you have a favorite card game? Recently I picked up this deck of playing cards from the local book shop. Each card has slang phrase on it like, “You bet, couch potato, That hit the spot, kudos.” Underneath the phrase, they tell you what the phrase means.
I found the card game, “Crazy Eights” easy to teach. Remember Uno? My guess is the the creator of Uno got the idea from the older card game, Crazy Eights. When I play this with my English conversation group, every time a person discards, they read the phrase. Then, I explain it, use it in a sentence, and they have to try to use it in a sentence. This procedure brings a lot of confused looks and laughs.
The last time I met with my two friends, one speaks Persian and the other Spanish, I gave them three random cards and asked them to tell a story with the three cards. Challenging? For sure! Funny stories? You bet!
Try it. Here are three examples of slang. “Pass the buck. For the birds. Come on.”
Now it’s your turn. Let me know what you come up with.
It is no secret that COVID brought a lot of stressors into our lives. Here is a summary about college students, the world over.
“Chegg.org asked about online learning, the cost of education, mental health, and more. This study deserves serious attention from anyone concerned with international education and the well-being of students. One significant finding: 56% of students surveyed said their mental health suffered during the period of Covid. 81% of students surveyed said their stress and anxiety have increased; 15% contemplated ending their life. Over 500 students surveyed, over 3%, attempted to kill themselves; the percentages were highest in Saudi Arabia, Brazil, USA, South Korea, Russia, Malaysia, Australia, India, Canada, and China” (Dr. Christopher Sneller).
It is no secret that people from all times and all walks of life have suffered from mental and emotional stresses due to difficulties they endured. I wondered about their lives; how did they handle things like depression, anxiety, loneliness, and anger? One of the most ancient and yet most relevant resources promises to give us a window into their lives. That resource is the Bible. People like Job, Paul, Elijah and various poets write about their anguish and resolutions.
Chai and Chat is a weekly meeting we (Bridges International) host for international students at Kansas State University. This fall, we tackled the topic of mental health by defining terms, listing resources, and reading and discussing what the Bible says about these topics. We ended each session with an art project using geometric shapes of three colors glued to a piece of paper. (We followed the method demonstrated and explained in Picture This, by Molly Bang.) Then we shared what we created. Some of the images reflected their own experience with things like anxiety and depression. Others retold the story or advice from the Bible. The discussion guides are now available from the tab at the top of this page. I hope you find them helpful.
by Erin Meyer
An international student told me a professor looked over his paper and made a few suggestions. “You might think about changing page 2 and consider again what you wrote on page 9.”
My friend told me, ” I thought about changing page 2 and I read again what I wrote on page 9, but I decided not to change it. When I met with my professor again and he saw I made no changes, he was upset with me. But why? He asked me to think about it, not to change anything. So I considered but I decided what I wrote was good, so I left it.”
What happened? One person, the professor came from a culture of where requests to change come in the form of a suggestion. The student came from a culture where a suggestion is just a suggestion. Telling a person to change something comes in the form of, “Change this.” No wonder each person was confused.
Erin Meyer’s book, The Culture Map, takes eight topics of cultural confusion and helps the readers sort how each culture sees things. Included is a diagram which shows how countries tend to behave. Below are the topics.
Navigating Cultural Ways of Doing Things
- Communicating: explicit vs. implicit
- Evaluating: direct negative feedback vs. indirect negative feedback
- Persuading: deductive vs. inductive
- Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical
- Deciding: consensual vs. top down
- Trusting: task vs. relationship
- Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoid confrontation
- Scheduling: structured vs. flexible
The discussion guides are found by going to “Eight weeks of Conversation Cafe.”
Best wishes for successful English conversations this fall, 2021 and beyond.
While reading in the public library, I noticed this book on the shelf under the sign, “Graphic Novels.” I have to admit I have never read Dante’s Divine Comedy and I was pretty sure I would not devote myself to it any time soon. In no time at all though, I was entranced by the superb drawings. Within a few hours, I completed the book, grasping for the first time what the poem was all about.
As I meet with international students to help with their English conversation, I suggest reading graphic novels. For one thing, it is easy to read through the book quickly because the word count is limited. The graphics fill in the details. Graphic novels are not just for children who like to read about superheroes like Spiderman. Graphic novels range in the category of fiction and nonfiction such as history and biographies. All of these books and topics lend themselves to great conversation.
We are only in the middle of July. Visit your public library and you are sure to find something that interests you and your friends.
Yours for Summer Reading Fun,
These three books offer such a delightful way to engage in conversational English. Each page has a work of art followed by a description like, “Fashion is bias cut,” with a photo example. Or “New York is atmospheric,” or “Art is rendered.”
When I brought these books to my sessions, my friend was delighted. She kept lists of the new words. We discussed the pictures, looked up definitions and had some good laughs.
I highly recommend these wonderful resources produced by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Yours for engaging conversation,
Lock-down, isolation, and lethargy might go hand in hand. Here at Kansas State University, our Bridges International club started a virtual tour on Route 66, starting in Chicago and ending in California. How does it work? We joined the company, My Virtual Mission, which records how many miles the participants individually step, walk, run, ride, or paddle to a map on their website. Each person’s activity moves the whole group along. Currently, we are about 40% of the way, somewhere in western Oklahoma.
But why are we doing this? Well, first of all, knowing that you can inch your team across a map closer to a destination is motivating to move when sitting is easier. We also connect with each other daily by looking at our activities. At the Conversation Cafe, our weekly English discussion group, we learn about cities on the route and also cities in the hometowns of our international students. There is a spiritual component as well. Physical journeys change our perspective on life and give us new experiences. The ancient practice of going on pilgrimages suggest that travel can be an intentional way to connect with God in a new way.
All of us look forward to a new beginning at certain junctures in our lives. We move, begin a new job, start a new relationship, or a new academic course. Hopefully, we have learned from our past mistakes and successes and hope things will go better as we start again. While we might be apprehensive or even sad about what we have left behind, still there may be a glimmer of hope, an excitement for what might be next.
The Conversation Art Card, A New Beginning, is a way to have a discussion over a new start. Look it over, show it to a friend, and learn something about yourself.
- What do you notice in this work of art?
Sphinx of Hatshepsut, ca. 1479-1458 B.C. From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
2. A new beginning often starts with a new job, school, or relationship. What expectations do you have for yourself in a new beginning?
3. Choose a or b below:
a. Eli Khamarov said, “The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations.” What do you think Khamarov means?
b. The Old Testament prophet Micah describes what God expects of people. “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Restate these thoughts in your own words. Do you think God’s expectations are reasonable and doable?
4. The sphinx sculpture shows Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh of Egypt. While acting as regent for young Thutmose III, she assumed and established her supreme authority. One way she did this was by commissioning statues of herself. To the Egyptians, a sphinx represented a king. Clearly, Hatshepsut marked a new beginning for herself as a pharaoh. Draw a picture or find a digital image representing a new beginning for you.
The COVID Virus problem seems to continue. Depending on where you live, you experience a variety of restrictions. So what do you do? How do maintain a sense of normalcy?
Here is a list of my favorite things to do. Perhaps there is something you would like to try.
- Go on a hike or walk.
- Listen to familiar and new music. Try a virtual choir.
- Pray together.
- Practice gratitude.
- Gather in small groups at home or in a restaurant.
- Attend church in person or online. You can now attend almost anywhere in the world.
- Call people with FaceTime or Zoom.
- Listen to a new podcast.
- Create art.
- Try out a new recipe.
- Buy a new pet.
- Read the Bible and ask these questions.
- Exercise indoors or out.
- Play video, board, or card games.
- Read a new book.
- Write a poem or story.
- Clean your apartment or house.
- Get rid of stuff you don’t need.
- Buy some stationary and write letters with a pen and paper.
- Garden indoors or out.
- Pick up or revive a hobby, like photography or sewing.
- Attend classes when possible.
- Go shopping with your mask on.
- Look at art, virtually and at a museum.
- Learn a new instrument.
- Decorate your living space.
- Go to your public library and read a new magazine, one you have never read before.
- Sweep your sidewalk.
- Make dinner and take it to someone.
- Spend time with children.
What would you add to this list?
Please leave your comment on Face Book, International Conversation Cafe.
Thank you so much!
Each summer at KSU, our club hosts a summer project. It is a time when international students have more time and can take on greater responsibilities in meeting new students and offering them a variety of activities. The center piece for these activities is the Conversation Cafe. Fortunately, with the relaxation of COVOD 19 restrictions, we can meet for fun and conversation, staying socially distant, of course!
This summer, a friend of mine, Adeline Chang suggested we have topics centered around the theme of folk and fairy tales. She choose 8 stories from around the world. Each story teaches a moral or lesson. We read through the story together and answer four questions. Already, we have had some delightful conversations.
Where to find the discussion guides? On this website, go to Conversation Discussion Guides and then Eight Weeks of Conversation Cafe.
I hope you have as much fun with these stories as we are having.