Image courtesy of Cloud2013
One of my first jobs I ever had was working in a camera store in a shopping mall as a salesperson. Every morning, my boss would come in carrying a tray of coffee from McDonalds for everyone who was working that morning. One of the guys I worked with would smile, take the coffee, thank her, and then promptly put the coffee on the back counter. After a few weeks, I started to notice that he never actually took a drink from the cup, but the cup would eventually disappear. One morning, I watched to see what would happen. He grabbed the coffee as per usual and put the cup on the back counter. About an hour later, he took the cup with him to the photo lab and dumped the coffee down the sink. I asked him what he was doing and he simply said, “I don’t drink coffee.” He proceeded to tell me that he didn’t want to hurt our manager’s feelings, so he never told her. This went on the entire time I worked there and I suspect that it continued on long after I was gone.
For the manager, she thought she was being helpful and for the most part she was. I am sure all of us appreciated the gesture, but if she had taken the time to ask, she would have found out that most of us didn’t even like the coffee that much and would have appreciated something else instead. I am not trying to sound ungrateful, I am simply showing how a simple question could have made a difference in this situation instead of continuing to carry on in the way it had always been.
I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the things I do in class that I believe to be productive / helpful / important for learning a language. Continue reading Starting
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Imagine yourself living in the middle of the 17th century suffering from a migraine headache. What would you do? Go see a physician of course! What was the cure? Bloodletting was the standard response since the body was made up various humours and by draining some of the blood from the body, you were putting the various humours in balance (Ali Parapia, 2008). Fast-forward to today and this has been proven to be a rather dangerous practice as any substantial blood loss affects every cell in the body and can cause anaemia, tissue damage, organ failure, and ultimately death if not restored (Garrioch, 2004).
Since I am not a doctor, nor play one on TV, my knowledge of this subject is based entirely on what I have read from experts in the field. Where did they get their knowledge from? Continue reading Researching
Image courtesy of Phil Roeder
This is the final instalment of my first #444ELT project. To find out more about the project and to read the other three posts, here they are:
In this final week, I explored the concept of extensive reading. I have used extensive reading in my classes in the past, so I wanted to find out what the research says on the topic. Here is what I found. Continue reading Reading
Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski
Welcome to week three of my #444ELT project! If you are interested in reading the summary from the first two weeks, here they are:
For week three, I focused on peer-review/assessment/commenting as my subject of study. I have found the use of a topic each week to be really helpful in comparing what is happening and getting a bigger picture on the subject. I think this week was even more so than in previous weeks. I hope it is helpful. Oh, and since we are on the subject of peer-commenting, feel free to leave your own. 🙂 Continue reading Commenting
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I finally caved into all of the MOOC hype and signed up for a course, although my reasons are purely selfish. To be honest, I’m not doing it because it is ‘cool’ or I am interested in the inner workings of a more social style of learning. Nope. I am doing it for the information. Last night, I watched a great workshop on YouTube given by Zoltan Dornyei on designing and analyzing data from questionnaires. It got me interested again in statistics, even though I dreaded the course during my MA TESOL program, and I felt compelled to find out more. Why? Well, it is just plain interesting. I am not one for just taking things at face value very often. I want to know why and how things occur. I have been reading a lot of journal articles lately and I find my eyes starting to glaze over when reading the data charts and various terms used to explain them. As my dad would often say, I know enough to hurt myself, in this case when it comes to stats. On top of all of that, I want to know more about the use of statistics for when I start to get into research myself.
To make a long story a little less boring, I ended up looking at free MOOCs and decided on a data analysis course from Duke University through Coursera. Despite my lack of time and a little bit of apprehension, I signed up knowing that I wouldn’t lose any money in the deal and should end up learning at least SOMETHING in the process. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to sign up and get started when the sheer enormity of the task started to hit me. There are readings and videos, assignments and exams. When am I going to get this all done? Well, I might as well continue forward was my oh so enthusiastic cry. Continue reading Studying
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I don’t know when it started, but at some point in the last 5 or so years, people have really started to give up on fact checking. I mostly put the blame on the speed in which we receive our information. It used to be that we would read a newspaper or journal article, process it, discuss it, and then evaluate it on the merits of the content. Today, instead of newspapers, we have social media; instead of journal articles, we have infographics.
Ahhh, infographics. Those slick little data displaying, fun to share, fast-info representations of what used to be relevant data compressed into bite-sized chunks. Who cares where the material comes from, it looks AMAZING!
Of course I’m being a bit facetious and I have been known to use the odd infographic in my lesson, but I think I am pretty careful to weed out the visuals that blatantly misrepresent the truth. It isn’t always obvious, but with a little bit of sleuthing, anyone can separate the wheat from chafing (bad data use rubs me the wrong way). It was that very idea that started me on the journey to actually include MORE infographics in my classroom. Why not have the students critically analyze the data to see what has been carefully chosen, not added, or twisted in knots. Here is how I plan on going about this. Continue reading Representing
Image courtesy of Dr. Marcus Gossler
Yesterday, I missed another valuable #EAPChat on Twitter due to my mixed-up schedule at the moment. I really feel I missed out on the discussion, but, thanks to the work of Tyson Seburn, I can always catch up with the summaries. The discussion was instigated by three questions:
- Should EAP practitioners also be researchers?
- How much does research play into your practice?
- What are your favourite sources for research reading?
It wasn’t that long ago that I found myself on the outside of that conversation thinking, “That’s for academics. I’ll leave the research to those who are smarter and more experienced than I am.” Sadly, that is the case for many people. Journal articles are often stuffed full of research data, supporting evidence, and are written in a very academic (sometimes even a bit pretentious) manner. Is that bad? Sometimes. I think that there are certain authors who try really hard to make themselves sound intelligent which often alienates those who need to read the article. Most of the time, the information that is presented is there to show that things have been thought through in a manner that filters out the poor suppositions and misinterpreted data. Leaving all of the raw data in the article gives readers the chance to critically analyze the information for themselves.
This is all great and wonderful, but who has time to read all of these articles and where do you find them? Continue reading Inquiring