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Life Stories

Bridging Cultures, Igniting Minds: The Journey of an International English Teacher

This lesson is designed to build your critical-thinking skills in English as you read, listen, and answer different types of comprehension and discussion questions.

Pre-Listening Activities for Teachers

Although these questions are related to classroom instruction, independent learners can reflect on the ideas and topic to prepare for the listening portion of the lesson.

  1. Brainstorming: Divide students into pairs or small groups and ask them to brainstorm keywords or ideas related to the topic of international students and their experiences. Give them a few minutes to come up with as many words or ideas as they can. Then, have a class discussion where groups share their answers and create a collective list on the board.

  2. Vocabulary Preview: Introduce key vocabulary words from the story and provide definitions or simple explanations. Write the words on the board and ask students to guess their meanings or provide examples of how the words might be used. This activity helps students familiarize themselves with important vocabulary they may encounter in the listening task.
  3. Discussion Questions: Prepare a set of discussion questions related to the theme of the story. These questions could focus on topics like the challenges faced by international students, the benefits of studying abroad, or the importance of finding one’s passion. Divide students into pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss the questions. Afterward, conduct a class discussion to share ideas and insights.

  4. Personal Reflection: Ask students to reflect individually on their own experiences or aspirations related to studying abroad or choosing a major. Provide prompts such as “Have you ever considered studying in a different country?” or “What factors would you consider when choosing a major?” After a few minutes, have students share their reflections with a partner or in small groups, fostering conversation and encouraging personal connections to the topic.


Listen and read the story and answer the questions.


A language activity from Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab.

I once knew an international student named Felix, and his journey of self-discovery led him to the United States. With a heart full of ambition and a head full of dreams, he was determined to find his true calling.

In his first semester, Felix decided to major in engineering, believing it to be the path to greatness.

However, as he sat in his introductory physics class, his eyes glazed over, and he couldn’t whip through the equations as fast as his classmates. He realized he was more likely to cause an explosion in the lab than invent the next groundbreaking technology.

Undeterred, Felix changed his major to business administration, thinking it would lead him to financial success. He dove headfirst into accounting and economics classes, determined to fight through the complexities of the stock market. 

Unfortunately, he found himself drowning in spreadsheets and balance sheets, feeling like a lost number in a sea of calculations.

Unsure of what to do next, Felix sought solace in the realm of psychology. Maybe understanding the human mind would be his calling. However, as he delved into the subject, he was more confused than ever.

As the semesters went by, Felix began to lose hope. He wondered if he would ever find his true passion. But just when he thought all was lost, a moment of clarity arrived like a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel.

One day, while assisting a professor with an English class, Felix discovered his hidden talent for language and communication. He realized that his passion lay in the power of words and their ability to connect people. With newfound excitement, Felix decided to become an English teacher.

Felix’s journey didn’t stop in the United States. Armed with a degree in English and a zest for exploring new cultures, he embarked on an overseas adventure. His first teaching position took him to Japan, where he was immersed in a land of cherry blossoms and karaoke.

In Japan, Felix’s humor and creativity made his English classes come alive. He engaged his students with amusing anecdotes and interactive games, turning language learning into a joyful experience. As he delved into the intricacies of the English language, Felix realized that teaching English wasn’t just about grammar and vocabulary. It was about bridging gaps between cultures, fostering understanding, and breaking down barriers that often divide people.

From Japan, Felix’s journey took him to the vibrant streets of Paris, France. With the Eiffel Tower as his backdrop, he enchanted his students with the beauty of English literature. As he explored the works of great writers from different eras and countries, Felix realized that language reflected the diverse human experience. Teaching English had opened his eyes to the richness and complexity of the world around him.

From France, Felix’s journey took him to the colorful landscapes of Brazil.- In the heart of Rio de Janeiro, he immersed himself in the rhythm of samba while imparting his love for the English language. As he connected with his Brazilian students, Felix learned that language was more than just a means of communication.

It was a tool for empowerment and self-expression. He saw firsthand how mastering English opened doors to opportunities and expanded horizons.

As the years passed, Felix continued to hop from one country to another, leaving a trail of laughter, knowledge, and cultural exchange in his wake.- Teaching English not only enriched the lives of his students but also transformed Felix’s own worldview. He learned to embrace different ideas and find joy in the connections forged through language.

And so, dear listeners and readers, remember Felix’s story as a testament to the transformative power of teaching. Through the English language, he discovered a world filled with possibilities and a deeper understanding of the human experience.

Comprehension Questions: Self-Grading Quiz

Comprehension Questions in Text Format

1. What is the name of the international student in the story?
a) Jack
b) Felix
c) Alex
d) Emma

2. Why did Felix initially choose to major in engineering?
a) He had a passion for designing buildings.
b) It was a family tradition.
c) He believed it would lead to excellence.
d) He enjoyed solving complex math problems.

3. Why did Felix switch from business administration to psychology?
a) He realized he couldn’t handle financial statements.
b) He wanted to understand human behavior better.
c) His friends convinced him to change majors.
d) The story doesn’t mention the reason.

4. What moment led Felix to discover his passion for teaching English?
a) Scoring the highest in a language proficiency test.
b) Winning an award for academic excellence.
c) Assisting a professor with an English class.
d) Attending an inspiring language workshop.

5. After switching to an English major, where did Felix decide to teach first?
a) Japan
b) Brazil
c) France
d) The United States

6. What was the ultimate lesson Felix learned through his journey in the story?
a) Never switch majors in college.
b) Following one’s passion leads to fulfillment.
c) Engineering is the best career choice.
d) One should study in their home country.

Answers and Explanations

1. What is the name of the international student in the story?
Answer: b) Felix
Explanation: The protagonist’s name is Felix. Throughout the story, he is referred to as Felix, and he is the central character on his journey of self-discovery as an international student.

2. Why did Felix initially choose to major in engineering?
Answer: c) He believed it would lead to excellence.
Explanation: Felix chose to major in engineering because he believed it would lead him to greatness. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that his decision was influenced more by societal expectations and external pressures rather than genuine passion.

3. Why did Felix switch from business administration to psychology?
Answer: b) He wanted to understand human behavior better.
Explanation: Felix switched his major from business administration to psychology because he wanted to explore and understand human behavior better. This change in direction reflects his desire to find a field of study that resonates with his true interests.

4. What moment led Felix to discover his passion for teaching English?
Answer: c) Assisting a professor with an English class.
Explanation: Felix’s passion for teaching English was ignited when he had the opportunity to assist a professor with an English class. This experience allowed him to see the transformative power of language and communication, leading him to realize his hidden talent for teaching.

5. After switching to an English major, where did Felix decide to teach first?
Answer: a) Japan
Explanation: After changing his major to English, Felix’s first teaching position was in Japan. He ventured to Japan, where he immersed himself in the rich culture and language, further solidifying his passion for teaching English.

6. What was the ultimate lesson Felix learned through his journey in the story?
Answer: b) Following one’s passion leads to fulfillment.
Explanation: Throughout the story, Felix’s journey illustrates that following one’s passion leads to fulfillment and purpose in life. As he switches majors and explores different paths, he finally finds contentment and joy when he embraces his true calling as an English teacher. The story highlights the importance of pursuing one’s passions rather than conforming to societal expectations.

Discussion Questions


  1. Have you ever thought about studying abroad? Why or why not?
  2. What are some challenges international students might face when studying in a different country?
  3. How do you think studying abroad can benefit a person’s personal and professional growth?

Intermediate (Analyze and Interpret):

  1. What are some factors that international students should consider when choosing a major?
  2. How do you think the experience of studying abroad can shape a person’s worldview?
  3. In your opinion, what are some advantages and disadvantages of teaching English as a second language in different countries?

Advanced (Analyze and Interpret):

  1. Reflecting on Felix’s journey, how do you think his experience of changing majors multiple times contributed to his final decision of becoming an English teacher?
  2. Discuss the role of language and communication in fostering cultural understanding and breaking down barriers. How does teaching English as a second language contribute to this?
  3. Based on the story, what are some potential benefits and challenges of working as an English teacher in various countries? How do you think teaching English abroad can impact a person’s career and personal development?

Class Activities

These post-listening activities add visual (seeing), auditory (listening), kinesthetic (moving), and tactile (touching) elements to engage students in meaningful ways based on their learning styles.

  1. Visual Activity: Create a Storyboard Instructions: Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to create a storyboard illustrating the key events and turning points in Felix’s journey. Provide them with markers, colored pencils, and blank sheets of paper. After completing the storyboard, each group presents their visual representation of the story to the class, explaining their choices and interpretations.

  2. Auditory Activity: Class Discussion Panel Instructions: Organize a panel discussion, assigning different roles to students, such as “Felix,” “Professor,” “Friend,” and “English Student.” Each student assumes their role and engages in a dialogue about Felix’s experiences and the impact of his decisions. Encourage students to use information from the story and their creativity to bring the characters to life.

  3. Kinesthetic Activity: Language and Cultural Exchange Fair Instructions: Arrange the classroom into stations, each representing a different country that Felix taught in (e.g., Japan, France, Brazil). Each station will have information about the country’s language, culture, and customs. Students rotate to different stations, engaging in role-play activities, language games, and cultural experiences. This activity fosters a kinesthetic understanding of the diverse cultures Felix encountered.

  4. Reading and Writing Activity: Letter from Felix Instructions: Ask students to imagine they are writing a letter to Felix, either as a fellow international student or as one of his students. In the letter, they can ask him questions, share their own experiences, or express their admiration for his journey. This activity encourages students to reflect on the story and articulate their thoughts through writing.

  5. Collaborative Activity: Create a Multicultural Recipe Book Instructions: Divide the class into groups, and assign each group a country where Felix taught. In their groups, students research traditional recipes from their assigned country. They create a multicultural recipe book, including the recipes, cultural background information, and illustrations. As a class, combine all the groups’ recipes into one book, showcasing the diversity of the countries Felix encountered.

Language Game

Here’s a possible classroom language game based on the story and topic:

Game Name: “Globetrotting Pictionary”

Objective: The objective of the game is for players to draw and guess various topics related to Felix’s journey as an international student and English teacher in different countries.


  • Whiteboard or large drawing pad
  • Whiteboard markers or drawing materials
  • A list of Pictionary cards with topics related to the story (see examples below)
  • Timer


  1. Prepare Pictionary cards: Create a list of Pictionary cards with topics related to the story. Include keywords like “International Student,” “Engineering,” “Teaching English,” “Japan,” “France,” “Brazil,” “Language Barrier,” “Cultural Exchange,” “Passion,” and “Journey of Self-Discovery.”

  2. Divide into teams: Divide players into two or more teams. Each team should have an equal number of players.

  3. Draw and guess: Each team takes turns selecting one player to be the “drawer.” The drawer picks a Pictionary card without revealing it to the other team members.

  4. Set the timer: Once the drawer starts drawing, set a timer for one minute.

  5. Guessing time: The drawer tries to depict the keyword on the card through drawings, without using any letters, numbers, or verbal cues. Their team members have one minute to guess the word.

  6. Points: If their team guesses correctly within the time limit, they earn a point. If not, no points are awarded.

  7. Rotate players: After each turn, rotate the drawer to the next player in the team, and continue the game.

  8. Winning team: At the end of the game, tally up the points. The team with the most points wins.

Here’s a recreated list of Pictionary cards based on actual words and topics from the story of Felix:

Easy Level:

  1. student
  2. teacher
  3. Japan
  4. Brazil
  5. books
  6. language
  7. passport
  8. classroom
  9. dreams
  10. engineer

Intermediate Level:

  1. psychology
  2. business
  3. international
  4. diversity
  5. cultural exchange
  6. multilingual
  7. teaching abroad
  8. English proficiency
  9. communication

Advanced Level:

  1. self-discovery
  2. passion
  3. career path
  4. multiculturalism
  5. language barrier
  6. cultural sensitivity
  7. global perspective
Different AI technologies, including ChatGPT and an AI voice generator, were used in a collaborative way to prepare the content for this lesson.
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