Sunday, April 25, 2010

Article summary

Bremner (2006) argues that although there is a significant correlation between the level of English proficiency and the use of specific learning strategies there is not enough evidence to suggest that the relationship between strategy and proficiency is causative.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Swales and Feak unit 4

This unit deals with data commentary that will arise from encountering data in the form of tables and graphs. For me in particular this kind of commentary will be unavoidable because of the way I intend to execute my thesis. Either analyzing data from studies or surveys I intend to conduct, or by using information gained form the work of others, sound rational commentary will be the goal. The article points out that being able to comment effectively on data will underscore the researcher’s own objective, perceptive and interpretive skills. Relaying in words what the numbers themselves present is not sufficient, more importantly we should be able to draw reasonable conclusions from the numerical information.
The art seems to be in making statements that are not too strong and at the same time not completely inoperative. I think it is a delicate undertaking not to overstate or understate insights that may be exposed by available data. Once again the Swales article is very useful in providing guidance as to the best way to accomplish efficacy tempered with being “confidently uncertainty” (Swales & Feak, 1994, p86). I suspect though that quite a lot of practice is required before this skill becomes easier. The background the reading provides and the exercises in it, does however provide a helpful start.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Response to Anderson and Kanuka

Certainly this article is extremely relevant and useful. The internet with its endless and unprecedented supply of and access to, information will be the strongest source I use to collect and collate the literature review for my thesis. As Anderson and Kanuka (2003) point out, the literature review “is both a process and a product” (p.39). As a product it belies the structure and the foundations that the thesis rests upon and as a process the literature review is consulted, amended and elaborated on throughout.
While the internet has unlimited access to information at exceptional (relative to any period before) speed, much of the information is unedited or for other reasons not suitable for the purposes of academic writing. The danger then lies in how to insure that while using this goldmine of resources that the quality of the review is not compromised.
Accessibility, timeliness, readability, relevance and authority are the five elements that are required form information sources (Kibirige & Depalo, 2000). The internet has improved the efficiency in all five fields and Anderson and Kanuka make practical suggestions for “evaluating and authenticating net-based information” (p. 43-45). Using their guidelines (and also common sense) a sound, through and competent literature review can be obtained.
It seems almost impossible to conduct a literature review without the use of the internet.
The poor, tormented souls of academics that lived before its invention.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thesis Topic : To investigate the application of learning strategies in Korea with regard to the acquisition of English.

The definition of learning strategies in this context refers to the means whereby students regulate, assist and evaluate their own learning.

Within the cognitive theory paradigm second language acquisition is seen as having more to do with learning complex cognitive skills than it does with other content based subjects. From the point of view of CALLA (Cognitive academic learning approach) the study of the strategies employed by successful students holds the key to effective development of a second language, and of higher cognitive awareness. Chamat and O’ Malley (1995) discuss at least three types of strategies: metacognitive strategies, cognitive strategies and social-affective strategies.

By reviewing studies in this area I seek to answer:
1) Which of these strategies are most effective for increased verbal fluency?
2) Which strategies are most appropriate for certain age groups (or developmental level)?

3) What is the current extent of the use of learning strategies employed by English teachers in Korea?
4) What is the attitude towards the use of learning strategies by English teachers in Korea?
Questions 3 and 4 can be answered by posing questions to English teachers in public, private and tertiary institutions such as:
What is your awareness of and exposure to learning strategies?
To what extent (if any) is the use of learning strategies employed in your lessons.
What are your feelings about the merits of learning strategies?

5) To what extent are learning strategies supported in the learning material used in Korea.
The above question could be investigated by a review of the learning material in the form of English text books used in public, private and tertiary institutions.

6) How to introduce (or extend and maximize the use of) learning strategies with regard to English education in Korea.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Swales Reading

I found the reading very helpful. Being a native English speaker makes it easier for me to switch between formal, informal and colloquial levels of use. This can often be an automatic process for native speakers but that certainly doesn’t mean we are unable to benefit from conscious reflection and analysis of this process.
Personally I lack several skills mentioned. For instance, I often make the mistake of oversimplifying my view for sake of clarity. I think this stems from being a teacher of young children. Taking the “audience’s expectation and prior knowledge” (Sawles, 1994 p 7) into account will spare my writing unnecessary diversions.
As I’ve pointed out before I am a novice writer and certainly more so with regard to the academic style. Therefore the article’s quite comprehensive instruction about purpose, organization, flow and presentation was most useful.
Practice, using these guidelines is of course the next step for me. .

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interesting topics in Tesol

I feel pressured to think of my maters thesis topic. I haven’t explored every avenue that interests me and I’m afraid that if I choose a topic to pursue now I will regret the choice later. I understand that by selecting my topic now I can at least complete the literature review during this course. This will no doubt be of great value.
What interests me are quite broad issues and I haven’t whittled them down to what can be posed as a decent topic for a thesis yet. My background in psychology and particularly in early childhood development guides me towards some questions. For instance, the optimal age of second language acquisition, the role of play in language learning or the possible negative effects of early socialization on second language fluency, are all topics I’m considering.
I plan to work in the developing world and there are range of options that stem from that. How to be an effective teacher in an environment with few resources, how to create materials for children with scant resources, assisting and empowering non native speaking teachers to achieve optimal results, are some. The role that English education can play in improving the lives and standard of living of those in the developing world, is also something that I want to explore.
I beg your patience.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Response to Kyoko Yamada's article on plagiarism

I think that the contention in the article is that the problem is deeper than just the proper citation and acknowledgement of sources. Simply presenting the ideas of others, even when they are clearly referenced is not enough to make a piece of academic writing insightful, critical and relevant.
Ubuntu is the Southern African philosophy of humanism. One of its main principles states that “a person is only a person through other people” The world of ideas is similar in that all ideas are dependant on other ideas. They are built up on those that came before, they are drawn on from those that are contemporary, either in agreement, in opposition or by elaboration. Ideas are linked to future ideas by acting as foundations and building blocks or erroneous walls that have to be demolished in order to erect more useful structures. This interconnectedness can lay the trap for plagiarism in obvious ways and more subtle ones.
To me the most interesting aspect mentioned in the reading was that through educating students about how to avoid plagiarism the quality of writing is actually improved. By interpreting, analyzing and approaching source material from varying angles the rewards are twofold. Not only is the risk of plagiarism limited but the standard of the writing is markedly increased. Thorough examination of concepts put forth by others, making connections, drawing inferences are what lead on to original thoughts. So that the end result is a body of work, that even while a part of the continuum, is also a clear individual.
As I novice myself I find this encouraging. I will be implementing that approach in the writing that lies ahead of me.

Cillers, J. (1996). In Search of meaning between Ubuntu and into: Perspectives in post apartheid South Africa.
Yamada, K. (2003). What Prevents ESL/EFL Writers from Avoiding Plagiarism?: Analyses of 10 North- American College Websites.