And sadness is the lesson.

I lost my husband 100 days ago.

No! I didn’t just lose my husband that day, I lost just about everything. Peter was more than just the love of my life. He was my colleague, best friend, partner and teacher. I could talk about everything and I meant everything with him. We’d shared the same passion for a lot of things too. He was the one reason that I loved the world and my life so much!

In my career as a teacher, he played a big impact too. He was the person who believed in me 100%, without a doubt. Though he has taught longer than me, he never had a problem about asking for my opinion on teaching or applying the technique that I taught for him to use in his own class. Yes, English was his mother tongue, but he never had the thought that he knew it all when it came to teaching it. It was so amazing for me that he would trust me to teach side by side with him. We became an ensemble duo in teaching. We had several classes together, all with good reviews because Peter was not only an excellent teacher, he was also very warm and approcahable for a native speaker that made all of his students respected and  loved him. I remembered how even my class of 6 years old students would go wild around him. They would try to chat with him, played with him that sometimes they forgot about me….. He had that magic.

Peter had taught me how to be a better teacher. He would spend hours discussing with me on lessons, lesson planning and techniques to use in classroom. He would critic me but also gave me new perspective and praised my teaching. He had never held back on those things because he believed in me. I had always wondered on how he had always thought of me so highly. He had no doubt in me though at times I had it.

Peter went the extra miles for me. There were countless time where he would go to my classroom as a native speaker even without any compensations from my school or the company that hired me. He would go anywhere for my profesional development too. He took unpaid leave from his work to support and accompany me in conferences and workshops. He welcomed my friends at our house knowing that these people had taken part in my journey as a teacher and a person.

I would never find anyone like him ever again, that I’m sure. For life is a school but Peter was my greatest teacher. Sadly, grief is my lesson now….

Icha Sarwono’s eleven!


There’s this new project going on in ELT world called ‘Tagged 11’. I know I’m fairly late in doing it, but hey better late than never, right? 😀
I’ve read many of the posts and loving the fact that I get to learn about my PLN. I do hope mine will let my PLN know a bit about me too.

When you’re tagged, these are what you have to do:

•. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
•. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
•. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
•. List 11 bloggers.
•. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

This isn’t mandatory, so when  you’re tagged by me but you can’t find time to do it, then it’s not a problem at all. And I try to tag those who haven’t been tagged by others ( though it’s hard for most bloggers I know have been tagged), but I see some of the people on my list have got at least one tag. Oh well, I’ve tried 🙂

Okay, here we go………

So, 5 bloggers have tagged me. They are:
1 . Vicky Loras
2 . Josette Leblanc
3 . Malu Sciamarelli
4 . Ika Sari
5 . Pravita Indriyatie

Time to learn about this purple geek!

11 random facts about Icha:

1 . I’m a band geek! I joined marching band when I was 14, and until now I’m still involved in some ways; I coach a small primary school drumb band near my house. I’m a percussionist, I play snare, bass drum, cymbal, conga and marching bells.

2 . Yitzha is actually a boy’s name! When my mama conceived me, everyone believed that I’d be a boy. So my papa prepared ‘Yitzhak’ which is a boy name. When it turned out that my mama gave birth to a boy-looking baldy little baby girl a.k.a me, he didn’t want to lose the name, so he just dumped the ‘k’ and voila……….. We’ve got ‘Yitzha’! Unusual name here but I’ve grown to loving it! During my band year, a lot of senior members used my name to ‘torture’ the new members! They had to find out my complete name (Yitzha sheilla elmeira sarasati sarwono) or they had to commit a punishment like hitting the high note with trumpet for a minute or doing paradiddle on a snare drum or spin the batton for a while.

3 . I’m a ‘rebel’ in my family! My papa was in a pharmaceutical business, my mama was a surgent nurse, and my sister has just been promoted as a head of medical record in the hospital where she works. So, yeah I dont take their footstep, working in hospital business 😀 😀 😀

4 . I’m afraid of Clown!!!!! I don’t even want to go to Mc donald if I see Ronald’s sitting in front of it! I can’t figure out why Clown is related to children and birthday party! But I am good at hiding my fear when my students are celebrating their birthday where clown is part of the party. Just dont go asking me to talk to them.

5 . I love Cats! To the point where a caretaker in safari park once yelled at me for wanting to kiss one of their Lion cub in the baby zoo. And yes, my family talk to them! In my house, we humanize our cats. My papa addresses them as ‘The children’! Where me and my sister are simply  Yitzha and Jilly. I even pray that in my after life, I could be reunited with not only people I love but also all of our cats.

6 . 11 is my favourite number for soccer player! Most of soccer players that I love also hold number 11 on their shirt: Marc Overmars, Robert Pires, Ryan Giggs (not an MU fan AT ALL, but Giggs was okay), Arjen Robben, Miroslav Klose are some of my favourite players who own that number.

7 . I used to collect fruit’s label! You know, when you buy fruit, there’s a sticker of label or brand attach to it? Yup! I collected them. Back then in my high school year me and my friend, Bastian would travel to supermarket and spent time at the fruits section just to peel the label off them to complete my collection. What we did was a bit stupid and silly, but I could swear to you that we’ve never ruined our stolen any fruits.

8 . Growing up, I had secretly wanted to be Veruca Salt, a character in Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. Simply because she could have all the pets that she could ever want! She has pony horse, parrots, cats, dogs, etc. A life of dream for me as when I was a kid, my family didn’t have a lot. Recently I wish to be Charlie Ashanty from The Lion Boy, because he could talk to all kind of cats! That………… to me is the ultimate power!

9 . In 2010, I applied for a position in UNESCO. I had a 3 weeks probation working as a personal assistant for an HIV/AIDS & school health consultant’s Chief for Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Philippine and Timor Leste. During that time I had to learn how to campaign a safe sex awareness so, yeah I had to work with D**l*o and condom because I had to show people how to use them. Yup! Not a comfortable experience for a moslem girl, though I did embrace the works given to me happily. In the end, I didn’t get the job because to them, sending a girl like me to educate truck drivers and sexual commercial workers about safe sex isn’t a good idea at all. Yeah, go figure! Hahahaha

10. I talk to my self! Especially when I’m working on something. I could even have a conversation playing in my head. I also make up song that I sing to myself when I’m trying to stay calm during panic moment or just want to feel good or when I walk alone.


11. I have a laugh of Wilma Flintstones from The Flintstones! Sometimes I also sound like Betty Rubble when I laugh out loud. Yup, I’m that geeky and goofy!

Since you’ve learnt a bit about me, now let’s start by answering 11 questions from Vicky (@vickyloras):


1 . If you were not an educator, what line of work would you imagine yourself in? I’d love to be a pastry chef! Or a caretaker of Lion’s and Tiger’s cub! (Wow that made my heart feel so warm!)
2 . Which person in ELT would you like to meet in person and why? Vicky loras, James Taylor and Ania Musielak Kubecka! Sorry that it has to be three person, but these three people have a big influence in my ELT career and have helped me get through a lot professionally and personally.
3 . What new activity / hobby would you like to start? I’d like to ride a horse. Very difficult for there isn’t any stable here and I can’t afford a horse, but would love the chance so much!
4 . Which is the best book you have recently read? Why? Maybe a bit silly, but I’ve just finished reading ‘ The complete Cat book’ by Paddy Cutts. Why? Well because I’m trying to decide between having a british shorthair or russian blue. Love the book because it gives me (and my sister) all the info that we need


5 . If you could change one thing in the world, what would they be? Global warming. I’d love to have it stopped, so all these disasters over it could be avoided. I can’t stand knowing that it is so difficult for Polar bear to find a prey. And how some islands with animals in them are drowned by the rise of the sea water level. Yeah I know I’m being childish and silly here, but that’s the first thing on my mind.
6 . Which is the nicest destination you have visited so far and why? In Indonesia, I’d say Blitar. I was stationed there for a month and love the friendliness of the people, the small city ambience and the food. Outside Indonesia I’d vote Singapore simply because it is accessible to go everywhere and it’s like little asia there, you’d find a bit of every country of asia there.
7 . If you decided to write a book, what would it be about? Icha’s 20 minutes’ meal! Indonesian-Italian fussion! Cookbook for sure! Hahahaha
8 . What is your favourite song this period? Probably ‘Radioactive’ by Imagine Dragon and ‘Happy’ by Pharell Williams.
Happy-Pharrel Williams
9 . What is your favourite and least favourite food? Favourite food? That’s tough! I love eating, but I’d say Rendang (Indonesian beef in hot spicy coconut milk gravy), chocolate and cheesecake. My least favourite is Indian curry, I love spicy food but something in the curry always kick me too hard 😦
10. Which is the next conference you plan to attend? TEFLIN in Indonesia, KOTESOL (crossing my fingers here) and JALT (working hard for it).
11. Who whom from the PLN was your first meeting in person? What was it like?
Barbara Sakamoto! It was amazing! From the moment I picked her up at the airport to the time we had to say farewell, we had a blast. I learn a lot from her and she was there on my very first presentation ever! 🙂

Here’s what Josette (@josetteLB) had asked me:


1 . Why did you start blogging? Because I want to have a journal of what I’ve done professionally. And I want to speak my mind.
2 . What keeps you teaching every year? The thought of improving what I’ve taught before, learning about my class and (honestly) new menu I’d try in my class.
3 . Do you have a pet peeve? If so, what is it? If not, have you ever had one, and how did you get over it? Tell me something about pet peeves. 😉
I don’t know if it’s a pet peeve but my students know that they’re not allowed to speak when their mouth is full with food and I’d make this gesture of zipping mouth or even hold their hand when they do it.
4 . Do you prefer planes, trains, or auto mobiles when travelling? Trains! Especially in Indonesia, you could see the gorgeous rice padi fields to the beach on the train ride. 🙂
5 . What’s your favourite movie? Wall-E!! It’s so simple, not many lines at all yet so beautiful in term of story and theme.
6 . Has a complete stranger ever showed you kindness? What happened? I’ve had few experiences of it. The recent one was when I was in Seoul, I was struggling with my suitcase on the stairs through the Seoul station (though I didn’t show it), a young lady suddenly held the wheels’ part of my case so we could carry it together all through the high stairs! To me it’s such a surprise since I tried so hard not to show that I was in need of any help. And if you know me, you’d know that I don’t show weakness easily in public 😉 . 2 weeks ago I was on my way home from teaching and it was raining, and I was standing at the bus stop trying to find taxi with a foggy wet glasses that made me hard to see. Suddenly a man called me and opened up a door to an empty taxi for me to ride home! He just said, “Here’s your blue bird”. (Blue bird is the brand of taxi that I’d always use since it’s pretty safe for women). I didn’t have the chance to say anything since as soon as I got inside it, he closed the door and ran to the building I was teaching at. My friends said that he might just be some guys hitting on me, but I’d say that’s kindness 🙂 .
7 . Tea or coffee? Coffee! Unless it’s macha then I’ll go with tea 😉 .
8 . What was the sweetest moments that ever happened in class – between you and students, or between students and students? Too many sweet moments really. But before holiday, my students Jascy and Cherise came to me and gave me their handmade bracelets. Another one recently was when my graduated K2 class this year suddenly asked me to have a reunion! So here we were, 3 months after they left the school, meeting up! My students, me and the parents! I was so happy!
9 . You have the whole day to yourself. What are you going to do? Actually this is a difficult question! What would I do? Probably watching a marathon of ‘House’ while baking and not doing house chores! Hahahaha
10. If you could spend a year focusing on research, what would you research? Why? I want to research on the different between children who spend their kindergarten going on Montessori school, bilingual school and public kindergarten. How they are different in term of their attitude towards learning and how the type of school could benefit their multiple intelligences or the other way around. Why? Because I believe many parents here still think that practical life activity has nothing to do with their reading, writing and learning process. Also I want to stop the parents’ obsession here of having 4-5 years old kid who is already capable of reading, writing, and counting.
11. What’s your favourite word? Yes! Because it leads to many possibilities and chances.

Now, here are 11 questions from Malu (@malusciamarelli) :


1 . What do you have on your bedroom wall? Nothing! In my teen years, I liked to hang posters of my favourite bands, but these past 10 years I’ve had nothing on my wall. No specific reason why, maybe I just don’t have any sense of art in me 😀
2 . What’s the first thing you do when you get up? Going to the kitchen and say good morning to my mama (and see what I’d have for my lunch box 😀 )
3 . Do you have a pet? Always! We always have at least one cat at home if not more. I have three now; Ninoy (baby), Pipin and Uung.
4 . What’s your favourite food from your childhood? A traditional cake called Rangi. That and somay always take me back to when I was in primary school, staying over at my grandpa’s house in matraman.
5 . What do you like most about teaching? The ability to give my students a voice!
6 . What’s the best thing about going to a conference? Meeting your PLN, especially those you haven’t met in person and new ideas to bring to your class. I always feel rejuvenated after a good conference.
7 . Do you read two or more books at the same time? I used to. Been trying not to since I’ve been trying to slow down a bit in my life and enjoying the moment.
8. Who is your hero? My late grandfathers who have forced me to learn english, bought me my very first Charles Dickens’ novel and spent time reading my writing. Both of them were the force behind me.
9 . What’s your favourite country to visit and why? Japan! Because I have sweet tooth and I was pampered by the delicacies there. And I was fascinated by all the technology there.
10. What’s making you smile at this moment? Thinking about my late grandfathers. Remembering the humming of my mbah kakung and the way my datuk always kissed my forehead. (Okay, smiling and a bit crying now).
11. Life is too short to…….. Not trying new things! Whether it’s a new recipe, new hobby or just new route to get to your work, you should never miss out on the chance.

Then…here are Ika’s (@Chieka_slw06) 11 questions for me;


What’s your first word to describe LIFE ? Roller coaster! Not a one word but that’s how I see it 🙂
What’s your hobby that really makes you ‘crazy’ doing it? Probably baking, because I’ve experienced failure in baking bread where the skin is just too crusty. Baking requires a lot of effort more than regular cooking simply because you really can’t mess with the measurement and ingredients. And that could be both fun but also frustrating to me.
Where did you go for your last holiday? To finish 2013 I’m spending my new year going to a conference in Purwokerto then taking a few days off in Jogja.
Have you ever done ‘something funny’ in public? What’s that? I may be afraid of clown, but I’m sort of a clown myself. I won’t mind acting goofy when necessary. Once our centre had to perform something for school’s anniversary, so we made a spin of the three little pigs and I chose to become the first little pig from India who loved silly Indian dancing and had a house made of sari. I believed we’ve created a new disease called tummy tuck because everyone was laughing until their stomach hurt.
Are you allergic from some foods or other things? What’s that? Not food, but i’m allergic to sulphur. It makes my skin red and peeled off. I’m also allergic to a medicine called Neuralgine. It literally makes my eyes popped out and swollen like a goldfish.
What makes you afraid of? What I’m afraid of? Losing self control! That’s why I’m so afraid of passing out and why I don’t get drunk. I just can’t bear the thought of not having control over my own body and mind.
What’s the best movie you’ve ever watched? Why? Too many! I love ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’ because they have cat in it 😀 , I love the ‘Ocean’ trilogy (eleven, twelve, & thirteen) because they have amazing cast. And I love ‘The sixth sense’ because of the surprised ending.
Who’s your ‘idol’? Why do you like him/her? I have several but lately since I’m into baking, Anna Olson is my idol. She’s just such an amazing baker and I love her shows. I wish I could afford her ticket when she came here last september, but it was just too expensive.
What colors do you like and why? I think it’s no secret that I love purple. Simply because it’s a mixture of red and blue. Red is a colour of determination, spirit and warmness while blue is the colour of calmness, love and the sky. It represents all the feeling of a warm embrace. And that’s why I love purple hugs.
When did you start your life as a teacher? Why do you want to be a teacher? Teaching as in professional life started in 2001. But teaching in general had started since junior high when I tutored my classmates in english. Why teaching? Because I love being in control (remember my biggest fear?). Teaching to me started of as the ability to control and determine other’s knowledge in a way and pace that I wanted them to be. But over the years I’ve realized that teaching is my way to give myself away in a meaningful path. Everyone is destined to do greatness and to do that you must prepare to let a part of you given and shared. Okay I’m not making sense here and being ‘deep’ isn’t me at all, but that’s the way I see it.
What things you haven’t done in 2013 and you will do in 2014? In personal life, I want to go diving again. Haven’t been able to do it at all this year. In professional life, I want to help more Indonesian teachers to grow, something I haven’t been able to do also for I was too preoccupied with my own journey.

Now to answer Indri’s (@indriepravita) eleven:


1 . What place do you really want to be at this moment? Why? On a boat, in the ocean, around Raja Ampat, ready to dive! Why? I miss diving so much and I’ve been dreaming of going diving in Raja Ampat for quite a while now.
2 . If you were reborn, what do you want to be? A cat living in my house! 😀 . Because they are pampered here and I get to be my parents’ child still hehehehe
3 . Where did you travel the furthest? For personal purpose was to Srilanka for 2 weeks of diving. For conference was to Japan for a week.
4 . If you have the chance to meet your favourite actor/actress/singer, who would that be and what will the first thing you say to him/her? Sting and Mike Shinoda! What I’d say? Probably “What do you think of ‘selfie’ and ‘twerking’ ?” Hahahaha
5 . What is the craziest thing you like to do? Crazy thing that I like to do is riding roller coaster more than once! I once ride the ‘Halilintar’ a rollercoaster in jakarta for 8 times nonstop and went home with a bruise along my spine! And when I was in Kuala lumpur I rode the roller coaster in Berjaya times square 3 times in a row! But the craziest thing I’d like to try at least once before I die is Skydiving! Because it’s not a control chaos, it’s dare devil kind of thing.
6 . What fruit do you like most and hate most? I love orange! I don’t hate it, but jackfruit is never my 1st choice.
7 . What is the best book you read and recommend? Dickens’ “A tale of two cities” & Clive Barker’s “Abarat”. But for teachers I recommend reading “Totto-Chan, the little girl at the window” by Tetsuko Kuroyagi, I dare you not to cry by the end of it and makes you happy that you’re a teacher.
8 . What is your favourite movie of all time? Most Pixar movies, but I adore Wall-E
9 . What was your favourite childhood experience? Playing news’ anchor with my mbah Kakung (grandpa). He’d write me a story to read and we took our turn in reading it, just like real TV anchors!
10. Appetiser, main course or dessert? Dessert girl for sure! Especially cheesecake!
11. What is your typical Sunday morning? Well, I (have to!) Get up at least at 4.30 because in my house no matter what day it’ll be (holiday or workday) we’re an early risers. So after praying, I either have a walk around my housing complex with my mom or join my sister for 2 sessions of yawning yoga! Yawning yoga is my term of my sis’ yoga because she does it at 5am in the morning! You can’t help but yawning while posing 😀

Now, please be ready for my 11 questions 😉

1 . Do you bring music to your classroom? In what way?
2 . Writing or reading?
3 . Who could change your mind once you’ve decided something?
4 . Music or movie?
5 . What was the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten and how was your reaction to it?
6 . During school year, who were you? A jock, a brain, a rebel, a teacher’s pet or …….?
7 . Which do you prefer, in term of number of students, a small or a big class? Why?
8 . What’s your biggest obstacle in teaching?
9 . If you could hold a dinner party of five, who would they be? But, the guests have to be one of the cartoon character, one world leader, one famous people (actor our singer) and one member of your family.
10. What is your favourite scent?
11. Please describe what you think of me in one word!

Here are 11 bloggers I’d like to tag :
1 . Lizzie Pinard @lizziepinard
2 . Andrea Wade @worldteacher
3 . Sandy Millin @sandymillin
4 . Alex Grevett @breathyvowel
5 . Alex Walsh @AlexSWalsh
6 . Anne Hodgson @annehod
7 . Naomi Epstein @naomishema
8 . Carol Goodey @cgoodey
9 . Roseli Serra @SerraRoseli
10. Retno Sofyaniek @NenoNeno
11. Abdul Rahman @_kangguru_

So, I hope you guys will take on my so called challenge and have fun in learning more about our PLN! Aza aza Blogging!

Trying to apply English in an Indonesian Kindergarten classroom

I’m teaching in a Kindergarten 2 class in a country where English isn’t our first tongue. Since we’re a Montessori school, everything is done in English as the curriculum requires us to do so. But trying to teach a class where all of the students speak bahasa Indonesia in their home isn’t always easy. The fact that to be able to teach a lesson in English means that you have to get them to understand English before anything else. This was and still a challenge to me. For the past 3 years I have been given the privilege to teach a very bright class that embrace the language easily and made my teaching enjoyable. But this year I have a new class that got me to start all over again. Not that they can’t speak English at all, but because they’re not used to me and how I speak.

I have the tendency to speak quite fast which could be a problem for young learners. But this was not a problem to me before with my old class since they have been with me since the 1st time the learnt to speak English, so they are so accustomed with me and my English because I was the first spoken English person to them. This time, my class comes from a background of speaking bahasa at all time to their parents. I even have to write a full bahasa report to 2 of the parents every week just because they said that they can’t (and won’t try -sadly-) to use English at all. This kind of environment made them always try to find a fast way that to them it is easier to speak a whole sentence in bahasa just because they can’t speak one word than trying to speak stutterly in English.

So, I’m trying to find a new way to get the English to be used completely in my class.

According to Karen Nemeth, the best tools for dual language learners support the three Cs: 

  • Communication
  • Conversation
  • Connected concepts in context

Communication: I always try to make the communication in my classroom runs smoothly by using a lot of simplified English. This seem to work, at least they could understand what I’m trying to tell them. I use gestures, voices, drawing and basically everything there is possible to get my points given. I do love the fact that my kids seem to love my way of communicating with them that I refuse to use bahasa in our class and choose to get my message sent in those forms.

Conversation: Every day I always take my time to try and ask them to tell me about their daily life or activities that they have done as a way of encouraging the communication in English. I always have a 10 minutes greeting time that I used to just talk about simple thing like everyday life or their favorite cartoon. I am hoping this will help them to engage on the idea of using English.

Connected concepts: I use English in all of my lesson in the class. I love the idea that Montessori requires us to use the 5 senses when teaching. This means I get to bring stuffs to the classroom to teach. And this method for me is the best way to get them to understand and use English as they could not only see, but also feel the material given. By making sure the lessons are taught around the 5 senses, I could make sure that my students could understand the concept taught because by engaging other senses than just seeing, they may be able to grasp the knowledge more. 

I have to admit starting all over again to get my class to speak a hundred percent English are both fun and challenging. It’s fun because it stimulates my mind for i need to find ways for them. I love the challenge too as for me no matter what, I found children to be a very welcoming bunch of human beings and that they have no fear of the unknown. 

I sure love my class and I love my job!

Planting beautiful words

Using Language Garden in our classImage



I’ve been admiring the work of David Warr for a while. I’ve also been trying to find a way to use his application: Language Garden in my class. The problem is, I don’t really know how.

Last April I had a chance to talk to David via Skype and I told him about me wanting to use Language Garden in my class. He was so kind and gave me an access to use his application. Not only that, he also gave some ideas on how to do it in my Kindergarten classroom.

So, I’ve decided to use this application in my classroom, which would also be the last project I would have with my K2 class before they graduate. One thing I love about my class is that they always eager to learn new things so I know I wouldn’t have problem with this too.

So I chose week 9 of our term 4 to perform it. We were learing about “Clothes” so after I taught them words related to the topic along with the grammar that we’re going to use, we started planting our language garden.

My students loved the idea that they could bend the words to certain shapes. It was so fun watching them curving nouns and adjective here and there. I did have to help them with choosing the right color according to the type of words we’re using, but my students were able to type and create their own plants.


Aside from creating our own plants, we also did the level 1 where we could play with colors’ puzzle and colors the nouns and adjective.ImageImageImageImageImage

I am so happy that not only my students love the activities but they could actually learn something from it too.

This has been a great project to end our years together, and though I am very sad to lose my class, I know that I have tried my best to make their learning fun and get them to try new things beyond our daily lesson. I do believe that even Kindergarten students could do things beyond the expectation if we are willing to guide them but still allow them to be their own self.

I’d likes to thank David Warr for such an incredible tools and for allowing me to try it in my class. Purple hugs from my class to you Sir!


iTDi day Indonesia 2013


And how smartphones unite us all! 🙂

It was all started last February, after The Global Teacher Development Program. I met a lot of incredible teachers who were not just passionate about education in Indonesia but also eager and willing to do more! So when iTDi planned the first iTDi day, I thought about having all those people I’ve met to come on board and help me out. As a lot of Indonesian, we all have smartphones. So I thought I chose one of the application there as our based since all of us live far away from each other and have our own activity. So, I set up an iTDi Indonesia group on whatsapp and gathered all the amazing people I met in February to come and help me with the planning.

We did have around 3 face to face meetings for those who live around Jakarta, but most of the plan were done through chat room. I sent out emails to everyone to let them know about our progress also to summarize every meeting that we had. The fun part was of course that the talk could go on all day and night on the chat room and everyone could see what’s going on. The difficult part was for sure trying to track down all the chat! I’ve found a cool way though, by emailing the chat to me daily so it is easier rather than scrolling the screen on my phone.

It was pretty clear that the event would never happened without all the dedicated member of our team! From ordering pens, bags to banner, everything was consulted online. I had everyone sending me details via whatsapp or email before approving them. It was in a way very cool to be able to be connected to everyone though we didn’t get to see each other.

And then Friday the 17th came. Everyone finally gathered in Jakarta, ready for the day! I finally got to see every person in the team! The coolest thing was , though to most of us it’s the first time ever to see each other in a flesh, we got along very well! From the hustle and bustle of the preparation that made some of the girls stayed up until 2.30 am to the frantic moment in the morning on the 18th caused by the printer. We survived them all! I really couldn’t believe how we finally pulled this off! And guess what? though the team was dominated by girls, you would never hear them arguing about anything at all! It’s like everyone has fully understood their task and did it with their heart! It’s kind of amazing knowing that we planned things through   a chat app mostly! I had few people who couldn’t believe that this was the first time we actually gathered in the same room!

So I guess the saying is true : “TEAM=Together Everyone Achieve More”

And that really defines the power of online community that we on iTDi tries to send through.

Aza Aza Collaboration!

Teaching Young Learners – a point of view –

Children are the most unique type of learners. I’ve learnt that they are the same as well as different in their own way. I didn’t start my teaching year with young learners, so when I did, I had to learn a lot! Because teaching young learners mean you are taking part in shaping part of their personality too. As a Kindergarten teacher, I am also dealing with their parents, so we have to form a perfect triangle between us, teachers, the student and the parents to make sure that the learning process will not only be effective but meaningful too.. And here are some ways that I found work well in my classroom:


First thing first, never say “You’re wrong!” to any attempted answer made by our young learners! I don’t want to be the person who kills their curiosity and voice just because they’re afraid to make a mistake in answering my question. I’d simply smile and ask them to try again or ask for a better answer. Young learners, especially in Indonesia are easily feeling down and would mostly avoid being involved in answering when they feel humilated for their mistake.


I found that my young learners learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process. My students tend not to respond well to learning experiences in which they have to just sit and watch. Good thing that in Montessori type of learning, everyone will have a chance to be active. TPR, or Total Physical Response, is great for young learners. Children love to be active and move around, so if you can add any movement to your class, kids will love it.

Plan a bunch of shorter activities instead of one long one. Each activity should last about five to fifteen minutes maximum. Young children simply can’t pay attention for a longer period. In our school we have a 3 period lesson to get students to reach our goal, It’s better to teach step by step than to just go all the way in a longer time. And young learners learn well with repetition.

It’s good to have a bond with them because young learners learn better through relationships. Don’t be afraid to be on their level! Share the experience with them. You could ask personal questions, but do remember the answers! Don’t forget to keep your promises! If you have promised them that they won’t be much writing task today, then keep your words. As they trust you as a person, they’ll trust you more as their teacher which lead to a better learning process. This is something my former headmaster taught me years ago.

Never afraid to set some rules in the classroom. Discipline could help young learners develop self-control. Discipline also is encouraging, guiding them, and teaching them how to think for themselves. You don’t need to be too stiff though. My rules in class is simple; Always respect whoever is talking in front of the class, be it the teacher or their friends. Classroom management is something every teacher should master, especially when you’re teaching young learners. You certainly don’t want to lose a voice, shouting at them all the time to just sit still, right? Clapping a short rhythm, which the students echo could help. In my class I like to just stand in the middle of our red circle line then shout “ Red line…..” then my students will answer with “blue down/yellow down” (depends on the uniform that day) then sit on the red lines performing half circle. Use tambourine, bell or whatever you can find as a tool to get their attention. It is important for teachers to be consistent in their classroom management. Young learners respond easily to a readily recognizable signal for attention, whereas confusion may occur if signals are continually altering.


Choices are good! When children are given the opportunity to make choices, they have a sense of ownership and responsibility which strengthens the learning experience. I remember last year I worked so hard to get one of my student, Vini to learn to make a choice. Because when she just first joined the class, she tried so hard to fit in that she was afraid to make any choices, which made her a bit difficult to finish her projects since she always wanted to do whatever her friends were doing. But once, I got her to always choose on her own and learnt the fun and consequences in making one, she began to be better in her lesson.


I’ve learnt a lot during my teaching years to young learners. First and for most, I’ve learnt that they are a very loving bunch of students and they aren’t afraid to show it! They’d give you more than you could ever give them. They are also the best copier and certainly can easily be your mini version! You could actually reflect better as a teacher and a person from them, for they would always be an honest reflection to you. And their love is by far the greatest rewards ever! I’ve survived a lot of misfortunes in my life because I can count on my students to put a smile back on my face! And for me, young learners have given me more reasons to be a better teacher and person, for when I see them, I know that I want to do more. My life is better because of them! So let me end this by saying that I dedicate this post to Aliffa, Daniel, Emeral, Keshia, Lavinia , Nadine and Padma : My Joy!


Walking the walk!

I have always been one of those people who love trying and doing things. But like many people, I have my comfort zones too. I have places where I feel safer and most likely be…. ME! And I think it’s natural for people to feel that way. But I do try to go the distance and feel the water in different pond. Because one thing I’ve learnt is that you need to experience things to actually have something to say.

A lot of people have just been talking the talk. Because let’s face it, talking it easy! But when you’re a teacher, I do believe that we are required to put the money where our mouth is. I have never thought that being in education ‘industry’ (if you want to call it that way) would actually make me a risk taker, a dare devil!

Simple example : I hate Clowns! I am afraid of them and it is no secret to a lot of my friends. I’d rather dance with a snake then spending time dealing with Ronald Mc Donald for sure. But when a student of mine was having a birthday party in school and invited a clown, I had to put my poker face on! That wasn’t the greatest time of my life, but hey! I didn’t just talk the talk every time I taught my students to confront their fear and try something new, I actually walked the walk! When we had a field trip to an eco park last month, one of the teacher had to face her fear. She doesn’t like snake at all but since we’re visiting reptiles park, she had to stand next to the keeper, talking about snakes. She didn’t touch them at all, but at least she didn’t faint standing that close to a lot of snakes 😉


So I’m just thinking out loud here. But I think, us; Teachers, we’re the greatest adventurous of all! We are more than just people who say, we are the people who do ! We take action as much as we talk about it. That’s what we do . That’s who we are!

My class is going to graduate this June, that means I’m going to have a whole new adventure in front of me. I’ve just had a term training where I talked about my experiences in class with other teachers and shared them what could have been done in certain situation. But I didn’t just talk about it, I have no doubt  walked on it .

I’m not really in to politics, but a whole new set of curriculum is going to be applied here. And once again, while everyone in the ‘office’ has talked about how it would be a better one yet, We, the teachers are going to be the one who experience it first hand! I know they meant well by trying to applying a whole new set of education curicullum for school here. But they’re not the ones on the field .Those people can say anything, but teachers are for sure be the ones who are going to have to deal with it. Like I said, I’m not trying to be political or anything. I’m just saying that people on the battle field are going to be the one handling the fire while those who made the call……….well let’s just say would probably never have their feet on that ground. But then again, I am pretty optimistic that we could find a way to make it work 🙂

What I’m (really) trying to say with my post here is that: I think teachers rock! And we shouldn’t be afraid to get out of our comfort zone and try new things like playing with a snake or taking a picture with a clown because in reality, we have done a lot and have left our cozy corner the minute we decide that teaching is our life!

So this is my pondering tonight and let me close it down by saying two things:

“If you can’t put your feet down to walk, then put a thought before you talk”

but most of all

“When you are caught by a rain, don’t stop and wait for it to go away. Get your umbrella, put on Rihanna’s song and start dancing your way out!” 😀

aza aza pondering!

#ELTCHAT summary March 13th 2013 : How to make the most of a coursebook you don’t like (but HAVE to use)

It feels so good to not only going back on participating but also writing a summary for #ELTChat. And this week we had Marisa Constatinides (@Marisa_C) and Shaun Wilden (@Shaunwilden) as our moderator.

Course book is something that we have to deal everyday in our teaching life. Most, if not all, of those classrooms use a standard textbook series. The reasons for this are many; in Indonesia most English courses franchised based so you have to use the ones suggested by your headquarters, also the mandates of the administration, and/or the level of expertise on the part of classroom teachers. For Beginner teachers using a ready and designed course book may help but at the same time can be misleading too. Many #ELTChat participants believe that most of times, trying to use it because It takes more time to adapt it when the book is bad. More work has to be done ( @ bealer81) . And it gives you the feeling that we might as well write own book the amount of effort it takes sometimes  (@Marisa_C). Especially when the tests have to be based around the Course Book that students have paid a lot of money to buy. But then again there is no Curse Book that can fits the needs of every class. At some points, a part of some parts of it can be used in our class.

So, how do we cope with them? What to do when you don’t feel like the  Course Book that you use couldn’t help you in achieving the goals for your class?

A lot of #ELTChatters come out with great suggestion for it:

  • Teachers can use the textbook as a resource, but not the only resource. Find other books that support the material even better. More work? Yes, but it is worth it .
  • Use a textbook as a curriculum guide rather than materials source.(@teflgeek)
  • Find the focus in the Course book and cover the syllabus  our way; modify, change, eliminate, or even add or  ROSA :Reorder, Omit, Supplement, Add (@teflgeek) (@BrunoELT) (@Marisa_C)
  • Fight back! Supplement the textbook with lots of outside readings, supplementary materials, activities. Give students a chance to do more than just the activities on the Course Book make the exercise more based on their world + incorporate relevant vocab/grammar  which will be tested. (@cherrymp), (@Acquk), (@louisealix68), (@jo_cummins)
  • Teachers should be equipped with skills to make a lesson plan, don’t just come to the class relying on Course Book. (@ljp2010).
  • Get the Students to change exercises in some way – personalize them or make them completely silly, write their own questions for a text. Use technology to mash up texts for guesswork – e,g, word clouds (@Marisa_C)

Anyway, should the #ELTChatters are given chances to determine Course Book that would get their vote, most will choose those with

  • appealing content
  • clear language focus,
  • challenging activities .
  • plenty of opportunities to use the new language in relevant and relatively natural ways
  • lexis and listening should be integral

Memorable tweets:

@Acquk                                 A good course book is a springboard to learning and engagement. Therefore it must be adaptable #eltchat

@teflgeek                             It’s the one-size-fits-all dilemma again – how do you tailor the product? #eltchat

@louisealix68                       I think main problem is in the testing – if tests are built around books, then have to teach to the test  #eltchat

@cherrymp                          fight back – come up with supplementary materials, activities etc #eltchat

@teflgeek                             but can use the books as curriculum guide rather than materials source #eltchat

@LTLLblog                            I’ve found some teachers complain about the coursebook because they take a lesson by lesson approach. #eltchat

@Acquk                                 to reduce Lexis-heavy input, I have learners find a few new and important words from a text They can then build sentences etc #eltchat

@teflerinha                          #eltchat Personally, unless really dire, I’d rather have something as a basis to start from at least than have nothing.

@louisealix68                       I try to make my ex more based on their world + incorporate relevant vocab/gram which will be tested.time-consuming  #eltchat

@ManosSY                            #ELTchat ROSA is a good approach as @Marisa_C often says 🙂 ; Reorder Omit Supplement Add (Combine too is OK)

@bealer81                            My gripe with coursebooks is the way they are set out. Not user friendly or photocopy friendly. Maybe publishers should consult Teachers #eltchat

@teflgeek                             I sometimes set homework tasks from the bits of the book I don’t want to use in class. #eltchat

@Marisa_C                           Adapt or Modify activities to show paying Students/parents that you ARE using Course Book also a good idea #ELTchat

@Acquk                                 I always try to use the images in course books! They can generate so much creative output #eltchat

@jo_cummins                      You can often use the reading texts, listenings, topics, pics and create own exercises so Sts think they are using the book #eltchat

@kevchanwow                     What about having our students adapt the materials? Often do something like this with very basic texts and lower level learners. #ELTchat

@Acquk                                 My biggest problem with poor coursebooks: not enough review and reinforcement of vocab! You see a word and never meet it again. #eltchat

@AlexandraKouk                 #eltchat get students to research unit topic online and then compare notes and Course Book materials to what they’ve found.

@LTLLblog                            And of course, the winner in worst coursebooks are those that try to be ‘cool’ for the teens…cringetastic #eltchat

@Marisa_C                           My recipe for fixing poor coursebook pages – Mystery, Guesswork, Curiosity, Desire to communicate, Games playing, Imagination #eltchat

@Marisa_C                           Get your students to evaluate the Course book you are using – if they like it try harder – if they don’t, perhaps tell the school! #Eltchat

@yitzha_sarwono                Learn the content to see if you can make an easier version to use it in class; simpler extra exercise or activities #eltchat

Useful links from the chat :

It’s a great chat indeed. As always I like to end it with Quote of the Chat. This time came from Kevin Stein (@Kevchanwow)

“But what I could teach was how to study, how to learn, how to make connections. These don’t change depending on the coursebook”


See you guys in another #eltchat! Aza aza Community!

Cool things that happened to little Icha (yesterday and today)

I just happened to check my twitter when I saw Tyson Seburn (@seburnt) retweeting Mike’s blog (@michaelegriffin) post . So, I thought I took on the challenge and here goes….

  1. Just found out that during daily greetings yesterday that my class love reptiles! We had a field trip that also included a visit to a small reptiles park and we had fun playing with them. And amazingly during our talk, they admitted of no longer afraid of snake! We played with this huge albino phyton during the field trip and to see me actually having a blast with the snake has got my students to chase away their fear and in return loving the experience. Nadine’s mom has actually offered whether she would like to have a snake as her pet! 😀
  2. I went to a meeting with Adi Cerman from VIE Foundation and Ibu Sisilia from UI about iTDi’s taking part in TEFLIN next August. Oh and guess what? I actually mention Mike’s interest to submit a presentation there (Mike, you did say you love the theme and seriously thought about doing a workshop there 😉 ). It’s so cool for me to meet and talk with people who inspires you to do and be more!
  3. I managed to keep walking and not stopping at a huge sale happening in the mall where I had that meeting. Okay , that may sound lame. But to me, to actually walk off from  50% and 70% discount shoes is not an easy thing to do. So I’m proud of myself 😀
  4. I managed to read and edit all of my teachers’ comment for students report books in a public transportation. I took 3 bus to go to the meeting spot and had to stand on the last bus but was still able to finish the job. Please don’t ask about my handwriting though, that’s a different story. But at least I didn’t hear my teachers complain about it when I handed them back 😉
  5. I watched American Horror Story marathon all alone last night! I’m not a huge fan of horror film, so to see them on my own on Thursday night was kind of cool for me . I got the cardio exercise too from all of the gasping I did during the series 😛
  6. I took my students on a small field trip to a supermarket. We’re learning about Mall this week, so I thought that having my students to experience a little grocery shoppping might be a good for them. And it was a blast! They had fund right from the start! I had to give them rules on things they’re allowed to buy because otherwise they would’ve gone for candy and chips. It was so cool to see them making desicion on things to buy, walked to the cashier to pay, handed down the money and then took their plastic bag with a proud smile, knowing that they had done it all by themselves! Oh and they actually amazed a lot of people in the supermarket for their fluency in English!  But too bad all of the photos are in school camera so I couldn’t upload them now, but I’ll be sure to do that first thing on Monday.
  7. I finally leave  school on time! I usually arrive the first in school and leave the latest, unless I have a meeting where I’d have to leave school early too. But today as I promised my sister to watch a movie, I went home at 3 pm! Even my teachers were surprised to see me leaving on time! 😀
  8. I tried Durian Mochi for the first time! One of my student brought it and she said that her mom wanted me to try it. As a durian lover, I found it very interesting how the sticky rice collaborate with the significant smell and taste of durian.
  9. I have found a new set of pictures to paint on our glass door next week! I’m going to have 4 seasons painted on the door. Also a new recipe to cook in the class next tuesday, where I’ll be cooking something from Anna Olson’s show. You’re going to have to wait to see the result of these two things though

And as I listed down my cool things, I realize how great life has been treating me. So thanks for the challenge Mike! You’re another cool thing that happens to my life! Aza aza grateful!

Wordling up!

Using Wordle in a Kindergarten classroom

I have always loved learning new things and the apply them in my class. And I love the fact that my class has always been opened to try new things too. As I follow Ozge on Twitter  and her blog I’ve learnt a lot of new tools to be used in the class from her.

This term I decided to try in my class. I learnt that some of my students don’t really like phonics, building words and reading, so I try to use Wordle in one of our session. After we learnt a set of words, I asked them to write them up using Wordle. At first some of them didn’t really like it as the keyboard on the computer is different from the ones we use in Montessori. But once they have seen the outcome, they actually love it so much! They enjoy choosing colors, font and the layout.


This application has actually helped me in the classroom, as it made my students excited about learning new set of words, becuase they want to type them in Wordle. Here are the results of our 1st trial


I love it when an application works and actually helps the lesson. I would love to try some more for sure!