Joko MacKenna's blog on Ajarn.com
Surviving Myanmar's rainy season
I grew up on the west coast of the USA. We get rain, but we don't get thunder and lightning. I love experiencing it now. Don't grouse about it. Enjoy it.
Two very special students
The challenges of adapting your teaching for 'different' class members
Perhaps the most challenging bit of customization I've needed to perform as a teacher has been my recent experience teaching a couple of remarkable students. The first a young Burmese lady with cerebral palsy (CP) and the second, a young man with autism.
Stay away from the top knot
When a young teacher fears students have lost his respect
As Ajarn.com is in the business of providing advice to ESL teachers, I have a new warning when it comes to hair choices. Stay away from the top knot!
Have you ever taught an intensive English course?
I'm teaching the same group of students six hours a day.
Have you ever taught a truly intensive English class? Any tips for me and others regarding how to best handle this type of situation?
A seemingly innocuous language activity
I wasn't prepared for the stories I was about to hear.
High school days are the best days of our lives? For these three students, the answer was definitely not.
Five things I've learned in SE Asia
From smiling to haggling and crossing the road
Of these five realizations, I understand that perhaps none of them will do me any good back home, but then again, I don't see myself going home any time soon.
An American story on Independence Day
How the American Dream didn't really work out for me
I'm teaching abroad in Southeast Asia and even though I'm making half what I made in America, there are no money concerns. I'm saving money for my eventual retirement, something I could never do when I was living paycheck to paycheck.
Getting along with your neighbors
How's the modern day relationship between Thailand and Myanmar?
The Myanmar view of Thailand is that of a role model. Myanmar longs for the relative prosperity that Thailand has achieved in the last 20 years
Travels in Kalbar
Somewhere on the road less traveled
I wanted to go someplace different. Someplace off the beaten tourist path where I could explore and not just follow another leg of the 'banana pancake road'.
Becoming a TEFL 'lifer'
Into my third year as a teacher in Myanmar
What happens in year two and three of an ESL journey is up to you, but it's probably going to include getting more serious about what you do.
Election fever in Myanmar
Why I'm in the dark when it comes to election results
Myanmar's recent rapid development has highlighted it's own weaknesses, infrastructure being first and foremost of them.
The road to Nay Pyi Taw
The Myanmar adventure continues.
My TESL journey has taken me to a place I never would have imagined I would be before I started this adventure. This is a city like no other. My language institute employer assigned me here, and although I did have a veto right to being sent here, I didn't exercise it.
Why it's not OK for EFL students to start sentences with conjunctions
As an ESL teacher, I'm not dealing with writers who have an advanced command of English, and so, for them, the rule I learned in 2nd grade English class definitely still applies.
Too many games!
Beware of turning your class into gameaholics
"I'm really starting to take a dislike to this class," my colleague complained in the teachers' room. "All they want to do is play games, and it's not even like they're a bunch of kids.
A lesson for experienced teachers in surviving the CELTA
Sometimes you have to unlearn what you've learned
Do a little research or talk to people who've completed their CELTA and you'll find that experienced teachers are often the ones who have the hardest time with the rigors of the course.
Back on American soil
Well, the American Embassy in Yangon to be precise
I was somewhat nervous about being back in America. It's two years now since I've left, and although it's probably not changed as much as I have over that time, I didn't know how I was going to feel with my feet on American soil today
Making sure the novelty of living in Asia doesn't wear off
Sometimes I think about why I'm here. Why I left Thailand. Why I left America in the first place. The answers to those questions probably aren't all that different from lots of other foreign teachers here in this part of the world.
Surely this should also join the ranks of 'English for specific purposes'
When compared to a place like Bangkok, Myanmar's taxi drivers don't even get that many foreigners in the back seat, but on the whole, the drivers here speak much better English than back in Bangkok.
Comparing Myanmar to Thailand
What are the differences for an English teacher?
I've only been here eight months and before this I was an ajarn in Thailand. I'm at a point where I can still remember the place I left whilst also knowing enough about this new place so that I can create this list I share with you now.
Trust your local doctors!
Believe me when I say that great medical staff can be found anywhere.
For the last ten days or so, I've been in excrutiating pain, first from bursitis in my knee and later from a bulging disk in my back aggravated by the funny way I had to walk with a bum knee. Tonight, thanks to my local Southeast Asian health care professionals, my horrific debilitating anguish has been numbed to a dull ache. Feels damn good, and how I got this way is an edifying anecdote.
The scarlet K
Is teaching kids just as valuable to a school as teaching specialized stuff
I've been pigeonholed. Typecast. A big, scarlet 'K' has been branded onto my CV. The letter represents the language learners I'm best with: Kids.
Don't believe all you read
Sorting out internet fact from internet fiction
When I was doing some internet research on living and working in Myanmar, I read some disconcerting things. I read some positive things. And I read some preposterous things that I simply couldn't believe until I saw them with my own two eyes.
My first year as a teacher in Thailand
The highs and the lows and what I've learned.
Now that this academic year is winding down, I reflect on my first year with a lot of mixed feelings. There have been a lot of awesome moments where I really felt like a teacher. I really felt like I was getting through to the students and I was the getting the job done.