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An interesting thought provoking article by Stefan Collini

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 10:28

A very interesting article by Stefan Collin in the London Review of Books.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n21/stefan-collini/brownes-gamble

I think this is a good point:

" But this, other problems aside, comes perilously close to reducing important human experiences to a set of ‘preferences’ as reported on a tick-box questionnaire. I would hope the students I teach come away with certain kinds of dissatisfaction (including with themselves: a ‘satisfied’ student is nigh-on ineducable), and it matters more that they carry on wondering about the source of that dissatisfaction than whether they ‘liked’ the course or not."

 

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Physics envy

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 10:28
I was reading the book Whoops by John Lanchester and he referred to economics having a case of physics envy, meaning that it often wants to use quantitative data in the way that the natural sciences do.  Later in the book, there are examples where this has proved to be very mistaken - some events that have happened were described as being extremely unlikely - one chance in a number bigger than all the atoms in the universe.   I suspect education does not envy physics so much but some educational research still seems to have too much faith in numbers.
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Staff development day Cardiff

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 10:29

There was a Languages staff development day in Cardiff last Saturday.

It was interesting to meet people teaching different languages.  There was a strong feeling of teachers of Welsh that they were doing something important in terms of maintaining national identity.

It is clear that Elluminate is being widely used and is seen as having great potential but I wonder how long students need to get used to it.

I gave a brief presentation on plagiarism issues in EAP.

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Good Elluminate meeting last night

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 10:30

We had an Elluminate meeting last night to debrief on the L185 course.  From a technical point of view, it was the first flawless Elluminate I have experienced.  I have further meetings today and on Sunday.

I thought the content of the meeting was useful.  As is often the case, there was quite a variety of views on the usefulness of metalanguage for language teaching.  I tend to be someone who feels that metalanguage should be very limited but some colleagues did not agree.

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Language in Greenland

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 10:31

A very interesting article on many levels but one of the most interesting for researchers into language is the point that what will be developed is an ethnography of speaking rather than a grammar or dictionary.  Not knowing much about the project, it seems it would be useful to have both but I assume this is not practical.  I certainly see the point of this ethnography of speaking.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/03/last-of-the-arctic-hunters

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language learning in the UK

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 11:59

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/aug/24/who-still-wants-learn-languages

Interesting if depressing.  I am surprised businesses do not make more of an issue of this.  It seems that even if a lot of business is done in English, British firms can only really find out about other countries (eg opportunities, problems etc) if they have the linguistic capacity to do so. 

I also wonder if more use should be made of capacity to teach languages spoken in this country rather than the traditional foreign languages.

 

 

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Lack of languages in embassies

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 12:00

Patricularly interesting part is

" It is worth mentioning that, of these examples, only the Luxembourg business was conducted mainly in English. I was dismayed to learn recently that neither the Middle East director in the Foreign Office nor two of our ambassadors in important Gulf countries can speak Arabic."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/22/ambassadors-relations-diplomacy-cameron

This does seem to show a lack of awareness of the importance of languages among the people in power.

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Review of McCRum book

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 12:01

Interesting issues are raised here.  To me, it seems that all languages are complex overall although they tend to be relatively simple or difficult in different aspects - eg Chinese is simple in terms of days of the week (day 1, day 2 etc) but very complex compared to English in terms of words for family relationships.

http://www.tnr.com/blog/john-mcwhorter/75710/english-special-because-its-globish

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New blog post

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 12:02

A very interesting article about the diversity of the world's languages.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627621.000-language-lessons-you-are-what-you-speak.html?full=true

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Elluminate again

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 15:51
It seems to be working more smoothly as a way of teaching as I become more familiar with it and also (perhaps even more importantly) use a better quality computer.  It does seem to require a very good computer and some students do not have that.
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Language issues in novels

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 15:52
It is interesting to read portrayals of language issues in novels, stories etc.  I am now reading Aravind Adiga's Between the Assassinations and there is an interesting portrayal in one part of the link between the knowledge of English and power/privilege.
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Guardian and language issues

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 15:52

Several interesting things in the Guardian on languages.

Phrase books - interesting that they think that these phrase books might be useful in learning a language rather than just being for tourists.  However, it is positive that they are focusing on mainly non- European languages.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/series/language-phrasebooks

The death of a language

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/05/bo-language-extinct-linguistics

A blog on language learning policy and attitudes.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/07/anushka-asthana-french-language-education

 

 

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Start of L185

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 15:53

New course starts this week.

So far, there are a lot of enthusiastic responses on the tutor group forum.

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reflections

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 15:50

I was asked about what reflections on practice might look like.  I remember reading Barrett who suggested that the following are questions that should be asked for reflective purposes.  

What? 

So what?  

Now what? 

Can this be applied to my reflections?

(eg What?  Elluminate.  So what?  It is something we are experimenting with and it seems like a useful tool but problematic.  Now what?  Worth trying again.  Encouragement of more speech rather than text seems useful.)  

Barrett, H.C. (2001) “Electronic Portfolios: a chapter to be published in Educational Technology: an Encyclopedia to be published by ABC-CLIO, 2001” [online] Available from http://electronicportfolios.org/portfolios/encycentry.pdf (Accessed 28 October 2007)

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reflections on marking

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 15:54

I am now about half way through the marking for E844 e-TMA 1.  Having done it eight times before, it is interesting how similar the assignments are the first time and how much most (but not unfortunately all) students seem to develop over the year.

Problems with the first assignment tend to be that some students over emphasise experience and what they already know without fully engaging with the course material - they seem to be lead by experience rather than the course content.

Some students do not refer to the course content enough in the first assignment.  I hope that feedback will encourage them to do so more.

 

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