Friday, December 31, 2010

Cool websites to teach writing

Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

As a language teacher I really find it difficult to motivate my students to start writing in class. The Internet is a resource that complements the dynamics of my class. It is easy to access, up-to-date and immediate source of authentic materials. Since I started introducing technology and using a wiki with Middle school my classes have definitely changed. Please check below the cool sites we have been using this year.

  • Writing Fun A MUST for teachers.  This website motivated my students to enhance their writing skills.
  • The Writing Site Check this website with a great variety of tech integration ideas.
  • iWrite Provides several examples for students to learn how to write effectively.
  • Writing Exemplars I make my students search for writing samples created by other students worldwide.

In a self-paced study group, you are your own teachers, although (as a college writing teacher) teaching yourself writing still calls for 3rd party feedback. What is your strategy for getting feedback on your writing?

Posted via email from Academentia

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pros & cons of group vs private submission & review

Posted by Dr. Karen F. Kellison, Program Director Educational Technology, James Madison University, to an IT forum that I follow. See also Death to the Digital Dropbox: Rethinking Student Privacy and Public Performance
by Patrick R. Lowenthal and David Thomas. All this goes to the question of public vs private submission, peer review (sharing writing with group), group work, etc. 

Over the past year, I have incorporated peer review and public support/critique of student work in my classes.  Students are very nervous at the idea. It appears to be very foreign to most of them, having previously exchanged their ideas and work only with the teacher.  However, my experience as been extremely positive.  Students come to appreciate the opportunity to learn from each other and, in fact, their final products reflect that they consider and apply many of the recommendations of their peers - and to critique is to also internalize the idea of what is 'good' and how to get there.  

Students learn from each other - as they would in a real world task, one would hope, and I have the opportunity to see if anyone is veering way off track prior to receiving a final product for grading.  Student feedback (graduate level) has been overwhelmingly positive and, rather than a 'con' listed as "Discouragement by sense of inferiority to others." I find they support one another and are encouraged to improve their final product.  

Likewise, this approach does not displace my input and guidance (if that is the meaning of the con "Displaces expert feedback") and another Pro is that it forces students to keep up with assignments and makes it painfully public when they are not prepared - at least I find that is a Pro in my book.  Students don't mind making a few excuses to the teacher, but they seem to be uneasy when they are unprepared in front of peers.

Pros and Cons referred to in the paragraphs above:

  • Replaces regular weekly discussions with project-centric discussion
  • Feedback of many eyes, peer review
  • Synergy of community support through each stage
  • Mimics feedback opportunities in professional work environments
  • Anxiety of exposure
  • Discouragement by sense of inferiority to others
  • Displaces expert feedback
If you want to ask a question, add or modify this list, provide alternative ideas or respond to topic in general, please post as comment.  

Note: cross-posted to both Blogging English, a closed (so far) ESL study group, and the public blog, Computers, Language, Writing
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Study Group Poll

Hello all. Here's the poll about opening the blog. There are three answers: Yes; No; Undecided. Voting is anonymous: no one will know how you voted. Obviously, participation level (number of votes cast) will show what turn out is like. Votes not cast (low turn out) will count as #3 or undecided.  If the the majority is undecided, then I will decide what to do with the blog, what changes to make.

Tentatively, the poll will run 2-3 weeks. I'll send all blog members, including past members I still have addresses for, at least one email reminder. When I make the next blog post, I'll put a copy of the poll at the top of the sidebar so that it will stay visible and easy to find.

Use comments to discuss pros and cons ~ advantages and disadvantages ~ of changing Blogging English to a public blog. Feel to make suggestions and share your ideas about what direction Blogging English should take in 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

resolutions & other end of year thoughts

Have you thought about your New Years resolutions? That is always a good writing exercise. Writing them is easy. Keeping them is the hard part. Do yourself a favor: be realistic. Set possible goals and not too many. 
I run the Question Board and wrote the post. You are always welcome to post questions about English grammar and usage there. Don't ask me to look up words or correct writing for you though. I also post resources, links and short lessons. Here's a recent mini-lesson on metaphors & writing from the Board 

I'm still thinking about how to frame the survey question about going public. The more I think about it, the better I like the idea. Who knows, maybe drop in visitors will stir things up, get discussion going. We'll make this a really open class. Plus, I'll save time ~ no answering more mail, assigning writing samples and assessments, processing applications. Just show up. Or not. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Season's Greetings: a tree, gifts & music

Our Christmas tree is an example of visual poetry, a sonnet in the shape of a Christmas tree in a planter.

Next "under the tree" (in a manner of speaking) is Larry Ferlazzo's up-to-date list of the Best Places To Learn About Christmas, Hanukkah, & Kwanzaa

What are holidays without music? Jingle Jams: A Holiday Mix From NPR Music is an online playlist is from National Public Radio. NPR Music asked partner stations to submit their favorite holiday songs. The continuous stream is packed with gems from Bach to The Ramones to Louis Armstrong. It's a perfect playlist for the season. 

Note: These songs play in a continuous loop — you will be joining in midstream

Sunday, December 19, 2010

5 Online (EFL/ESL) Pronunciation Resources

5 Online (EFL/ESL) Pronunciation Resources via I hope it works! by Ronaldo Lima, Jr. on 12/16/10. Ronaldo writes, 

On my Phonetics and Phonology wiki there are hundreds of resources, including dozens of links
similar to ones posted here, so feel free to drop by and take whatever you want (as long as it is for educational use and with the appropriate references, of course).

Here are my 5 of my favorite online resources for EFL/ESL pronunciation:
  • Phonetics: The Sounds of American English - This website was created by the University of Iowa and it has a great visual display. The sounds are divided into manner of articulation, place of articulation and voicing (for the consonants); and monophthongs and diphthongs (for the vowels). Once you click a symbol, you can see the movement of the speech organs on an animation, you can break this animation into step-by-step movements/description, you can see a video of a person pronouncing the sound, and you can hear words that contain the sound. It's great for professionals wanting to learn/review the symbols and for students looking for specific pronunciation practice/reinforcement.
  • Cambridge Pronunciation - Very simple yet useful information in great animations (simulating a movie theater). You choose to work with sounds (which are actually diphthongs), stress (word and sentence), intonation and the phonemic chart. 
  • Another resource by Cambridge, with lots of pronunciation games, is Cambridge English Online.
  • BBC Pronunciation Tips is a website with videos, charts, videos, quizzes, podcasts, and the three programs that BBC Learning English produced on pronunciation as part of the Talk about English series in 2005. The best of all is that most things are downloadable. 
  • Rachel's English is a website that I have discovered recently. Its greatest highlight is the videos produced by Rachel. The videos are useful for both teachers and students, for Rachel doesn't drone on and on about terminology and theory, but rather shows the subtleties of the movements of the speech organs in high quality videos. You can also connect to her youtube channel and her twitter account.
Coming next: Phonetics and Phonology online resources for graduate students and professors.

Friday, December 17, 2010

on rewriting

This short article illustrates the deep difference between making corrections, proofreading or copy editing, and rewriting,

William James on rewriting from Sentence first

William James said he wrote every page of the Principles of Psychology four or five times over. Vladimir Nabokov made a similar admission: that he had rewritten, often several times, every word he had ever published.

The craft of writing is in large part rewriting. The main thing at first is to get our ideas down — to record rough outlines, key images and impressions. After that comes the slower work of rewriting: changing and rearranging, pruning and smoothing. We strengthen connections, tighten syntax, pare away the clutter, and find words that tally better with our intentions.

Rewriting overlaps with editing. Both aim to enhance the sense, structure, style and coherence of prose. Writers often describe the act of verbal composition in three-dimensional spatial terms, almost as though they were sculpting. The comparison is familiar. Sculptors prod and pester and play with a lump until at last, inspected from various angles, it has become a luminous or at least bearable object.

In a letter to his friend Sarah Whitman, to whom he had sent some proofs of the Principles, William James wrote:

If there is aught of good in the style, it is the result of ceaseless toil in rewriting. Everything comes out wrong with me at first; but when once objectified in a crude shape, I can torture and poke and scrape and pat it till it offends me no more.

Toiltorturescrapeoffends: his words convey concretely the difficulty of rewriting. This is why some people dislike it. It takes practice and perseverance to master the selection and arrangement of words. Ernest Hemingway told the Paris Review that he rewrote the last page of A Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied with it. Asked what the problem was, he replied, "Getting the words right." James would have sympathized.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Catching up and considering directions

Catching up: 

Our Blogging English group has a new member, Eric (English nickname), who has been lurking, checking out the page and getting to know us ~ as best he can in the company of lurkers.

@Eric ~ please post your introduction as a comment to this post. Other not-so new members who have yet to introduce yourselves, please do the same. Until I either work out better ways to get you to write or give up on it altogether, I'll stick with the old, familiar standbys: nagging and posting reminders as well as asking you to write reviews, share opinions and respond to posts.

I haven't post a reply to Sadamu yet because, in addition to getting caught up in other writing and internet obligations, I've been thinking about what to write. That also means thinking about what he wrote, my overreaction, obvious misunderstandings, implications for the self-paced learning project, learning and teaching styles and strategies, and especially about writing.

There's enough for more than a post there. Too much to cover here or in a single comment. Here's the short version: I apologize to Sadamu for having overreacted. I was less disappointed in his reply (which I still think missed the point) than in the failure of the group to write and post. Needing to re-write is NOT an excuse for not writing to on the class writing blog. If I don't see your writing, I'm going to assume that you are not writing. So if you are, show me.

Revision or re-writing is another matter altogether and a complex task with many steps that even most native speaker college students don't get.  Of course you should proof-read before posting to correct basic mistakes that you notice.  You should also reread what you have written, perhaps read it out loud to yourself to make sure it makes sense.  That's your initial draft, which may be just fine for informal writing. Then share it by posting so we can give you feedback, comment, offer suggestions and so on.

This process is called peer review. In a way it goes back to and depends on introductions (the ones most of you have not posted). Why? Because we need to know your writing goals and purpose to make helpful suggestions. For example, I know that Eric plans to take the TOEFL. He will be given a limited time to write a short formal essay. Therefore, we know that Eric can't afford to settle for informal writing. What can other goals tell us?

Indirectly, this brings me to the second part of the title, considering directions...

If no one is willing to write, then what is the purpose? Should I make this blog public and just post lessons, study materials and "learning to learn" information? I made the blog private rather than public for you to have privacy and be more comfortable sharing your writing.  It's up to you.

You may be able to make some improvement in your writing just by writing alone and for yourself. On the other hand, you could end up just reinforcing mistakes and not improving but fossilizing mistakes. For sure, you are unlikely to become a proficient writer without feedback. Good writers, even great and famous ones, need feedback, to be told where they had problems and what they needed to fix. It's up to you.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

How to Help Students Write Better

Although this is a self study group (which means I don't make a habit of marking student writing), writing is a primary focus. That makes this article relevant. If you want to write better, feedback and revision are necessary. How do you propose handling that within our DIY (do it yourself) structure?
So is writing, not that anyone else has been doing much of that lately.

The following are not my words and do not apply to blogging on the study group blog, which is informal writing to practice writing and very different from college writing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Second Language Listening with Blogs and Odiogo

Hello all ~ here's a resource about listening and blogs. We could use free text to voice software to make this blog a listening resource.

However, I see two problems:
1) I don't want you to stop reading.
2) We may need to "go public" to use the feature.
What do you think?

PS While looking for a "writing and listening" graphic to accompany this post, I found this site you might find useful: Time4English, a free site for learning English online, 6 levels and over 360 lessons in listening, reading, writing and grammar. Take a look and evaluate it: should we add it to our list of online learning resources?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

TOEFL Poetics

Ryan Daley on Buffalo Poetics writes about Tests of English as a Foreign Language...

Back in May, and back when I was teaching a TOEFL test instruction class, I would spend so much time preparing and teaching per week that my writing was suffering. Then I came up with an idea. 

On the TOEFL test there is a 30-minute essay segment. Test takers have 30 minutes to write a 300 word essay in answer to an assigned question. These questions are usually somewhat mundane, i.e., one custom from your country you would share, etc. My goal was to write at least 75 essays and to repurpose them. While doing this, I also like I was sticking it to the powers observing us (Cameras were placed in each room, for "quality control").

To cut it short: I have roughly 60 TOEFL (poetic) essays up  at my blog, Check 'em out! And thanks for reading!

Sample essay

Q. If you could change one aspect of the public school/schools you attended, what would you change, how would you change it, and why? Use reasons and examples to support your response. 

A. Education is a tricky subject. As with figuring out anything, many variables involved in the deep process. Students emerge from schools at the end of the day and it's easy to forget that they belong to a community housed within several fortifications, cafes and playgrounds. I would change a few things about my school's construction and the administrative hierarchy. 

Schools are built much like prisons. We are interested in keeping children and their noises, their dramas as well as their affinities, inside and locked away. A brighter school with less restraints would improve matters for children. They would not feel the cold gray sky behind the gratings on the windows, would not lunch in the same linoleum room like those dentists use to calmly wash out patients' mouths, would not sing on a stage so lofty that the smallest squeak cannot be heard. We silence the children, and we assume they behave better this way. However, when children are unleashed they destroy property. This is because they hold their emotions so pent up. Generous little beings are not captivated by the dull school surroundings. Gym balls will bounce with resounding joy if only we update the facilities which school our children. 

School administrations refuge in lonely temperance behind desks which expose children early to alienation of processes. How many times will they see desk housing a person? Fresh new faces entice all guests to share the most important information with the desk's occupant, and in the quickest manner. Imagine what fresh faces enliven the office environs, while increasing productivity. To this end, all school admins and educators who are entrenched should be alternated every 5 years. A bargaining period is born of this, during which time admins would prove their worth. However, teachers are accustomed to unstable living situations already. Administrators and office dregs should share in this renewal.

The Poetics List is moderated & does not accept all posts. Guidelines:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Model of learning in a PLE

Plenk2010 is over but not the sharing. It's only just begun. Not just for teachers, learners are welcome too, so maybe next time some of you will join me.

Do you understand the distinction between PLN (network) and PLE (environment)? This model from Rita Kop's post at Observations about learning, knowledge and technology on modeling PLE based learning shows how complex and dynamic the process is. In other words, not to worry if you are still confused. I am and so are most of the MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) participants.  

To quote Jerry Lee Lewis, "Great balls of fire" and "whole lotta shakin' goin' on"

The other PLENK news is that one of the facilitators started a focus group to research lurker learning, lurking as a learning strategy. If it's now an object of research, I guess I will need to be more patient with and tolerant of Blogging English's lurker. However, that doesn't mean I'll stop asking you to respond, post, comment ~ participate! Maybe the research focus group will come up with encouraging or at least useful results for us.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

PLN Competencies

PLN Competencies

Filed under: Coaching,MOOC — Steve LeBlanc @ 1:28 am 
Kids studying
You don’t have a strong PLN (Personal Learning Network) the moment you show up at the right group, even if it is the perfect fit for your particular interest. Admittedly, finding a group of folks who share your passions can offer support, guidance and quick tips for simple challenges. For example, finding the right quilting group for a lone quilter can be a dream come true.
But what if your passions are not so neatly contained? What if your interests are broad and interdisciplinary? Specifically, what if you just can’t find a group that shares your varied interests? You could join different groups for your different interests or even create a new one. That works fine for discrete fields, that is, until you start to ask cross-cultural questions no one else in that group is interested in.
A strong PLN is not just a group of people, any more than a strong college education is the particular college you went to. A friend of mine had this to say of his Harvard degree: “The classes I took were not what made my education so valuable. It was more about the friendships I made and the radically different world view I acquired while there. Things I used to think impossible became matter-of-fact, almost mundane.”
Be sure to read the whole article. This is just the teaser and tip of the iceberg. I think it clarifies "network" as opposed to "environment," although making too much of the distinction gets in the way of understanding and using. The short version: network is part of your learning environment but not its totality. Shorter version: both are resources (of any kind) that you learn with and/or from.
The corollary is that you can learn by following passively (lurking) but you will always learn more when you participate actively.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ExtensiveReading: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol must be one of the most universally recognised titles in English literature. I have prepared a website with graded extracts, activities and links to currently availabe readers and the original (etext)

You can find it here:

The extracts use special software that allows comfortable online reading. This should be a significant plus for some reluctant readers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Study Tips for Online Learning

Top 4 Study Tips for Distance Learners and Students Taking Online Courses

by Carson Kelly, a freelance writer and advocate of online learning. 

Online degree programs and distance learning offer a wealth of advantages – they provide a convenient way to obtain a quality education while maintaining a full-time job, they position you for job advancement and they enable you to complete your courses anytime and anywhere. However, since you won't be meeting for scheduled classes on campus each day or week, you need to have good study habits to stay on track and avoid falling behind. By following four simple study tips, you can be on your way to the successful completion of your online classes.

1. Create an Optimal Study Environment
Some students are easily distracted and need complete silence, while others find the stimulation of a lively environment conducive to creative thinking. Identify what setting works best for you when you're viewing lectures, working on assignments and taking tests for your online classes. Regardless of where you choose to study, it's important to have a comfortable workspace and proper lighting. Since you'll be spending a lot of time in front of a computer, you may find it helpful to get up from time to time to take a break and stretch your legs.

If you're working at home, be sure to let your roommates, friends or family know that you have a regularly scheduled study time. Ask them to avoid unnecessary interruptions, and tell them you won't be taking phone calls. It's important to set boundaries if you expect to succeed with distance learning and stay on top of your coursework. If there are too many disruptions at home, consider going to your local library or coffee shop. Make sure you find a quiet, out-of-the-way spot, and resist the temptation to chat with other patrons.

2. Plan Your Time Wisely
Time management can be one of the most difficult aspects of taking online courses. Some days, you may be too tired after work to focus on your studies; other days, you may be tempted to go out with friends or feel compelled to take care of housework. If you're not careful, you can quickly fall behind in your online classes.

At the beginning of the week, review the lectures, assignments and exams you'll need to complete, and set aside a specific block of time each day to accomplish the work. Just as you take a shower and brush your teeth each day, you need to make studying for your online courses a daily habit. You likely chose web-based classes because you have a busy schedule, and it's easy to get distracted with other obligations. Learning to effectively manage your time is a major factor in the successful completion of your online education.

3. Connect With Other Students in Your Online Courses
No one works well in a vacuum, and that's especially true for learning online. Just because you're not attending classes in a group setting doesn't mean you have to work alone. The best online degree programs will offer multiple ways to communicate with your classmates, such as message boards, online chat rooms and email. These online forums offer a great way to share ideas, get answers to your questions and make new friendships with students who share similar interests.

In addition to one-on-one conversations, take advantage of virtual study groups for each of your classes online. Participating in group discussions can enhance your team-building skills and provide new perspectives on the class subject matter.

4. Establish a Dialog With Your Distance Learning Instructor
Just as it's important to create connections with your fellow classmates, you should establish ongoing communication your online instructors. Your professors are more than just lecturers; they are an important resource in helping you to get the most out of your online education. You can start the dialog by asking questions. Whether you'd like clarification on a simple issue or help understanding a complex topic, your instructors want to know how they can help you and what you think of their online coursework. Your fellow classmates are likely to have the same questions as you, so you can also help others by taking the initiative to ask questions.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

ESL Videos | Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...

ESL Videos | Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...: "MES English has some nice teaching videos for Beginning English Language Learners. I wouldn’t quite add them to The Best Online Video Sites For Learning English, but they’re still worth bookmarking."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

About World Languages

Language Difficulty for English Speakers

How long will it take to become proficient in a foreign language?
People often ask: "How long will it take me to become proficient in language X?" This question is impossible to answer because a lot depends on a person's language learning ability, motivation, learning environment, intensity of instruction, and prior experience in learning foreign languages. Last, but not least, it depends on the level of proficiency the person wishes to attain.

Different language skills
There is no such thing as across-the-board proficiency in a particular language. Proficiency is usually measured in terms of four skills:

  • speaking
  • reading
  • listening
  • writing

Learners usually have different levels of proficiency in the four skills. Consequently, the four skills cannot be assessed by one test. Each one requires an independent evaluation.

Levels of proficiency
Two widely used guidelines identify stages of proficiency, as opposed to achievement. Both guidelines represent a hierarchy of global characterizations of integrated performance in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Each description is a representative sample of a particular range of ability, and each level subsumes all previous levels, moving from simple to complex.

It is important to understand that these guidelines are not intended to measure what an individual has achieved through specific classroom instruction but rather to allow assessment of what an individual can and cannot do, regardless of where, when, or how the language has been acquired.

ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages) has guidelines for speaking (1999) and preliminary guidelines for writing. The ILR (US Government Interagency Language Roundtable) has guidelines for speaking, reading, listening, writing and translation.

The two sets of guidelines for speaking only are given side-by-side below. Note that the ACTFL scale goes up only to the Superior level, while the ILR scale includes Advanced Professional Proficiency and Functionally Native Proficiency. ...moremore

World Languages is a commercial site but also a one-stop information website "dedicated to the world’s most important and populous languages... and language-related IT,"

OK so it's not about learning English, per se, but information about languages in general and learning languages does relate.

In particular, the chart for assessing different language skills and levels of proficiency seems adaptable to skills and levels in others languages.

Also a source about individual world languages, language families, fascinating language factoids (which always made language learning more interesting for me)

Posted via email from Meanderings

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Listen to NPR Podcasts

Improve your listening comprehension: practice listening to English by NPR podcast: NPR Podcast Directory

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Vocabulary in English

"With the Internet learning vocabulary in English is easier than ever! This lesson plan focuses on helping improve vocabulary in English using two fantastic, and free, internet tools to learn important words that go together (collocations). The lesson can also be used by English learners on their own as it explains the process step-by-step.

For more information on the wide range of vocabulary in English resources on the site, use this guide on how to improve vocabulary as your starting point."

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Rubric for Evaluating Student Blog Posts

If any of you have a blog for your PLE and practicing writing in English - and have been blogging, please let me know.

The blog post excerpted below is about student blogging. It applies to advanced writers blogging as part of a college course that requires more writing and much longer posts. Still, the basic guidelines would apply reasonably well if you were being graded, which you are not. Still, evaluating your own work and progress is part of self-paced study. How would you rephrase or interpret these guidelines?

Prof Hacker writes,
"In my efforts to quickly and fairly evaluate blog posts, I developed a simple 5-point scale, which rates each post according to the level of critical thinking and engagement displayed in the post. The rubric is quick and easy and in roughly 1–2 minutes I know what to rate any given blog post:
4Exceptional. The blog post is focused and coherently integrates examples with explanations or analysis. The post demonstrates awareness of its own limitations or implications, and it considers multiple perspectives when appropriate. The entry reflects in-depth engagement with the topic.
3Satisfactory. The blog post is reasonably focused, and explanations or analysis are mostly based on examples or other evidence. Fewer connections are made between ideas, and though new insights are offered, they are not fully developed. The post reflects moderate engagement with the topic.
2Underdeveloped. The blog post is mostly description or summary, without consideration of alternative perspectives, and few connections are made between ideas. The post reflects passing engagement with the topic.
1Limited. The blog post is unfocused, or simply rehashes previous comments, and displays no evidence of student engagement with the topic.
0No Credit. The blog post is missing or consists of one or two disconnected sentences."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scientific research shows how we "learn" without "learning"

According to interesting research done at the University of California" you can learn without realizing what you are doing."  The new study offers insights into the effectiveness of things like the Communicative Approach to language learning and Extensive Reading.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vocabulary Websites with Emphasis on Oral English

Teachers can differentiate instruction for students who need to hear the pronunciation of English words by referring students to two vocabulary websites that have an oral emphasis.

Vanessa Vaile wants to share "Integrate Technology in the Classroom"


Vanessa Vaile's notes: This site is setup to give you an overview of a book, "Great Ways to Integrate Technology in the Classroom-21st Century Curriculum: Activities That Will Keep Your Students Engaged". It is intended to help teachers integrate technology into their curriculum.

More of my teaching and ESL bookmarks at and
Delivered by the tastiest bookmarks on the web

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Free Movie Classics Online

Here's a fun way to practice your listening. Add writing practice to your movie watching experience by writing a review to share with the group. Here's a link to an article on how to write a movie review

Almost a year ago, we started scouring the web for free movies – for films worth your precious time. We started with 75, and now we're above 200. What will you find on the ever-growing list of Free Movies Online

Films by Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Brian DePalma, Jean-Luc Godard, Andrei Tarkovsky, Fritz Lang, Elia Kazan, Howard Hawks, Ida Lupino, Ken Loach, Akira Kurosawa, Billy Wilder, and Martin Scorsese. 

The list covers many different genres (comedies, film noir, indies, documentaries, short and animated films, even some noteworthy B movies) and spans the entire history of cinema, moving from early silent films to contemporary movies. It also features brilliant performances by major actresses and actors – too many to name right here. 

For copyright reasons, there's generally a heavy emphasis on the classics. If you have time to spare, check out the full collection of Free Movies Online. And if we're missing any good ones, please feel free to send us your tips or add them to the comments section below.

Find more good free stuff on Open Culture. Follow on Facebook and Twitter

Your latest post


I visited your blog this morning. I could read your post dated on October 17. There was no your post dated on October 26.

By the way, I looked for "get somewhere" on my big dictionary and I understand what it means. Thank you for your e-mail. I got wiser.


A World To Change

Hello all,

Here is a project I have been involved with lately. It's not the only one but is the one that relates to what we are doing here. I am following, not taking for credit, an online course called a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) that is about PLNs, learning technology and approaches to/ theories about teaching and learning. Sound familiar?

Personally, I'm partial to edupunk. What about you?

"This week I am in week five of an online course called PLENK, which I'm offering with three colleagues in the research community here in Canada.

As we reach the midpoint of the course, enrollment has just passed 1500 student mark. The discussions are reasonably active, we're aggregating 227 student blogs, 1340 of them are reading the daily newsletter, and the tweet count has just passed 1701.

We're not the first people in the world to offer an online course, of course. Nor is this the largest online course ever offered -- it doesn't even match our own record of 2200 participants, which we reached in 2008 with Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, much less the other online courses that have been offered over the years.

Our course is just the latest in a series of projects intended to rethink the concept of a course, to redesign learning, learning theory and learning technology, and to open access to learning to every person (or at least, every person with an internet connection) in the world. More on that in a bit.

PLENK -- Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge -- is about an emerging online learning technology called the personal learning environment, or PLE. Some of us are building PLEs."

PS Now it's your turn to write about what you've been working on.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

new learning video: In the House

 A new English vocabulary video, In the House, has been uploaded to My English Dictionary
The 28 words in the learn English video include: air conditioner, bathtub, bed, chair, chandelier
closet, clothes dryer, computer, curtains, door, iron, ironing board, monitor, night stand, painting, pillow, plant, radiator, rug, sewing machine, sofa, stairs, table, telephone, television, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, window

The address for the new video is

Please comment on the video and others at the same site. Do you recommend this video and website to group members? How would you rate the site? What learning level is it most suitable for?

The My English Dictionary site owner also welcomes feedback and invites you to share the video.

Does Language Emerge?

English (or any other language people speak) is hopelessly unsuited to serve as our internal medium of computation....People can be forgiven for overrating language. Words make noise, or sit on a page, for all to hear and see. Thoughts are trapped inside the head of the thinker. To know what someone else is thinking, or to talk to each other about the nature of thinking, we have to use – what else, words! Stephen Pinker – The Language Instinct

Does language emerge? And what exactly does that mean? Sugata Mitra defines emergence as the appearance of a property not previously observed as a functional characteristic of the system. Meddings and Thornbury (Teaching Unplugged) define emergence as “the idea that certain systems are more than the sum of their parts and that a small number of rules or laws can generate systems of surprising complexity”. All right, then. Why is it that I am writing about this?

On your way to the closing paragraph below, read the rest of Does Language Emerge? in Doing some thinking

The closing paragraph:
Language can be taught, it can be learned, consciousness awareness is also an important aspect to be taken into account, but language also emerges. Learners will go beyond the bits and pieces that they’ve been taught and will be able to come up with something original as long as we teach them it’s OK to try. It is language interaction that fosters language learning, not exposure alone. And interaction asks for originality, it asks for more than what was taught. It asks for a certain drive to speak and manipulate the language, which subsequently emerges naturally.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

English Learning Tips

Improve English Quickly - English Learning Tips Quick Learning and Teaching

The Best Places To Learn Web 2.0 Basics

As you may already have noticed, Web 2.0 and social networking tools play an important part in building Personal Learning Networks. Which ones do you already use? Which ones are you unfamiliar with? Try to become more familiar with at least 1-2 more and make them part of your Personal Learning Environment. Plus, you can learn more uses even for the ones you are familiar with.

To avoid confusion and use basic tools effectively, you need to know more about even ones you don't think you'll use. You don't have to use all of the Web 2.0 tools you learn about, but knowing more will help you make better choices. 

ESL Teacher Larry Ferlazzo, who maintains an outstanding website on learning links, writes, 
"I thought it would be helpful to share a list of the sites that I’ve found most helpful and accessible in explaining how to use key Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, Flickr, social bookmarking, RSS readers, etc. You can also find links to the sites I list here, and many more, on the Teachers’ Page on my website.  
There are three sites that I think stand above all the others. They all provide very understandable step-by-step explanations for a variety of key tools. And I think all three are equally good. One is Sue Waters’ Mobile Technology In TAFE Wiki. Another is Vicki Davis’ Cool Cat Teacher Wiki. And the third great site on my list is Russell Stannard’s Teacher Training Videos.
It would probably be okay to stop reading right here, since these three sites more than likely can provide you with all the information you need. However, there are a few more excellent resources you might want to check-out if you have the time.
There are two other places that offer exceptional information on a number of Web 2.0 tools. One is Common Craft, which makes simple explanatory videos. The other is Tim Davies’ blog, where you can print-out a series of one-page guides he wrote about Web 2.0 resources. Other sites have good resources for specific tools.
 (read more on The Best Places to Learn Web 2.0 Basics)

Monday, October 18, 2010

PLENK Week 6: October 18, 2010

Not required reading for he Blogging English study group but posted in case anyone is interested I would recommend the readings for educators, anyone using communication technologies extensively... and  perhaps anyone raising their own crop of or working with digital natives. As for CLW (Computers, Language, Writing), since I'm cross-posting, adding commentary, reflections and such will be in order. I'd like to read and think about selections first as well read PLENK blog reactions and any reactions from the Blogging English study group. Maybe by the end of PLENK I'll have figured out how to add my link there.

Readings: Using PLE/Ns effectively: skills, mindsets, and critical literacies

How have you developed in your understanding of PLE/Ns? After discussions this past week, we've closed the loop on the main topics that relate to defining and evaluating PLE/Ns...detailing tools...and considering future directions.

In week 6, we will focus on the skills needed to be successful with PLE/Ns. What does a learner need to be able to do/to think/to be in order to function in a digital world? The term "literacy" is central here. What does it mean to be literate? By my (George) definition literacy is the ability to participate in the dominant modes of discourse in a particular era.

Being literate requires technical skills, conceptual mindsets, as well as an attitude of tolerance of complexity and ambiguity. These skills are not prominent in many schools and universities. Many students aren't digitally literate either. Our generation is in a transition phase where those who need to teach literacy are often not digitally literate themselves. So it shouldn't surprise educators that students sometimes do silly things online - they are raising themselves in this environment...the mentors are not the adults and teachers that modelled behaviour for previous generations. Mind you, that might not actually be a bad thing

Readings for this week:

New Media Literacy in Education (Robin Good, Howard Rheingold)

Critical Thinking Resources

Some factors to consider when designing semi-autonomous learning environments

Speaking in LOL Cats: What literacy means in the digital era

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010


a couple of links on networked and self-paced learning from an online open course I'm following, PLENK2010 (PLENK = Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge)

My next post

Hi Takaran

I walked today for 70 minutes in Kawagoe to attend my contract bridge club. It was warm and fine day today. In USA, they say that it is like Indian summer,don't it?

I walked slightly slowly. Then my pedometer showed only 1,400 steps. It's difficult for me to walk 20 thousand steps in a day.

I have to go out tomorrow and the day after tom mow. I'll write to you next Tuesday.
Good night!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Test Yourself | English, Oct. 14, 2010 -

A reading and rhetoric (writing) lesson from The Learning Network at the New York Times + links to more lessons. Check out this learning resource. Is is appropriate for your learning level and goals? Would you add it to your Personal Learning Network, make it part of your Personal Learning Environment? Why or why not?

"Test your reading skills with today’s question, created by Danielle Hoagland and Judith McCaffrey at Grammarlogues from the Times article “For Jenkins, Scary Moment Leaves Career at Crossroads.”

After you’ve clicked “submit answer,” more information will appear. To learn more about this topic, visit a related page on Grammarlogues."

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