EXE English feedback

Before ending our English studies this year, please take the time to fill in this feedback form. The information you give will be very valuable for me when planning future courses. THANK YOU!

It was a pleasure working with you. Wishing you all good luck with the last exams, and a carefree and fun summer holiday!



In classroom 85, on Wednesday May 23, starting at 1.10 pm.

It won’t be quite like at the Ritz in London, or in some of the charming countryside tea places but we’ll have a go at making THE PERFECT POT OF TEA.

And, naturally, scones are an essential part of it!

New trends in job applications

Even if the old-style application letters and written CVs are still the norm, more and more young people are turning into the marvellous online opportunities to create multimedia presentations about themselves and their marketable skills.

My CV in Wordle by climbnh2003 on Flickr

They have even invented new names for these fancy modern CVs – a web resume, a visual vitae or web bio, for example. It’s worth your while checking this article called The Death of CV as We Know It. Also have a look at some of the examples presented through the links in the article. Also check this blog for two innovative examples of YouTube CVs. What do you think about all these examples? Could you imagine yourself creating one of these digital portfolios instead of a written CV one day? One of these would certainly help you stand up from the crowd, don’t you think?

Here is another interesting article from the British newspaper the Guardian called Could your Facebook page ruin your job prospects? Notice that it was written by a student, and so presents a young job applicant’s point of view. What do you think about the ideas there? Does it make you worried and rush to clean up your Facebook account? Are you consciously building an online image or presence to use to market yourself in the job market later on? Should you?

Please, write your ideas in the comment field of this post by Tuesday.

Finishing your project posts

Have you been as amazed as I at how famous the Finnish school system is all around the world? New articles and videos about our schools are posted somewhere in the world almost daily. Reading these articles and watching the videos gave me, as a teacher, new insights into the many clear advantages of the Finnish school system – eg. equal opportunities for all children to get the same high-standard education, teacher autonomy to design the methods they think work best with their students, shorter school days, no mandatory national testing until at the end of senior high school, and the list goes on. We seem to have got a a lot of things just right for our Finnish context but often take all this very much for granted. 

Yet, some of the articles gave me good food for thought, too. For example, the Australian educator, Anne Knock, blogged about her recent visit to Finland, and asked very pertinent questions:

Does the work/study culture of Finland mean that young people and their parents expect teaching to be formal?

Are there opportunities for multi-disciplinary project-based learning?

How are schools in Finland addressing the ubiquitous nature of mobile technologies?

Clearly, there is a lot to be improved even in the allegedly “best” school system in the world! A traditional approach has worked well to produce good results in the PISA tests but we live in the 21st century when many other skills should be learned, too. Does the glory of PISA success make us oblivious to the urgency to shift learning in schools to the 21st century?

Another question that the articles and videos raised in my mind is whether it is at all possible to export our school system to other countries. Yet, this is exactly what our government is now busy doing – the latest receiver being the United Arab Emirates. I believe a school system is such an integral part of a society, with the history and values of a nation so intertwined in it that it is impossible to try and replicate it in another setting.

I really look forward to reading your reflections on all the material! I wonder what issues caught your attention. Remember to read the initial guidelines of the project once more! And here are a couple of final reminders:

  1. Think of a catchy title for a blog post.
  2. Remember to divide your text into paragraphs.
  3. Use a slightly more formal style of English in this post.
  4. Remember to hyperlink to the original articles or videos that you are writing about. Refer to them appropriately. I expect you to refer to SEVERAL sources, not just one!
  5. Give your own ideas, too – not just summarizing what you read or heard. What thoughts or questions were raised in your mind while studying the project material?

GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR WORK! You will still have tomorrow’s lesson at school to finish it, and ask for any feedback or help.

Job interviews

You have written your application letter and compiled a CV (or ‘resume’ as it’s called in America). Now it’s time to interview the best candidates for the job. In pairs, prepare a good list of questions to ask. Make sure both of you have written the questions down!

Here is a video to give you some tips on possible questions to ask as the interviewer, plus how best to answer them as the interviewee. In each interview, also remember to ask the candidates what THEY would like to ask.

Before you go for your interviews, watch this video and follow the advice closely.

GOOD LUCK! Let’s see which of you will be hired.

Goals for course 3

Welcome back again! Our third and last EXE course is about to start. Please check the general outline of the course here.

As the course themes will be study and work, we will pay special attention to developing your learning skills. In America, Bloom’s taxonomy has been a widely used classification of learning objectives since the 1950s.

Photo by dkuropatwa on Flickr

This pyramid a revised version of the taxonomy from 2000. From the mere memorization of separate facts, students are expected to move higher and higher in the pyramid, to understand what they memorized, to apply the knowledge in new situations, even to create new knowledge.

This pyramid could also be applied to improving your writing in this course. Start thinking of ways how you could demonstrate deeper understanding in your writing, rather than just stating a list of facts. Aim at more analysis of your topic, avoid plain statements. Why not set your goals high, and try to create some totally novel ideas in your writing!


In course 3, each of you will do a more extensive project. It’s to do with the Finnish education system that has been the centre of the whole world’s attention in the last few year, thanks to the success of Finnish 15-year-olds in the international PISA student assessments. Thousands of educators from many different countries have visited schools in Finland to learn our secrets, and dozens of articles have been written about our schools in international press.

I have compiled an online “magazine” of links to many of these articles and videos, with the title FINNISH EDUCATION IN SPOTLIGHT. Your job is to gradually go through as many of the articles and videos as possible and collect material for your project. Here are some guidelines.

  • Make your own schedule and stick to it! Not too much at once!
  • Keep making notes of what you read and hear.
  • Collect a good vocabulary for yourself, with the special words you will need to write about our school system.
  • If you have problems with understanding something, don’t hesitate to ask! We will do some of the work in class so you will have the chance to ask your friends and me.
  • The more you read and listen, the easier it will be to understand, as the same ideas keep coming up!

Your final product will be a carefully written blog post to reflect YOUR VIEW regarding all the information you collected from the different material. Remember Bloom’s taxonomy above! Analyze, evaluate and create! Give your expert’s view, as a student in a Finnish school, to a global audience! Did you think the articles and videos gave an accurate picture of reality in Finnish school, or were there misunderstandings or misinterpretations? What do YOU think, is our school system really as good as it’s hailed to be? The world will be curious to read your views, so make yourselves good Finnish correspondents in this global conversation!

DEADLINE: Friday May 18, 2012 .

Gung Hay Fat Choy


Hope you enjoyed getting to know the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac in class today!

Here is the link to the site where you can find the video that we didn’t manage to listen to in class. (I do hope it will work this time! Fingers crossed!) Watch it in your own time, and try to get the answers to these questions:

1. What is the history behind the three important traditions of Chinese new year celebrations – the colour red, loud noise and bright lights – and how are they still used, and can be seen and heard in the modern celebrations today?
2. Why do they traditionally serve a whole fish and chicken, with the head and the tail, at Chinese New Year dinner?
3. What is the other name Chinese New Year is known by?
Here is one more picture from a teacher colleague’s home in Singapore two years ago. There are jars of Chinese New Year cookies and goodies (NB. the red tops!). It is also customary to always bring two oranges as a gift if you go visiting at this special time!