I solved the gigantic math problem.

It's so sad and lame that a simpleton like me needs a huge amount of time and effort to understand and absorb something that initially seemed hard to digest. What leaves to me is a teeny tiny hope that I'll never give up thinking until I reach what is supposed to be found out. I used to like contemplating math problems for hours and hours and days and days, so I'm kind of familiar with the catharsis of finally revealing how to solve a gigantic geometric proof problem. My friends would calle me as "Queen of Geometry" in junior high, by the way. What you've told me sometimes turns into a gigantic math problem that I need hours, days, weeks, months, (not years since we've known just for months!) to solve and reach a certain conclusion. Supposedly, I've obtained one.

Yes, what you say is absolutely true, legitimate and making-sense. We're nothing but English learners who are always willing to adore the beauty as well as the functionality of English grammar, cherish the linguistic value in well-constructed English sentences, and indulge into splendorous words in beautifully written English passages. We're just one of those who've determined to pave their own ways of learning English in an attempt to climb up any higher to the top just for their own good. It should be quite a lonesome journey during which almost nobody but ourselves empathize the agony, pain, and loneliness that are to be given to us. There'd be no room to let other things cut in as excuses of not being able to secure time, or as means of eliciting consolation to ease the pain in the course of English language learning.

Having revisited what you've written for all these years, I, once again, cannot help thinking that I'm so fortunate to get acquainted with you. I cannot help adoring your attitude toward English language learning. I cannot help wanting to learn whatever I can take from you. Before anything, I cannot help respecting you as an English language learner. I've never had such a respect to anybody with the persistence that hard-core atheists would have. Besides an amazing talent that you've demonstrated on all kinds of your writing, your unwavering attitude to improve you English language ability simply strikes me. I've never known or cared about the loneliness that English language learning innately entails. Now I know what "less" alone is supposed to mean. Yes, I'll be less alone in the course of English language learning life lying ahead of me. I'll be paving my long, uncertain way on my own while being less alone. You're always my inspiration. Thank you for being there, my dear friend.

This song always cheers me up.
[広告] VPS




人生相談 Quick Write

昨年に引き続き今年も、大学の非英語専攻科学生が履修する必修の reading/writing クラスを担当しています。英作文以外にいままで本格的な英語の長文を書いたことがない学生にとって(大学での専攻言語が英語ではないこともあって)、いきなりまとまったエッセーを書いてもらうのは無理な話。去年から担当しているこのコースでは、TESOLのコースで知った "Quick Write" というタスクを導入しています。狙いは「英語での writing 対する苦手意識をできるだけなくす & 頭に浮かんだことをそのまま書き連ねる楽しさを知る」こと。文法的に正しい文を書くことを要求される英作文とは、全く趣旨が異なります。"writing accuracy" を犠牲にする代わりに "writing fluency" を伸ばすとでもいいましょうか。前期は "writing fluency"、後期は "writing accuracy" にフォーカスする予定です。手順は以下の通り。

【Quick Write】
1. トピックに関してどんなキーワードを思い浮かべるか、そこからどうアイディアをふくらませるか。個人またはペア・グループで brainstorming。
2. スタートの合図から10分間書き続ける。辞書は使わないし、文法やスペルミスも気にしない。頭に浮かんだことをどんどん書いていく。とにかく10分間書き続ける。
3. 最後にエッセーの語数を数える。語数は毎回グラフに記録して、伸びを確認。

去年は「この "Quick Write" が一番好きなタスクだった」「もっともっと書けるようになりたいと思った」とアンケートに書いてくれた学生もいました。しかしトピック選びがなかなか難しいんですよねぇ。テーマによってどんどん書けたり、ひとっつもアイディアが浮かばないこともあるこのタスク。去年はTOEFL iBT の independent task のお題からネタをもってきたりしたのですが、普通過ぎて (というかどうでもいいネタ過ぎて) つまらない。そこで今年は、インターネット上で読める「人生相談(有名どころでは "Dear Abby" など)」の回答者になったつもりで、相談者にアドバイスする内容の手紙・メールを書くという設定にしました。昨日の初回では、Salon: Since You Asked... 「自分は日本に住み英語を教えながら音楽活動をしている。東北関東大震災に感化されて自分達の音楽を発信したいが、それは不謹慎だろうか」という相談内容です。みなさんならどう回答しますか、英語で。

昨日の授業で学生20人が10分間で書いた平均語数は 100.25語! 平均1分間に10語ですから、悪くない数字です。去年のクラスとメンバーが違うとは言え、TOEFLのエッセートピックを投げていた時より反応が良い印象です。内容も各自の個性が出ていてなかなか読ませます。もうひとつ別のクラスでも実施するので、そちらの様子もみる必要がありますが、このまま「人生相談 Quick Write」の方向ですすめてよさそうです。ネタ元の "Salon" には他にも面白い相談がたくさん寄せられているのですが、大学生に回答してもらうにはさすがに早過ぎる人生の難題が多い(笑)。でもそう思うのはこちらだけで、案外いまの若者はオトナな suggestions をしてくれるかもしれません。さすがに不倫ネタはマズいと思いますが、この手の相談内容が多い多い(驚)。でも大人の読みものとしては面白いし、人の悩みに洋の東西はないんだなぁとホッとします。相談者が寄せる英文にはそのまま「英借文」できるフレーズも多いので、reading/writing 教材としてもお勧め。何より気楽に読めますし。ぜひ一度サイトに行ってみてください。Since You Asked...

"Since You Asked..." のイラスト。可愛いので授業用 handout にもそのまま載せてます。





"Galaxy Girl"

I cannot help wondering if YouTube is one of the most evil and vicious technologies that have been developed in recent years. It easily rips off a huge amount of our time which is supposed to be spent for something much more productive with practical value. These days, I’ve been constantly failing to exit a revolving door which goes round and round and round and round, humming merrily the songs of my good old memories. “Galaxy Girl” has been my all-time favorite that Toshiki Kadomatsu (角松敏生) released more than twenty years ago. One of the things I adore this song is a shiny, twinkling, uplifting intro filled with sounds of crystal beads. After such blissful 35 seconds, I dive into the world of his lyrics. The words that he writes and the wording he chooses are nothing but romantic or even amorous to the extent that I’d almost be convinced that I’ll never need any kinds of supplement to induce female hormone estrogen (hyperbole!). I strongly recommend every female visitor here to obtain and secure your own individualized devices which function as hormone-inducing pump, whether music, actor, movie, novel, any forms of art, you name it. I know nothing about male stuff, sorry!

When I got to know about this very much talented but way underrated musician, I had been listening to what you ever call Hard Rock/Heavy Metal all the way and had zero interests in or even hated Japanese music in general. Compared to its thick, heavy and dense sound quality of the Hard & Heavy stuff that I loved, so-called “J-Pop” sounded corny, cheesy and cheap and their lyrics always gave me goose bumps, literally. My strong stick-to-itiveness toward the music was suddenly altered by the guy who was deeply in love with Kadomatsu so far as to say that he was an avatar of the musician, half jokingly and half seriously. He managed an Italian trattoria as a chef where I worked part-time for two years. He would always play Kadomatsu loud singing and dancing to the music while tidying up the kitchen. We were a really small team with 5 or 6 employees and started to share our interests including our boss’s enthusiasm toward his beloved music.

I can vividly recall and visualize every bit of our office summer jaunt to Izu together with people from other affiliated shops and restaurants. We were divided into three cars, a metal-black Mercedes, a sky-blue Volvo, and a navy-blue Audi. The chef drove the Audi and I was in a navigator’s seat. He was so smooth a driver and I was thrilled to enjoy the privilege of occupying the seat right next to him during the whole trip. As the car went on winding roads, he skillfully maneuvered the steering wheel, which made me swing from side to side a bit later than he moved his hands on the wheel. Throughout this mellow and wistful cruising, the music, nothing but Kadomatsu, was being played background in a nice and cozy volume. What else could I hope for? Never-ending songs of Kadomatsu on YouTube relentlessly but tenderly rips me from the reality and takes me to the sky high of the summer in Izu.

R.I.P., W.
[広告] VPS




Are you taking a Shower or a Bath?

I’m so certain that most of you have heard this ultra-optimistic trite bunkum; you’ll be able to acquire a native-like listening ability only by listening to whatever is spoken in English as if you were taking a shower! ..... If any of you have believed in this absolutely fishy-slushy spell, I strongly advise you to be wise enough to grow out of it. Here I submit my speculation which is yet to be empirically proven, but I believe some people might instinctively agree with. I’ve been thinking all these years that the listening comprehension skill is much harder to develop than widely believed. The rationale behind why I bluntly present such an audacious statement is that you cannot rely on textual information, but only on phonetic/auditory information, and need to develop “the ear” to catch and decode the phonetic input in order to comprehend what is being spoken. Plus, although this is obviously something unnecessary to be added, the listening comprehension has long been the least developed skill of mine while having kept achieving 495 on the TOEIC listening section for 6 or 7 years. See? TOEIC listening section is not at all a big deal.

Looking back at the times when I tried to achieve 495 on the listening section, I used to lose a piece of crucial information to answer questions or just be left behind in the speed or tempo of the listening materials, especially the ones in Part 3 and 4 due to my under-developed ability to process the phonetic/auditory information. Then I started listening to CNN news items by subscribing a monthly magazine, “CNN English Express”, hoping to enhance my language processing speed fully enough to catch up with spoken discourse in authentic settings. It turned out that I achieved 495 a month after I started studying with the magazine, and have kept achieving 495 since then. Disclaimer: As some of you already know, you can achieve 495 even if you’ve lost 3 or 4 questions out of 100 items in total. The reading section evaluates test-takers’ performance more severely allowing only a couple of incorrect answers or even “zero” for the perfect score.

Some say that you should listen to English without written scripts over and over until you finally grasp what has been spoken. I agree that it’s one good way to improve listening ability, but I also conceive that its efficacy and effectiveness fairly depends on whether the current level of a learner’s skill matches the chosen materials. For instance, if you catch only a few words in the listening material and do not identify the topic thereof, you’d better rely on textual information, i.e. written scripts. Read the scripts, check unfamiliar words and phrases, read the scripts aloud on your own, read them with the audio if available, and listen to the material one more time. In case that you succeed in identifying the topic but cannot follow some parts thereof, it's worth listening again and again until nothing new comes up to you. After several trials, you’d finally go for scripts to check your finalized comprehension. That is exactly what I did to “CNN English Express”. I kept doing this on train for months which greatly helped me acquire the language processing speed that I was seeking. For more advanced and motivated learners, scripts are no longer necessary or even get in the way of further developing their listening ability in a sense that it’s better for them to infer the lost parts and make up incomplete comprehension with what they have already learned such as grammatical knowledge or vocabulary.

If you need a quick and easy analogy to better understand what I’ve submitted above, here’s the thing. Listening to English without conscious attention and sedulous devotion, it’s just literally “taking a shower” which ends up holding no “water” in the bathtub. If you pay attention and devote yourself to trying to comprehend what is being spoken with clear objectives, whether with or without scripts, it will turn to be “filling water in the bathtub” which leaves you something educational in the end. My recommendation to you all is taking a “hot” bath every day until you get warmed up enough. That’s what I always do, and that's what I will keep doing. What do you do to your listening? Are you taking a shower or soaking in the bath to your heart’s content?

This is one of my favorite bath time songs to sing.
[広告] VPS




人の presentation から学ぶ その2

3/6 に記事化したTESOL コースの英語プレゼンテーションは http://ayay515.blog111.fc2.com/blog-entry-52.html おかげさまで4/8(金)に無事終了しました。その後ネイティブのクラスメートの発表を3つ見たので、今日はそこから学んだことをまとめてみます。このクラスで我々が行っているプレゼンテーションは、第二言語習得論(Second Language Acquisition = SLA)の分野で最近発表された論文を15分に要約して発表、その後グループに分かれてディスカッションした内容をクラスで発表する際の司会をするという、全体で30~40分ほどの課題です。紹介する論文は教授が事前にいくつか候補を提示し、その中から自分で1つ選びます。またその論文はクラス全員が事前に読んでいることが前提です。プレゼンテーションはパワーポイントで行い、教授は後ろの席にいて必要があれば発表中でも発言する、というスタイルです。タイムマネジメントに厳しい教授だとタイマーをセットして時間が来たら即終了、というケースもあるのですが(私はこれに慣れていて、3回ともタイマーが鳴る30秒前に終了しました!)、このクラスではそこまで厳しい形式ではなく、全体としてはリラックスした雰囲気で行われていると思います。


Article:Effects of Varying Lengths of Study-Abroad Experiences on Japanese EFL Students’ L2 Writing Ability and Motivation: A Longitudinal Study (Sasaki, M., 2011)
Abstract http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tesol/tq/2011/00000045/00000001/art00005

[Note] AH (=At Home) No experience of studying abroad / SA= (Study Abroad +length of stay) Have experience of studying abroad
1. AH students’ writing ability continued to improve while driven by “incentive value of the outcome”.
2. Among groups of SA students who formed “imagined communities”, SA 4 & SA 8-11 group improved significantly than SA1.5-2.
3. Only SA 8-11 group became intrinsically motivated and continued to develop despite impending factors such as “job hunting”.
4. For more influential motivation, L2 related communities are accompanied by specific details of skills and knowledge related target abilities, creating “internal model of reference”. (Dornyei & Otto, 1998)
5. For more enduring motivation, affective support is also important such as teachers’praise

4.スライドに typo があったが、ネタにして乗り切れた(?)
7.堂々とした態度と笑顔を最後まで保てた。(J さん、上手くいきましたよ)


1.早口だった(?) ← いつも駅まで喋りながら帰る Matt に「内容はよかったけど、いつもより少し早口だったね」と言われる。原稿があって何回も練習している内容だったので、いつも二人で話しているときの自分のテンポより速く話せてしまったかも。
2.もっと自分なりのcritical な意見を盛り込めばよかった。 ← 自分のあとに発表したネイティブ3人はこれが出来ていた。
3.もうすこしディープなアイコンタクトをしてもよかった。 ← 資料に目を落とすことはなかったが、スクリーンに顔と身体が向いていることが多く、聴き手に向かって話している時間は全体の6割程度だったように思う。
4.今回はみんなが笑ってくれてそれが "ice breaker" にはなったが、本来はtypoがあってはいけない。 ← "AH (At Home)" を "AM" と打ち間違えたのが一か所。教授がすかさず指摘してくれたのはさすがだと思った。


1.「聴き手に向かって話す」という基本的な attitude が出来ている。
5.スライドからスライドのつなぎが上手い。 ← "With that in mind...", "That said..." など前のスライドに一瞬言及してから次の説明に入る。
7.後ろで聞いている教授をうまく巻き込んでいる。( "apple-polishing" に聞えない程度にとどめる必要あり)
7.ディスカッションの際は相手の発言をしっかり受け止め、そこに自分の意見を乗せている。意見を異にする場合でも、"That's a good point.", "That's likely." などといったん受けてから自分の主張を追加している。自分の知らないことを聞かれても「自分はそこまで調べてはいないが、おそらく~ということだと思う。」と何かしら返答している。

振り返ってみるとTESOLのコースを始めてからこのクラスが7つめ、いままですべてクラスで1回ずつプレゼンテーションをしてきたので、今回で7回めということになります。一番最初に発表した時はパワーポイントすら使ったことがなく(ほんの3年前の話です)、内容もすいぶん稚拙だったと思います。それが今回はプレゼンテーション中に教授とやり取りしたり、15分にわたってディスカッションを仕切ったりと、人間は随分と成長するもんだなぁと我ながら思いました。事前練習では時間を測り、ICレコーダーに録音した自分の声を聴いて内容や発音を修正したりと、以前は決してしなかった準備も今回はしました。ほんと、エラい変わりよう(笑)。私の好きな言葉に "Better late than never." というのがあるのですが、まさにそんな心境です。一生、そんなふうに学び続けていきたいです。




English learner


Designed by