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Showing posts from January, 2009

Podcasts and language learning

Recently I listened to a podcast version of this video-blog . It appears that Steve and I have the same interest in language - learning language in order to communicate :-) While I agree that podcast-only methods of learning a language are not sufficient, I disagree with Steve's thesis that a podcast that has a dialog in a foreign language followed by explanations in the native language is not a good way to learn. It may be true that it's not his preferred methodology (and yes, I have studied ten languages too), but it does work. It doesn't work alone though. Steven talk about jushttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gift using the language, and learning that way. While immersion into a language work, it's a the 'swift-kick-in-the-butt' method of learning, so it may not be the best method of learning a language, again it depends on your wired way of learning. If I were to give someone who doesn't speak Greek a URL for weekendgeeks or vrypan|net|radio (Greek

Start of a new semester

Back to classes! This semester I am back to my norm of three classes a semester. After last semester's relatively relaxed atmosphere (because I only had one class), I wonder how I will cope with being back to full speed. This semester, again, I am focusing on applied linguistics, taking two core courses (one for the core of the program, and one for the concentration), and an elective course on English grammar. Sounds interesting! Can't wait!

Teaching Terminology

Recently, while clearing out my Google Starred Items, I ran across this article on the Linguist that I meant to read - but it slipped through my radar. I do have to agree with Steve on some points. If you are strictly a linguist, the teaching terminology is jargon that just doesn't make sense. This is one of the reasons I decided to do a dual master's degree in Instructional Design and Applied Linguistics. While I have learned some teaching terminology in Applied Linguistics, most of it I learned in Instructional Design. Linguistics terminology has mostly been about...well languages and linguistics. I don't know if it's me, or it's just "d'uh" knowledge, some of these terms give a name to phenomena that I have observed in the last ten years that I have been a university student. The fact that these phenomena have names mean that I can converse with others in the field about said phenomena and to be able to understand research written that utilizes t

Presentations & the grad student

I've been a graduate student now longer than I was an undergraduate. One of the hallmarks of graduate education are presentations, many, many presentations. Granted my first presentations stunk royally, but I've made it my personal goal to be a good presenter by the time I am out of grad school. Blogs like Presentation Zen and classes like Visual Literacy do help, but there is also an element of posture, showmanship, and owning the room that come with practice and feeling confident about yourself - this is the element that many graduate school students are missing. These graduate students use PowerPoint as a crutch to distract themselves from the main issue which is confidence. I came across these older videos of Steve Jobs, a great presenter by any measure, but he isn't using electronic means to get his message out. He is using a whiteboard! These videos are quite interesting (total run time is 18 minutes). Sometimes I think that it would be worthwhile for undergraduate

The role of grammar in language study

Recently I had posed an open question to people out there to see how much they remember from their intro language courses. I then stumbled upon two relatively recent starred items in my google reader that I had not read yet: The role of grammar in language study and More on grammar . I have to say that I agree with Steve on both his posts, and this comes from personal experience. As an undergrad I spent a lot of time in language courses despite being a computer scientist. The reason I wanted to take language courses was communicative. I wanted to be able to communicate with natives in a spoken and written format. The curiosity about linguistics was a secondary factor. My professors were great, but I find that the format was rather formulaic and of a different era in language teaching. From what I gathered, my professors were literature people, not strictly foreign language pedagogy people, In Italian this wasn't a problem as I had already had French and I could translate my lan

Instructional Strategies: What Do Online Students Prefer?

I read this study on the Journal of Online Teaching and Learning recently and it brought back memories of my two online classes last summer, and of the courses that friends of mine had to take online at other colleges and universities. Based on this input, I know what my preferences are for online learning: 1. The class needs to be asynchronous. If I have to be in Wimba (or other teleconferencing tool) every Monday from 8 to 10pm, then I would prefer to be in class. Even though our tools are better, regular synchronous classes are not for me. Having an asynchronous class allows me to look at discussion boards during my lunch hour, or while waiting for the train (on my N800 internet tablet). You just can't emulate the classroom experience in Wimba and I find that I would prefer to be in a physical location if I have to do this anyway. 2. Podcasts all the way! Instructors will often write an introduction to a topic before they let you do the readings and respond to the discussi

Multilingualism and the economic crisis

Hot off the heels of my little rant (and recommendation) on LANG101/102 for high schools and universities, here is a fairly recent video blog from a linguist blog that I subscribe to. I thought it was interesting, it's worth 10 minutes :-)

How much do you remember from LANG 101/102?

I was reading Revising and Defending the Foreign Language Major on InsideHigherEd the the other day when I had a small flashback to recent conversations that I've had with former classmates about their language learning experiences and the language retention that they have. In high school, I was required to take two years of a foreign language in order to graduate. I elected to take 4 years (coming up to an intermediate-advanced level). Had I started French in 8th grade I would have had the opportunity to take 5th year French (AP level). When I went to college as an undergrad, I was required to take two semesters (101 and 102) of a language in order to graduate. I elected to minor in Italian (6 or 7 courses if I remember correctly) and I almost minored in German (took 6 out of 7 courses). My interest in language is cultural and communicative - not literature, and that 7th German course would have been a German literature course in english (so I couldn't even practice the la

Teaching in Virtual Worlds

It's really hard to determine how well a presentation was from a simple powerpoint file. Nonetheless, here's an educause presentation on Teaching in Virtual Worlds . From my ventures into second life, I have to say that it is interesting, but trying to shoehorn it into the curriculum (just like shoehorning an LMS into the curriculum) won't work. A virtual world is a unique pedagogical environment (and I use pedagogy broadly, encompassing all types of *-gogy) and an instructor needs to design around it. One can't simply create a virtual classroom in Second Life, tell people to come and take a seat and call it a day. This is simply boring and it defeats the purpose. From my point of view, if I were to use Second Life for teaching something, I would use it like a field trip. In language learning for example, if enough cities and municipalities had virtual versions of themselves, you could use that to learn about culture, geography, and language in innovative ways. T

When the academic world and the real world meet

I saw this article over at the NEA journal. ( click here for the full PDF ) Having recently visited my dad, a person who is very intelligent but, who like the dad in the article, didn't go to college (heck my dad didn't even go to middle school). This story reminded me of a conversation I had with him about his work and salary versus mine (i.e. being the same) despite my education. I've heard a lot of banter over at blogs like the brazen careerist about not learning concrete skills in college. My undergrad experience has been more of a "learn how to think" lesson. Learn to be critical, and analytical, and calculating, and have that rounded learning that everyone covets. When I first graduated I felt like the early-20-somethings on brazen careerist, like my college education was almost a waste of time because I did not learn concrete skills. I kinda learned java, and kinda learned C, but I wouldn't be readily employable by a company. In recent years though m

8 Experts Predict How Web 2.0 Will Evolve In 2009

This is a repost from FastCompany Original Article: click here It's pretty interesting. GPS is nice, but I think Data Portability will be the major issue. No one likes their data to be held captive by a company. 8 Experts Predict How Web 2.0 Will Evolve In 2009 | posted by Allyson Kapin 2008 was the year that Web 2.0 became more mainstream. More ad agencies, businesses, and non-profits used Web 2.0 tools as a way to build community and relationships, cross promote products and issues, and integrate their online and offline marketing strategies. Some like Zappos were extremely successful and nailed their Web 2.0 strategy while others like the makers of Motrin were burned by mommy bloggers for not doing proper research on their target audience. With the economy in a slump and budgets being cut in traditional print and TV advertising campaigns many will be looking to the Web 2.0 world to reach their constituents. So what should be on your Web 2.0 radar for 2009? Web 2.0 gurus

What Counts as Assessment in the 21st Century?

here's an interesting read by by Ken Buckman In recent years,there has been an ocean of ink poured over page upon page concerning the topic of assessment. I’m a philosophy professor in Texas where assessment seems to have its epicenter, so I think I have a unique perspective on the topic. Not only is assessment on the march due to misguided Texas legislative initiatives, not only is the Governor of Texas,Rick Perry,pushing an agenda of assessment and standardization,but the man who chaired U.S.Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education,Charles Miller,is in the vanguard of the advocates of assessment and is himself from Texas. Assessment is one of those wonderful buzzwords that receivetraction every few years,accumulating a bandwagon of popular sentiment,but which remains so vapid and ill defined that it really has no meaning at all—except that it does have consequences. One serious consequence is that assessment often equates with