Tuesday, December 19, 2017

TEFLology: TEFL Interviews 33: Masaki Oda on ELF Education

(TEFLology Podcast)

This episode came out on September 13.

Oh, wow, I've really gotten behind on these TEFLology reviews.

And... I hate to say it, but for the next couple months I'm probably going to get even more behind.
The next couple months I'm going to be quite busy both personally and professionally.
And in terms of this blog, I've got a number of other blogging projects that I'm behind on.
So, on all fronts, I'm going to busy.

I'm going to keep chipping away at my TEFLology backlog, however, and perhaps eventually I'll get caught up.

...or maybe I won't.  But who cares?  Listening to these podcasts, and reflecting on them, is good for my professional development.  So even if I remain several months behind, it will still be good for me.

Anyway, the review.

I'd never heard of Masaki Oda before, but he definitely sounds like an interesting guy.  And it sounds like he's had an interesting journey in his evolving relationship to English as a lingua franca.
(Much of what he talks about in this interview relates directly to a book I recently finished reading: Teaching English as an International Language).

That being said, the problem with talking about these issues in terms of a personal journey is that that the issues get a bit muddled.

In Teaching English as an International Language by Sandra Lee McKay (and the work of Jennifer Jenkins), much is made of how intelligibility should be the goal (as opposed to native-speaker standards of grammar and vocabulary)
However, it sounds like for Masaki Oda, one of his biggest complaints was that he wasn't intelligible. One of the big turning points for him was when his professor didn't understand a question he asked when he was studying in the U.S.
So it's a bit unclear from this story what Masaki Oda wants as the standard for English as a lingua franca.
Also, since the incident occured while Masaki Oda was studying inside of the U.S., it's also a bit unclear to me if this was a lingua franca situation, or a situation where we might expect native speaker standards to apply.

I suspect that if Masaki Oda would lay out his thoughts in more delineated way, they would probably be perfectly logical and reasonable.  But I felt like his rambling story about his personal journey didn't clearly convey his ideas to me.
That being said... it was interesting for what it was.  It was an interesting little insight into what it's like to be an international student at a U.S. University.

Other Notes
* I had to take a phonetics and phonology course for my MA TESOL degree.  For the take-home exam, we had to listen to samples of audio speech, and transcribe it using the phonetic symbols.
We actually thought it was a bit unfair, because catching all the ellipses and elisions seemed to rely more on our audio capabilities, and less on how well we had mastered the information content of the course.
Interesting that Masaki Oda takes the opposite view.  He thinks it was unfair that his phonetics test relied on his knowledge of theory, and not on his audio capabilities.

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