If you’re deskwarming in Korea or Japan, and you’re all caught up on lesson-planning, here are some ways to make the most of your time. (Of course, some sites might be banned at your school, but you never know.) I’ve never been in this position myself, but many teachers wind up spending time at their desks for a couple weeks (or more!)–no classes, no students, and few responsibilities (at least, if they’re experienced lesson-planners). It’s a little hard to imagine, but I’ve heard about it from several friends, and who knows, maybe I’ll experience it someday.
Anyway, I dug through my links. I decided to mix the links together, just as I might want to mix the use of my time–professional development, taking a break, and so on.
Read about fascinating things on Metafilter and the endless international help column of AskMetafilter (see orientation if you get distracted by in-jokes sometimes used on the site).
Improve your CV and your chances of getting that next job/getting into that PhD program by submitting an article/activity/etc. for publication at an online journal (yes, it’s the same link as above, but it’s worth saying!).
Play the devilishly cute, misleadingly simple games at Eyezmaze Games.
Get pulled into the underlying threads of fiction at TV Tropes–if you’re not sure where to go, look up a favorite TV show and wander around from there.
Watch streaming media in Korean and Japanese to improve your language skills will entertaining yourself: Crunchyroll, MySoju, Drama Fever, Viki, and relevant searches on Youtube and Veoh (e.g., for example.) Whether the content is legal or ethical depends on the site and content, plus your location and perspective.
I think a lot of people have already seen this video from last year, but if you haven’t, it’s well worth it! Erin McKean is a lexicographer who gives an entertaining and surprisingly funny overview of the descriptivist (as opposed to prescriptivist) approach to dictionaries and lexicography. It’s made for non-linguists, so it’s a good one to show to your non-TESOL friends and family who may be still stuck on the notion that “it’s not a word if it’s not in the dictionary.”
Since my current work is entirely one-on-one tutoring, I get to try crazy things because I only have to deal with one student. It’s pretty easy for me to judge the student’s receptiveness to whatever unusual approach in mind, especially once I know the student well. This is a lot harder to do in a class. As a bonus, I don’t have to worry about whether the administration feels something is inappropriate for the classroom. If I think it’s okay and my client thinks it’s okay, then anything goes!
I’ve been using Clear Speech with a couple of different clients from Japan. Chapter 5 includes a bit on “off-glide” sounds that often appear when there are vowel sounds at touching word boundaries, such as “my eye” or “she isn’t.” An example in the text was “go on,” which is pronounced something like /gowan/.
If you’re a fan of British comedies, as I’ve become since meeting my partner, you may have immediately thought of the same episode of “Father Ted” as I did. “Father Ted” is a well-known comedy about the misadventures of three bumbling Irish priests (including Father Ted), their crazed and put-upon housekeeper (Mrs. Doyle), and other oddball characters. In this episode, the housekeeper and Father Ted attempt to convince a reluctant guest to take a drink of sherry (a very bad idea for everyone concerned). You can clearly hear the /w/ sound in her repeated exhortations to “Go on, go on, go on!” and take a sip of sherry.
The introductory part was too hard to understand for one of my clients, and about 50% comprehensible for the other, but the “Go on!” bit made both of them laugh fairly hard. I’m pretty sure they’ll remember that glide for a while! Ah, I really love the freedom of being a private instructor sometimes.
(Remind me to tell you about our use of LOLcats for vocabulary later on.)
What kind of unconventional tactics have you used successfully? (Or, for that matter, unsuccessfully!)
A big part of professional and personal development is staying current with research, news, and conversations among others in our fields. There are so many great and worthwhile blogs and blog-like sites that the ones in my blogroll here are just a drop in the bucket. How do you keep up with everything without clicking on 50 different blog addresses every day?
My preferred solution is to use RSS feeds. You can see the orange RSS logo on the right side of this page. Pages with RSS are kind of broadcasting their content in such a way that you can pull that format into your preferred reading place. You can get it sent to your e-mail (like old-school mailing lists, but one-way) or bundled into one place, which I think is the best solution. And yes, it’s all free.
Here’s a great little video that introduces the whole concept, by Lee LaFever. It’s less than 4 minutes long and really explains the basics of using RSS:
It’s actually even easier than that. Try it out with this site, my blog for EFL and ESL self-study, or any of the sites on the right, most of which have RSS feeds. Search for “feed” or “syndication” if you don’t immediately see a link. Most news publications have RSS feeds too, as well as some other often-updated sites such as real estate listings, and even Wikipedia. Some sites will let you create your own feed to send you updates with only the keywords you’re interested in. Students can use RSS to keep up with vocabulary sites, simple English news from various sources, podcasts, etc.
To find suggestions on the best RSS reader for you (since the above video is a little old), check out the brand-new post on Best RSS Newsreaders at Lifehacker.
I think RSS is one of the most important tools for education professionals, since we really need to stay in touch and up to date without getting overwhelmed. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll try to help!