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.