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Links to many online dictionaries for many professions.


Many English lessons and English-Mongolian side-by-side PDF books


Learning English and Buddhism in Mongolia


Learning Medical English for doctors, nurses and dentists in Mongolia

Monday, September 30, 2013

NEWS: Helping Thai Youth Develop English and Leadership Skills by Guiding Tours at Local Attractions

Originally posted at PeaceCorps.gov on July 11, 2013

Peace Corps volunteer Jennifer Basting of Latham, N.Y., is helping young people in her community in Thailand improve their English and leadership skills by training them to be tour guides at ten local tourist attractions.

Basting has been working together with her husband, Jeff, and several local counterparts to develop the junior tour guides program. Over the past year, nearly 40 students ranging from 13-18 years old have participated.
“Since beginning our work with the junior tour guides, I have seen a lot of changes in the group: increased confidence in public speaking, improved ability to process and incorporate feedback, development in leadership skills, increased desire to learn English, and increased maturity,” said Basting, a graduate of Boston College who has been living and working in Thailand since 2012.

The program started as an after-school club at the local secondary school with weekly lessons to practice English, develop time management skills, and learn how to give directions. The club has since grown to incorporate hands-on experience, with junior tour guides now leading tours at the Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum, Phu Wiang National Park, Jankamera Temple, the Sriwiang Dinosaur Park and other sites.

In addition to support from the local secondary school, Basting has worked with the town hall and local government for funding and guidance. Youth work closely with the educational directors and management of the tourist sites to become more familiar with the attractions so they can educate visitors.

“The partnership between the school and town hall is incredible and has been critical to our success,” Basting said. “The mayor and town hall are working hard to promote tourism in the area, and we are the first ones to be notified when important visitors come.”

Fifteen students recently led tours for the Deputy Prime Minister of Laos and the Laotian Ambassador to Thailand at the Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum.

Basting plans to continue the junior tour guides program and hopes to expand lessons to teach the group how to promote the attractions to a wider audience and manage travel website information.

Definition List:
  • attraction: an interesting or enjoyable place to go or thing to do
  • counterpart: a person or thing that has the same position or function as somebody/something else in a different place or situation
  • to incorporate: to include something so that it forms a part of something
  • desire: a strong wish to have or do something
  • maturity: the quality of thinking and behaving in a sensible, adult manner
Pronunciation MP3s:
= attraction
= counterpart
= incorporate
= desire
= maturity

Monday, September 23, 2013

NEWS: Why the World Should Help Mongolia Save Its Endangered Gobi Bear

Originally posted on AsiaSociety.org on April 26, 2013
The Mongolian Gobi Bear, shown here in the wild, is one of the world's most endangered animal species. (Carlos Alperin/YouTube)

In late 2012 Mongolia's Ministry of Environment and Green Development designated 2013 as The Year of Protecting the Gobi Bear, a critically endangered native species whose extant population was most recently numbered at 22. Mongolia prohibited Gobi Bear hunting as far back as 1953, but more recently environmental degradation of its habitat has been cited as a major reason for its decline.

To address this issue, and to frame it in terms laymen around the world can understand, Asia Blog welcomes Damdin Tsogtbaatar, Mongolia's former Minister for Nature, Environment and Tourism and former State Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to explain what's at stake in the survival of this extraordinary mammal.

The first impression one gets upon hearing about the Gobi Desert is one of endless, lifeless terrain sizzling with heat and buffetted by sandstorms. The reality is far from that, however. The Mongolian Gobi nurtures a few rare animals — like the wild Bactrian Camel, the Przewalski's Horse, the saiga antelope, and the snow leopard — whose populations range from the hundreds to only a few thousand. But judged by the risk of extinction, none of them matches the Gobi Bear (Ursus arctos gobiensis), which the locals call Mazaalai.

Mention of an endangered bear inevitably evokes thoughts of the cuddly panda first. Not many people would realize, however, that pandas outnumber the Mazaalai by something like 60 to 70 times. There are only 22 Mazaalais left in the whole world; nevertheless, a survey of "Top Ten Endangered Animals" lists on various international green websites doesn't turn up the Gobi Bear, although only a handful of the species that are listed (e.g., the Giant Galapagos Tortoise) could challenge the Mazaalai in terms of rarity.

Why, one may ask. First, the animal is understudied. The final genetic determination as to whether the bear is a species or a subspecies hasn't yet been reached. So far, analysis of its hair DNA suggests that the Mazaalai is related to the Himalayan Brown Bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus). Also, the concern voiced by 2.8 million Mongolians about their rare bear, unlike the concerns of the two billion about the panda, simply dissipates in a global chorus of seven billion.

We should remember that even if Gobi Bears are proven to be a subspecies of brown bear, none of the latter are fit to live in the Gobi. (No bear, regardless of its relation to the Mazaalai, can naturally adapt to the desert.) Hence, it should be protected regardless of whether it is a subspecies, for many subspecies (the Black and White Rhinoceros and Amur Leopard, for instance) are listed in the international top ten lists.

The Mazaalai is indeed different from other bears. If the forest bears' habitat varies between 12-15 square kilometers, the habitat of the Mazaalai ranges between 650-1200 square kilometers. In contrast with other bears, the Mazaalai is almost non-carnivorous: less than ten percent of its diet consists of insects and reptiles, with the rest comprised of plants, roots and berries. Lastly, the Mazaalais are smaller than their "brothers," weighing 70-140 kg.

At the same time, many characteristics make them bears as well. Their morphology is similar — and they hibernate in winter, for instance.

In short, it took nature thousands of years of evolution to produce this wonder of the Gobi. If we put that extended time into a 24-hour time frame, then this animal, given its population drop and ever-worsening habitat, is arguably now facing the final seconds of its countdown to extinction.

It doesn't have to be that way, however. Relevant examples are right there in Mongolia. In the 1960s, when the Przewalski's horse went missing in Mongolia, only around 12 heads were left in European zoos. From that number we were able to breed the current number of the horses, whose wild population in Mongolia only exceeded 200.

Therefore, with respect to Mazaalai, I would say there's hope — if we care. This animal is the heritage of the whole of humanity — and therefore shouldn't be left to the mercy of only the Mongolian state budget, whose top priority, given the significant poverty in the country, lies in increasing people's incomes. Therefore, over the last 20 years the government rarely put aside per annum a conservation budget exceeding (in U.S. dollar terms) $5000.00. Only in 2005 did it allocate funds worth approximately US$140,000. However, the lack of adequate subsequent financing made those investments inefficient. Only this year is the government allocating roughly US$200,000, and the odds are that it can't maintain such a sum permanently.

Bearing this constraint in mind, the international green caucus, along with Mongolia, should join hands in saving the animal. Although some U.S. and Canadian bear research institutions have supported Mongolia, however, their means were not unlimited. And besides being a sustainable source of co-financing, the knowledge and expertise of the broader international scientific community is of great importance.

Concerted action now can reverse the Mazaalai's "final countdown" into a countdown to end the ignorance about it. Such a reversal would be a tribute to the thousands of (sub)species that went extinct because of us. Saving the Mazaalai will mean that we are not helplessly regretting the mistakes of our past or indifferently shrugging off the issue, but that we are learning from them and aspiring to become better, less destructive beings.

Definition List:
  • extant: still in existence
  • to prohibit: to stop something from being done or used especially by law
  • degradation: the process of something being damaged or made worse
  • "at stake": that can be won or lost, depending on the success of a particular actio
  • to buffet: to knock or push somebody/something roughly from side to side
  • to evoke: to bring a feeling, a memory or an image into your mind
  • cuddly: make you want to hold somebody/something close in your arms to show love or affection
  • to dissipate: to gradually become or make something become weaker until it disappears
  • chorus: the sound of a lot of people expressing approval or disapproval at the same time
  • morphology: the form and structure of animals and plants, studied as a science
  • annum: for each year
  • adequate: enough in quantity, or good enough in quality, for a particular purpose or need
  • subsequent: happening or coming after something else
  • sum: an amount of money
  • aspiring: wanting to be successful in life
Pronunciation MP3s:
= extant
= prohibit
= degradation
= buffet
= evoke
= cuddly
= dissipate
= chorus
= morphology
= annum
= adequate
= subsequent
= sum
= aspiring

Monday, September 16, 2013

Five Environmental Lessons We Can Learn from Buddhist Monks

Originally posted on SustainBlog.org on July 22, 2013

My friend Julia recently visited Buddhist monasteries in Nepal and India and was deeply touched by the Tibetan Monks there. Living on less than a dollar a day, the monks she met were models of spiritual humility, happiness and simplicity. She came back from Nepal and the monastery full of life, and more dedicated than ever to service, simplicity, and meditation.

In our discussions afterward, we reflected on the following 5 eco-themed lessons we could learn from the Buddhist monks.

We Can Flourish With Fewer Possessions

The classical (Theravada) rules in the Buddhist Scriptures known as the Pali Canon say that a monk is allowed to have only these eight possessions: 1. an inner robe, 2. an outer robe, 3. an additional robe to protect from the elements when necessary, 4. a bowl, 5. a water-strainer, 6. a razor to shave his head, 7. a needle and thread and 8. any necessary approved medicine.

And yet, with just these simple possessions they have lived and thrived as a community of learning, personal growth and service for over 2,500 years. What possessions could we thrive without?

You Have to Act While You Are Still Uncertain

Suppose a man were wounded by an arrow, and when the surgeon arrived, he said to him, ”Don’t pull out this arrow until I know who shot it, what tree it comes from, who made it, and what kind of bow was used.“ Certainly the man would die before he discovered the answers. In the same way, if you say you will not be a monk unless I solve all the questions of the world, you are likely to die unsatisfied. ~ Majjhima Nikaya

The famous parable above was told to encourage people to treat spiritual practice like medicine, and seek to relieve their own suffering before getting answers to philosophical problems (that would likely never come anyway). But it is just as relevant for modern environmental thinking.

With the wisdom above we can see that we don’t need to wait for complete certainty (which we will never have!) to take environmental action. Our ecosystems are suffering, and we can move towards closed resource loops, renewable energy, stable populations, and clean manufacturing before we have all the answers.

You Can Be Happy With Very Little

When scientists at the University of Wisconsin hooked the monk and author Matthieu Ricard up in their lab, they discovered that he was by far the happiest person they had ever tested by their objective standards.

Many of us suspect that material acquisition is not necessary for true happiness, but now we have hard data backing us up!

We Are All Interconnected

In the Buddhist vision of the cosmos, the universe is seen as a vast web in which all objects are intimately interconnected, and the objects are in themselves nothing without these interconnections.
When we see the world in this way, and when we see other beings as extensions of ourselves, an ecological vision flows effortlessly.

Work In Nature Can Be Worship

There is a deep ecological wisdom in the Zen injunction to treat as worship ordinary work like chopping wood and carrying water. When we bring mindfulness and a meditative mind to such work, it imbues it with dignity and wonder. Any worldview that does that is a deep lesson for environmentalists, inviting us to get our hands dirty and do the real work of caring directly for the earth.

Brian Toomey is the owner of JB Web Analytics, and an occasional contributor to sustainablog.

Definition List:
  • to imbue: to fill somebody/something with strong feelings, opinions or values
Pronunciation MP3:
= imbue

Monday, September 9, 2013

NEWS: HIV in Thailand: how we moved our Aids care into the community

Originally posted on The Guardian - July 10, 2013

Usanee Janngeon writes about the evolution of her organisation – from a hospice that was 'a dumping ground for the dying', to offering all-inclusive home-based care

Mercy Centre staff training Mae Tao clinic staff during a home visit.
Photograph: Human Development Foundation-Mercy Centre

For over 10 years, the Human Development Foundation – Mercy Centre's Aids hospice was the first, largest and only free Aids hospice in Bangkok, Thailand. At first, Mercy was known as a dumping ground for dying people. Then we changed our general policy and, apart from the truly indigent, only accepted patients with their relatives' involvement. Over the years as the treatments improved, our hospice became a place of hope for the future where people could recover and go back to the community and their family.

We learned that HIV is not about one person, it's about the whole family. We created three-way partnerships between our hospice staff, patients and their families. We asked the families to share in the hospice care of their family members, and in return, we provided counselling to the families and taught them home-care skills. The patients also agreed that they would contribute to the maintenance of the hospice as much as they were able to.

It often took several months of counselling, sometimes even years, to unite families and patients and bring them home. It was rarely easy. As our home-care programme expanded, we were able to close our hospice in 2012 and now all our Aids care is done in the community.

Our clients come to us through the communities, often via our 20-plus schools and kindergartens in the slums. The teachers know the whole community. We are also well-known and trusted because of our other outreach activities, including elderly care and legal aid. Government clinics, hospitals and the temples also refer people to us.

Currently we care for 323 families. Every month we make over 90 visits to 50 people living with HIV. Our team comprises five homecare staff, two phone counsellors and a database manager, all of whom are people living with HIV.

When we first started the home care programme in 2002, many families we visited asked: "Are you HIV-positive? If not, how can you know what I'm living with?" In response, in 2004 we introduced a team of caregivers living with HIV.

Then Family Health International and USAid got involved. FHI is very good at capacity-building and with their support we were able to develop a home-based care programme that assesses our beneficiaries' physical and psychological state and ensures they have access to anti-viral medications and proper healthcare. We don't just look after a poor person who has HIV, we assess their whole family situation, what they eat, where they live, their jobs, whether they are facing discrimination, and how we can assist their partner or children. If they are anxious about going to the hospital, we go with them. We offer both practical and emotional support.

By 2011 we were able to start sharing what we had learned. We'd done a lot of train-the-trainer work with FHI and were keen to share our knowledge and experience of working with people living with HIV, their families and communities. Our first home-care workshop was at the Thai-Burmese border with Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot. We worked closely with Dr Cynthia Maung (the clinic's founder) to understand their needs and design a programme that met them.

Before we conduct our workshops, we make on-site visits and evaluations. We always meet local organisations already doing HIV programmes to show our respect and ask for their assistance.

In 2011, Princess Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck of Bhutan visited our Mercy Centre for two weeks to learn about our approach to HIV/Aids community-based care. Later she invited us to run a community home-based care workshop for the first HIV/Aids group in Bhutan. Since then we have also worked with Population Services International in Pattaya, Thailand to run workshops for transgender groups, and most recently with the Lao Network of People Living with HIV and Aids.

Our on-site workshops are tailored to the needs of each organisation, and they are always interactive, with a lot of role-play. Then we go on home visits with participants to make sure they know how to conduct the visit and keep proper records. We help them understand that each visit needs to provide all-inclusive support – from therapeutic support for their illness to total caring within their home and family environment.

Today our greatest homecare challenge remains in trying to unite patients and families. We have learned a lot from our experience, but there is still much road to travel and also much to be hopeful for.

Usanee Janngeon, is director of HDF-Mercy Centre in Bangkok, Thailand

Definition List:
  • evolution: the gradual development of something
  • hospice: a hospital for people who are dying
  • inclusive: including a wide range of people, things, ideas, etc
  • indigent: very poor
  • to contribute: to give something, especially money or goods, to help somebody/something
  • slum: an area of a city that is very poor and where the houses are dirty and in bad condition
  • elderly: used as a polite word for ‘old’
  • to comprise: to be the parts or members that form something
  • to assess: to make a judgement about the nature or quality of somebody/something
  • anxious: feeling worried or nervous
  • transgender: relating to transsexuals and transvestites - transsexual: a person who feels emotionally that they want to live, dress, etc. as a member of the opposite sex, especially one who has a medical operation to change their sexual organs - transvestites: a person, especially a man, who enjoys dressing as a member of the opposite sex
  • to tailor: to make or adapt something for a particular purpose, a particular person, etc
  • interactive: that involves people working together and having an influence on each other
Pronunciation MP3s:
= evolution
= hospice
= inclusive
= indigent
= contribute
= slum
= elderly
= comprise
= assess
= anxious
= transgender
= transsexual
= transvestite
= tailor
= interactive

Monday, September 2, 2013

'Beep Baseball' A Homerun With Blind Players

Originally posted on NPR.org on July 24, 2013

Ryan Strickland takes a practice swing. Even though most players are legally blind, batters, basemen and outfielders all wear blindfolds in Beep Baseball so that people who can see shadows, for example, don't have an advantage.

The air smells like cut grass and barbecue at Friendship Park in north Spokane, Wash. And Bee Yang is up to bat. The outfielders get ready. Yang is known as a power hitter.

But this is not your usual baseball game. There's a twist: most of the athletes on the field are visually impaired. Players know where the ball is by listening for it. It's called Beep Baseball, named for the beeping sound the balls make.

Yang listens for the pitch.

He swings.

He hits the ball and takes off toward first base, which has started buzzing. Over in left field, a player scrambles after the beeping ball. But Yang reaches the base first.

Twenty-six U.S. teams, plus one in Taiwan, make up the National Beep Baseball Association, and starting this weekend, 20 teams will meet in Georgia for the World Series of Beep Baseball.

Troy Leeberg is the coach of the Spokane team. Like many of the players here, the last time he was on a baseball diamond was in high school.

"But with my vision, I couldn't see the ball coming to hit it, so they finally just said 'You're just the ball boy now.' But now I'm 45, and this is our second season here," Leeberg says.

In this version of the game, you score a run by reaching a base before the opposing team's outfielders pick up the ball. In all of Beep Baseball history, there have been only five balls caught in mid-air. There's no second base. The infielders at first and third guard bases that look like blue foam pillars. And the pitcher, who has at least some vision, is on your own team.

Kelsie Weir is the pitcher for the Spokane Pride, one of the positions in Beep Baseball that requires some vision. The balls contain an electronic beeping device so blind players can listen for it.

The evolution of the sport mirrors a shift in thinking about disabilities in the U.S. Back when the game began in Colorado in the 1960s, there was no running. No diving after the ball. And players were bundled up in all sorts of padding. They found the game boring.

It finally took off in the 1970s when the rules of Beep Baseball were revised to be less protective.

Vivian Huschke lost her vision after college.

"If I did running, it was like, sighted guides holding on, chained with somebody. So when they said, 'Yeah, you're going to run from there to the base,' it's like, 'With no cane, no sighted guide, you just run free?' "

Beep Baseball games are full of jokes that might seem politically incorrect elsewhere. "Keep your eye on the ball" they'll banter. At one point, half the field cracks up when one player hits the ball — and her teammate unknowingly congratulates the wrong person.

Teri Fimpel says Beep Baseball is a rare place where she doesn't have to explain herself or her disability.

"So it's just, I don't know, it's like our own private little world. It's like our own private community where we can talk and be ourselves, but yet have the understanding that we're all equal," Fimpel says.

The Spokane team may take a break from practice next week to listen to the final game in the World Series of Beep Baseball on a live stream. For these players, it isn't blindness that unites the team — it's just a love of baseball.

Word Definitions:
  • impaired: damaged or not functioning normally
  • buzzing: to make a sound like a bee (making a continuous low sound)
  • scramble: to move quickly, especially with difficulty, using your hands to help you
  • baseball diamond: the space inside the lines that connect the four bases; also used to mean the whole baseball field
  • outfielder: a player in the outfield
  • pillar: a large round stone, metal or wooden post that is used to support a bridge, the roof of a building, etc, especially when it is also decorative
  • pitcher: the player who throws the ball to the batter
  • disability: a physical or mental condition that means you cannot use a part of your body completely or easily, or that you cannot learn easily
  • banter: friendly remarks and jokes
  • crack up: [phrasal verb] to start laughing a lot
Pronunciation MP3s:
= impaired
= buzz
= scramble
= baseball
= diamond
= outfielder
= pillar
= pitcher
= disability
= banter
= crack up