Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Snippets of Latin

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I’m currently reading Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France.

I find the text very interesting and feel that a lot of the content pertains to open source software. Repeatedly, Burke argues for gradual improvements to existing systems that have been constructed over time and shaped by actual demands rather than sudden revolutions of men of ideas but little experience. At its best, the open source movement offers software that has evolved in the gradual way, with bugs eroded over time. Something that attracts me to free software more greatly recently is that it can’t be taken off the market. Microsoft have stopped selling XP, sort of. I don’t want to be forced to move Vista. The designers of the original UNIX probably never thought that that OS would still be in such widespread use in the 21st century but here we are. Are there better systems? No doubt. Do I want to “upgrade” all my servers to anything else? Not on your nelly.

Of course, many in the open source movement might see themselves more like the revolutionaries, sweeping away a corrupt monopoly and replacing that with a free utopia. Reality doesn’t reflect that. Where the advocates of free software have presented themselves this way, they have succeeded the least.

A problem that I have encountered whilst reading has been translating the frequent quotations in Latin. Although I studied Latin for six years at school, I can’t remember much more than to parrot off “Bellum, Bellum, Bellum”. A typical problem of a language education focussed almost exclusively on syntax. I cut and paste the sentences into google but more often than not the only results returned are other copies of “Reflections” (of which there are plenty).

Does anyone know of a good repository of Latin quotations? It could make quite an interesting CRUD page (e.g. quotation, original text, original author, texts in which it appears, possible translations, votes for translations and so on). But I don’t want to build such a page as I don’t know enough Latin and I’m sure that something similar must exist already.

Capitalisation TEFL Activity: Herb’s Herbs

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Here’s a little TEFL activity that might help as a warm-up exercise or to review capitalisation:

herbs-herbs.pdf

Here’s the .ODT original, in case anyone wants to make any changes or additions:

herbs-herbs.odt

Common Language Errors

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

I recently started working as an EFL teacher in Seoul, South Korea. I like this work a lot and I am planning to work as a teacher for the foreseeable future.

However, you can’t go from being a web programmer to another career and leave everything behind. You see possible computer programs wherever you go. I can see the need for Haddock CMS (or RoR or whatever…) projects all over the place. My new employer’s time-tabling system and vocabulary database would be a lot more simple if they were web based system rather than MS Access and Excel based.

Another project that I thought might be quite interesting to start is one to track common written language errors. From marking book reports and tests, I’ve seen quite a few common errors in language already. For example, “The mother was see the child” and variations along those lines are extremely common. I don’t know enough about the Korean language to be able to say why so many of my students should make that mistake but my assumption is that there is probably a grammatical structure similar to that in the students’ native tongue.

If I get time, I would like to start a project that allows EFL teachers to log these sorts of errors on a web site. There are EFL teachers in every corner of the world now and they a grow online community. It would be interesting to see a student’s native language affects his production of English. This might help teachers to decide on which areas of language to focus their classes.

Seoul

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

At the end of last week, my girlfriend and I moved to Seoul. I’m going to be working as a elementary level English teacher. I’m very excited about this and start my lessons this afternoon.

This city is amazing. Having lived in the countryside for the last few months, it’s great to be back in a city. I’ve always found the countryside solipsistically lonely and dull. Here, nobody stops. Ever. Not even at 5 am (I’m still on English time, what’s their secret?).