Saturday, December 07, 2019

I'm going to repeat myself slightly from an older post, but bear with me.

In 1995, Charles Murray was speaking at Calvin College.  One of our teachers offered us extra credit if we would go.  There was a lot of bad things in the news about Charles Murray at the time, but he completely charmed the audience (me included).  Everything he said in the speech seemed so reasonable and moderate, it was hard to imagine why so many people were upset with him.

In 2017, Charles Murray somehow got himself back into the spotlight.  If my memory of the chronology is correct, some students protested one of his speeches, and then Murray become one of the cause celebres for the anti-cancel culture movement.  Sam Harris had Charles Murray on his podcast.
I listened to that podcast episode in full, and commented on it in this post here.  I gave Murray a somewhat cautious, but largely favorable write-up in that post.  Murray came across as so reasonable and moderate, it was difficult to see why so many people were upset with him.

Enter Youtuber Shaun, who thoroughly takes apart Murray's book The Bell Curve and demonstrates why it is such bad science, and why Murray and his collaborator were deliberately skewing the data to fit their thesis.  And suddenly, it becomes clear why so many people have been upset with Murray.

I suspect the reason Charles Murray has been able to stay relevant for as long as he has is because he is so charming in person.  But perhaps appearing so moderate and reasonable in speeches and interviews is all  part of Murray's grift.  It allows him to mask the insidious arguments of "The Bell Curve" behind a facade of reasonableness and moderation.

At any rate, Shaun's video is definitely worth watching, for a thorough critique of all the problems with The Bell Curve.


The Bell Curve



From the Guardian:
Pensacola shooting: Saudi student kills three at Florida naval air station, says official

See, in relation, this post I wrote from 2017, in which I argued that Trump's Muslim ban didn't make any sense, because (I argued) Iranians, who haven't committed any acts of terrorism against US citizens, were included in the ban, but Saudi Arabian citizens, who have committed acts of terrorism, were not.included.

I bring this up, because I suspect somebody somewhere is going to argue that this incident is more evidence that the Muslim ban is necessary.  But actually it's evidence that Trump's Muslim ban is not working.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Regular Past Tense Pronunciation Lesson

(TESOL Worksheets--Past SimplePronunciationCELTA Style Lesson Plans)

Google Drive Folder HERE
Lesson Plan: drive, docs, pub
Slideshow: slides, pub
Model Text: drive, docs, pub
Picture cards: drive, docs, pub
Card Game--Adapted from https://teachinggamesefl.com/2015/11/22/pronunciation-game-ed/ by Mike Asbury: drive, slides, pub









Senator Bobby - Wild Thing - 45rpm Novelty! 1967

My 10th grade history teacher played this for us in class one day.  He was trying to make the point that nowadays the Kennedys are heavily mythologized, but back in their day, comedians used to get a lot of mileage out of mocking their idiosyncratic speech patterns.  After their assassinations, this kind of humor quickly went out of style, and they became  martyrs.

I was thinking about this today (for whatever reason it randomly popped into my head), and I thought, "Hmm.  I wonder if that old record my history teacher played for us is on Youtube."  Turns out, it is.



...It would have been back in 1993 and 1994 that I was taking 10th grade American history.  Strange to think that about the same distance of time now separates 2019 from 1994 as 1994 was separated from 1967.  I wonder if there are 10th grade high school history teachers now who are teaching their students about 1994.
Rabbit, Run by John Updike: Book Review (Scripted)



Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:
http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2006/08/rabbit-run-by-john-updike.html

Monday, December 02, 2019

Jokes Using Comparative and Superlative Adjectives (and adverbs)

(TESOL Worksheets--Comparative Adjectives, Adverbs)
[I designed this originally to be used in a lesson with comparative and superlative adjectives, but upon closer inspection a number of these are actually adverbs.  Oh well.  I think it is still legitimate as a way to practice the comparative and superlative forms, even if the adjective/adverb distinction gets a bit muddled  All of the jokes are taken from my previous lessons on jokes--here, here and here.]

Google Drive Folder HERE
Slideshow: slides, pub
handout: docs, pub
Crossword Puzzle: drive
Crossword puzzle answers: drive



Jokes Using Comparative and Superlative Adjectives and Adverbs

What kind of dog keeps the best time?

What gets bigger and bigger as you take more away from it?

What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?

What animal is best at hitting a ball?

 What is the world's tallest building?

What is the fastest country in the world?

English is the most spoken language in the world.  But what is the least spoken language in the world?

What is the biggest kind of ant?

Two men were walking through the woods when they saw a bear.  The men ran.  The bear started chasing them.  "It's no use," said one man.  "We can't run faster than the bear."
"I don't have to run faster than the bear," said the second man.   "_________________________."

What kind of dog can jump higher than a building?

What’s the unluckiest kind of cat to have?

What is the longest word in the English language?

What gets wetter as it dries?






Saturday, November 30, 2019

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Second Tome Around Tag



Dane Reads Video HERE: https://youtu.be/MyVDfHItfPg

----------------------
QUESTIONS:
----------------------
1) Do you buy second hand books?
2) What is / was your latest purchase?
3) What condition do you find acceptable? ie, tatty or not tatty etc
4) After you have read said book, do you keep it for a re read or re donate it?
5) Do you have a favourite place you like to go to, when looking for second hand books?
6) Hardback or Paperback, do you have a preference?
7) Have you found any real gems?
8) OPTIONAL - Find a book from your shelves that you can donate to a good cause or your local Charity / Goodwill shops
9) Go ahead and tag some peeps!

Tag Playlist HERE:


Like, Hate, Love + Ving Lesson Plan

(TESOL Worksheets--Present Simple, Word Patterns, GerundsCELTA Style Lesson Plans)

Google Drive Folder HERE
Lesson Plan: drive, docs, pub
Slideshow: slides, pub
Model Text Story: drive, docs, pub
Like, love, hate table: drive, docs, pub
Human Bingo: drive, docs, pub









Thursday, November 28, 2019

Going To Lesson Plan

(TESOL Worksheets--Going toCELTA Style Lesson Plans)

Google Drive Folder HERE
Lesson Plan: drive, docs, pub
Slideshow: slides, pub
Listening Activities: docs, pub
Picture Matching Activity: drive, docs, pub
Pictures listed in order of the listening (for teacher's reference): drive, docs, pub
Human Bingo: drive, docs, pub









Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

From the BBC:
Climate change: 'Bleak' outlook as carbon emissions gap grows
This is the kind of news that really should be dominating everything, but instead is buried as one of the minor stories on the BBC website.  The content, however, is devastating.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Nosy BookTuber Tag!



I was tagged by Dane Reads in this video here: https://youtu.be/1XnKWviDlIM

----------------------
QUESTIONS:
----------------------

1. How many books have you read this year?

2. Of the books you've read which is your favorite? Which is your least favorite?

3. Do you have a favorite time and place that you like to read?

4. How many hours per day do you have the opportunity to read?

5. Do you read only physical books, e-books or audiobooks or a combination of either three?

6. What is your main pet peeve when trying to read?

7. What is the strangest place you have found yourself reading?

8. Are you a critical reader or do you read just for enjoyment?

Tags Playlist HERE

The Channel History Tag!



Dane Reads tagged me in this video: https://youtu.be/yaEOQmI1Ch0

----------------------
QUESTIONS:
----------------------
1. Tell us about your very first video and where you were in life when you filmed it.
2. Tell us about your most viewed video and what went into creating it.
3. Tell us about a video that you were most excited about when you finished it.
4. Tell us about a point in your BookTubing/AuthorTubing career that was particularly challenging either creatively or personally.
5. Tell us about a moment in your BookTubing/AuthorTubing career that was a high point for you, or something you’re particularly proud of.
6. Tell us about an aspect of being a content creator that you had to try really hard to get good at or are still struggling with.
7. Tell us a story that sticks out in your mind that happened as a result of you being a part of BookTube/AuthorTube.
8. Alright, you just spent however long talking about yourself. You’re awesome. We know. It’s why we watch your content. Tell us about someone else in the BookTube/AuthorTube community that you think deserves more attention than they get at the moment.

Tags Playlist HERE
From io9.gizmodo.com:
10 Cult Favorite (or Should-Be Cult Favorite) Movies Lurking on Disney+

I don't have a Disney+ subscription, but I did grow up on the Disney Channel in the 1980s.  (Back in the 1980s, the Disney Channel had a different format.  It was largely just a place to re-run old Disney content.)  And I have TONS of nostalgia for these old Disney movies.

So, here are my thoughts on io9.gizmodo's list:

1. The Black Hole (1979)
Oh, man! I love The Black Hole! I remember this got played on the Disney channel when I was in second grade, and I was so obsessed with it!

2. Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959)
I totally remember watching this off the Disney channel when I was young.  I love Darby O'Gill and the Little People

3. Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Loved this movie when I was a kid.  This one and the sequel as well!

4. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969)
Absolutely loved this movie when I was a kid.  Still love it.  I love the whole Dexter Riley trilogy. 

5. Return to Oz (1985)
This is a bit of strange one, but I do remember seeing it as a kid on the Disney channel and have fond memories of it.

6. Mr. Boogedy (1986)
I was just talking about this movie in a recent post.

7. The Black Cauldron (1985)
I've got tons of nostalgia for this movie.  As I mentioned here.

8. Flight of the Navigator (1986)
Oh man! I remember my grandma taking me to see this in the theatres back in 1986.  I absolutely loved this movie!

9. Fuzzbucket (1986)
Hmmm.... I don't think I remember this one actually...

10. The Cat From Outer Space (1978)
I've got vague memories of seeing this on the Disney channel when I was younger, but I don't remember anything about it.  It must not have made much of an impression on me.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Today in: Hey! I know that Guy! Gal!
Jewel, a friend of mine from the Melbourne days, is featured in the paper of record itself:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/arts/design/modern-origami-art.html

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

I found this interesting...
DEBATE: Bart Ehrman vs Mike Licona 2018



I know, I've already talked a lot about Bart Ehrman on this blog.  So there's not much new in this video that I haven't already talked about on this blog before.
But I found the back-and-forth nature of the debate interesting nevertheless.

Friday, November 15, 2019

HBO's Watchmen is Fine, You Guys Are Just Mean

I probably shouldn't be commenting on this, because I haven't seen the Watchmen TV series yet.  (I've only been able to catch one episode so far, on a week when my wife and daughter were out of town.  But having a baby around the house does not lend itself to regular TV viewing.  So I won't be watching the whole series anytime soon.)
But I found this video fascinating.  For one thing, it's a good exploration of the themes in the comic book.  (I was a johnny-come-lately to the comic book.  I didn't actually bother purchasing and reading it until 2009 when there was all the hype surrounding the movie coming out.  But being a geek, once I got into it, I really got into it.  And I read quite a bit about the history behind the characters, and about what Alan Moore was trying to deconstruct, and I found the whole thing fascinating.)
Secondly, I find this video interesting because it gets at the whole toxic anti-SJW fanboy culture now which seems to pervade everything geek related (Star Wars, Marvel, etc).  People are always complaining about how liberals are ruining their favorite franchise by making it woke, and this guy points out how ridiculous that complaint has become when it's about Watchmen.


...p.s., for my review of the 2009 Watchmen movie, see HERE.
This article from the New York Times is really a must read.  It does a good job of parsing out exactly what these emails mean:
Stephen Miller’s Sinister Syllabus
Leaked emails from 2015 and 2016 show one of Trump’s top advisers trying to teach Breitbart editors a thing or two about white nationalism.
To quote from part of it:
But suspecting Miller’s ideological allegiances is quite different than knowing them. In the absence of proof, there was room for plausible deniability. That’s how a conservative magazine editor could praise Miller as a “wunderkind” for his command of the “details” of immigration policy while dismissing evidence that Miller was once close to Richard Spencer, a prominent neo-Nazi.
With the emails — supplied by Katie McHugh, a former editor at Breitbart — we now know what Miller was reading and thinking about in the year before he joined the Trump campaign. And there’s no denying the nature of the material.
Also worth watching:
Does Stephen Miller Remain In The White House? | Morning Joe | MSNBC 



All of this is just further confirmation, if any were needed, that I was not too harsh last month when I wrote that there can no longer be any doubt that this is a fascist Presidency.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

From uproxx.com:
‘Mr. Boogedy,’ The Weirdest-Looking Title On Disney+, Is Developing A Cult Following

Ha! I actually remember this from back in the day.  One of my classmates had taped it off of TV when it aired, and my 4th grade teacher showed this movie to the whole class.  (I don't now remember what it's educational was... I suspect my 4th grade teacher just wanted to kill time.)   Later in that same year, she also showed us the sequel.
...I don't believe I've seen it since then though...

(Funny how I can remember the movies I saw when I was 9 better than the movies I saw when I was 29.  I guess when you're younger, stuff makes a bigger impact on you.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Today in Hey! I know that Guy!

...actually I'm stretching the definition of "know" here a little bit.  I went to the same high school as Justin Amash (he was 2 years younger than me).  I knew of him back in high school (the Amash brothers were locally famous within the high school.  They had a reputation for being highly intelligent and over-achievers). As far as I can remember I never spoke to him personally, but I definitely knew who he was back in high school
...whatever.  I'm counting it. Anyway...

From the Rolling Stone:
Justin Amash: The Last Republican in America

The article even references our old high school briefly:
...That familial influence, combined with his years in the Calvinist schools of West Michigan, shaped Amash into the libertarian he is today...
My own two cents:
Justin Amash is someone who people have difficulty classifying.
My own classification is that he is not an ally of the left.  He is a conservative.  But he is also honest.  And that makes him unique in Washington nowadays.
Sometimes being honest is more important than being ideological.  We need more politicians like Justin Amash, from all sides of the political spectrum.

Monday, November 11, 2019

'Global Trumpism': Bailouts, Brexit and battling climate change

In case anyone missed it, Whisky Prajer sent me this link the other day to save me from my depression in a previous post.

Things seem pretty dire, it's true. And it doesn't help if you are at all tapped into social media (and who among us is not?). But I appreciated an hour with this guy's POV -- he doesn't stint on the outrage, but also doesn't seem particularly discouraged by any of it either. And his Churchill quote was spot-on.

I've listened to the whole thing, and I can confirm it's worth checking out.  I'm not sure I agree with everything, but I did find it very entertaining and informative.

Actually for the full experience, watch his lecture first, and then listen to the radio interview as a follow-up.

Mark Blyth - Global Trumpism and the Future of the Global Economy



There's a lot in here, but among other things, there's also a glimmer of hope on climate change.  He believes that long term, systems will always end up doing what is in their best economic interests.  And addressing climate change is in our best economic interests, so sooner or later, we'll do the right thing.  "We'll get through this.  It's what we need."
...I sure hope so.  It's comforting to see he's so confident about it.

Although, he is also saying that we're going to have to hit a few disasters before people wake up.  (He's predicting that losing Miami is what is going to change public opinion.)  So even under his optimistic view, it won't be an entirely painless transition.
And, if you listen closely to him, he is still leaving open the option that we might all die from climate change.  But he doesn't seem to be overly concerned about it.  "Either this works, or we all die, so there's nothing to be concerned about."  (I'm paraphrasing, but only slightly.)

At any rate, a very informative and entertaining couple of hours.  Recommend you give it a listen.  (Put it on in the background while you're puttering around the apartment in the morning.)
DC Universe: Inheritance by Devin Grayson: Book Review (Scripted)



Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:
http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2006/08/dc-universe-inheritance-by-devin.html

Friday, November 08, 2019

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Today in: Hey! I know that guy!

Featured in this video is one of my former co-workers from the Cambodia days.  (Not the girl, but the guy that she is singing to).
He has a background in music production--something he would occasionally talk about back when I was working with him as a teacher--but since then he's turned his energies full time into music production.  I believe he's still living in Cambodia, and works with both Cambodian artists and American artists.

(P.S.--Despite the fact that he's giving off a "big music star" vibe in this video, he's actually an incredibly friendly guy and easy to talk to.  I remember having several good conversations with him both in work and outside of work.)

Sexy - យូរី (OFFICIAL MV)




Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Nihilism

I grow increasingly depressed every day.

********************************************************

So the President's son has published a book called “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us”.  This is the President's son, accusing half the country of thriving on hate and wanting to silence the other half.  Besides being blatantly untrue, this is the kind of rhetoric designed to divide the country and set us at each other's throats.  And the President is promoting it on twitter.




In some alternate universe somewhere, people are shocked that the President of the United States could engage in such divisive rhetoric instead of promoting a shared sense of civic virtue.  But of course it's not shocking. It's the new normal.

In other news, day after day more and more solid evidence is coming out that President Trump has engaged in blatant corruption and abuse of power.  All this mountain of evidence has done nothing to break the faith of Donald Trump's core supporters.  Donald Trump still enjoys the support of the Republican party, and conventional wisdom is that the Republican controlled Senate will never vote to impeach him.  So it looks like he's just going to get away with it.

Ninety-nine percent of white evangelicals and 98 percent of Republicans who rely on Fox News as their primary news source do not believe Mr. Trump should be impeached and removed, the survey found, compared with 94 percent of Republicans over all.
And I know we now live in a world in which different political groups now live in different realities, so very little facts are agreed upon.  Which makes discourse impossible.  But you can't tell me that Donald Trump's supporters believe that he is good for the country as a whole.  What they know is that politics is us against them, and that they view Donald Trump as one of "us" and he is hurting the "them", and that's more important than what is good for the country.

In other news, the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  It's difficult to overstate how devastating this is.  This, quite literary, could mean that the human race will not survive to the end of the century.
On CNN today: 11,000 scientists warn of 'untold suffering' caused by climate change
Even if everyone agreed on the need to take urgent action, it would still be difficult to beat the clock on the climate change apocalypse.  But we can't even agree that this is a crisis.

***************************************

************************************************************
In New Delhi, the air has (once again) become so bad that the charts can not even measure it.  It is literally killing people to breathe the air.
The causes are a combination of traffic, farmers burning their crops, and fireworks set off for the Diwali festival.  
An Indian friend tells me that the government in the past had tried to ban fireworks for the Diwali festival, but the outcry from Hindus was so great that the government had to relent.  The fireworks must be set off, even if it means choking the people of New Delhi.

************************************************************
In Saigon (where I live now) the air pollution is regularly at unsafe levels.  Yesterday on the expats Facebook page, someone posted the air quality number.  The comments were filled with surly people (both expats and Vietnamese) telling him to stop posting this, what was the point?  We all had to live in this pollution anyway, so why complain about it? One of the Vietnamese commenters wrote in a proverb: "You can't run from the sun"

In my apartment, I always worry about the baby.  We have the windows shut and the air-filter on constantly.  Our attempt to purify the air, however, is undercut by our Korean neighbor, who smokes in the hallway right outside our door.
I can some days hear him coughing--hacking--very loudly.  He sounds in pain.  But he keeps smoking.

********************************************************
A college friend of mine--someone highly educated (a lawyer)--posted this to his Facebook page:
Dan SheaApril 6, 2016 · McGregor, FL, United States
From a Florida ER doctor:
Today I had a 25-year old with 8 kids - that's right 8, all Illegal Anchor Babies and she had the nicest nails, cell phone, hand bag, clothing, etc. She makes about $1,500 monthly for each; you do the math. I used to say, "We are the dumbest nation on earth," Now I must say and sadly admit: WE are the dumbest people on earth (that includes ME) For we Elected the Idiot Ideologues who have passed the Bills that allow this.
Sorry, but we need a Revolution, If the Illegal Immigrant is over 65, they can apply for SSI and Medicaid and get more than a woman on Social Security, who worked from 1944 until 2004. She is only getting $791 per month because she was born in 1924 and there's a 'catch 22' (notch) for her. It is interesting that the Federal Government provides a single refugee with a monthly allowance of $1,890. Each can also obtain an additional $580 in Social Assistance, for a total of $2,470 a month. This compares to a single pensioner, who after contributing to the growth and development of America for 40 to 50 years, can only receive a monthly maximum of $1,012 in Old Age Pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement.
Maybe our Pensioners should apply as Refugees! Consider sending this to all your American friends, so we can all be ticked off and maybe get the Refugees cut back to $1,012 and the Pensioners up to $2,470. Then we can enjoy some of the money we were forced to submit to the Government over the last 40 or 50 or 60 years.
PLEASE SHOW THIS TO EVERY AMERICAN TAXPAYER YOU KNOW
Right off the bat, anyone with any common sense should be able to tell this is ridiculous.  $1,500 for each kid?
But even if common sense weren't enough to make you suspicious, a simple Google search will find numerous sites debunking this.
Factcheck: A Mythical Florida Mom (And Other False Claims About Immigrants) 
and Snopes.com

But the post must have confirmed what my friend wanted to believe about immigrants--that they are all lazy, awful people sucking away our tax dollars, and so we are justified in hating them--and so he posted it without bothering to check it.

I posted the link to the factchecking sites in the comments of my friend's post.  He left the post up on his Facebook page anyway.

Snopes traces this urban legend through various iterations.  It started out as a Canadian story, then got changed through the years as various people added more and more exaggerations to it.
In September 2017, an April 2016 Facebook iteration of the rumor shared by Dan Shea began circulating once again. As of 13 September 2017, it had been shared well more than a quarter of a million times:
Actually it's up to 1.4 million shares now.



All by people who didn't bother to check if this was true, or didn't care.
Dan Shea, who created this rumor, obviously knew he was fabricating it since he added in some of his own flourishes from the original.  And if he didn't know before, he knows now, because his Facebook page is filled with people commenting and either factchecking him, or yelling abuse at him.  He seems to glorify in the notoriety rather than show any contrition.

And that's not even counting all the other websites this story is showing up at.  A simple Google search of "Today I had a 25-year old with 8 kids" will show this story popping up again and again and again.  It's obviously been making a lot of rounds.



***********************************************************

What has happened to people's civic virtue?  To the idea of community?  To the idea of all working together for the greater good?  To the idea of sacrificing your own self-interest for the benefit of society?

That sentiment existed at one time, right? 

Can we go back to that?

We are in danger of succumbing to nihilism.  In order to turn around from this, we need to think positively.  Value life.  Take care of your body.  Eat healthy.  Stop drinking. Stop smoking.  Take care of the environment.  Think about what is good for the country as a whole, not what is just good for your faction.  Think about what is good for the world as a whole.  Try to help other people, not to harm them.  Bring good into the world, not hate.
We can do this.  We can change things.  But first we need to stop the way we're currently living.  We can't survive like this.

Syllabus Design by David Nunan

(Book Review)

Started: October 23, 2019
Finished: October 31, 2019

Why I Read This Book
I read this book for professional development generally, and specifically for the Delta Module 3.
This book was frequently mentioned in Delta Module 3 reading lists. (Delta Module 3 is specifically focused on syllabus design).  And my school library had a copy of it, so I picked it up.

The other book frequently mentioned in Delta Module 3 reading lists which was in my school library was Designing Language Courses: A Guide for Teachers by Kathleen Graves.  I started reading Designing Language Courses around the same time, but I found that the style was a bit more discursive.  It was fairly pleasant to read, but not as information rich.  Since I was on a deadline with the Delta Module 3, I switched back to David Nunan.  Syllabus Design by David Nunan, at least in the initial chapters, was very heavy on the type of terminology necessary for Delta Module 3, so the time spent reading it was a lot easier to justify.  Furthermore in Kathleen Graves' book, she mentions Syllabus Design by David Nunan as the textbook she used to teach her class on syllabus design when she was still writing her own book.  So better to start with the original, I thought.  (Although I may later try to finish up Graves' books to see how she expands on Nunan's ideas.)

My History with the Author
I've never read anything by David Nunan cover to cover before (and so have never consequently reviewed him on this blog before).  But I've read parts of some of his books.  This essay on Bottom-Up and Top Down Listening for Elementary Learners required me to read part of his book Second Language Teaching & Learning, which I found very well-written and easy to read.

The Review
This book is part of the Language Teaching: A Scheme for Teacher Education series [LINK HERE].

I've previously reviewed one other book in this series: Speaking by Martin Bygate.  In my review of that book, I complained a lot about the format.
This book has the exact same format.  And so consequently, I have all of the same complaints again.
This book is divided into three sections.  The first section (p.1-71) introduces all the necessary theory.  The second section (p.75-133) is a self-study, which asks the reader to apply the theory critically to selections of real syllabuses through a series of guiding questions.  And the third section (p.137-157) is a series of suggestions for research tasks.
In terms of getting useful information, only the first section is of any value.  And perhaps if I had any sense, I would have stopped reading the book there.  Really the only reason I kept on trudging through the final 86 pages is because I have this quirk where I like to say I've read a book cover to cover so that I can review it on my blog.  But I got very little use out of it.

As with Speaking by Martin Bygate, this book is not really meant to be read so much as it's meant to be worked through.  Almost every page has TASKs that will pop up giving the reader questions to work through.


It's not unusual to have multiple tasks per page, as you can see from this excerpt of page 51.
This was much to my annoyance, because I'm the type of person who prefers just reading a book straight through without having to stop on every page to do tasks.
If there are going to be tasks in a book, I prefer that there be an answer key in the back (at least some of the tasks seemed like they should have clear right or wrong answers), or maybe some sort of commentary you could consult for the subjective questions.  But without being able to check my answers afterwards, I didn't see much point in doing the task.
So I just read through the book without doing any of the tasks.  Which for the most part meant that all the TASKs on every page were just an annoyance to me.
Occasionally, however, you do get the sense that David Nunan was using the task questions to heavily imply what he felt reluctant to say outright.  For example, after quoting Krashen and Terrell's hypothesizes on page 51, TASK 51 was:
Do you disagree with any of these principles?
Consider the principals you agree with: Do you think we need empirical evidence on these, or are they just common sense?
Do you think that Krashen and Terrell can legitimately claim authorship of principles such as 'develop communication skills'?
For which of the principles would you like to see firm evidence?
...so, this is essentially David Nunan saying that Krashen and Terrell don't have sufficient evidence for their claims, but doing it in the form of leading questions, right?

Also, as with Speaking by Martin Bygate, the TASKs are usually located after you've read through the relevant section.  For example, on page 67, there was a list of "Arguments against the use of performance objectives" followed by a list countering the arguments against the use of performance objectives.  As I read through the two lists, I kept wondering why the arguments in the second list didn't seem to line up with the arguments in the first list.  Until I got to TASK 65 on the following page: "Match the arguments from List A with the counter arguments from List B".  Ahh... so that's what I was supposed to be doing.  Why not just put that part first?
And this was a problem throughout the book.  It had also been a problem throughout Speaking by Martin Bygate, the other book I had read in the series.  So it appears to be a problem with the series in general.  Ironic.  You'd think if anyone would understand the concept of "task before text", it would be people working in the teacher training industry.)

However, my complaints about the format of the book aside, I did find the information in section one to be pretty interesting.  I liked that David Nunan gave both the arguments for and the arguments against various types of syllabuses.  It got me thinking.
It was also, as I mentioned above, very terminology heavy.  So quite useful for anyone doing Delta Module 3.

Section 2 was examples of real-life syllabuses, to which the reader was supposed to apply the theory from section 1.  I think this could have been really interesting if there had been more guidance or a commentary.  But instead it was just all TASKs.
Without an answer key or commentary on the tasks, I'm not sure how much I would have gotten out of them even if I had done them.  But at any rate, I had no patience to do them.

The third section was all TASKs for independent research.  At this point, the book is no longer even trying to engage the reader.  It's just all lists of tasks, aims, resources, procedures, and evaluations.

I am so falling asleep right now as I read this....
...I complain, but really I have no one but myself to blame.  Clearly this book was not meant to be read straight through at a coffee shop.  It was meant to be used as a reference book.  You're only meant to skim it for relevant information for your essay.  Or, if your ambitious enough to actually do the TASKs, you can use it as a study guide.
I personally just have this weird quirk where I like to read books cover to cover and review them on my blog.  But no sane person need read this one cover-to-cover.

Other Notes
* Page 63, section 5.3 on performance objectives in language teaching had a curious last sentence.  I think it's a mistake, but let me know if I'm missing anything.  
So that last sentence should read: "specifying output rather than input", right?  Because it's based on the student's performance, so we're evaluating the output, right?

Friday, November 01, 2019

"If you will let me be, I will try them."

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

We've been reading a lot of Green Eggs and Ham to our daughter, and my wife (L1 Vietnamese) thinks she found a grammar mistake in the book.

" 'If you will let me be, I will try them.'  It should be 'If you let me be, I will try them', right?"

Indeed, this is what we teach when we teach English as a foreign language.  When teaching the first conditional for possible futures, we teach it as "if+ present simple, will + base form" e.g. "If it's nice tomorrow, I'll go to the beach." (see my worksheets on the first conditional, and on conditionals).
But I've read in some grammar books that the ESL textbooks are actually over-simplifying the conditionals. and in reality a lot of different structures are possible. So this was my first response to my wife.
...but then I thought about it a while longer, and I wondered if there might be a better reason why "will" was in the if-clause in this sentence.  Was it because this was not just a condition, but an offer?
I'm not 100% sure, so I thought I'd throw it out to the Internet to see if anyone else had opinions.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Finished: Syllabus Design by David Nunan...a review coming at some point. (Life is a bit hectic at the moment, so we'll see...)


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Words Ending in -el Crossword Puzzle

(TESOL Worksheets-- Spelling)
Google Drive Folder HERE
Crossword Puzzle: Drive (made using https://www.armoredpenguin.com/crossword/)
Crossword Puzzle Answers: Drive
Slideshow (for pre-teaching): slides, pub
(In my classes I used this with English World 5, Unit 8 p.89, Spelling: words ending in el)





Tuesday, October 22, 2019

My Two Cents on the Martin Scorsese/ Francis Ford Coppola Controversy

For anyone who hasn't been keeping up, see these links:
From The Guardian: Martin Scorsese says Marvel movies are 'not cinema'
And Francis Ford Coppola: Scorsese was being kind – Marvel movies are despicable

A brief history of Cinema:
The 1930s
Image result for tarzan the ape man

Image result for flash gordon serial

The 1940s
Image result for house of frankenstein

Image result for captain marvel serial

The 1950s
Image result for the beginning of the end movie

Image result for tarantula movie

The 1960s

Image result for batman adam west movie

Image result for 1960s that darn cat

1970s
Image result for superman 1970s movie

Image result for battle for the planet of the apes 1970s movie

1980s

Image result for tron movie

Image result for the last starfighter movie

1990s

Image result for dick tracy 1990

Image result for spawn movie poster

...and many, many, many more examples, which you could probably think of yourself just as well as I could.

Which is, of course, not to say that Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies are at any way on the same level as Taxi Driver or The Godfather.  They're not, and no one should argue that they are.  You're improving your mind by watching The Godfather.  Marvel Movies are, on the other hand, simply a pleasant waste of time and nothing more.

But the obvious point is that we've always had mindless low-brow trashy movies.  Arguably if you look at the history of cinema, this is the medium's default form, and the more intellectual films of Scorsese and Coppola are the exception.

The way to evaluate the Marvel movies is not to compare them to The Godfather.  The way to evaluate them is to compare them against other movies in their genre.  And for my money, movies like Captain America: Civil War, Thor Ragnarok, and Infinity War are looking pretty good compared to the usual super-hero movies.

(Note: I'm rehashing arguments I've made once before in a previous post HERE).