Monday, March 26, 2012

not going to Philly, but plowing forward anyway

The TESOL world leaves this week for Philadelphia, and I'm a bit sorry about that, that due to a personal schedule conflict I'm staying home this year, and minding the home fires. It's ok; I needed a rest, and my topic, grammar technology, requires some reflection at this point.

That's because several things have altered my view. First, it has now been a few years since I taught upper-level writing, and I see the world now from the view that is far more down in the trenches, with the lower people coming up. They, for the most part, are by vast majority highly connected, highly technological, yet way behind in grammar, as far behind in grammar as they are ahead in listening. It's quite interesting to watch what appears to be very good oral fluency, very poor grammatical understanding.

And why is that? I've taken to believing that technology's most insidious feature is its undermining of one's confidence; that alone does more harm than the "cupertinos" (ironically named for the home of Apple in California) or their grammatical counterparts, the things that lead us astray when we try to understand someone's true meaning; the hiding, or systematic altering, of what one intended to say.

Now how to get at this: write about it, learn about other teachers' point of view, etc.; that's what I'd like to know. I'm at a loss as to where to go with my exploration. How can I prove that I know what I think I'm seeing? A new survey might help; more about that later. And, I may have a guest blogger on here; stay tuned.

I've taken to saying, if you see any Quakers out there in Philadelphia, tell them Tom said hello. I'm not sure if they're the ones with the funny hats, or not. Please, no oatmeal jokes.

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self-organization again

Leverett, T. (2012, Jan.) Right metaphor, wrong conclusion. Google docs, self-published document.

So I wrote this in January, but hit another busy spell and didn't follow up on it. I want to follow up, write my book; I even took a number of classics out of the library, but this was maybe in late January and I've had to renew them twice without producing much more than this. Ah well, as I've taken to saying, life goes at its own pace.

So I might as well present this, slap it down on the table, and bluff you. There may be more soon, or there may not. You'll just have to stick around & find out.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Atkinson, Dwight (2011, Mar. 2). Adaptive intelligence and a sociocognitive approach to second language acquisition. Linguistics Luncheon, Student Center, Southern Illinois University.

I mention this first because it's amazing to some degree that there is still a Linguistics Luncheon; that the tradition continues; that we have a respected second language acquisitionist here; that many people attended. I won't dwell on this but I think it's good to have a record somewhere that linguistics is still alive at SIUC.

Then, as for what he said, I'll review. There was a cognitive revolution. It was anti-behaviorist. It considered mind as number one, and its proponents became interested in the idea of mind as computer. The sociocognitive approach combines social and cognitive approaches, and rejects the idea that cognitive processes are locked away in an isolated prison of the mind. We are adaptive by nature, good at frisbee but bad at math (abstract math, anyway). We have an extremely complex environment for several reasons; we learn as we adapt and the two are bound together. There is the inseparability principle and the alignment principle in which we have many tools of alignment including eye gaze, gesture, facial expression, etc.; language fits into this alignment process and has to be seen as part of it.

There was an active question-answer session, the first question being about our present alignment toward online communication and how this would alter our view of language and language learning. Dr. Atkinson brought up the chat-bots who carry on entire but disjointed conversations with each other and how that alters our view of "conversation" and "alignment." There were more but my cell phone rang, and I was called away on a personal situation. But thank you Dr. Atkinson! I hope I haven't too seriously misrepresented what you said; I realize that my notes are somewhat simplistic. It can be recaptured in more formal form, as necessary.

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