Archive for the Uncategorized Category

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2008 by christophercorcoran

Presentation for EFL 537

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2008 by christophercorcoran

Review of WordPress Blog by Rofikoh Roka’aitun .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 16, 2008 by christophercorcoran

Review of:

BY Rofikoh Roka’aitun

By Christopher C. Corcoran
This blog by Indonesian Student Rofikoh Roka’aitun, a post graduate student of English Education at the University of Muhammadiyah raises many good points.  Roka’aitun, the author, mentions how in the past, vocabulary was given little priority in Second Language programs (it was left to look after itself and little specification was given to its role) but that recently there is a renewed interest and the status of vocabulary is changing and that the nature of words have been broadened to include lexical phrases and routines. I  mentioned this idea before by expressing that vocabulary should also include ideas and concepts and not just definitions. Roka‘aitun raises the idea that this concept plays a primary role in communication and language acquisition.  The author’s main point of the article is that the computer is the best technology to increase students’ vocabulary. Roka’aitun reminds us that ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and communication can be a catalyst for pupil activity and that computers invite learners to be active. One cannot just stare at a computer screen as one can with a TV.  Roka’aitun also mentions how working with computers can be a challenge (yes, it certainly can…) but it is those challenges and problems that have to solved, and it these challenges and problems that facilitate activity and vocabulary acquisition.  Roka’aitun goes on to explain how students learn new words and how teachers learn the best approaches to teach vocabulary. Advantages to using the computer include less time in preparation and the endless resource material that computers provide.
Included in this article is information and a view point from Vicente Lopez who discusses some improvements brought out by ICT.  Lopez sees a future with a connection of relationships of different curricular areas brought out by language teachers that have contributed to the linguistic development of other teachers and students. ICT will enable this intercommunication with an extension of communities hooked to wider thematic areas. We do see this today with learning communities and other combined educational environments.  Basically, the idea is that because every subject has technical vocabulary, teachers will know this vocabulary and pass it on.
Roka’aitun’s objectives include exploring the role of vocabulary learning within a language teaching program, looking at evidence on the nature and process involved in acquisition, and the nature of CALL. Roka’aitun covers “meaningful learning” and how it can mean either teachers’ curricular demands or students’ interests and expectations.  Also the “incremental process of vocabulary learning, and how readers with better vocabularies learn more from context. Roka’aitun mentions how new “words” mean more than that. A new word can be a phrase or an idiom.  Learning this new vocabulary involves many different strategies and how these strategies are combined are important to teacher as well as students.  Activities in and outside of class are best to experiment and evaluate which activities to either adopt or reject.
Roka’aitun feels that most teachers find their teaching and learning to be influenced by ICT. When teachers develop ICT skills, this increases their confidence and helps them decide when to use ICT in their teachings.  Teachers also gain insight into the subject that is being taught, and this in turn helps them to see the difficulties students may have. ICT motivates students and develops their collaborative learning skills and raises their expectations. Ultimately Roka’aitun agrees that reading is the most reliable approach to vocabulary. Exposure to words in different ways and in varying degrees and contexts solidifies their meanings for students. Helping learners encounter new words and helping them learn the words they encounter are the best approaches. Roka’aitun feels that computer use in vocabulary learning is a more efficient approach, but that some students will still ask for clearer explanations without applying the skills learned from certain programs, and are also still overcome with shyness. In these instances Roka’aitun pays particular attention to all of the types of communication that helps them. Roka’aitun finally refers to Nina M. Koptyug Ph.D. who fully supports computer use in her classroom and finds it motivational.

Personal Response: This review of an article by Indonesian Student Rofikoh Roka’aitun has some good points but is flawed as well. Many valid points and ideas were raised in the writings and research, but unfortunately, an English speaking proofreader was needed as a final step before published this article. Many points and ideas were unclear and lost because of language errors, omissions and clarity.  The article was ultimately marred because of this.  I am always surprised by the number of L2 students who do not go through this final step after working so hard on a paper. The article was written in English, and was intended for either English readers or students of English. Thus, many errors are obvious and/or will be picked and reinforced by the ESL/EFL readers of this article.

CALL Content Production Plan: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 10, 2008 by christophercorcoran

Basic Outline:


Introduction to the Plan: What is Vocabulary?

Goals & Objectives: Just learning Words and definitions? Or is it more than that? Ideas, Concepts, and Usage when learning vocabulary words.
Different cultures in an online classroom.
Who are you students? What are their vocabulary experiences and understanding of what vocabulary is?
Multiple Intelligences: Who is technically adept at learning vocabulary through technology and who is not?
How to mix learning Styles and apply computer oriented materials to strengthen different intelligences. More and better understanding of learning vocabulary through technology and more and better understanding of the importance of learning vocabulary through a humanist approach.

Online Vocabulary Learning Activities and Lessons
Learning Words Online – How it works
What types of words are best, and what are students interested in?
What is the best way to go about it? Do images  facilitate better comprehension?What type of images?
Using the words in text.

What resources are available?

Assessing On-Line Vocabulary Retention: What is best way?

Assessing Students’ tested Understanding of Vocabulary
Assessing students’ written Understanding of vocabulary.
Assessing student’s individual written work via computer

Review and Summarization of CALL and Learning Vocabulary
Assessing Achievement of Topic Goals & Objectives


Overview of unit on Vocabulary Learning
Class goals and objectives

What does it mean?
How will we learn vocabulary?
What tools will we use?
Online Thesaurus, Online sources
What vocabulary do you need and Why?
How to go about finding and learning what you need to learn.
Group activity: Using vocabulary outside of the technological environment
Individual activity: Online learning and presenting vocabulary words in an online blog.
Assessment: Comprehension via usage in emails and blogs, in class participation, and in-class oral and group activity.

Review #1: NEA HIGHER EDUCATION ADVOCATE article by Ron Berk.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 12, 2008 by christophercorcoran

My review covers an article in the NEA Higher Education Advocate. (Vol 25, No.4, April 2008) by Ron Berk, Ph.D. The article covers the gap between the”Net Geners” (younger people raised with computers and skills) and those not. Ron Berk questions whether the digital age has left most professors trying to scramble to stay in touch with their technologically advanced students. Students that are so sophisticated that they have been branded as “Digital Natives” that he describes as having wires attached to them, while it is the faculty that do not have these wires. They are known as “Digital Immigrants” with one foot in the past, and “digital” being their second language. For example, someone who goes to the library for books on information, or prints out emails.
Berk is trying to inform educators stuck in this gap how to reach these Net Geners with techniques. He says that they learn differently from previous generations and that they function at “twitch” speed (from video game experience), master complex tasks and make decisions rapidly. Yet in classes, they are bored. this is because the world they live in is a world of media over-stimulation. Berk says that these students don’t think much of traditional teaching methods with books, lectures and talking heads, but would rather have interactivity, teamwork, visualization, collaboration, fast moving and spontaneous , emotionally freeing experiences. Anything less is boring to them. Berk says that this world is not better than the instructor’s, it is just different. And when students encounter that difference, there is a culture shock of under-stimulation. Berk also says that there is no competing with their world. The trick is to leverage “their worldly elements in the classroom”.
Ron Berk’s Criteria for Picking Teacher Strategies for Net Geners:

Berk says that the four criteria that must be addressed include:
1) Their World: Teachers should draw from the students’ multimedia world and get into their heads and think like them and find out what makes them tick, how they see you, what their interests are, their passions gifts and abilities. Once you know what is in their world, you can connect with them and extend their knowledge base. Also, use media sources that they recognize because it connects their world to the material you want covered. Berk suggests small surveys that yield top 10 lists of accurate inventory of potential instructional material from the students’ world.

2) Their Characteristics: Become sensitive to them and understand how this relates to important socio-demographic characteristics including age, gender, ethnicity, language dominance, and occupation. It is important to really know your students because it helps in choosing the appropriate humor, music, videos, games, and other teaching resources.

3) Their Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles: Tap into them, each one of students’ 8.5 different forms of intelligences . Tradition has instructors teaching either verbally or quantitatively. This is easy for instructors, but not so much for students. Because everyone has strengths and weaknesses, students either excel or suffer with only those two ways. By also drawing on visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, interpersonal and intra-personal (this is equivalent to emotional intelligences) naturalistic, and environmental intelligences, teachers can builds on students strengths first and then develops their weaknesses. Their strengths are their learning styles.

4)The Teacher’s Standards for Quality: Non-Offensive Teaching Strategies and Resources.
A portion of the humor that students are exposed to in their multimedia world contain offensive language, content or violence. Teachers need to set criteria for what is appropriate in a teaching-learning context. Any form of obscenity, sexism, racism, homophobia, and put downs of racial, ethnic, profession, political, or celebrity should be areas of concern. Humor should be used to facilitate learning, not impede it. What is offensive is based on each students beliefs, values and principles. Teachers should make sure to reject material that is potentially offensive.

Humor and Multimedia Teaching Strategies for Net Geners.
Berk has five major categories of teaching techniques that promote state-of-the-art teaching strategies for Net Geners:
1) Humor: This helps the teacher and student connect and brings life to dead or boring content.
2) Music: lyrics and/or instruments create excitement when introducing topics, demonstrations, and parodies.
3) Videos: Clips from TV, movies, and YouTube can illustrate concepts, theories and applications.
4) Games: help engage students in learning concepts and/or reviewing content for exams.
5) Improvisation: can be used as a collaborative learning exercise to develop risk-taking, add libbing, role playing, team building, and critical thinking skills.

Berk’s techniques and methods for teachers to connect to Net Geners go beyond this article and he lists the many other articles, books, and CD’s in his references and resources. His article clearly demonstrates that meeting students halfway with multimedia resources can generate motivation, interest, and attention in the classroom. Tapping into their multiple intelligences also helps the students connect to the teachers and to the materials. The article is timely and informative and useful for bridging the gap between what he calls “digital natives” and “digital immigrants”.


Ron Berk’s article appealed to me especially because as a “digital immigrant” it covers particular fears and anxieties of mine.
Although the gist of the article tell those of us who are digital immigrants to lighten up, I am still not completely convinced.
I certainly do not need convincing that technology has the ability to maximize efficiency in the classroom, and in many forms of education, but in some ways, and in some contexts, it is difficult to let go of a way that you are confident and good at, and embrace a new way that you can hardly function in. also, in some ways, its just plain frightening. Berk says that these students don’t think much of traditional teaching methods with books, lectures and talking heads, but would rather have interactivity, teamwork, visual, collaborative, fast moving and spontaneous , emotionally freeing experiences. Perhaps, but some things, for example a literature class, poetry or an art appreciation class taught in any other way than traditionally would not be a good thing. These things contain subtle meanings, sub-texts, and are probably not meant to be taught rapidly, or in a “black and white”, or technical way. Also, I do not believe that all of the 8.5 intelligences are best suited to involve technology. Certainly not “naturalistic”. While the new ways may be “state of the art” we need to remember that all of learning usually (should?)involves large amounts of discipline, stress, hard work, and exercising of the brain. Certainly learning with multimedia resources involve this, (I can attest to this) but thankfully some “old fashioned” ways are still valid and time tested. Language learning for instance, while maximized for efficiency, and much more effective with new software programs, is still almost all just about simple plain old memorizing..

Hello world!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 9, 2008 by christophercorcoran

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