As I See It

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The nuances. The remarkable finds and oddities that pepper this vast section of the American Southwest we call Texas. I've had a lot of people tell me "There's nothing to see in Texas. As a response to that statement. To refute the silly notion that Texas is "flat" and "hot" and has nothing of beauty to entice anyone to move here.

As you leaf through this book, hopefully you will fall in love with Texas just like we did over 20 years ago when we first settled in North Texas. He has freelanced for local newspapers and magazines as well as international publications over the years.

Warren shoots freelance projects for local businesses and government offices, participates in art shows and has found a new love of High School sports through his coverage of these games for several newspapers. I also liked his honest confession regarding his struggles with listening, particularly when interacting with native speakers.

This is something we non-NESTs will never be willing to admit openly, let alone publicly. He also mentioned how disadvantaged we non-NESTs are in terms of L2 proficiency when compared to native speakers of English, especially when it comes to lexical areas such as metaphors, idioms and collocations. I believe this is something many non-NESTs avoid saying out loud too. To conclude, this was a good, old-fashioned talk, in the best sense of the word you can imagine.

The World As I See It

It was so refreshing that I even skipped my sixth cup of coffee that afternoon. In fact, now that I think about it, it was a stand-up comedy rather than a serious talk about a burning ELT issue. Still, the impact it had on me was immediate and significant.

Today, many teachers here in the Czech Republic are on strike. The unions want a 10 per cent increase in the base pay. Many people involved in the field of education, including the Prime Minister, think the strike is pointless. I am one of them. Teachers should demonstrate that they pull together as a team. Thinking about it, I am also immensely grateful for the opportunity for a peaceful protest like this.

I recently learned about the working conditions of garment workers in some of the developing countries. Once these people joined a strike, they were beaten up by the government armed forces. This happened in the 21st century. So I think it is a real blessing to be living in a world where we can express our opinion freely without being punished. Some of them believe that we are greedy. By the way, according to them, we keep asking for more but we. Personally, I have gone a long way to get where I am now. If deliberate teaching of vocabulary is such an issue, what about deliberate vocabulary testing?

So while some of the popular techniques of dealing with new words are highly effective and quite natural, such as guessing words from context or using a dictionary, they are not suitable for testing.

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The main reason for this wake-up call is that after a break time of several years, I got a group of year-old students again. They have alphabetical lists of words at the back of their workbooks, so at home, they are required to memorize a section of words we previously covered in class and then I pick 12 words for them to translate into English. Ironically, stronger students sometimes get bad marks because they simply skip revision secretly hoping they can remember something on the spot.

On the other hand, students who struggle in most areas of language learning pass the tests with flying colours. One may do so quite successfully without even knowing how to use the words. That being said, here in the state sector of education we try to educate students, not just teach them, so diligence is one of the character traits we value and support.


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Also, such a type of test can be a lifesaver for a student who normally struggles and needs to improve their general score. Unfortunately, I believe all of them are flawed in some way, though maybe some of them are a bit less flawed than the one I described above. In advance, I create a gap fill where I leave out words I would normally ask students to translate from L1 to L2. The words in a gap fill are usually chosen with greater care and the choice appears to be less random.

After all, students need to understand the whole test to be able to come up with the words, which requires more of their mental energy. The problem is that if a weaker student fails to understand something in the surrounding context, they may fail to complete the missing word too, even if they know the word. Conclusion: it takes a while to create a good gap fill test.

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You need to carefully consider the words you are testing as well as the context. However, I do realize that this type of assistance may make things even harder for weaker students. To be able to pass a test, students had to revise a longer text in their coursebook. To my surprise, some students struggled a lot. This time, the class was not divided as usual — into the stronger and weaker ones.

The results were more varied. The grammar of the surrounding context may help a lot. This type of test certainly encourages students to make a wild guess if they are not sure but this too is an effective learning strategy. And we primarily want our students to learn vocabulary, right? So the test is just another means to an end. But, once again, is it a reliable test? Lexical sets: Write five things you can find in the kitchen. Well, a student may know that there is something called an oven in the kitchen but do they know what exactly an oven is?

Now that I think about it, what is really the problem? If nothing in life is arbitrary, then nothing concerning language is either. However, explaining the story of every seemingly illogical definite article would be a bit too time-consuming. After all, we have better things to do in the few lessons of English a week. The same goes for collocations. Mura Nava wrote an interesting post about collocations and how, contrary to a popular belief, they need not be arbitrary at all.


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  • It suggests that language has some of the properties of human beings. As far as language is concerned, in order to find answers to some of the most burning questions, we can become linguists and start poking our noses into the origins of bits and pieces of language. My conviction that there is a logical explanation for every aspect of life and language is comforting.

    The same freedom applies to language teaching; I believe some things should be left alone, no matter how exciting they may appear to the teacher. In her latest post , Zhenya Polosatova presents a bunch of very interesting questions from all walks of our profession. Here are two examples which immediately captured my attention:. These are two questions I often ask myself throughout the academic year.

    They are also called usage errors. More specifically, these can include agreement errors subject-verb and noun-pronoun agreement , tense errors present, past, progressive, perfect, future , number singular-plural errors, prepositional errors missing prepositions, redundant use of preposition, wrong use of prepositions , and articles errors missing articles, wrong article use, redundant article use. Lexical errors, on the other hand, are mistakes at the word level, which include, for example, choosing the wrong word for the meaning the user wants to express. Inappropriate lexical choices may lead to misunderstanding of the message.

    As Far as I See - UNESCO Czech heritage

    Based on my experience, in speaking, it is pronunciation which also comes into play, i. More specifically, tense errors are the most frequently committed grammatical errors among second language learners of English. The above set of sentences is an example of this but it is primarily a result of a student transferring their grammatical knowledge from their L1. Such a grammatical error may lead to a major or a minor misunderstanding, depending on the situation.

    One way or the other, a respondent not used to dealing with Czech learners of English will probably maintain that the Czech is asking about the future, while, in fact, they are asking about the past up to the present. I remember I once talked to a teacher from Canada. It was at an English summer camp.

    I was too young and stupid enough to keep inquiring. Then she went on reading her book, probably thinking I was an idiot. Now that I think about it, it was not merely a lack of lexical or possibly grammatical? Is this a grammatical or a lexical error? Take prepositions, for example.