A big change in my teaching since starting the MA (and a good example of teaching practices that were always possible but hadn’t really occurred to me until I started studying them more formally) is letting students take the lead in finding materials on the endless, free source of authentic language learning resources that is the Internet.  I don’t have to be with them on every step of this.  An assignment I’ve given countless times now is 1) find something interesting on the Internet, 2) write what is interesting about it, 3) share it with a classmate, and 4) have them do the same.  I see what they wrote, but the writing portion is, the way I see it, a perfunctory assignment on paper that gets them to do the real meat of it which is exposing themselves to input.

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Empathizing with undergrads

My undergraduate transcript is quite spotty.  In fact the addition of literal spots concealing my two years as a computer science major would drastically improve it, as a kind of camouflage from all but the best-evolved potential employers.  I should therefore empathize more with undergraduate students of mine who have a list of priorities that includes “replace muffler on motorcycle with amplifier” and “finish 10th playthrough of idol simulation” before anything that colleges theoretically exist for, like learning.

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There is a term used in Japan for English “borrowings” that in fact originate in Japan, which is 和製英語, wasei-eigo or “made-in-Japan English”.  This term is typically used for words like ペーパードライバー peepaa doraibaa, meant to be “paper driver” or someone who has a license but doesn’t drive (why?), or アイドリングストップ aidoringu sutoppu, which any junior high school graduate should know couldn’t possibly be interpreted as “stop idling (your car)”.  As should be obvious, I regard the term wasei-eigo as stupid, but revealing of some interesting assumptions about what it means for a word to be part of a particular language.

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Letters of null reference

So I’ve been applying to semi-academic teaching jobs for the past month.  I say semi-academic because they are at institutions of learning, higher education even, but give no information on expectations of research and require no publications to apply.  They still require letters of reference though, which is proving to be a bit of a problem.

I have been self-employed for the past 11 years, and at my school I have exactly one coworker, who I happen to be married to.  In addition to that, my main job, I have worked part time at a university for the past year, but like many university jobs (so I am gathering) the administration has very little involvement in your day-to-day teaching.  The result of all this is that I have had very few supervisors in my teaching career, and zero who have actually seen me in a classroom.  My fellow instructors at the university are in a bit better of a position to comment on my work, but their job titles seem to be mostly made up of caveats: “Junior Associate Non-Tenured Part-time Faculty in the Department of Required Courses”.  Their endorsements would be meaningful to me but probably not a hiring board.

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