Monthly Archives: February 2014

Studying

online learning

Image courtesy of Ted Major

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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Rebuking

finger_pointing

Image courtesy of J. E. Theriot

Okay, time for a confession. Despite what anyone might think, I’m not perfect (actually, anyone would be crazy to think that). I make plenty of mistakes on my own and I shouldn’t be digging around in anyone’s life. That being said, I felt it necessary to take some time to discuss a concern I have about how we are treating one another as professionals and simply as human beings. I’ve seen an alarming trend of being overly negative when responding to others online and even face to face. The media and entertainment certainly aren’t helping things either. It seems to me that we have lost a genuine respect for one another as fellow human beings. From internet trolls to late night talk shows, social media to general conversations, it seems that it has become acceptable, maybe even ‘cool’, to mock others or become highly critical of others who don’t think or do things the same way as we do. Even those who are calling on others to be more accepting of others become dismissive and negative towards those who might not feel the same way on certain issues. Do we have to agree with them? No, but we don’t need to be so insensitive and nasty.

Since this is a teaching blog and not meant to be a platform of more general topics, I want to bring this a little closer to home and focus on how we treat other teaching professionals who believe or think differently than we do. Continue reading Rebuking

Acquiring

scrabble

Image courtesy of Premshree Pillai

I really enjoy being a language teacher, but I make a terrible language learner. When I was younger, I barely scraped by in my French lessons, but when we moved to another province in Canada when I was in grade nine, I found out how far behind I was in regards to the other students. One of the biggest things I noticed was how small my personal lexicon was compared to my classmates. Sure my grammar was bad, but since I didn’t have the words to put together meaningful sentences, no one really noticed.

Fast forward a number of years to when I had moved to Lithuania and was taking Lithuanian language lessons while working as an English language instructor. There was this initial rush of learning as my vocabulary grew while taking lessons and living my day-to-day life shopping, working, and socializing with others. My confidence grew as did my vocabulary, but it was somewhere around the six month mark that I started to notice a levelling off in my lexical growth. I decided I needed to take action, so I bought myself a set of CDs that promised to help me learn a pile of new words. I transferred the audio files to my iPod and listened intently as I walked to and from work each day. It was at that time that something hit me. The words I had learned in my first six months were sticking in my brain much better than the ones I learned while walking. At first I thought it was the fact I wasn’t seeing the words, so I wrote them out to look at as I walked. That didn’t really help. “Okay,” I thought, “what else could it be?” Then it hit me — context. That is what I was missing. Continue reading Acquiring