wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
From Dr. Stephen Krashen, one of the most important researchers on how to effectively teach ESL (he didn't write this, but he sent it on to his mailing list):

"A disaster in any language"
By James Crawford and Edward Tabet
Published in the Statesman-Journal (Salem, Oregon)
October 29, 2008

Let's say your child faces a medical problem, or needs college
counseling, or just wants to get better at soccer. Would you seek help
from a doctor, counselor, or coach with no relevant training or

Of course not. But that's exactly what Bill Sizemore is counting on
Oregonians to do.

Sizemore doesn't pretend to have any expertise in education. Yet, as
sponsor of Measure 58, he would impose draconian limits on help for
children learning English in the public schools. While he claims to
favor teaching English rapidly and efficiently, the impact of his
initiative would be precisely the opposite.

Read more... )

(Remember, ESL education is one of those areas where common sense just doesn't apply. Language learning is an incredibly complex process that rarely behaves the way we think it ought to. Please don't vote on ESL-related laws based on your common sense, what "everybody else" says, or your single personal experience--it's really important to read the research before you vote.)
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
I need practice, sigh.

Anyway, I'm doing this for a client--recording lines from an English practice book he has. The lines are sometimes ... a little strange.

"The receptionist at that company is gorgeous."

"I become complacent."

"I appease my subordinate."

You know, like you do.
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
From an ESL website:


A: How are things?

B: Just so-so

A: Take care.

(Is A. the worst friend ever, or what?)
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
I want to buy Teaching English One to One by Priscilla Osborne, but it's not available in the US. Actually, I can't find ANY book on English tutoring in the US (that's not aimed at college writing lab situations). I've checked (EDIT: it searches Powell's and the Strand and Alibris and amazon.$$ and almost everything else), and no joy there either. If I buy it from, it's $40 by the time you add in shipping. Does anyone have any other suggestions? I don't think I've ever tried to buy a UK-only book before.

Google's got part of it, enough to make me think I'd like to have it, but...yeah.

EDIT AGAIN: [ profile] katallen has pointed out that I can get it from the publisher for 17 GBP including shipping. At this awful exchange rate that's still $33 (ugh!) but it may be worth it.

Thanks, everyone!
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (whelan-shelves-sarudy)
I tried to say something for [ profile] ibarw this year. I don't know if I expressed myself in a way that makes sense, but I'm glad I finally tried. Later, I'll to re-write some of it for [ profile] readableblog, because English learners need to talk about these things too. If I said something stupid, or that doesn't make sense to you, give me a chance to clear it up. Thanks.

Racism is language. Language is power.

My field is TESOL: teaching English to speakers of other languages.

I work in a field that thrives on racism despite itself.

I work in a field where my students and potential employers are likely to judge my competence by my appearance and my accent. I benefit from this, but I shouldn't. My professional association opposes this discrimination, and I work to support my non-native-speaker and/or non-white colleagues. But the privileges are there.

I work in a field with few American colleagues who are black, whose families speak Spanish, or who were born in India, regardless of whether they speak English as a first language.

If there's no Caucasian poster girl available, many overseas employers will privilege some other native speaker, even if the native speaker is completely untrained in teaching or linguistics or grammar, and even if there is a local, non-native speaker who has the education, the experience, and the language skills to do the job. Privilege, like an ogre, has layers.

I work in a field that contributes to the world domination of English, and which is often assumed to be a comrade-in-arms in the movement to make English our national language (a movement that I view as purely racist, as does my professional organization--which, despite people's assumptions, is firmly against any English-only policy).

When I tell people what I do, they often respond with jocular, nasty remarks about immigrants--remarks that they assume any English teacher/native speaker/white person/American citizen/middle class person will agree with. The remarks even come from second-, third-, and fourth-+ generation immigrants who have internalized the dominant culture's fear and loathing of multilingual people. These attitudes pervade our education system and our daily lives. (Please read Stephen Krashen's writings on bilingual education for more information.)

I try to respond to them; if nothing else, to let them know that they cannot always expect a positive response to their ignorance and/or bigotry. The funny thing is that most people who are trained ESL/EFL/ESOL instructors are aware of the problems involved in our field. We are in favor of children learning their family's language(s) and the local language(s). We are in favor of supporting the many varieties of English around the world, not imposing an arbitrary and irrelevant standard. We are against throwing high-stakes test after high-stakes test at children. We are against accent-based, home-language-based, ethnicity-based, and nationality-based discrimination.

Multilingualism makes you smarter. It makes you a global citizen. It gives you an additional voice.

If your native language is English, mitigate your astonishing amount of privilege. Educate yourself. Read the TESOL and Krashen papers. Don't make assumptions about language learning based on "common sense." Do not join in political movements about education until you have educated yourself beyond your common sense. Learn another language. Even better, learn a language that's radically different from English. Even better, go overseas for a year or more and work hard at speaking the local language. Empathize before you criticize.

If your native language is English and you enjoy teaching or working with people from various cultures, and you are not white, do not ignore TESOL as a career choice. We need to see and hear you. Non-teaching native speakers need to see and hear you. English learners need to see and hear you.

If your native language is English and you speak a non-privileged variety that is looked down upon because of its socioeconomic or geographic origins, embrace it. Everyone speaks a dialect. Your dialect is not "bad English." Your dialect is its own good English. Learn different dialects and registers and use them to your benefit. But never be ashamed of your own accent, rhythm, slang, grammar, sentence patterns, and vocabulary. Teach your dialect to others; write in it, sing in it, answer the phone in it, share it. Defy assumptions.

If your parents' native language is not English, but yours is, we need you too. But don't neglect your parents' language or languages. If you didn't learn it as a child, you can learn it now. Children have advantages in learning pronunciation, but you can become fluent in a language at any age. Encourage your children to learn their grandparents' language. It will not damage their English skills.

If your native language is not English, but you have studied it, we also need you. But even if you don't want to teach English, don't hesitate to express yourself in English. Speak to English teachers. Tell us what we're doing wrong or right. Write novels. Write poetry. Write letters to the editor and to the government. Make your voice heard. Everyone has a spoken and written accent: embrace yours. Everyone speaks a dialect: embrace yours, whether it's Hong Kong English, or Indian English, or any other of the World Englishes. Mix your languages. Don't neglect your home language; let English and other languages enrich each other and yourself. Don't base your language choices on fear or the assumptions made by those who are afraid. Teach your home language to someone else. Teach it to your child or your neighbor. Get a teaching certificate or degree in your home language. Realize that native English speakers are no better than you. Speak English for your own purposes.

If your native language is not English, choose to study English if that's a language that will benefit you. Do not choose English because it is expected. Choose Korean. Choose Farsi. Choose Portguese. Choose the language that you will use.

For everyone: educate yourself. Racism, both informal and institutionalized, is deeply entwined with language. If you are interested in the ways in which racism and language interact--"Ebonics," English-only, "Spanglish," "Engrish," racist slang, on and on--take some introductory linguistics and sociolinguistics courses. Or find yourself some textbooks. Everyone who speaks or signs a languages can benefit from these classes. You may disagree with some of the conclusions. You may find yourself flushing with anger or crying or yelling in class, but you'll also gain new tools to help you discover, identify, discuss, and combat racism.

I believe that language education can subvert its often racist overtones and undertones. Otherwise, TESOL could not be my field.
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
I read this the other day after I picked it up for $1 at Half-Price Books. I really liked it, and I wasn't expecting to. Vaguely feminist, surprisingly realistic (I mean, in terms of the love story, in which two characters--get this!--actually GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER and become friends BEFORE they fall in love!!!!!!!). The world-building, although far far simpler than more deeply in-genre fantasy, has hints of complexity (elves have chlorophyll instead of melatonin, I think).

The writing level is, I am guessing, at the top or in the middle of what my ESL students can handle easily. If you know of any entertaining books written at a similar or somewhat lower level, particularly fantasy, please pass along their titles to me. (They really want to read Harry Potter in the original, but the language is just too complex.)

I was also surprised to find that Dr. Dolittle is written at a relatively basic level, with straightforward sentences. Somehow, in the gap between E. Nesbit's _Five Children and It_ (1902) and Hugh Lofting's _The Story of Doctor Dolittle_ (1920), the syntax switched from Victorian-baroque to modern-plain. (The story in _Five Children_ is sometimes described as being modern children's literature in the sense that it was really for children's entertainment, and not a primer on proper behavior or a fairytale for adults.) Nesbit would be far too difficult for them to read, but Lofting may be doable.

It is so hard for me to judge, because my ideas of what's appropriate for native speaker age levels are based on my own reading habits as a kid, and like a lot of people on my f'list, I was unleashed in the adult section in 4th grade or so--I don't remember exactly. For ESL students, it's often hard for me to predict what will cause problems, and it's even harder when I ask people with no TESOL background to give me suggestions, because they tend to suggest things with tons of slang, heavy dialects, etc. It happens in all directions--a Japanese friend gave me a Japanese kid's book to read and I couldn't get past page 1, because it was all reduced speech, contractions, and baby-talk. Far too hard for a beginner in JFL, but just fine for a Japanese child.

P. S. If you liked _Ella Enchanted_, are the other books by the author also good?
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
You can pass this on to any bored friends, too.

How would you write a good survey to find out what somebody whose first language is not English likes to read? I'm in the pre-preliminary stages of writing a survey which will have at least two goals: 1) Figure out what kinds of things international students studying English at the intensive English program on my campus would like to read in English, and 2) Figure out what kinds of things the students that I tutor would like to read in English (some of the students I tutor are older, have kids, are permanent residents, etc.). Both groups of students are over 18.Almost none are highly fluent/highly advanced in English.

I want to use it to find popular manga titles among the manga-reading populations (for a project using English manga), and also to get some ideas for what kinds of graded readers, young adult, and adult fiction titles I could recommend to them or would be good for a reading room.

As I've mentioned previously, the reason is not literacy for literacy's sake, but because reading is the place where most people pick up the bulk of their vocabulary, learn sentence patterns, absorb article usage, get a feel for preposition choices, and generally acquire the more idiosyncratic parts of a language.

Most of these students do not read for fun in English, so I can't just ask them directly (though I will include a question about anything they have read in English and enjoyed). Some of them probably don't read for fun in their native languages, either.

Personally, I find it really hard to answer surveys with questions like "What is your favorite book?" (or even "What are your favorite books?"). Another potential pitfall is that genres are culture-specific, and there are genres in other cultures I wouldn't even think to ask about. (For example, there's a "cooking manga" sub-genre of comics in Japan!) So I think it might be best to ask them about specific titles anyway, and just look them up myself on the internet. But I don't know. Possibly asking about movies would work, too--do you think your movie tastes correlate at all with your reading tastes? I suppose mine do...Heck, videogames too, even...

What kinds of questions would you ask?
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
Bear with me, because I'm pretty tired and I'm having trouble lining up the brain cells needed to write. Well, the best parts were, I finally met [ profile] dreamingcrow, [ profile] niac, [ profile] iqtheicequeen, and [ profile] elegiac. I've known [ profile] dreamingcrow and [ profile] iqtheicequeen for around 10 years now, and talked about all kinds of things with them, so it was really amazing to finally meet them in person. I also got to meet [ profile] tikistitch, whom I've known not nearly as long but who is Legendary on the Internet (see her Star Wars tagged posts, her anime toys page, and and her Japanese Stitch toys tagged posts for good reasons of why). I almost got to meet [ profile] phinnia, but my lunch window was too tight and her bus got stuck in football traffic. boo! And I missed several other folks like [ profile] opakele and so on. But I have a feeling I'll be back.

Everyone was even more cool and nice than expected, and I particularly have to thank [ profile] dreamingcrow, [ profile] niac, [ profile] iqtheicequeen, and [ profile] elegiac for letting me stay with them and driving me around and stuff. I think I made [ profile] iqtheicequeen late today, too. Oops. I am feeling really grateful to all of you, especially since a) I couldn't have gone to the conference without your help and b) I was not in any way at my best due to being sick and job-hunt stress and lack of usual travel companion.

My impressions of Seattle: Green, mossy, wonderful views (I love snow-topped mountains). Drizzly? Don't apologize! I would have been a little disappointed if I hadn't seen any rain in Seattle. Anyway, I brought my raincoat. People seemed laid back and there seemed to be interesting stores and restaurants. Although I wonder how the selection of Middle Eastern and Indian food is--the place I went with [ profile] dreamingcrow and [ profile] niac was good, but I saw very few obviously South Asian or Middle Eastern people or restaurants. Actually, I had a flashback to my visits to rural Ohio while we were eating breakfast out this morning (I see white people!). Seriously, Seattle is very white-bread compared to the way it's kind of depicted in the national pop culture. I guess it would feel diverse if you moved there from rural Ohio, though.

The International District is pretty nifty. Uwajimaya is bigger and has more stuff than Mitsuwa, I think, though there's no killer curry source out front, which is a big drawback. The Kinokuniya is smaller. But the area also has Pink Godzilla,a retro/import gaming store where I picked up a SMB 1-up mushroom cell phone charm/screen cleaner (really!) for [ profile] siderealengine, an Animal Crossing house gashopon for me, and another AC house for [ profile] assaultdoor, plus a DS stylus that has a string so you can attach it to your DS, and is topped by a mini Teto Keke. And we we went to Maneki, which was excellent, and had really wonderful wild-caught sockeye salmon, and an incredible house "avocado ponzu ae" salad, and only takes walk-in, same-day reservations (like Kirala) but (unlike Kirala) will just call you on your cell when they're ready. Nice! If you have the time, I recommend it.

My other tourist activities consisted of looking at the Space Needle (from a distance), looking at Bettie Page painted on the side of a house (from the highway), and visiting the Pike Place Market twice. The second time I actually got to stop and look at stuff. It's like a collision between the Ferry Building Market in San Francisco and Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, but with more tchotchkes and more affordable food. It's neat in its own way. I did really like the dozen hot assorted doughnuts* for $2.50. Mmm, tasty. I also went to a crepe place near the conference center, repeatedly, and that was good, and to the Crumpet Shop, and that was good too, and to Teahouse Kuan Yin, and that was also good.

My conference was pretty good, and I met a couple of other people who run their own English-teaching businesses. I wonder if anyone would be interested in a mailing list to discuss stuff. I didn't go to any life-changing sessions, but overall, it was good.

Sea-Tac is not bad at all, and there is a decent variety of stuff to eat--I just ran out of time after doing some souvenir shopping. I wound up with some neat tea (including huckleberry) and some good chocolate. And yeah, I checked everything to be sure it was actually made in the Seattle area. The "Seattle Rainy Day Cocoa," for example, was made in Kansas or something. :P I was disappointed by the obviously fake, sinicized "Japanese" food in the food court, BUT! Uwajimaya is going to open a takeout place there soon. Neat. I was amused by the 7-foot-tall stuffed spyhopping orca, and by the small children posing in front of it for photos. Run, children! The orca is looking for DINNER!

Anyway, the flight home was fine, I'm glad to be home, and I am really appreciative of having such good friends.

P. S. Pictures? There will be no pictures. I seriously couldn't muster the energy (I wound up not doing a lot of things because of being sick and trying to not push things too much). Plus, everyone is more slender and better dressed than I, so pfeh. ;)

*UGH! Firefox's built-in spellcheck marks "doughnut" as being misspelled! It also doesn't know spyhopping, orca, tchotchke, or sinicized. :p But doughnut! Come on. I refuse to use "donut."
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
Very airy. Nice use of greenery.

-10 points for having huge stretches of hallway and lobby with nowhere to sit. There are middle-aged teachers sitting on the floor trying to juggle papers and books everywhere. (I can see how benches can cause problems at anime cons, as people decide to save money on on lodging by sleeping there, but come on.)

-5 points for a really confusing layout.

+5 points for frequent maps and helpful staff.

-200 points for charging $9.95 a day to use wifi, and (according to signs) only offering it in certain areas to boot.

+200 points to the Sheraton for offering free wifi that doesn't require a login or key or whatever. (-25 points for signal weakness.)

Also, hot lemon+sugar crepe for the win. Thank you, sidewalk creperie on the . I love you.

I wonder if I can go to as many sessions as possible just here in the Sheraton (and the Hyatt, if they have free wifi too).

There's supposedly a Lane Bryant near here. I need to find out where, because my outfit-decision-making abilities are severely crippled by the combination of an incipient chest cold and not having any plain black slacks with me.

No, I'm not going to liveblog TESOL. I don't think there's enough interest on the internet anywhere for that, and definitely not just here on LJ. But I'll be posting some.

Oh, and the free totebag for this conference is the best one I've gotten so far. It's lined with something water resistant, it has adjustable straps, there are multiple pockets, and there's even a flap pocket with spaces for pens and stuff. Swanky! Now I have to decide whether to let [ profile] assaultdoor snag it or not...

This is a big conference. It's spread across the convention center and two hotels. The addenda/cancellations handout is seven pieces of paper, printed on both sides.

I hate chest colds, and the cold air outside here doesn't help.
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (wachifield-pirate-me)
as of tomorrow afternoon, for the Northern California Writing Center Association Conference. We're going to take a bizarre route there due to the detour to Pittsburg to pick up Clint. We're staying north of CSUS, so we'll be refreshed and ready to go Saturday morning, thanks to my awesome tutoring center boss. Friday night, we plan to go to Marrakech, a Moroccan restaurant with bellydancing, to celebrate our head tutor's birthday. She's from Korea, is two years ahead of me in the MATESOL program, and is really smart and an inspiration to all of us. I hope that Marrakech is fun and doesn't drain our pocketbooks too badly.

The session I'm involved in is another tutor's idea, on using wordplay--as in games--to develop writing skills. He also happens to be a gamer geek, so that's made putting the presentation together fun, even if we DID get mashed into a "panel" with someone presenting on metaphors. (We're like, "Not THAT kind of wordplay!" D'oh. But it was too late.)

If you want to see the handout of recommended games and so forth, there's a PDF of it right here.

I'm a little nervous because I think this is the first time since I started using CPAP that I'll be sharing a room with someone who is not Clint. (I'm sharing a room with my friend and classmate who is my partner for the CATESOL conference in April.) Meep.

Anyway, I don't think I'll be online from Friday afternoon through Saturday evening, because the Best Western only mentions having internet access in "Business Plus" rooms. (Are they being run by an airline, perhaps? Grr.

And no. I didn't feel the earthquake. *slightly miffed*
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
From [ profile] lifehacker_rss: The best time to buy everything: a article about windows of opportunity for cheaper cars, plane tickets, champagne, baby clothes, etc. Some obvious advice and some surprises, though I disagree with a few--Sunday evening is a terrible time to buy groceries here, because they're out of stuff and baked good are often old.

From [ profile] tesall: Japanese students help with town's website for English class. This is a great kind of project; the students get to write something that other people will actually read. Giving meaning to writing practice can make a huge amount of difference. And it benefits English-speaking residents and visitors too, of course. I hope they get lots of positive response.

[ profile] getrichslowly had a post about a free thing called DailyLit. Basically, they have 93 public-domain titles of classic books and plays from Project Gutenberg, the kind you may have been meaning to read. Each day they'll e-mail you a small chunk of the one you pick, so you'll eventually read the whole thing. It's a neat idea. (

[ profile] getrichslowly is the best money management blog I've found so far. For some reason, most of them immediately turn me off. But I like this one, maybe because it's not so single-minded as most are.

Finally, although I usually like Google products over Yahoo products, and I never liked Yahoo! Maps that much, the new beta version is better than Google Maps. You can click on each segment of your route in the text directions and that segment will be highlighted on the map; you can also have a mini-map of that section show up under the text. And (at least in my metro area) you can click to have live traffic conditions added. It also has the "search map for businesses" and "satellite/hybrid" functions of Google. Probably other stuff I haven't discovered yet as well.

Maybe online map services are finally catching up to the offline Rand McNally Mapmaker or whatever it was I used back in the mid-90s. (You could tell it to prefer highways, avoid toll roads, avoid bridges, etc. It was great.)
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
The saying goes that "common sense, isn't." It's true enough that we constantly see a lack of common sense in terms of bizarre management decisions, idiotic customer questions, terrible study habits, and so on. However, when it comes to reasoning about certain topics, I think "common sense" and "conventional wisdom" are both quite widespread but often not especially sensible or wise.

For example, much of what I've learned about teaching in my program has been counter-intuitive, and I really believe one reason that most of these rigorously researched-based findings have not been implemented by school systems is that the research simply contradicts common sense. Depending on the situation, the administration, students, parents, voters, politicians, and/or sometimes ill-informed/poorly trained/out-of-touch teachers go berserk at the suggestion of change or reform, because the suggestions just don't make sense to them.

A fair amount of blame for this resistance must be placed on researchers, academics, informed teachers, and even journalists for not paying enough attention to how to address the questions raised by "common sense." It's fair play in academia to think that your argument should stand on its merits, but that just doesn't work in terms of public attitudes or policy. I think a lot of the roadblocks to ESL education reform, education reform in general, and even the national language debate could be solved if the advocates would try to educate the public (the way Al Gore is trying to do in An Inconvenient Truth) rather than simply insisting that we are right and they are wrong and stupid and racist, and throwing up our hands in disgust. (See the widespread belief that teaching a child two languages means that a child will either lag behind in her native language [an anti-second-language-learning argument popular in Japan] or in the dominant language [a popular belief in the US even among bilingual populations]). A lot of the research we read on ESL education the United States completely contradicted what I previously believed myself, and I had considered myself more sympathetic and well-informed than the average US citizen. So how can we expect those who aren't in the field to simply accept our prescriptions for change?

Stephen Krashen, a (sometimes over-hyped and controversial) luminary of my field wrote an excellent paper on the use of reading to improve language skills, "We Acquire Vocabulary and Spelling by Reading: Additional Evidence for the Input Hypothesis" (The Modern Language Journal, vol. 73, no. 4, 1989: pp. 440-464; available via The point of the paper was to review the existing data on teaching these skills and test it against three hypotheses, one of which is Krashen's own Comprehensible Input Hypothesis. It was a good overview of the field, and fairly unbiased considering the theme, but the spelling section was particularly interesting.

Guess how well spelling classes contribute to children's spelling abilities and vocabulary levels.

The answer is, not at all. Some studies showed short-term benefits, but the evidence shows that over the long term, students who receive no explicit spelling classes perform just as well (or as poorly) on spelling and vocabulary tests as students who do. That would certainly contradict most people's common sense, the way things "ought to be" taught, "the way we've always done it," etc. Actually, I think I hear William Bennett's head exploding right now.

In fact, reading, especially pleasure reading, is one of the only things that does increase spelling skills and vocabularies. (I particularly enjoyed Krashen's assertion that even if spelling classes proved to be twice as effective as reading [which they didn't], he'd still advocate one hour of reading for fun over half an hour of word drilling [454].)

Well, you can imagine how your average school administration/parents/etc. would react to the suggestion that spelling classes should be done away with. Krashen, however, is one of the practical academics who does pay attention to what other people think; he writes that we need to inform students about the language acquisition process, which both helps them keep learning on their own and "will also eventually produce an informed citizenry that understands language acquisition" (455). Wouldn't that be nice?

The final section of the paper includes suggestions for how to answer the kneejerk complaints/problems of "1) we lack books and money ... ; 2) our students need to pass discrete-point, form-based tests; 3) next year's teacher will expect them to know certain words, certain rules, etc.; 4) reading in school should focus on works of proven worth; 5) parents, school boards, and administrators expect to see vocabulary lists and spelling drills" (454).

I especially liked his answer to complaint 3: "Just because next year's teacher does it wrong doesn't mean this year's teacher should also do it wrong." Is that a hint of cattiness I detect? Regardless, it's a good point! (More details follow the snark, naturally.)

Complaint 4 is something that really, really bothers me. It bothers me when native speakers are forced to read works solely for their historical merit before many of the students have ever learned to read for pleasure. I really think it destroys the enjoyment of reading and thus stunts students' vocabularies, writing skills, general knowledge, etc. For English learners it's an even bigger problem. How can you expect students to slog through something that they barely understand and doesn't appeal to them in the least? Krashen points out that "large quantities of light, 'low risk' reading, ... in which they can skip words without fear of missing anything that affects their grade, will result in vocabulary growth and overall language competence that will make reading the classics easier" (455). In other words, not just spelling and vocabulary, but the "feel" for the language that native speakers have, such as deciding which of a dozen synonyms to pick. No matter how many times a student reads the definitions on a flash card, the "different social and affective meanings" are really only learned by encountering the words in use (453).

And (for those of you who have encountered vicious opposition to encouraging genre reading, comic books, etc.) he quotes James Britton: " ... a taste for the stereotyped, the second-rate, may at times be the first rung of a ladder and not the first step to damnation" (453). (I don't know what Britton/Krashen refer to specifically here, and I wouldn't refer to genre literature that way by choice, but sometimes you have to address the outraged in their own vocabulary.)

The bad news is that "few first language and nearly no second or foreign language teaching programs do anything to encourage [free voluntary pleasure reading]" (454). The good news is that a few more do now than in 1989 (see Sustained Silent Reading), although I think they're still in the minority, especially in EFL situations abroad. The other good news is that my advisor has given me the unofficial thumbs-up to do my thesis on finding out just what students do like to read, so that can be used in classes when possible.

(Hmm, Krashen's Wikipedia entry is not good at all. Wikipedia seems to need TESOL help in general.)

(Outside, I can distantly hear the voice of a little girl singing "London Bridge" in the chilly fog. I think I may have woken up in a horror movie, which would certainly explain my bizarre compulsion to write a totally voluntary academic-ish essay first thing in the morning.)
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
Let me re-jigger my question from last week:

What are your favorite online free fiction 'zines/publications? (Partly or completely free, as long as they have some stories available. NOT books.)

I see names (Strange Horizons, Lenox Avenue, etc.) fly by on my f'list, but they haven't been popping up frequently enough since I started looking for them. *G* And I know several of them have closed shop.

Names are great and URLs are even better!

(I know, I should know these already, but honestly, I don't like short fiction that much, and I don't like reading fiction online at all. However, I have a TESOL project in mind, so...)
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
So I was thinking--if my odds of getting a full-time job with benefits as an ESL teacher are slim-to-none (at least without 5-10 years of experience), maybe I should do a little more research on the idea of setting up my own TESOL consultancy. It would be aimed at Japanese- and Mandarin-speaking adults, with private lessons, editing, etc. Not sure where to start finding out more--the session I went to at the conference that sounded related really wasn't. It was about setting up a company that trains hotel staff, construction workers, etc. I don't want to get involved in anything that complicated. I like working one-on-one with people. I like tackling crosscultural issues. And I like the idea of being able to select my clients to find people I can really work with. :p Classroom teachers can't do that... I should post this to [ profile] buildyourwings, eh?

You'll be happy to know that your sushi may contain fish sold by the Unification Church ("Moonies"). This Chicago Tribune article includes the astonishing phrase "the 1980 'Way of Tuna' sermon."

[ profile] comixgrrls remains pretty quiet, but female comics creators (and others) periodically use it to announce their new projects, which is awesome. So, if you're interested in independent comics, webcomics, etc., you might want to join it.

I'm watching the new "Battlestar Galactica" for the first time. Yay!


wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)

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