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January 04, 2006

Comments on "ESL Instruct" - December

"No comment" is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again." ~ Winston Churchill

Hi Readers,

Michelle, allow me to say thanks so much for the helpful plug and the kind words about my previous work on ESL Lesson Plan.

This blog entry has been set aside specifically for you to provide feedback on the December edition of ESL Instruct.

The comments are already coming in (see below).

If, by chance, you missed receiving the newsletter, you can always find it archived on the world wide web here. If you're not already subscribed, look for the sign-on box near the top. Then, you can be sure you'll never miss a single issue.

Please leave any advice or suggestion you'd like to share for makng the our newsletter a more useful and entertaining tool as a comment to this post. Remember, we are listening and your concerns are important to us!

Again, thanks for visiting the ESL Lesson Plan blog and, if you didn't catch my still-brand-new blog address, it's http://www.english-blog.com. And now, I'll hand the blog back over you to you Michelle.

Best, as ever,

Lee Hobbs
Editor-in-Chief, ESLemployment.com

Posted by lhobbs at January 4, 2006 09:33 PM

Readers' Comments:


As December 25th is the date which makes this time of year so prominently -- and universally recognized as noting the historic birth of Jesus Christ, "Merry Christmas" is equally acceptable as the appropriate greeting, not "TESL Little Solstice." Even the most markedly non-Christian nations on earth accept this as a fact.

Ted Mouser

Posted by: Ted Mouser at January 4, 2006 10:47 PM

Yikes Doctor Ted what makes you think that boy was referring to December 25? That's a helluva presumption dontcha think?On the other hand, that "historic" event you mentioned sounds like another one.Don't Brits say "Happy Christmas" anyway? Have yo-selfs a Merry old New Year ya'll!

Posted by: PittsburghPete at January 4, 2006 10:58 PM

Note from Michelle:

PittsburghPete, et al.

Sorry but I had to jump in here to respond to Ted's rather misinformed remark that "Even the most markedly non-Christian nations on earth accept" December 25th as the factual and "universally recognized" notation of J.C.'s "historic" birth. Besides the seeming disrespect to the millions of other citizens on this planet who legitimately observe all manner of secular and religious holidays in the month of December (the "overall" date of the latest ESL Instruct newsletter) I thought that Ted and other ESL Lesson Plan readers might be interested to learn the following:

I once taught ESL in Pakistan [Paki ESL students help me out here!] and - when I was there - December 25th (on the Gregorian calendar) was a national holiday called "Quaid's Day." It honors the birth of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the country's founding father. You can read more about his interesting life here. So much for the "prominent" universalism theory!

Look it up and learn something new!

Any volunteers for an ESL lesson plan suggestion for Quaid's Day?

BTW, if you are looking for ESL work in Pakistan, start by looking here.

Posted by: MSimmons at January 4, 2006 11:29 PM

Lee (and) Michelle,

I teach in Bangkok and know for a fact that, while they know Christmas and Santa Claus, and you can find many Christmas trees, they universally do not know Jesus Christ or Christianity.

They buy gifts at New Years but the major shopping centers are trying their best to extend the shopping to a holiday season, playing songs like Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer over their in-store stereos.

I have taken the opportunity at times to explain to classes to concept of Christianity and the Christian traditions/celebrations while asking them to explain to me Buddism or the Muslem traditions.

The country is 90% Buddist and 10% Muslem. It is an excellent learning opportunity for all of us as I teach adult learners who often want to work or study abroad (US, Canada, Austrailia, or England), or who want to work for major international corporations locating here in Bangkok.


Posted by: Steve at January 5, 2006 01:23 AM


Where can I buy a T-Shirt like that? I want one!!


Posted by: John at January 5, 2006 06:16 AM

Note from Lee:

John, you like that tee-shirt huh? I thought it was funny too. You can get your own at "ThinkGeek" found at the address here.

Michelle, Pete, Dr. Mouser and other interested parties,

I must say the comments for the December issue of ESL Instruct have taken an interesting turn with regards to its title "Have Yourself a Merry Little Solstice." Allow me to retort that no disrespect was intended; it was sincerely meant to be all in the spirit of fun (although I admit it would be interesting to hear Judy Garland sing it this way in the Land of Oz). Hopefully musical/song writers Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane will understand the parody. BTW, if you're unfamiliar with this rather sad holiday tune from 1943, feel free to sing along to its MIDI tune (lyrics provided) here at Christmas-Carols.net.

The thing that interests me the most about the "educational quality" of this particular comment is that the song-in-question openly and unashamedly addresses the acknowledgement of the "Yule-tide" in the second stanza. For those who might think "Yule" is just a funny word that rhymes with "mule," understand that this is the stem from the Anglo-Saxon word "Yula" which means the "wheel" of the year - in other words - the Winter Solstice, or birth of the Sun, an observance that dates long before antiquity. Apparently, it was never forgotten since it was immortalized in verse as late as 1943 by the English-speaking songwriters. To learn more about the Yule/Christmas connection peruse here.

I generally tend to assume, perhaps wrongly sometimes, that most of my international readers (and critics) do NOT share the same nationality, ethnicity, heritage, sentimentalities, religious beliefs and cultural background as either me or any of the extremely diverse staff at ESLemployment. So, I do apologize if my approach has offended someone, it was certainly not my purpose.

As my regular readers have probably ascertained, I do have Native American heritage, the Choctaw and Creek Nations to be specific, and the Winter Solstice is observed in December by many in our family. Like many religious traditions, sometimes the eclectic concepts of various observations merge in the melting pot of colonialization. The arrogance demonstrated by one group's representative (I don't blame the whole) to claim sole proprietership of a particular month or day observing an event from only 2000 years ago is really beyond my comprehension, no matter how many dedicated adherents it purports to have.

To read more about one Choctaw tribe's (The Bear) celebration of the Winter Solstice, for instance, please follow the link here.

I can't wait to see what trouble Saint Valentine will stir up in February!

Posted by: Lee at January 5, 2006 01:20 PM


Students in my "culture" class in mainland China found my Christmas lesson to be very interesting. I used text from Encarta that explained in detail the merging of the pagan winter rituals with the celebration of the birth of Jesus by the Catholic church. I too learned a lot and it provided answers to questions I've had for a long time.

I think TEFL students around the world are curious about Christmas and it is a great opportunity to bring in other holidays as well. I included Jewish and Baha'i holidays as well.


Posted by: jfarreast at January 5, 2006 07:56 PM


Does anyone realise that the lettering on the T-shirt is an anagram of 'Con Moment'...

Good old Winston Churchill or not, isn't that a more accurate way to describe the 'No Comment' tag when one is lost for words?


Posted by: jim hollerin at January 5, 2006 10:55 PM


/* No Comment */

Sorry... I just couldn't help myself.


Posted by: Jane Keeler at January 13, 2006 01:58 PM

Note from Lee:

I totally know exactly what you mean Jane, lol.

Posted by: Lee at January 13, 2006 04:49 PM

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