Stress, December? && Elementary (My Dear Watson)

I feel like I should be writing every other day, I’ve all but forgotten the weekend!

Oh, yup, there it is - I remember!

On Friday after classes a group of us headed to the newly opened Christmas Market to see the tree, bathe in the lights and soak up a respectable amount of mulled wine… (and pretzels, chips and donuts…) 

I just have to reiterate what a wonderful group of people they are, there was so much laughter and good conversation and it was really lovely. The market closes at 2100 so we headed to a boat-pub-thing - I’ve never been on one of these before! Despite having seen them and wanting to go on them many many a time! That was pretty cool and was closely followed by my first Irish Pub! A lovely night of firsts. One thing to take away? Mulled wine is better in Strasbourg…

I also found out on Friday that I passed my first assignment! Wahoo!

The whole week since has been an absolute roller coaster! I’m keeping notes throughout the week to refer to when I write and one of them just says “first grammar lesson and stress” so once again, though I don’t know exactly what I was stressed about, some parts of the week so far have been a whole lot harder than others. As mentioned I taught my first grammar lesson (a chellenge as I personally am very bad at grammar so I have to learn everything myself before I can even think of teaching it to my students!) I felt it went fantastically and made a post to this tune and was very elated until I got my tutor feedback which was possibly the worst feedback of the course so far! (For me anyway). What was strange was that what the tutor had to say was wildly different from how I felt, how my fellow trainees felt about what they saw and how the students reacted. Nonetheless I understand his feedback, I’ve taken it in and I’ve no doubt that he was fair and thorough in his reasoning.

Monday evening was pretty cool though! One evening I was browsing local couchsurfing hosts as you can meet with them etc. and I happened to read the most wonderful profile, I was just struck by the person’s beautiful JOY! Of course I had to write to them, just to show my appreciation if anything! As it happens, they did write back and on Monday night I ended up in a pub at an Erasmus/CS meet up! I won’t lie, as someone that doesn’t deal fantastically with crowds, it was decidedly overwhelming. There must have been well over a hundred people there and English first language was in a decided minority! It was really nice to get out meeting new people (again!) and I’ll definitely go again this Monday! I’m thrilled to have made that connection too.

Wednesday was our first frost here! It’s turned into those stunning, cold, sunny crisp mornings where you can practically feel magic seeping into your skin through the gorgeous colours in the sky. It’s the kind of weather that illuminates the beauty in absolutely everything and everyone. It also means we have beautiful clear starry(ish) nights. Perhaps not by rural Wales/Morocco standards but any stars are beautiful stars.

Wednesday was also our ‘transition’ day into the second half of the course and with that, the second group of learners. I moved from an upper-intermediate class, a group with great fluency and big personalities, to elementary. The opposite!!

And now it’s Thursday, and um, December?! What??!!

Today I taught my first elementary class. It’s hard to really place how it went, I would say it went fine but considering the huge difference in abilities and subject matter I don’t really feel like I can comment on the class. My tutor did say 'good class, we’ll talk about it tomorrow’ afterwards though so that’s nice. I can identify some huge scope for improvement though which is only natural.

Here’s a lovely thought for the month of December.

Advanced English Vocabulary

jubilant (adj.) - extremely joyful, happy (The crowd was jubilant when the firefighter carried the woman from the flaming building.)

knell (n.) - the solemn sound of a bell, often indicating a death (Echoing throughout our village, the funeral knell made the grey day even more grim.)

lithe (adj.) - graceful, flexible, supple (Although the dancers were all outstanding, Joanna’s control of her lithe body was particularly impressive.)

lurid (adj.) - ghastly, sensational (Barry’s story, in which he described a character torturing his neighbour’s tortoise, was judged too lurid to be published on the English Library’s website.)

maverick (n.) - an independent, nonconformist person (John is a real maverick and always does things his own way.)

maxim (n.) - a common saying expressing a principle of conduct (Ms. Stone’s etiquette maxims are both entertaining and instructional.)

meticulous (adj.) - extremely careful with details (The ornate needlework in the bride’s gown was a product of meticulous handiwork.)

modicum (n.) - a small amount of something (Refusing to display even a modicum of sensitivity, Magda announced her boss’s affair to the entire office.)

morose (adj.) - gloomy or sullen (David’s morose nature made him very unpleasant to talk to.)

myriad (adj.) - consisting of a very great number (It was difficult to decide what to do on Saturday night because the city presented us with myriad possibilities for fun.)

nadir (n.) - the lowest point of something (My day was boring, but the nadir came when my new car was stolen.)

nominal (adj.) - trifling, insignificant (Because he was moving the following week and needed to get rid of his furniture more than he needed money, Kim sold everything for anominal price.)

novice (n.) - a beginner, someone without training or experience (Because we were allnovices at archery, our instructor decided to begin with the basics

nuance (n.) - a slight variation in meaning, tone, expression (The nuances of the poem were not obvious to the casual reader, but the teacher was able to point them out.)

oblivious (adj.) - lacking consciousness or awareness of something (Oblivious to the burning smell emanating from the kitchen, my father did not notice that the rolls in the oven were burned until much too late.)

obsequious (adj.) - excessively compliant or submissive (Donald acted like Susan’s servant, obeying her every request in an obsequious manner.)

obtuse (adj.) - lacking quickness of sensibility or intellect (Political opponents warned that the prime minister’s obtuse approach to foreign policy would embroil the nation in mindless war.)

panacea (n.) - a remedy for all ills or difficulties (Doctors wish there was a single panacea for every disease, but sadly there is not.)

parody (n.) - a satirical imitation (A hush fell over the classroom when the teacher returned to find Magdalena acting out a parody of his teaching style.)

penchant (n.) - a tendency, partiality, preference (Fiona’s dinner parties quickly became monotonous on account of her penchant for Indian dishes.)

perusal (n.) - a careful examination, review (The actor agreed to accept the role after a three-month perusal of the movie script.)

plethora (n.) - an abundance, excess (The wedding banquet included a plethora of oysters piled almost three feet high.)

predilection  (n.) - a preference or inclination for something (James has a predilection for eating toad in the whole with tomato ketchup.)

quaint (adj.) - charmingly old-fashioned (Mary was delighted by the quaint bonnets she saw in Romania.)

rash (adj.) - hasty, incautious (It’s best to think things over calmly and thoroughly, rather than make rash decisions.)

refurbish (v.) - to restore, clean up (After being refurbished the old Triumph motorcycle commanded the handsome price of $6000.)

repudiate (v.) - to reject, refuse to accept (Tom made a strong case for an extension of his curfew, but his mother repudiated it with a few biting words.)

rife (adj.) - abundant (Surprisingly, the teacher’s writing was rife with spelling errors.)

salient (adj.) - significant, conspicuous (One of the salient differences between Alison and Helen is that Alison is a couple of kilos heavier.)

serendipity (n.) - luck, finding good things without looking for them (In an amazing bit of serendipity, penniless Mark found a $50 bill on the back seat of the bus.)

staid (adj.) - sedate, serious, self-restrained (The staid butler never changed his expression no matter what happened.)

superfluous (adj.) - exceeding what is necessary (Samantha had already won the campaign so her constant flattery of others was superfluous.)

sycophant (n.) - one who flatters for self-gain (Some see the people in the cabinet as the Prime Minister’s closest advisors, but others see them as sycophants.)

taciturn (adj.) - not inclined to talk (Though Magda never seems to stop talking, her brother is quite taciturn.)

truculent (adj.) - ready to fight, cruel (This club doesn’t really attract the dangerous types, so why was that bouncer being so truculent?)

umbrage (n.) - resentment, offence (He called me a lily-livered coward, and I took umbrage at the insult.)

venerable (adj.) - deserving of respect because of age or achievement (The venerable High Court judge had made several key rulings in landmark cases throughout the years.)

vex (v.) - to confuse or annoy (My boyfriend vexes me by pinching my bottom for hours on end.)

vociferous (adj.) - loud, boisterous (I’m tired of his vociferous whining so I’m breaking up with him.)

wanton (adj.) - undisciplined, lewd, lustful (Joanna’s wanton demeanor often made the frat guys next door very excited.)

zenith (n.) - the highest point, culminating point (I was too nice to tell Emily that she had reached the absolute zenith of her career with that one top 10 hit of hers.)

When a 10-year-old at a California school tried to talk to a new student who was sitting alone, she found he didn’t speak English- so she used Google Translate to write a note inviting him to sit with her at lunch. Despite the language barrier, they became great friends and even went trick-or-treating together. Source

Here is the full letter:

Fuck internalized racism.

It turns us into monsters.

Today in class the professor had us partner up with someone else and discuss an issue with each other. One person would write and the other would read it out loud to the class.

A very quiet Iraqi lady came up to me and asked to be my partner. I am normally a very talkative student so I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to lay low and let someone else take the stage. I asked her if she would like to be the presenter and she said, “I can’t. I have an accent and no one can understand what I am saying.” So I said, “I can understand you.” She said, “Thanks but my children make fun of me. They say ‘mom be quiet, no one can even understand what you’re saying’.”

This made me realize what a shitty human being I am because I used to say the exact same thing to my parents back when I tried to hard to please my racist classmates and before I realized how amazing it was that my parents were fluent in more languages than most of them would learn in their entire lifetime.

The fact is, people with thick non-anglo accents are perfectly aware of how the world sees them. That’s why my classmate, a brilliant woman, hasn’t said a single word out loud in class. That’s why my aunt, tired of being mocked for her accent, asks my sister to make all her important phone calls for her. That’s why sometimes even I use smaller words when I am talking because I can’t pronounce all the words I can write.

McGill University recently fired a professor because he had an accent. One of my other classmates, who is fluent in English, is fighting for his right to not be forced to write the TOEFL, which is usually waived for students with his educational background. And finally, last but not least, I know my accent is the biggest reason why I walked out of the American embassy in Saudi Arabia with a visa stamped on my passport moments after I arrived while all the other applicants were thoroughly questioned and, in some cases, rejected.

Dear POCs, fucking stop making fun of other people’s accents. They already have a hard enough time dealing with a system that marginalizes them. Fight for them, not with them. Always remember, you are not superior to other people just because you speak the language of your colonizers fluently.

Los Angeles students protesting neglect of poorer schools took to the streets, and brought their desks with them.

Some 375 empty desks blocked a downtown street, blocking traffic for several hours Tuesday outside the Los Angeles Unified School District offices.

Organizers say the number represents the count of students who drop out of district schools each week.

Protesters want a student voice on the school board, and more funding for English language learners, foster children and low income students.

District officials declined comment on the protest.

Source

Practice with Pronouns is a site that lets you practise subject, object, possessive, and reflexive forms of English third person pronouns. It comes with a few of the most common options, but you can also fill in whatever pronouns you like. Useful for both English learners and people wanting to practise using nonbinary pronouns.  

As if it couldn’t get any more delightful, it often uses quotes from Welcome to Night Vale in the practice sentences, which is definitely far more entertaining than See Spot Run. The feedback sentences are also very cute. 

(Hm, I’m pretty sure the second blank in that screenshot should have said “xyr”, in retrospect.)

Females in competitive gaming.

How often do you actually see women in competitive gaming? The answer is…

RARELY.

After this past weekend, I realized that in every championship at Blizzcon, there were NO WOMEN competing. And guess what? I wasn’t the only female to have realized this over the weekend.

After much thought and a lot of support. I’ve decided to start up an eSports team named Sweet Synergy.

On our first night of ‘realization’ - over 100 women applied for team spots. The overwhelming support has been IMMENSE. Even a handful of males are pushing our team forward and supporting, asking to be a part of staff and our twitch streams. Of course, a lot of women of all sorts have inquired about the team - but after constructing an amazing staff group so far, we have redirected focus of the all female competitive team from ‘just wanting attention’ to ‘actually wanting to compete.’ In other words, we don’t condone ‘Rated R’ types of behavior in order to get attention.

We don’t want attention, we want representation.

I’m not going to ask my tumblr friends to reblog this, but if you do believe in our team and female representation in the competitive gaming league, then boosting this post will go a long way for us. We are here to voice that we are just as competitive and equal as any other opposite gender competitor.

Here are some links to follow if interested:
Twitter
Twitch
Facebook

If any girl/woman/alien out there wants an opportunity to join our team, you may click this link that will direct you to our personal fb group page.

May we rock the stage next yr at Blizzcon!

Linguistic approaches to language learning: link roundup

I suppose it’s okay to admit after three years of linguistics blogging that I actually am one of those linguists who speaks quite a few languages, and I’ve studied even more at various levels. Here are some of my favourite posts about language learning:

Tips for learning another language

How second language acquisition works

Learning Indigenous languages

Languages and linguistics

Bonus fun link: Now You’re Just A Language That I Used To Know (parody of that Gotye song).

byrdseed.com
The Differentiator
A simple tool to differentiate lesson objectives.

File this under “tools that everyone already probably knows about, but I didn’t.” The Differentiator can help you come up with differentiated objectives for your students and make sure you’ve covered your bases from task, to goals, to product. It’s very easy to use and, while it might not solve every lesson planning conundrum, it could help shake some ideas loose. 

I see this being handy in creating Language Objectives for students (see: WIDA Standards)

How is it that b and v are the same for Spanish speakers and different for English speakers? Who's right?

Both! Neither! Let me explain. 

The big thing we need to do here is distinguish between sounds and spelling. English speakers already know that their orthography is out to lunch, but Spanish has a reputation for having a logical, consistent, “phonetic”  spelling system. Most of the time, that’s true (English vowels use 5-6 symbols to stand for ~14 sounds, for example, whereas Spanish has 5 vowel symbols and 5 vowel sounds), but for b and v it’s actually the opposite. 

For the sake of clarity, I’m going to write “b” and “v” to refer to the letters in the conventional spellings of each language, and /b/ and /v/ to refer to the sounds as they’re represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). 

IPA uses /b/ to represent a bilabial stop - that’s a sound produced by fully closing (stopping up) the two lips (bilabial).  And it uses /v/ to represent a labiodental fricative - that’s a sound produced by letting a tiny amount of air escape between (fricative) the lip (labio-) and teeth (dental). (And yes, technically you could make an equally etymologically correct labiodental stop using the top lips and bottom teeth, but languages don’t tend to do this, presumably because it’s incredibly awkward.) 

Keep reading

If you’re planning on teaching in Korea, even if you are White, please do your part to avoid schools that advertise themselves like this. Don’t be complacent in their racism and don’t make yourself apart of their stupidity. Please spread the word, so that we can try to stop people from seeking employment at hagwons like this. 

This schools name is LCI. Don’t work for them. Spread the word.

*GYOPO refers to Korean nationals that have spent huge portions of their lives (or all of their lives) abroad.. Ex. Korean-Americans

I work in Japan as an assistant language teacher, and I’ve posted my better lesson materials here on tumblr from time to time (and elsewhere too). In response to requests, I’m now making them available for other ALTs to use, via this new gumroad store.

So far I’ve only added my ‘Guess Who’-alike game, but I’ll be adding more, bit by bit, whenever I have time to prepare the PDFs. (Yes, including the Die Hard thing.)

You can pay for them or not pay for them! It’s up to you.

Of course, you don’t have to be an English teacher to download any of this stuff! If you’re just curious, help yourself.