Monthly Archives: August 2012


As some of you know, I left the world of Kindergarten English and I am currently attempting to work with professionals to enhance their conversational English. My target is businessmen (and women) and I am excited to begin. I prepared a list of resources to make lesson planning fun and easy.

For all the other English tutors out there, enjoy!

1.) BBC Lesson Plans : Telephone conversations, setting the agenda, polite and professional discussions, etc
2.) One Stop English Lesson :Business English  and grammar lessons, as well as some interesting articles to discuss
3.) Sample Lesson Plans for Conversational Business English Lessons: A wonderful blog with full lesson plans and vocabulary
4.) Time Out: Lesson Plans, Worksheets and short readings from Inside Out’s website
5.) English Club: Vocabulary Lists, Lesson Plans, Topics and Discussion Questions
6.) Biz/ed: A new resource I just discovered. It would be good for clients who want to focus on the technicalities of different parts of the business world.
7.) Intelligent Business: A wonderful resource that designs lessons around an Economist article. It also has some quizzes and other materials that offer a lot of substance for upper-intermediate speakers.
8.) Business English Materials: Lessons surrounding specific company profiles

Business English Tutoring Resources


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While Ortakoy is often overrun by tourists, there is a reason it is so popular. Situated along the Bosphorus, it offers a magnificent view of the city and no shortage of cafes and shops to spend your time and money.  There are numerous cobblestone streets and tables full of jewelry arranged in the most meticulous of ways. There is a beautiful old mosque situated below the magnificent bridge that connects Istanbul’s European side of the city to the Asian side of the city (For locals, the bridge simply connects to ‘the other side’ ).

I met my friend yesterday and we hopped on the one-hour Bosphorus boat tour surrounded by giddy tourists. We bought beers and moved to the roof of the boat. We enjoyed the views of our marvelous city and exchanged stories and updates. It was a perfect afternoon.

Directions for the Perfect Ortakoy Experience:

1.) Wander through the shops to collect some special trinkets. Perhaps some olive oil soap or a special piece of jewelry ?!

2.) Find the row of potato and waffle vendors. The majority of these shops are all on the same loud, busy cobblestone street that leads to the waterfront departure site of the boat tour. Any Turkish local will insist you buy a ‘Kumpir’, a baked potato with every possible topping imaginable. Select the least annoying vendor and point to any topping that appeals to you.  Warning: ketchup and mayonnaise are seen as essential toppings. Be prepared to stop this from happening if it disgusts you as much as it disgusts me!

3.) Jump on a Bosphorus Boat Tour. For 10 lira (7 dollars), it takes you along the European and Asian shores of Istanbul. You can admire ornate Ottoman Palaces, glamorous nightclubs and beautiful Ottoman homes. The sun will be out. Waiters will offer you numerous drink options and you are bound to fall in love with Istanbul (if you have not already)

4.) End your night on the terrace of one of the numerous waterfront restaurants that line the waterfront. The food is not always spectacular, but the ambience, people watching and water traffic will make it well worth your time.


An Afternoon in Ortakoy


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Walking distance from my apartment, I have found my haven! Bread & Butter is a sidewalk cafe that offers a variety of drinks, lunch dishes and special pastries.  With shady street seating and wonderful ambience, Bread & Butter serves as the perfect place to spend the afternoon. For anyone missing their local cafe or bakery from home, your needs will be met at Bread & Butter. You will be greeted by a smiling waitress eager to make you feel at home.

Location: Nisantasi
Closest Metro Station: Osmanbey, Pangalti Exit

Bread and Butter


Yesterday afternoon we were invited into the boat of a Bodrum local. We spent 45 minutes paddling around the Gundogan shore, discussing politics, the US mission to Mars, and Gundogan as we sipped beer in the warm sun, surrounded by sparkling blue water. All around us people were laughing, swimming and lounging.

Gundogan is a small town in the Bodrum Peninsula, which for me has come to epitomize Turkish summers, family gatherings and the very best life has to offer. Since I first moved to Istanbul, we have escaped to Gundogan for Seker Bayram each year. On Seker Bayram, the entire country comes together to be with family. Many families celebrate the end of Ramadan. My family celebrates summer and uses it as an excuse to be together, lounge in the sun, swim in the sea and indulge in the most amazing of meals, together. Read the rest of this entry

Gundogan: My Bodrum Paradise

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While Istanbul is my home and my life is full of wonder and richness. There are some things I miss from my life in the states.

In no particular order, here they are:

1.) Seeing the stars at night
2.) Seattle’s coffee obsession and the numerous funky cafes devoted to this coffee culture (and addiction;)
3.) The numerous and overwhelming options at a grocery store
4.) Living somewhere where you can run, walk and bicycle freely with good company
5.) House parties, potlucks and other inexpensive and easy ways to surround yourself with good friends in an intimate setting  Read the rest of this entry

Some things I miss from my life in the states…


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On Saturday, I had the unique opportunity to hear Rita Golden Gelman speak at the monthly meeting of Professional American Women of Istanbul. I first read Rita’s book, Tales of a Female Nomad, when I was 18 years old and attempting to imagine my place in the world. From her story, I found a role model and the inspiration I needed to imagine myself living a life of travel and adventure.

In her 50s, she decided that she wanted to do more than read about the world: she wanted to experience it firsthand.  So, she took the leap! She is currently 75 years old and has lived abroad for the past 27 years.

Rita does not simply live abroad. She seeks out small communities and becomes an active, albeit temporary member of that community. She has explored the Galapagos, lived in Bali, and hiked through the jungle of Irian Jaya. She has lived in mud huts and small cottages. She has climbed mountains and taught in community schools. She sung with tribal leaders and learned local trades. She is also a children’s book author, and has written children’s books about many of her experiences.  She is courageous, wise and the best part?! She is truly and deeply happy with her life.

Here are some of the highlights of her talk:

1.) “Disobey the rules in your head that tell you that you must live your life  in a certain way. Live the life you want and pursue what makes you feel most alive.”

2.) “Risk-taking, trust, and serendipity are key ingredients of joy. Without risk, nothing new ever happens; without trust, fear creeps in; without serendipity, there are no surprises.” – Her words from Tall Cup#31 at Starbucks

3.) ‘Human connections are a valuable commodity. The whole world is a giant favor bank. Let people do favors for you, and pay it forward by doing favors for others’

4.) Opportunities come from connections. Put yourself out there. Connect any and every way you know how. Take risks and do not worry about making a fool of yourself.  Read this for more details: 10 Tips on How to Connect Across Cultures.

5.) The United States would be a very different place if more Americans travelled abroad. She is working to support and encourage more young Americans to take a gap year after high school. Rita is determined to promote the numerous advantages of life and travel abroad. Her project is called Let’s Get Global. 

Inspired Nomad: Rita Golden Gelman

The Pitfalls of Teaching English at a Private School in Turkey


Last spring, in a bold move, I announced to school administrators that I did not want to return next year. They were stunned. I was friends with everyone on campus. My classroom and my teaching style were applauded and used as an example for my peers. Parents, administrators and students were happy. However, I was not. I hated almost every moment I spent there. Here is why:

1.) Schools are Businesses: In Turkey, private schools are not established as nonprofits. In fact, it is the very opposite. Schools are founded by businessmen who see schools as profitable business ventures. As a result, schools offer sparkling facilities and impressive technology to lure in their clients. They sell the parents a program that promises English fluency, resources and opportunity, without any real emphasis or value for the individual child or the quality of individual teachers. Additionally, the program is sold, not the curriculum. Thus, the curriculum usually overlooks important tenets of childhood psychology or childhood development. The school sells results. Unfortunately, this produces a curriculum that is developmentally inappropriate for children.  In this system, parents become the client. Thus, parents are told what they want to hear and what they need to think in order to keep the tuition checks coming.  Reports are edited to highlight only the most positive elements of the child. Teachers are censored from discussing behavioral problems and special needs.

2.) Horrible Management: In Turkey, the management structure is very hierarchical. You move into positions of power by supporting the status quo and saying what the management wants to hear. The majority of the management were teachers and lacked a background in management. As a result, the work environment is terribly discouraging. People are seen as disposable. If you do not agree with the curriculum, procedures or policies, you are not valued as an employee. Constructive criticism and suggestions are interpreted as attacks. The staff is disciplined like children. The management talks in a condescending tone. People are singled out and humiliated in meetings. There is no investment in people, or professional development of any kind. Read the rest of this entry