Thursday, April 19, 2012

in praise of textbook errors


Somewhere I have a folder of image of strange errors I have found in ESL textbooks.  I am not complaining...much, anyway.  I like having a variety of errors.  As wide a variety as possible, in fact.

Purely as an ESL teacher, I like to have the occasional error regarding spelling or grammar, but I also like those involving math or common sense.
Take this one (click to embiggen):



I think that there is an error jumps out at you, but it took some effort on my part to describe the error.  I eventually made a matrix:



The error below is more subtle.  Perhaps in fact, there is no error, but one part seems strange to me.  To save you some time, I have underlined half of the problem.



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If you had trouble finding the problem, go to the image below.
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A quick online search confirms what I had previously thought; 'Cafe'' is in the name, but I would describe the place as more of a restaurant.  What restaurant lets its employees take a lunch break at lunch time?  What employee would want to skip out on the tips (well, tips wouldn't matter in Korea but the custom doesn't exist)?

Errors that are not about spelling, grammar or the like provide a chance for weaker ESL students to shine.  If a student has a restaurant job, perhaps this example will be one she can relate to and remark upon before a student with stronger English skills.

I don't think I have the self-confidence to deliberately add errors to the materials I give students, there are likely a few already included.  I grumble about the errors in the books I use at my university, but I do enjoy the opportunity they provide.

everyday creativity

Although I have talked about it, I am not now proposing to perform and report on a creative act every day.  Instead, this post is about small 'c' creativity; a no-doubt important form of creative action but one that works inside domains or genres and does not change or create a new domain.

Below, I show a broken strap on my computer-bag and how i fixed it with a piece of paperclip and a pair of pliers.

First, the unbroken side, complete with a washer.

Now, the broken - washerless- side.

And now that side again, but with the mangled bit of paperclip.  Oh, and great definition of the ridges of my palm.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Indian Ingenuity


I have just finished reading Csikszentmihalyi's Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of discovery and invention.  Expect a full review soon, but around the same time as I was reading Csik... discussing how poverty reduced the amount of psychic energy you had to spare on creativity, I also saw news of a blog of, well, interesting Indian jury-rigged devices and ideas.  Here are some:
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Via Boingboing.

While traveling in India, 22 years ago, I read an issue of the India Times and it included an ad, perhaps for cigarettes, but showing an Indian Yuppie couple reading and laughing at "101 Polish Jokes".  Some ethnic groups just can't win.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Unhelpful teacher

More at quickmemes and provides the option to add your own caption.

Well, one more here possibly for the presentation:

Good compliments

One piece of advice I had heard for parenting was to compliment children correctly.  "You're very smart." or "That was smart." are bad compliments -and the former scans strangely to me; I don't think anyone would say that.

so, how should we be compliment people, young or young at heart?  Media Bistro has five suggestions and here are two of them:

1. Acknowledging incorrect facts. Whether a person’s name is acknowledged incorrectly or an achievement is miscommunicated, this one definitely lacks effectiveness. Fact check, please!
3. Being vague. Giving someone at pat on the back for a “good job” is simply too generic. The best way to boost morale? Point to specific behaviors so people know what they did right.

For children, my understanding is to offer compliments that are as specific as possible and also to praise a work ethic more than smarts.