Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Educational Philosophies of English Language Educators


Today in Applied Linguistics class, we will create an educational philosophy.  An educational philosophy is a "living credo" about who you currently are as a (language) educator.  An educational philosophy develops over time just as you develop as a teaching practitioner; thus, keeping it up-to-date is vital.  Reflecting on your educational philosophy over time also serves as a reminder of where you've been, where you are today, and where you would like to be in the future.  Maintaining an educational philosophy is an intregal part of one's ongoing professional learning trajectory.
Some suggestions when writing an educational philosophy can be viewed by reflecting on the following questions:
  • Why do you teach?
  • Whom do you teach?
  • How and what you teach?
  • Where you teach?
When applying for a teaching job, it's likely that the school or institution doing the hiring will ask about your educational philosophy in one form or another.  It's always a good idea to not only keep your educational philosophy current, but also be able to articulate it clearly and succinctly.  Try practice saying your educational philosophy in all of the languages you are able to speak, or likely have to speak when doing an interview.
Here is my example of my current educational philosophy...
His educational philosophy is to facilitate learners in becoming more apt to form valid, reliable, and unbiased arguments, provide innovative solutions to real-life problems, make decisions that resolve cognitive conflict by developing understandings through a difference of opinion or perspective, and create innovative ways of communicating with others. His role is to move learners from being dependent, to independent, to interdependent individuals who are not afraid to take chances, share their successes and failures with others, and are concerned for the well-being of not only themselves, but for others as well. Benjamin's goal is to help others become more daring, sharing, and caring individuals.
Share your educational philosophy by replying to this post!
 
Photo attribution

Creative Writing: Poetry Reading

This Friday, my students (pre-service English language educators) who are taking a Creative/Academic Writing course will conduct a live poetry reading that will include examples of limericks, tankas, and cinquains.  If you would like to view this live reading, register below...



When the event begins, you may login below...





Monday, November 11, 2013

Writing Limericks for English Language Learning Writers: Registration and Sign In

English language learners wishing to learn how to improve English proficiency by learning how to write Limericks (poetry), join us this Sunday by registering below.


When the event begins, you may sign in below...



Here is an example Limerick that we will discuss during this session...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Microblog exchange: A philosophical analysis

On October 28, I posted the following to Google+, which was a direct quote originating from Harrison's post, An ELT publisher's survival plan.
It’s crunch time for ELT publishers. There are a few more years left for the traditional ELT publishing business to stagger on, possibly even quite profitably for some. But we all know it’s on the way out, as evidenced by the attempts – with varying degrees of conviction – of the existing players to turn their businesses into ones capable of surviving and thriving in a world populated by rapidly changing student expectations and super-ambitious and rapacious EdTech start-ups who will very happily destroy the cosy world of ELT.
 The following thread resulted...

Stevenson:  Benjamin, could you please not assume that ALL Google+ folks know what your acronyms mean? Like ELT? Education Light Tech? You make me have to Google it, when that's really not my job at this point reading your posts for the first time. Thanks.

Benjamin:  Sharon, I assume that people who follow me already know something about me: my profession, interests, etc.  Those who follow me (and know something about me) already know what ELT means.  And if you want to get technical, the author of this article "forced you" to Google the term "ELT" since these aren't my words, they are a direct quote.  Finally, why on earth would anyone follow someone online who is "forcing" them to do something they do not want to do.  Message to all of my followers: If I am forcing you to do something that you do not want to do, please don't follow me!  Simple.

Stevenson:  +Benjamin L. Stewart So sorry to have offended you, but I am a journalist and our training has always been that you spell out an acronym the first time you use it. I found a reference to you and simply was interested. Obviously some people will see your posts without already being a follower, no? But you're right in that I should never have even bothered to try to help you get more followers. I'm NOT a follower, I only happened on you by happenstance. I can see that you are very resistant to criticism of any type, and of course, now I won't follow you.

Philosophical Analysis

The passage above - It’s crunch time for ELT publishers... - was taken directly from the eltjam.com blog website (as a direct quote) which I shared with my PLN via Google+.  The eltjam.com blog can best be described as follows (emphasis added):
Quite simply, eltjam is the ongoing promotion of innovation and experimentation in and across ELT publishing.

We created the eltjam.com blog to champion the free exchange of expertise, skills and innovative ideas between ELT teachers, ELT publishers, EdTech startups and developers. Alongside this objective we have endeavoured to seek out and promote instances of aspirational practices across the ELT industry. The blog is where we share ELT-relevant news, reviews and opinions on EdTech, gaming, mobile and online learning, publishing and learning. We invite blog contributions from publishers, teachers, game developers, EdTech entrepreneurs and anyone else who is driven to identify how things can be done better.
Let's dig a bit deeper in the analysis of this exchange in terms of having two turns: the initial post (direct quote) and Stevenson's first reply as being turn #1, and my reply and Stevenson's second reply as turn #2.

Turn #1

Sentence 1: Benjamin, could you please not assume that ALL Google+ folks know what your acronyms mean?

The writer is making an appeal to the use of abbreviations.  The argument goes that when using abbreviations, first state the term, then use the abbreviation.  This is to avoid the use of jardon that the audience may or may not be familiar with.

Sentences 2 & 3: Like ELT? Education Light Tech? 

Asking Like ELT? insinuates there are further examples of acronym misuse but that this one example is what the writer would like to focus on.  The writer then provides an example of how ELT might be interpreted: Education Light Tech.

Checking the Corpus of Contemporary American English provides the following count when searching different phrases (the count appears in parentheses): Education Light Tech (0); English Language Teaching (34); English Language Training (10).

When doing a Google searching, we get the following: Education Light Tech (7); English Language Teaching (9,390,000); English Language Training (864,000); ELT (31,500,000).

Given how eltjam.com describes itself (see above), Stevenson's Google search could have also included the following key words:

ELT teachers (74,000); ELT publishers (9,750) or education light tech teachers (0) / education light tech publishers (0)

Wikipedia helps in distinguishing between alternatives to the acronym ELT: extremely large telescope, emergency locator transmitter, among others.  But still, no mention of education light tech.  This leads me to believe that the example Stevenson is providing, Education Light Tech, is in fact not based on a logical alternative but is instead an attempt at being facetious

Sentence 4 & 5: You make me have to Google it, when that's really not my job at this point reading your posts for the first time. Thanks.

My interpretation here is that the reader has really been inconvenienced.  "Making" her do a Google search and saying that it is not really her job to even do a search is a hyperbole used to show frustration.  No one actually forced the reader against her will to do something that she did not want to do.  This phrase is being used to show how she has been inconvenienced.

Turn #2

My response (Sentences 1&2): Sharon, I assume that people who follow me already know something about me: my profession, interests, etc.  Those who follow me (and know something about me) already know what ELT means. 

In others words, those who take to time to respond to something I post will probably already know that teach in an ELT program or have seen enough posts to understand acronyms like ELT, EFL, ESL, etc.  I am also saying that even though I am posting publically, that my intended audience are those who are familiar with jargon related to the topic of modern languages, learning English as an additional language, etc.

My response (Sentences 3-6):  And if you want to get technical, the author of this article "forced you" to Google the term "ELT" since these aren't my words, they are a direct quote.  Finally, why on earth would anyone follow someone online who is "forcing" them to do something they do not want to do.  Message to all of my followers: If I am forcing you to do something that you do not want to do, please don't follow me!  Simple.

Here I am being facetious.  I'm trying to see the clear disconnect between me providing a direct quote and having that direct quote actually force someone to do something against their will.  Also, I'm attempting to compare the mere seconds it took me to share this quote with however many minutes it took to read my post, feel forced to do something against one's will, actually conduct a Google search, then put together a reply.  Perhaps Stevenson is not following me, but certainly spent enough time to warrant having followed a (my) post.

Stevenson's final response (Sentence 1):+Benjamin L. Stewart So sorry to have offended you, but I am a journalist and our training has always been that you spell out an acronym the first time you use it.

Hypertexting my name assures that I get the message right away. It also allows readers to find out more about me (whether they are for or against my argument, I would suspect the latter if Stevenson has anything to do with it).  Perhaps my reply was seen as being sarcastic, which then could be inferred as being offensive.  Although not true, this certainly is a possible interpretation.  The rest of her sentence is to provide her "resume", or level of expertise, in explaining how one should properly introduce acronyms (regardless of writing genre or rhetoric).  With regard to formal writing, no argument here.

Sentences 2-3:  I found a reference to you and simply was interested. Obviously some people will see your posts without already being a follower, no? 

Confirming that she is not a follower of mine and that she came across my post and was interested in something (still not clear).  Since her response was what she probably views as a form of constructive criticism, it still in not clear what exactly did she find interesting.  It certainly was not interesting enough for her to comment on.  The next sentence has something to do with confirming that those who follow me will see the initial post and subsequent replies, but honestly, her train of thought is not clear to me here...not sure exactly what she is saying in the third sentence.  Perhaps reminding me that public posts are just that ... public.  Got it.

Sentences (4-5): But you're right in that I should never have even bothered to try to help you get more followers. I'm NOT a follower, I only happened on you by happenstance.

Sentence four seems a bit ironic.  The tone that she has chosen to take in her responses would seem to suggest that she is in fact not really concerned with me getting more followers at all.  She is using repetition and the negative in all uppercase (to show that she means to shout) to remind me that although she is concerned about me getting more followers (which I didn't get from her initial reply), that she is not one of them.

She is also assuming that by introducing acronyms correctly will equate to additional followers and that this is the reason why sharing posts to begin with.  The reality is, I share posts in order to potentially interact with others who have opinions related to topics that I find interesting.  I am less interested in how many people follow me or have me in their circles. Quality over quantity.

 Sentence 6: I can see that you are very resistant to criticism of any type, and of course, now I won't follow you.

Taking a person shot at my character seems like a good way to close this reply, followed by declaring that she now will not follow me in the future (when she already said that she wasn't following me to begin with).

Summary

When this exchange transpired, I immediately saw a teaching/learning moment for me and my students (not just now but for future classes as well).  Language carries ideas, perspectives, interpretations, and even emotion.  The initial tone taken in the initial response influenced how I subsequently responded.  Had the tone been a bit more constructive, I certainly would have responded differently.  The fact is, Stevenson is correct when saying that acronyms should be articulated first and that jargon can confuse if one does not consider the audience.  I'll admit that I use acronyms and jargon at times but usually related to my profession.  I figure that blogging and microblogging are a bit different than formal writing (e.g., an article for a journal) in that the formal is a bit more relational; that is, people tend to follow blogs and microblogging posts a bit more than they would a particular journal article, for instance.  Also, if I use poor judgment and not consider my audience, I figure they can just stop following me...a chance I'm willing to take. (Note: At the time of this writing I have 1,477 people have me in their circles (a number I hardly ever refer to).  I'll let others determine what effect this exchange and blog post will have on those who follow me.

Based on our only prior exchange, I accept (and appreciate) that Stevenson enjoys a level of clarity and structure when it comes to microblogging, and will admit that I take a less formal approach that given her formal background, she will likely ever accept.

Activity

For those studying discourse analysis and/or sociolinguistics (speech acts), identity any illocutionary and perlocutionary forces at play in this short exchange as well as forces presented in my philosophical analysis.  Explain any other possible forces that could have resulted as well.  For example, assume the initial reply as assuming a slightly different tone:

Benjamin, I realize that you are direct quoting here, but when using so many acronyms, some of your readers may not know what they mean (e.g., ELT).  You might consider stating what the term is before providing the acronym.  Regarding the blog post, I find it interesting that...


Sunday, October 20, 2013

L1 interference...how do you handle it?

When teaching English to native Spanish speakers, the preposition in can become quite difficult.  Mother tongue (L1) influence can interfere producing the following non-standard English example (notated with an *):

*John put the silverware in the table. (John puso los cubiertos en la mesa.).

Another problem area for Spanish speakers learning English as an additional language is translating the personal a to English.  For instance, the following non-standard utterance is common in English whereas the Spanish equivalent is standard:

*Give to your mother your car keys.  (Dele a su madre las llaves del coche.)
*I’m professor. (Soy professor.)


In these examples, it is common for Spanish speakers learning English to use the preposition in instead of on when indicating location; similarly, how to translate the personal a in Spanish and when and when not) to use articles is difficult for learners as well.  These are some examples of L1 influence (i.e., negative transfer) that educators can consider when giving feedback to English language learners (ELLs) who are native Spanish speakers.

Here are some additional examples of L1 influence when producing non-standard English utterances:

I go to school the monday. (Voy a la escuela el lunes.) – Days of the week are not capitalized in Spanish and the article is used instead of a preposition.

All the fridays I get paid. (Todos los viernes me pagan.) – Article usage with days of the week in lowercase.

The tuesdays are good for me. (Los martes son buenos para mí.) – Article usage with days of the week in lowercase.

In Spanish, the days of the week are not capitalized, and articles are placed before the noun: El lunes, los viernes, los martes, etc.  But when translating this to English, we use different parts of speech that are not articles (i.e., determiners). 

For instance, instead of saying I go to school the monday, we use the preposition on and capitalize the days of the week, like Monday: I go to school on Monday.

Instead of saying All the fridays I get paid, we again use the preposition on and capitalize Friday, but we also use the qualifier every to begin the sentence:  Every Friday I get paid.

Instead of saying The tuesdays are good for me, we refrain from using anything before the head noun, Tuesday, making sure that it is capitalized: Tuesdays are good for me.  This is also the case when the day of the week comes later in the sentence as well: I get paid on Fridays. Notice how this is the same as saying, Every Friday I get paid.

Activity prompts for addressing L1 influence in the English language classroom:

Activity #1: The students ask their peers (or classmates) what the three most important dates of their lives are and each provides an explanation as to why these three dates are important, including the year these events first happened.  Students take copious notes while listening to their respective partners provide information.  The events chosen have to begin at least five years prior to the present year.

Activity #2:  Students review their notes in order to determine from each of the respondents, which day of the week the event occurred for the first time and the day the event will occur during the present year.  Each student writes out this information on a piece of paper or on a computer device.

Activity # 3: Students then find their peers and provide the two days of the week (the original day the event took place and the day of the week for the present year), also mentioning the days of the week in between.  For example, if a classmate mentions a birthday as a special event, the goal is to find the original day of the week the student was born and the day of the week the student will celebrate his or her birthday this year.  Let’s say the student was born on Monday and this year her birthday will be on Thursday, have the students repeat the days of the week, Monday through Thursday in order to reinforce the days of the week.  An alternative would be to only include events that begin 8-10 years prior, then have the student recall the day of the week for each year.

What L1 influence scenarios do you encounter as an (English) language educator?  What type of activities have you implemented to address linguistic negative influence?


Saturday, October 12, 2013

How are you using Canvas?

Tomorrow, I'll be discussing Canvas (Instructure.com).

In August of this year, I began using Canvas as my learning management system.  I've tried Moodle, wikis, and even spending money on my own website, but my free teacher's account in Canvas is really getting the job done.  And no, I do not work for Canvas, simply endorsing them.

I appreciate the ease of getting content populated into each of my classes, and I particularly like the options students have in interacting with content.  This is what I will discuss in greater detail tomorrow.

This semester I'm teaching three courses as part of a four-year degree program in English language teaching at the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes: Writing I, Academic/Creative Writing, and Applied Linguistics.  In tomorrow's hangout on air (a live event) I will begin discussing the specifics of my first-semester Writing I class and will also provide a rationale, showing how students and I interact within the platform.

If others wish to participate in the hangout on air itself, please leave a comment in the event, and I will see that you receive an invite via Google+ (you will need a Google+ account).  Otherwise, you are encouraged to just view the live broadcast either within the event or via the YouTube landing page.  I will be taking questions from comments left in the event and YouTube, so feel free to engage in conversation.  How are you using Canvas?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

EFL Educators Share or Perish

Today I'll be putting together some thoughts for a talk I'm giving next week, EFL Educators Share or Perish. To view document below in full screen. Link to PowerPoint.



What does sharing mean to you?  Feel free to leave comments in Google Drive or below.
 

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