Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Post #10

Allowing mobile devices in the classroom is risky business.  I found students were constantly sending texts and looking things up on the internet during class time.  Taking cell phones away from students is necessary, although an interruption to class discussions.  Occasional use of cell phones in the classroom, for the educational purposes, can be fun.  However, I somewhat agree with the commenter at the bottom of the article who says, “Sad,,,,the Poll everywhere thing is a joke...a novelty that does ZERO to enhance education.In order for pollanywhere to be effective in the classroom it would have to be used in a consistent manner over a number of classes.  More often than not, however, it is used once, mainly it seems for the purpose of having the students believe that the teacher is hip to the newest technologies.  This only goes so far.  Gimmicks are fun, but when it comes to real educational value, pollanywhere has its limitations.

In any case, personal digital devices are becoming more and more common, so we are going to be seeing a whole lot more of them being used in the classroom.  It is good that there is an active debate over how and when these devices should be allowed. 

Japan Prezi

Post #9

This article talks about different aspects of PowerPoint.  I agree with this article, especially the fact that many PowerPoints are ineffective, as they either put too much text on slides or the slides are made without aesthetic consideration.  When done well, however, a PowerPoint presentation can be extremely effective.  It was the first program that was popular for people to use to make digital presentations and added so much in comparison with traditional methods such as writing on the blackboard or overhead projector.  It must have cut down in preparation time as well, as it takes time for the teacher to draw complicated graphs on the blackboard or to prepare an overhead for class. 

Google slideshow and Prezi are other options teachers can use, and in the future there will be increasingly more.  One day, in the not-too-distant future, we will be able to display holograms for our students, or all tap into virtual reality servers.  We will be able to visit a virtual simulation of Stonehenge instead of just reading about it in a book or looking at pictures of it.

I personally prefer Prezi over PowerPoint, because I enjoy creating the visual concept with which to embed my slides and it offers more potential for creativity in general.  PowerPoint is 2D, whereas Prezi is 3D.  This offers an entire extra dimension to work with.

Post #8

It was an eye-opening experience to live in Japan for three years and see the dynamic of people working together who were brought up in a collective or group-oriented culture.  In comparison with Canada, Japanese people are extremely good at working together.  In addition, group harmony is a very important aspect of their culture.  Therefore, the typical drama that occurs in any office or team environment in Canada basically doesn’t happen in Japan, because people tend not to challenge each other, in favour of maintaining harmonious relationships.   A very eye-opening experience, because it surprises me how poor westerners are, at times, at working together.   Of course, university students are accustomed to doing group projects, but high school students have a difficult time working together, which makes it important for us as teachers to make sure our students to work with each other “harmoniously”.

Post #7

Curating from online sources is a good way for us to have our students to tap into higher-order thinking skills, especially the ability to evaluate.  If students were to create a blog on a certain topic, research from a variety of sources, post to their blog the best of their findings along with descriptions on what the source is and why they believe it is superior to others sources, and present their findings to the class, this assignment would teach the students so much in terms of content, but the process would also meet many educational objectives.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Japanese Podcast - Jeff and Doreen

Post #6

Podcasting is something that I have not been exposed to until now.  I assume that we will be making our own podcasts in class today, which I am looking forward to doing, if true.  I agree with the aspect of the article that suggests that students are much more engaged when they believe that what they are doing is important.  If students are creating podcasts that are going to not only be heard by their teacher and classmates, but also an international audience, they are much likely to put their absolute best efforts into the creation of their projects. 

If students are creating podcasts using programs such as Audacity, it is not necessary for them to record what they have to say in only one sitting, which is a very good thing.  It is very natural to be nervous when speaking in front of an audience, so it is not surprising that recording at a professional quality in one sitting is rare.  With programs such as Audacity or Garageband recordings can be completed one sentence at a time, meaning someone can record one sentence, press stop, wait until they are ready to record the next sentence, and then press record.  Also, a sentence can be recorded a number of times. 

In a Japanese language classroom, I might have my students do a Culture Presentation Podcast, or else I might have them do a Podcast on a biography of a famous historical Japanese person.   The possibilities are endless.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Post #5

Online translators can often be very humorous. I think it is best that students don’t use online translators, except for individual words. Using an electronic dictionary for Japanese can be very useful, and there are even entire phrases that appear underneath the definitions that students can use, but the result of translating sentences in language translators is too often awkward or strange to merit allowing students to use them. Moreover, as I am not a native speaker of Japanese but a student of Japanese who has studied it for a long time, there are many instances where I will not be able to decipher the subtleties of meaning in the translations, thus looking somewhat unknowledgeable in front of my students. I think it is best for me to ask my students to, for the most part, practice only the grammar and vocabulary used in class. Expanding a little bit is okay, but there is not much learning go on when students just plug English sentences into translators. Many of them just want to get out of doing their work.

Document from scribd


Post #4

This article tells us, as university students, nothing that we do not already know as readers, but it does give us different simple strategies to approach teaching reading to our students. Reading a postcards or a timetable are not difficult, but if our students are more consciously aware of the purposes of these text and, in addition, can identify the conventions and parts of speech typically used in these texts, they can be more effective readers (and writers), because, when reading, they will be able to immediately look for the pattern of language typical of the medium. I remember when reading first engaged me. I was 18 years old and I read the book 1984. At the time, my reading vocabulary wasn’t very high, so the book was quite difficult for me to read. In order to get around the difficulty of vocabulary, I started reading with a dictionary. Every time I came across a difficult word I both looked it up in the dictionary and wrote it down, along with its definition, in a journal. After reading the entire book I reviewed all of the words and definitions that were written down in the journal. This is a great reading method to teach my students to increase their vocabularies.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Monkey Majik

Sakamoto kyu

attempt #2

Kanji stroke order screencast

Post #3

Culture and language are inseparable. To truly speak like a Japanese person, a native speaker of Spanish, a French person, a Russian, one has to give up a large part of themselves for a time and become somebody else. This only truly comes with full language and cultural immersion. Being immersed in another culture for a period of time gives a person the opportunity to become a new person, to build a new person inside of their minds. The result of this is a new language. To take Japanese, for example, If someone learns Japanese outside of Japan, they can never fully acquire the skills that are necessary to become a fully functioning Japanese speaker. In this sense, learning culture along side language is necessary. This is a statement that the writer of this article would not disagree with.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Screencast testing

Post #2

I’ve often thought that some teachers overuse videos in the classroom. The use of video can contribute to language learning in a big way, if used effectively, with specific language goals in mind, but just showing a video, such as a Japanese movie with English subtitles, will rarely improve language ability, unless there are certain things that the teacher has the students look for in the film. In terms of culture, however, showing a film can be great exposure for the students to the symbols, practices, habits, clothing and more of the culture of the people they are studying. For example, watching a geisha talking on a cell phone walk down the street over mud puddles, with flashes of photographs from tourists in the background sets a much more powerful image than a single drawing of a geisha. Also, the cast of a Japanese film, for the most part, will be all Japanese, whereas a Canadian film will most likely be film with people of different ethnicities. The reality of ethnic homogeneity is difficult to capture in a photograph or still-life.

 In the classroom, it can be said that teachers overestimate the effectiveness of videos to teach language components. As suggested in the article, “although these films may seem to hold student interest, [Canning] believes that it could be inferred that student comprehension of the video may be due to the visual clues instead of the auditory components.” Therefore, it may seem to the teacher that the students are understanding portions of a film when the meaning of the film has only been inferred from the context of the visual cues. In my classroom, and in a fair number of classrooms I’m sure, videos are often used as hooks, as video is great for capturing the attention of your audience. The only other time I use video is at the end of the term, after the students have worked hard and are now winding down with a party and a movie.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Post #1

"Listening strategies in the L2 classroom: more practice, less testing" by Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna was an interesting article. It focuses on teaching students to become autonomous language learners.  I believe that this is very true.  If a student has a desire to learn a language, but their only engagement with the language is through their teacher, the odds of them developing a high level of proficiency in the language is low.  On the other hand, if a student uses their teacher's lesson as a way to create a foundation for their own learning, they will likely have more success.  In my quest to become fluent at Japanese, I found that I had much greater success when I took the learning into my own hands and began visiting a number of Japanese language learning related online tools, such as Kanji Box, in order to improve my Japanese language ability.  I also developed a habit of obsessively writing Chinese characters in a notebook during my free time.  My Japanese improved a lot after practicing these for some time.  
Aponte-de-Hanna calls it "meta-strategic awareness", but however one expresses it, teachers ought to encourage their students to do their own language learning outside of the classroom as well as teach them to be aware of their own shortcomings with the language in order for them to work on their language weaknesses themselves.  In fact, textbooks should also include within their pages advice on ways in which students can study the language in their own time, such as recommending learning strategies or useful websites they can use for their study, for example.