Reference Non-Fiction


Many of the following reference materials are for my ESL classes.  I try to come up with activities in my classes that involve meaningful communication and topics the students find interesting.

Astrology – Chinese

The teacher goes over Chinese astrology and then asks the students what their sign is and if they are like their sign or not.   I found that most Taiwanese students did know their Chinese sign but knew very little about Chinese elements but found this information very interesting.

Astrology – Western

I did this activity in Taiwan and in Korea.  Taiwanese students know their Chinese sign but not their Western sign.  The Koreans knew their Western sign but not necessarily their Chinese sign.  The two systems of astrology can be compared and the student can be asked which system if any fits their actual personality.  Chinese elements can also be compared and contrasted with Western elements.

Buddhist Terminology – Trilingual

I came up with this handout for out reach presentations about Buddhism for my Japanese Buddhist temple in the US.  The handout is geared towards a more academic audience.

Chinese Sayings

What can I say?  I just love Chinese sayings!  I created this document for my own edification.

Fortune Telling with Playing Cards

You can tell fortunes with normal playing cards.  I have the students break into groups and let them tell eachother their fortunes but they must do the activity in English or at least a lot of English.  This is a very motivational activity and the students will break out their electronic dictionaries and look up words in the handout without being told to do so!  This is another resusable handout.

How will the world end? List

A topic that generates a lot of student discussion at the college level.  This is one topic where “your rebels without a cause” students might find interesting.  I personally think the world will end in a whimper not in a bang and probably the human race will die out because of a combination of ecosystem collapse and war.   Interestingly only one or two students will argue that the world will not end and that the future is bright.  I hope this minority is correct but I do not think so.  The list is aimed at college ESL students in East Asia and I would use a shorter and simpler list for secondary students.  If a student does not understand a particular scenario then make reference to a movie.  For example, most students will not understand the term “biotech disaster” but will be familiar with the movie Resident Evil which is based on that premise.  If you have a computer in the class then just show a picture from the movie since the students might not know the title in English.

Internet Terms – Basic

List 1000 Wonders of the World

The handout is quite long and I generally resuse long handouts.  I break the students into groups and ask them to make a list of wonders that they have been to or want to go to.  We also discuss the wonders that are in their own country.  A more advanced activity would be to have the students create their own wonder of the world for their country.  The students can draw their wonder on the board or on poster paper supplied by the instructor.  The wonder is then presented to the class.

List of Forms of Government

List of Gods (3,000+)

List of Interview Questions

List of Instructional Activities

List of Native American Totems

I start the class with a discussion about Native American culture and the role of minorities in a multiculral nation like the US.  Each student then picks a totem that best represents them.  Last but not least the student comes up with a Native American name for their neighbor that consists of a totem and an adjective.  For example my Native American name could be “fat fox” since I have a bit of a beer belly.  I also mention Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse as actual historical examples of this type of name system.

List of Persuasive Speech Topics

2 responses to “Reference Non-Fiction

  1. Hey I have just stumbled upon your site! I like it a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will be spending some time lost here in this interesting assortment of excellent teaching material.

    Well done Hugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Original and creative!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s