|“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero
Month: August 2013
I like you and you like me – On Facebook’s most important tool
I remember my 16-year-old son posting his new profile photo and saying: “My goal is to get at least 20 likes”. Well, I told him that I liked his photo but it apparently didn’t count…
I’ve been using Facebook for some time now but I must admit I still don’t know how it works. I can upload an image, post a comment or change my profile photo, but I’m still somewhat puzzled by Facebook’s inherent complexity. What I’m most fascinated about at the moment is the like button. I can’t stop constantly analyzing what’s behind this tiny icon. Not because I want to invent a super theory on how to get more likes on Facebook; what intrigues me is the moment of decision to like something or ignore it, and all the emotions you can express with just one click.
I always wonder whether other people feel the same way as I do (my husband reassures me that they don’t). For example, I’d like to look inside the human brain to scrutinize the complex and complicated process of deciding whether they’ll hit the like button or not. Although it’s just a matter of seconds, or even less, an amazing lot of brain processes must be going on inside the person’s head. Are they only interested in the post itself or do they have the person who posted it in mind? In other words, is it only about content or is it personal? And what about their own personality? Do they need some time to decide if they want to share this bit with others or do they just act spontaneously? Or are they too shy to expose their emotions at all?
The like button apparently has many functions and some of them are more superficial than others, but that’s ok: by liking something you can express that you’ve just smiled, laughed, or cried; you can express your surprise, shock or amazement. But I’ve also used it for other reasons; by liking someone’s post I just quickly want to say: “Hello, I’m here. We haven’t been in touch for ages but I know you are there.” Or I simply want to show that I like the person or appreciate what he or she does in general. I can also express that I agree with what the person claims and by agreeing I actually expose my own opinion. Finally, I’ve always kind of felt that by clicking the like option you make an imaginary full stop: I’ve read your post. Thanks. Full stop.
The number of likes one receives certainly matters because Facebook is not just about interaction, relationships and communication; it’s also about competition. But the number of likes one gives away matters as well because someone who likes everything may be ‘valued’ less by others than someone who uses the tool carefully. On the other hand, I feel that liking on Facebook is like smiling at somebody or patting them on the back. And does it cost you anything to smile at someone? Can you waste smiles and supportive pats on the back? Well, the fact is that some people are always smiley and some don’t smile at all. We are human and everyone is different. So let’s go to Facebook and enjoy the diversity.
PS: I hope you will like my post 🙂
What I love about social media – Part 2
|This picture is available on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/
for educational puposes
I must elaborate on my previous post as I feel that it might have been misinterpreted, especially the last paragraph where I write about social media being superficial. I’m not saying that it’s not true because any kind of communication can be superficial. It depends on the people involved, not on the means of communication itself. We all have come across a John Doe on Twitter, for example, who started following Jane Doe just because he wanted to draw attention to himself, not because he was interested in what Jane Doe had to say. And when Jane eventually started following John, he disappeared without a trace. Well, that’s life.
Being a member of a community is different. Communities have always been based on the principle of reciprocity – responding to a positive action with another positive action. The sentence “Is it bad that they read your posts because they want you to read theirs?” sounds harsh; it either implies that somebody reads what I write just because they want to draw attention to themselves, or it indicates that I read what other people write because I want to draw attention to myself. One way or another, that’s not what I meant. What I meant is that it’s like having birthday parties; we get presents from the beloved members of our communities and next time, when it’s their birthday, we feel the urge to get them something nice too. And the other way around – we give and we subconsciously expect to get in return.
So how to conclude this? I’m happy when somebody cares – it’s a nice feeling because I’m human. I feel grateful and want to show my gratitude. I want to learn about that person as well. And I usually find out that the person has something valuable to offer. So it all starts with the principle of reciprocity and ends up with the principle of humanity.
What I love about social media
What I love about social media is the fact that when there’s something on your mind you just say it and people have the choice to listen or ignore you. I also like the fact that social media make you think twice before you ‘utter’ the words because you never know who’s listening or reading, and it’s difficult to take your words back. I’m an impatient and a quick-tempered person so this is a good exercise for me. I’m also self-conscious and I care about what people think. But being too self-conscious is not good because it can sometimes prevent you from doing good things. Social media help me gradually become aware of the fact that I CAN achieve good things and share them with others.
Teaching idioms (lesson plan)
|Every cloud has a silver lining.|
In this post, I’d like to show you a way of presenting idiomatic language to your learners.
There are many ways to teach certain language features, some are more effective than others and not all of them work with all types of learners. But there’s one I believe works for everybody, particularly with idiomatic language. I believe that visualising idioms, i.e. connecting an idiom with an image, helps to bridge the gap between the literal and the figurative meaning. So when teaching idioms, I show my students the picture first and draw their attention to the most salient aspects, and then slowly get to the metaphor the image represents. Later on I analyze the idiom with learners, i. e. we focus on grammar, words it consists of, concentrate on pronunciation, connotations, the degree of formality, etc.
|Hang somebody out to dry.|
This is a lesson plan for more advanced students but you can always adjust the content.
Tell your students they are going to learn a new idiom. Remind your students of what an idiom is. Elicit and/or give them plenty of examples they are already familiar with and provide the definition: an idiom cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, and it’s a combination of words that have a figurative meaning, which is separate from its literal definition.
- Show your students the picture only (it’s best if you can project it on the screen).
- Get them to describe it in detail (in pairs or in groups).
- Elicit words connected with the image and put them on the board.
- Ask the SS if they can guess the idiom with the words they’ve got. Elicit answers. This stage can be fun, especially with more advanced students. They may come with sentences such as: I feel like a pair of shoes on a clothesline. 🙂
- Put the correct idiom Hang somebody out to dry on the board and discuss the literal meaning briefly.
- Ask the Ss if they can guess the figurative meaning: to punish somebody for what they did. To help the SS, give them example sentences, such as: Once I find out who’s vandalized my house, I swear I’ll hang them out to dry. Alternatively, you can ask questions such as: How would you feel hanging out on a clothesline? Would it be a reward or a punishment for you? Thus you’ll juxtapose the literal meaning with the figurative meaning. The funny part is always with somebody as opposed to something.
- Get your Ss to discuss some questions in pairs/groups. Try to personalize the questions.
- Have you ever hung someone out to dry for something? What did you do?
- Would you like to hang somebody out to dry? What for?
- Encourage your Ss to ask their own questions and share them with the class.
- You may also want to discuss grammar, especially the irregular vs. regular form of the verb, the infinitive to-form, etc.
- Finally, ask the Ss to come up with a similar idiom in their native language. This part is very interesting and challenging.
- As a homework assignment (or in class), the students can answer the questions in writing.
You can take your own pictures but I’m creating a database of idioms on http://www.visual-idioms.com/ so feel free to use mine 🙂
Why do I teach? – A list of my negative character traits
|A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.|
- Because I’m selfish. I like to do things that satisfy me – and teaching satisfies me. And I have to learn to be able to teach, and learning new things satisfies me too.
- Because I’m lazy and I love spending two months doing nothing (just connecting with enthusiastic educators all over the world, sharing photos for future educational purposes, learning new things online)
- Because I’m childish. I love playing games and I like to pretend that I’m the winner.
- Because I’m impulsive – I have the power to incite and I believe the best lessons often result from impulse.
- Because I’m unpredictable. If a good idea springs to mind, I change my plan in the course of the lesson. I guess I couldn’t be a pilot.
- Because I’m impatient and I want the response and feedback NOW, right at the moment, from the kids (their laughter, smile, happy facial expression).
- Because I’m restless. I hate being in the doldrums for too long and teaching is so varied.
- Because I’m cunning and I know how to make my students love English and the lessons.
- Because I’m gullible and I believe all people are good.
- Because I’m obstinate and if I feel something might work with my students, I go for it.
How much one can learn in two months’ time
|I feel that learning and sharing is what keeps me alive.|