Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Different Meanings of "Old" Slideshow

(Movie slideshow Grammar Sections--Vocabulary)

Taken from Robin Hood -- Part 12

Presentation only version: slidespub

Version with example sentences from Robin Hoodslidespub

Stealing from Facebook: I saw this on a friend's Facebook page today.

Way back in 2001, in the months before I left for Japan, I was trying to learn Japanese by listening to language tapes.

My college roommates thought it was the funniest thing ever, because half of the phrases would consist of an English word just pronounced with a Japanese accent, and a lot of extra vowels added.

One example that caught their attention was "Whisky Sour", which the language tape gave in Japanese as "ui-su-kii sawaa".
They had fun imagining trying to order a drink in Japan.  Imagine going up to the bar and saying "Whisky Sour" perfectly normal, and having the bartender just stare blankly at you.  Then the second time say (exaggerated Japanese accent) "Wiisukii Souroo", and presto, you get your drink.

Sounds ridiculous, right?

However, once I actually got to Japan, I found out that this ridiculous scenario was the reality.  You actually do need to pronounce English words with a Japanese accent in order to make yourself understood in Japan.

One book I was reading on learning Japanese* said that a major problem English speakers have when is that they pronounce all the English loan words as English, instead of with the Japanese syllabary.
For comparison's sake, the author said, imagine a French speaker who insisted on pronouncing all the French loan words in English with a French accent.

I guess that sounds reasonable enough.
Nevertheless, as the above video indicates, pity the poor foreigner who tries to make himself understood by saying "McDonalds" or "Starbucks" instead of "Makudonarudo" or "Sutabakkusu"

* This was years ago, so I forget the title and author.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Loony Lunar Gold Rush by Carl Barks

(Graded Reader)

Having had good luck with Carl Barks several times, I decided to come back to the well one last time.

I wrote before that "The Golden Fleecing" felt vaguely familiar.  But this story I can say I definitely remember.  I remember reading this comic sometime in childhood, and finding it interesting.
(I remember thinking as a child that this comic was very clever for demonstrating that it's better to be a merchant than a prospector at a gold rush.  Looking back now, this lesson seems so obvious that I'm not sure the comic gets much credit for pointing it out.  But it seemed very clever to 10 year old me.)

My students put up with this story well enough, but after 4 Carl Barks stories in a row, they are beginning to lose a little bit of their initial enthusiasm, and I think I may move on to something else for my next Story Time.

 Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky on Anarchism (BookTV in Depth November 2013)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2 Truths and 1 Lie: Icebreaker

(TESOL Ideas--Icebreakers)
Google: drive, slides, pub
[I've used 2 Truths and 1 lie before as part of my Activities that Can Be Used for Any Grammar Point.  But I would be remiss if I didn't include it in my list of Icebreakers as well. 
This is not my own game.  It's a classic Icebreaker.  But I've realized lately that a lot of new teachers aren't familiar with it, so I thought I'd officially add it to my blog just in case.
For anyone not familiar with the game, the rules are simple.  You present the class with 3 statements.  2 of them are true, 1 is a lie.  The class tries to guess which is the lie. 
In my class, I divide the class into teams, and they compete with each other to guess 2 truths and 1 lie about my life.  (I use the PowerPoint presentation embedded below, but obviously anyone else looking to borrow this activity will have to change the PowerPoint to reflect their life.)
After I had demonstrated using my own life, the students were put into small groups and made their own sentences for their group to guess.]

The Wedding Song Playlist

Wedding Song Playlist

The Fiancee was talking about some songs she wanted to play at our wedding.
I should have just kept my mouth shut, but instead I reacted adversely to some of her some choices.
I don't even remember what they were now.  "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston was one of them, and the other ones were similar in style and genre.

After I had shot down about 3 or 4 of her choices, she turned and said, "Fine.  You make the Wedding Song Playlist. It's your job now."

Realizing that I had just been given extra work to do, I tried to quickly reverse course.  "No, it's okay.  Whatever songs you like are fine.  I won't complain anymore.  I'm sorry."
But she was firm on this.  She would no longer choose the wedding songs.  It was my job now.

Despite my initial reluctance, it was actually kind of fun when I got into it.  After all, what could possibly be more self-indulgent then spending time going through the Internet and picking out all your favorite songs?

There were a couple obstacles, though.
First of all, I  had largely stopped listening to music about 10 years ago.
I mean, I still listen to music in the sense that music is all around us every day, and you can't not listen to it.  But I've stopped actively listening to music.  In my free listening time, I listen to audiobooks, podcasts, lectures on Youtube, etc.  (I think this is a natural part of growing  older--many of us stop being obsessed with pop music at a certain point in our lives.  Or am I wrong to generalize on this?)
So to a certain extent, I had trouble remembering what the favorite songs of my youth even where.  I had to spend some time jogging my memory, and remembering what songs I used to put on my playlists 10 years ago.  (I still have this nagging feeling that I'm forgetting some of the best songs).

Secondly, the Fiance was firm that this had to be a list of love songs, and not just a list of my favorite songs.  So anything like "Working Class Hero", "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" or "War" was out.

But also, even within love songs genre--have you ever noticed that all the most beautiful love songs are about heartbreak?  There were a number of times when I said to the Fiancee, "Okay, this is a really beautiful song, but he's actually singing about a girl who doesn't love him back." She would always respond, "Delete it."
I've got a list as long as my arm of songs I had to cut for this reason.  One example, "I Can't Stop Loving You," by Ray Charles. I really wanted to include it, but a close examination of the lyrics shows that he's actually singing the song to an ex-lover.  Likewise, "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" by The Beatles also got deleted because it was about a dysfunctional relationship.
I tell you, I've got a huge list of really beautiful love songs that had to be deleted because they were about some sort of dysfunctional relationship (--all the most beautiful songs are always about heartbreak).

On the other hand, songs like "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks were rejected by the Fiancee because they were a bit too hard rock, and didn't really fit the mood of the wedding.  (To be fair, she was absolutely right about this.  I kind of knew that in the back of my head before I even asked.)

What's left on this playlist is all the songs I did manage to come up with.
I'm kind of proud of it, in that stupid irrational way that everyone is proud of their own playlists?

(It is kind of stupid when you think about it?  Lots of people are proud of their playlists, but why?   Do we think that we somehow get credit for the songs just because we put them on a list?)

Anyway... for whatever it's worth...

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Golden Fleecing by Carl Barks

(Graded Reader)

After having good luck with "The Thrifty Spendthrift" and "A Cool Deal", I decided to go back to Carl Barks a 3rd time for my story time project.

With The Thrifty Spendthrift, I had just gone ahead and done the first Carl Barks story I clicked on (figuring they were probably all more or less the same.)

But this time around, I did a bit of Internet research to find out what are usually considered the best Carl Barks stories.  There's a big list, but this was one of them.

This has a lot of the hallmarks of classic Carl Barks--Traveling to exotic lands, and encountering fantastic creatures.

That's all to the plus side.  On the minus side, the story relies on knowledge of the Greek Myth "Jason and the Golden Fleece".
My Vietnamese students did  not have this background knowledge, so that made sections of this comic difficult for them to understand.  Especially in the beginning when there were a lot of information dumps about the Golden Fleece.

I considered doing a Story Time on "Jason and the Golden Fleece" first to give my students the necessary background information.  But I couldn't find any materials suitable for ESL learners.

....And besides which, for some strange reason, the names are changed in Carl Barks's version.  In the original Greek myth, the winged woman are called "Harpies".   In Carl Barks's version, they are called "Larkies".  (Anyone out there in Internet land know why they changed the names for this comic?)  So I figured it would just confuse my students to tell them the story of The Harpies.

The first section of this comic my students found very boring, but they put up with it.  The second half, in which Donald and Uncle Scrooge encounter the Larkies and the Sleepless Dragon, went over much better.

As with before, much of the language was above my students' heads, but the visuals carried the story.  And I believe with Krashen that as long as the students are engaged in the story, i+1 will be in there somewhere, even if not everything is i+1.

Other notes:
* Nitpick: Uncle Scrooge seemed out of character to me.  Usually he goes to great lengths to save money.   In this story, he is throwing away a lot of money in his quest for a golden coat, which is an extravagance.  (Although maybe someone more versed in Carl Barks can help me out.  Is this out of character for Uncle Scrooge, or is this typical?)

* This story seemed vaguely familiar to me.  I think I may have read it at one point in my childhood, but I don't remember clearly.

* This story was also adopted for an episode of Ducktales.  I don't remember seeing that either (although who knows--I might have), but there's an interesting blog post which breaks down the differences between the comic book version and the Ducktales version.  HERE.

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a gift to the far right and US state repression