All posts by Chris Delacruz

Co-founder and general manager of the American Institute for English Proficiency. For more information, please visit www.aiepro.com.

100 Moments of Happiness Project

Image Source: Google Images
Image Source: Google Images

Last week during my grammar and writing class, I invited a couple of my students, Fley and Jerome, to join me, the teachers, and other students in celebrating the birthday of Liz, one of the teachers of our school, the American Institute for English Proficiency. In normal Filipino fashion, Jerome first rejected the invitation with the typical Filipino excuse: he’s busy. Fley chimed in with the same reason: she’s busy too.

In reality, they didn’t mean that they were busy. What they really meant was that they had other plans already. Jerome had a date to go to Something Fishy, a buffet restaurant in Eastwood where I live, and he wanted to try the Php 199 breakfast buffet. Fley already planned a badminton game with her friends, and this would be their third week in a row, and she couldn’t miss it. Therefore, what they truly meant was that they had other priorities. I proceeded to teach them that being busy and having other priorities were completely two different terms.

I tried convincing them to prioritize Liz’s birthday, but I was unable to. I told Jerome that he could always go to the buffet anytime, and I told Fley that she could always play badminton on the weekends with her friends, but Liz’s birthday happens only once a year. I know that these two students are also dealing with confidence issues, so I told them coming out with us for the night would be a nice change, and it would definitely help boost their confidence. However, I could not manage to convince them.

In one final attempt, I told them that being happy was sometimes doing something out of one’s comfort zone. Sometimes, we have to do activities that we wouldn’t normally do to get us out of routine. I also mentioned to them that we always need to constantly challenge ourselves. I gave them examples of how I had been so comfortable with being a teacher and co-founder of the American Institute, but now, I was forming a youth empowerment group with four other Filipino entrepreneurs and community leaders. Still, I could not manage to convince them.

One great thing that came out of our conversation, though, is one writing assignment. As we started talking about being happy, I mentioned to them that I had seen on my Facebook news feed about the Happiness Project. As a part of the class, we would write, instead of 100 days of Happiness, 100 moments of happiness, to put our own take on it. We don’t need to write daily for 100 days; we just need to write about 100 moments. Why do this? One, it will help my students develop a writing habit. Two, it would help them be happier by focusing on the positive moments they encounter each time. To do this assignment, they simply need to write at least 300 words or more about the their happy moments, and they could include one to as many moments they want in a single blog post. Fley will be using her own blog, and Jerome will be writing his happy moments on the American Institute’s blog, The Five Elements.  Next, make sure to use the hashtag, #100MomentsofHappiness whenever posting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

We are hoping as well that others would follow suit.  If you would like to participate, you may simply do so by posting your name and your blog in the comment section below.  If you do not have a blog, you can get an account at The Five Elements.  Simply let me know in the comment section below.  You don’t have to blog about it as well; you can also just post on Facebook.

I have already started it on Facebook:

 

Advertisements

Improve your Public Speaking and Grammar Skills

Want to improve your life? How about improving your confidence through an English class at the American Institute for English Proficiency. When you develop your confidence, many things follow because when you are confident, you are empowered to go beyond and out of your comfort zone. You are more willing to take on new skills, to meet people, and to go further in your career.

We are offering PSG Course (Public Speaking and Grammar) at FREE TUITION right now for the first 20 students or while seats are left.

Job Interview Strategy: What is your Weakness?

Ralph is studying at The American Institute to practice his English and improve his communication skills to become a flight attendant.
Ralph is studying at The American Institute to practice his English and improve his communication skills to become a flight attendant.

Almost every job interviewer, regardless of industry, salary, or country asks the question, what is your weakness?  Yet, many recent graduates, and even seasoned professionals do not know how to answer this question.  Do you just tell them your weakness?  Of course not.  You don’t want the interviewer to know that you are weak.  You want them to know that you have strengths that would match the position they have to fill.

Here are some strategies on how to answer this question:

  1. Discuss non-essential skills or attributes.  For example, when you work in an airline industry, time management and customer service are very essential skills.  So, you do not want to tell the interviewer that these are your weaknesses.  Focus instead a skill that is not quite necessary in becoming a flight attendant, such as being funny.  You do not have to be a comedian to become a flight attendant.  You can tell the interviewer that you are only funny to your closes friends, but to strangers, you seem to be more on the serious side until they get to know you better.
  2. Discuss the skills you have improved.  For example, tell the interviewer that you once didn’t communicate very well in English.  Now, after taking courses at the American Institute for English Proficiency, talking to other professionals, and communicating with all kinds of individuals, you have not improved only your English, but also your communication skills in general.  The interviewer wants to know that even if you had a weakness, you challenged yourself and developed your skills.
  3. Another strategy is to turn the negative into positive.  For example, perhaps you can say that you were a perfectionist, which led you to spend too much time on a project.  However, you have learned to work faster, work harder, and work smarter so that you can get the task done correctly sooner than later.  Let the interviewer know that you are not a perfect person, but because you can now work more efficiently and more effectively, your task can be completed right away.  Give examples, like when you were a basketball player, you were such a perfectionist that sometimes, you went home late because you kept practicing.  Tell the interviewer that in order for you to meet your goal of being a starter, you took advice from and had skills practice with your coach and the team captain rather than practicing on your own over and over again.

As they say, practice makes perfect.  Now, I have to keep reading this over and over so that it becomes more natural when I say it.  Good luck to those who are also interviewing.  If you would like to improve your English and communication skills to prepare yourself for a certain career, like Ralph who wants to become a flight attendant, you may visit us at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Makati or Quezon City.

How to Give Good Advice

How to Give  Good Advice
by Chris Delacruz and JT Tan

Good-AdviceWhen we have problems, it’s so difficult to solve it ourselves. Sometimes, it is easier to help others with their problems. Giving advice to ourselves is much more difficult than giving advice to our friends or family members.  We have learned some really good strategies on giving advice to others.

First, listen. Yeah, just shut up and listen.  Do not talk.  Just listen.  Let the person who has a problem tell you everything first.  Instead of giving feedback right away, just nod your head to let your friend know that you understand their situation.  Sometimes, our friends just need someone who to be there for them, someone who will not judge, someone who tries to understand first.

Second, be patient. Don’t think that you can solve problems right away. Some problems do take time to be fixed. Some wounds just need time to heal.  If you’re looking for a quick fix to some problems, then you’re on the wrong track when giving advice.  Sometimes, the advice we give won’t take effect right away.  Sometimes, our friends won’t even take the words of wisdom immediately.  They become stubborn, and they continue to repeat the mistakes.  Just be patient, and don’t give up on your friend.

This is my student and new friend, JT. I’m trying to help him out, and I know I need to be super patient with him. Good luck to you JT.

Finally, ask your friend what solutions they have in mind. Sometimes, your friend may already have the solution. It’s better if you ask them for options.  You might be surprised that they already know the answer to their own problems.  They just have a hard time implementing it.  And if they come up with no solutions, then you can offer your own solutions. Just don’t insist on it.  Don’t force your friends to take it.

When we have problems, we want someone to help us. We want to hear our friends’ opinion or advice. It’s much better if we are prepared to give advice as well so that we don’t antagonize or make matters worse. Next time a friend or family member needs advice, just listen, be patient, and ask your friend for their own solutions.  And if a friend doesn’t solve his problem right away, just remember, it is not your fault.  You can lead the horse to the water, but you can’t force ’em to drink.

 

Flight Attendant (FA) Impact Interview

The Impact and Preliminary Interview with Philippine Airlines (PAL)
by Ralph Jason Buenaventura

Ralph is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Quezon City.  He is preparing to be a flight attendant.
Ralph is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Quezon City. He is preparing to be a flight attendant.

Are you looking to be an FA or flight attendant?  Do you have difficulties answering some of the questions?  Ralph and I are working on making it easier for you.  Ralph signed up for a 10-hour private class and a 50-hour group class at the American Institute for English Proficiency so we can help him prepare for his career as a flight attendant, preferably with Philippine Airlines.  We are working on helping him answer his interview questions as well as developing his grammar, American accent, and public speaking skills.

I advised him not to memorize it, but he can start practicing because when we have written down the answers and practiced it, it’s much easier for the words and ideas to roll off your tongue.  Here are our preliminary answers to some of the questions he may encounter during his Impact and Prelim interview.

Tell me about yourself:

Let me start by describing my personality.  I am outgoing, friendly, and responsible.  For example, I love sports, and I was a varsity basketball player at Fatima University on full scholarship.  Also, I love music, and I sung in different school activities.  I love being around friends, and most people say that I am very easy-going and fun to be with.  I tend to focus on being positive when I’m with my friends.  In addition, I was able to manage being an athlete and worker while I was a student.  As a responsible person, when I have a problem, I tend to focus on the solutions and not the problem itself.  That helps me to be able to manage my situations very well.

PhilippineAirlinesAnother thing about me is my professionalism.  I have always wanted to achieve something greater for myself and not settle for the average.  As a student, I had very good attendance because I almost had perfect attendance and hardly any tardiness.  And when I was playing basketball, I attended all of my practices on time.  Actually, I wasn’t as good as the others in basketball, but because I treated it with professionalism, I was a part of the team for three years.  And when I worked as a promoter, I was able to treat my guests as VIP’s no matter their social status.

Lastly, I would like to describe my career goals.  Ever since I entered the university, I have always wanted to be a flight attendant.  I majored in travel management so that I could find out more about the travel and airline industry.  I realized that it was exactly what I wanted because I love to travel and deal with people.  I love talking about culture and places, and the airline industry is the perfect place for it.  I have already completed an OJT with Macro Asia Airport Service, and I was able to observe another aspect of the airline and travel industry.  I know that this is what I really want to do because every time I was at the airport, I felt so close to achieving my dream.

Why do you want to work for the airline industry?

Image Source: Google Images
Image Source: Google Images

I mentioned earlier that I studied travel management and  completed my OJT  in the airline industry.  Furthermore, I have traveled to Singapore and throughout the Philippines.  I also have friends who are working in the industry, such as flight attendants, passenger service agents, customer service agents, and the like.  With all these, I am even more excited to be a part of the industry.  As a flight attendant, I will be able to enjoy two of my passions, which is travel and meeting people from different places and cultures.  I also know that those who work hard and those who continue to grow would be given an opportunity to travel not only within the Philippines, but also internationally since PAL is international.  For me, the airline industry is just very exciting.

Why do you want to work for Philippine Airline (PAL)?

Philippine Airlines is a highly reputable organization, and it is the leading carrier in Asia.  The brand is very strong because of its customer service, compared to other airlines.  Furthermore, working for Philippine Airlines would be very patriotic for me, since it’s very Filipino.  The motto, after all, is “Fly your flag.”   For me, I would prefer to be affiliated with a brand that prides itself in nationalism and customer service at the same time.  Another reason why I would want to work for PAL is because of the different stories I have heard from my friends who are already working for the company.  They told me that the company treated them very well, that the people they work with were like family, and that they really enjoyed what they do.  Of course, I’d get some of the employee benefits that PAL offers.  The last reason I want to work for PAL is because they look and act truly professional.  I would agree with my teacher from The American Institute when he said that he would rather pay more at PAL than another carrier just so he can get more professional service.  At the end of the day, the company that pays attention to their customers wins.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths:

My top three strengths are problem-solving, customer service, and professionalism.  As a problem-solver, I know how to look at the the different angles to a problem, like how it started, who was involved, and why it did it start.  After probing, I focus on looking for creative solutions rather than being stuck with the problem.  (Give specific example here.)  When it comes to customer service, I understand the customer is king.  In fact, when I worked as a promoter, I always had to make sure that my guests enjoyed their night out, and that if they had any problems, they can always call or talk to me.  I can definitely relate this to working here at Philippine Airline.  I see every customer as VIP.  And as I said, professionalism is my other strength.  I do manage my time well when it comes to reporting to work.  I treat my colleagues with respect.  And I am very loyal to the company I work for since it is my source of passion and income. (Give example here).

Weaknesses: (to be completed)

As you see, this article is still incomplete.  If you’d like to learn more about interviewing as a flight attendant for Philippine Airlines, please come back here soon.  Thank you, Ralph, for sharing your answers with everyone.  I’m sure you have inspired others.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ralph is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency, preparing to become a flight attendant.

How to Put your Adjectives in Order

A Philippine colorful, old, slow,  beautiful, passenger boxy jeepney.  A what???  That’s right.  What happens when you have several adjectives to describe something?  Do you know how to correctly put them in order?  It’s so much easier when you only have a two adjectives, but it gets very confusing when you have more than that.  Here’s your guide on how to put the adjective in order:

Study English at the American Institute for English Proficiency: www.aiepro.com
Study English at the American Institute for English Proficiency: http://www.aiepro.com
  1. Determiner – a, an, the, my, your, few, several
  2. Observation (Opinion) – beautiful, fast, colorful
  3. Physical Description (Size) – big, small, tiny, huge
  4. Physical Description (Shape) – rectangular, round, square
  5. Physical Description (Age) – new, old, young, ancient
  6. Physical Description (Color) – red, white, blue, yellow
  7. Origin – Filipino, Philippine American, Spanish
  8. Material – gold, wooden, metal
  9. Qualifier – Purpose Adjective, Limits the Noun  such as basketball player, sleeping bag, birthday party
  10. Noun – What you are describing

Here are some examples:

  1. I met a beautiful, petite, young, tanned Filipino woman at the birthday party.
  2. I would like to buy a fast, big, red, Italian sports car for my birthday next year.
  3. I ate a delicious, round, white, Filipino, street food they call squid or chicken ball.

Now let’s try describing the jeepney again using the royal order of adjectives.  Can you do it now?  One easy way to memorize the order is to put it into an acronym or initialism: DOSSACOMQ.  Can you create a sentence out of that?  Hmmm.  Let me try making one.  I’ll be back to update this blog when I come up with one.  In the meantime, keep practicing and you’ll eventually get it without using a cheat sheet.

Puerto Galera Trip – Simplying your Vacation

Trip to White Beach Puerto Galera with my AIEP clients and friends: Rozita, Chris, Aji, and Irish

Travel can become a nightmare if you are not careful.  There are many travel and tour operators who could promise you the world but deliver you nothing but grief.  I just want to Puerto Galera this past weekend, and I’m glad to say that my vacation wasn’t a nightmare at all.  No, it wasn’t one of the best either because we experienced some unexpected twists and turns.

For example, our tour operator told us that we would go directly from the port in Batangas to the shores of White Beach.  However, we were taken to another port where we had to ride a very small vehicle (much smaller than a jeepney) for another 30 to 45 minutes to get to White Beach.  On top of that, we had our meals catered, and the operator got the meals wrong: served tanigue sinigang instead of milkfish and scrambled eggs instead of omelette.

On the way to the underwater cave on a smaller boat.

When you get to there, there are many barkers, you know, the ones, mostly men, who hold their laminated pictures of the different beach activities.  I don’t mind if 10 of them come up to me to ask me if I want do their activities for a certain price.  I don’t mind if some of them have different prices.  Sometimes, bargaining is fun.  However, when almost everyone of them come to you within a span of an hour, you spend your hours conversing with them instead of enjoying the beach, the water, the sun, and the half-naked bodies.

There must be a way to simply your trip to Puerto Galera so that it becomes more enjoyable.  So here’s a step-by-step guide on simplifying your trip.

  1. Decide if you’re going to do it as a tour package or on your own.  If you do it as a tour package, there are many tour operators who are willing to set your itinerary for you at an additional price.  Of course, the disadvantage to this is that you have to pay extra for their services.  Here’s an example, we went to Puerto Galera this past weekend (March 8 and 9, 2014), and the travel package was almost Php 3,000 per person, inclusive of roundtrip bus transportation from Manila to the port, boat and Puerto-Galera-related fees, two days and one night of basic hotel accommodation at White Beach Lodge (quad-sharing with two full-size beds good for four), and three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

    If you’re going to do it on your own, it would be a little bit cheaper, depending on the price of the accommodation.  Here’s an example:

    Php 100 – Taxi to Bus Terminal
    Php 340 – Roundtrip Bus Transportation
    Php 500 – Roundtrip Boat Transportation
    Php 060 – Miscellaneous Puerto Galera Fees
    Php 600 – Accommodation (Quad Sharing)
    Php 1,600 – TOTAL

    The meals are around Php 100 per meal.  But if you are really on vacation, I would highly recommend at least Php 150 per meal.

  2. If you’re going the DO-IT-YOURSELF way, looking for an accommodation would be the next thing you must do.  As we all know, the price is much higher during the peak season, which is in the summer (March to July and sometimes August).  In March, you can get a quad-sharing (good for four) accommodation with hot water for Php 2,500.  If you divide this by four people, that’s roughly Php 600 per person.If you go this way, you have to  call around.  Here are some of the more known places:

    White Beach Hotel
    White Beach Resort
    White Beach Lodge

    Yes, the more popular ones have “White Beach” in the name, for the name of Puerto Galera’s is beach is, yup, you guessed it, “White Beach.”  I am hoping to put a list of hotels and accommodation here soon.  We stayed at White Beach Lodge, and it was about Php 2,500 per quad-sharing room.  I tried calling my contact there, and he told me that they are already booked for the month of March.  The Holy Week is coming up in April, and I’m sure the prices are just going to go higher and higher.

  3. Next, decide what activities you’re going to do.  There are many activities to do in Puerto Galera.  They give different prices, so try asking around.  Here’s what we got for our activity:  There were 15 of us, and we paid Php 370 per person for snorkeling and fish feeding.  After our activity, we decided we would still want to do more activities, so we decided to go to the underwater cave for an additional Php 200 per person.
    Fresh sea urchins at 3 for Php 100. We bought this near the underwater cave.

    TIP:  It’s better to negotiate before you go on your activity because the boatmen would want to negotiate with you anymore.  According to the woman who got us the Php 370 deal, they could have gotten it for us for an extra Php 100 only.  It used to be cheaper to go snorkeling, but according to our vendor, there are new taxes, and even the locals don’t know where these new taxes were going since Puerto Galera hasn’t really improved in terms of economy and environment.

Another surprise we got was stopping over another part of Puerto Galera, a port called Muelle, where we had to be driven to White Beach.  We were expecting to arrive at White Beach so that it would be more of a “grand entrance,” but our tour organizer lied to us.  I believe it is the Molina Lines that takes you to that port, so if you want to go straight to White Beach, take another one instead.  They are the same price.

So planning a trip to White Beach in Puerto Galera?  It should be so much simpler, right?  When you go with the right people, your best friends or your family, the trip gets better.  I’ve been there numerous times, and it has always been different because of the company I was with.  I have a lot of photos, and as soon as I edit them, I will post them here.  Have a safe and happy trip!

Easy Way to Remember the PARTS OF SPEECH

Image Source: GrammarKnot
Image Source: GrammarKnot. Click on image to enlarge.

To master English, one must have a very good foundation of the English language, which begins with understanding the categories the different words belong to.  These categories are called “Parts of Speech,” which are the building blocks of forming sentences.  Each word in the English language belongs to eight different categories:

  1. Verb
  2. Adjective
  3. Noun.  Person (Chris, that’s me), place (American Institute for English Proficiency, that’s where I teach), thing (English, that’s what I teach), or an idea (freedom, that’s what I want to have).  You can proper nouns (specific names of people like Chris and places like Makati or Quezon City) or improper nouns (general names like mom or places like school).
  4. Conjunction
  5. Adverb
  6. Pronoun
  7. Preposition
  8. Interjection

To make it easier for you to remember, look at it as an acronym:
VAN (Automobile), CAP (Hat), PI (In math, it’s roughly equal to 3.14.  For Filipinos, it’s the Philippine Islands).  To make it even easier to remember, create a sentence out of it.  I drove my VAN, put on my CAP, and thought about the PI.  Trying playing around with it.

Okay, I know this post is not complete.  I will come back to give definitions to the rest of the parts of speech.  Let the picture above guide you for now.  In any case, this should be very basic for you.  Come back often because I will soon be posting intermediate to advanced writing and grammar tips.

Makati is the “Selfiest” City in the World

MakatiSelfieMakati can claim another title: The Selfiest City in the World.  According to TIME, Makati (along with Pasig) is the selfie capital of the world based on the number of selfie per capita.  Makati beat Manhattan, Miami, and even Los Angeles and New York.  According to Times’ study, Makati has a data of 258 selfies per 100,000 people.

So what does this mean?  Does this mean that people in Makati are the most vain?  Does this mean that people in Makati have the most smartphones?  Does this mean that people in Makati have the most time in the world?  Or does this mean that we simply like taking pictures of ourselves?

Here is the complete list of the top cities with most selfies per capita: http://time.com/selfies-cities-world-rankings/

IMAGE SOURCE: Time

Who Wants a Cock? A What???

A woman should never shout out loud that she wants a “cock” unless she is looking for some pure unadulterated fun in the bedroom, or in public if that is her preference.  Unless it’s a mistake, and she meant, Coke, the sodapop, and not cock, the rooster or the you-know-what-I-mean.

Pronunciation can be very tricky, and if we’re not careful, it can get messy and get you in trouble.  The English teacher here (I’m guessing she’s Korean), pronounced Coke with the schwa (German) sound instead of a long O, the same sound in oval, okra, or Oprah.

Do you want to improve your English and American accent?  Join us at the American Institute for English Proficiency: www.aiepro.com.