Archive for the 'Back to School' Category

Not a real post

Just dropping in on my poor, dead LIK to post a little study guide for myself. Last semester of MA is kind of a lot of work and I may actually need to study on the subway. I’ll write something “real” later, like after the semester is over in December. There are things to be discussed such as gout and how I’d rather go to prison than spend another year teaching kindergarten.

Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 11/20/2016 | No Comments

Model student

First semester of the MA TESOL program is in the books and Plan Z continues. Each semester is only two classes but it’s a lot of work, and I did a lot of work. I was a model student, always in my seat with bright-eyed enthusiasm and hands folded, ready to answer any question the teacher might have posed.

Ok that last part is a lie. I always sat near the back the classroom for two reasons:

  1. So that the teachers wouldn’t “use me” in their hypothetical examples, and
  2. So I could secretly play poker on my iPad

But I paid attention when it counted and did all the homework and busted my ass on midterms and finals. Mission accomplished. Now I only have to do that for two more semesters and then write a thesis or something.

Brain class final paper | Teaching Writing final paper

Btw, my Teaching Writing final paper was selected by the professor to “represent” our class in the annual TESOL Journal published by the MA TESOL department. Hooray, now I can put “Journal Editor and Contributor” on my resume. I had already volunteered to be an editor (so I could put it on the resume).

If you can’t read this, it says “A+” and “A+”

posted by Michael in Back to School on 7/3/2015 | No Comments

Last week’s homework

This week is week 11! My first semester will be over in about a month. Gonna be busy.

I’ll lead off with brain class homework this time. One of the chapters we had to read was apparently written for fucking brain surgeons so it was pretty hard to digest. Ugh. This is the second shortest homework I’ve turned in so far.

1. Logie and Duff (2007) investigates the relationship between processing and memory span. What is memory span and what do they find about its role in working memory?
Working memory span is “immediate memory” as it functions alongside cognitive processing. It is essentially the extent to which we are able to both process and immediately recall that processed information. Logie and Duff (2007) found that processing and memory, when working together in a combined task of verifying arithmetic sums and recalling the solutions, was only slightly more demanding than each task performed individually (p. 122-124). Similar results were also found in a related experiment that was slightly modified, suggesting that the brain has separate resources that serve both memory and processing which can run concurrently without any significant performance deficit (p. 126-128). This stands in stark contrast to Barrouillet and Camos (2001) who posited that processing and memory were a single resource where one function’s allocation would detract from the performance of the other (as cited in Logie and Duff, 2007, p. 120). If our brains are truly wired to both process and recall simultaneously, then it would stand to reason that actively integrating context into learning might be one of the reasons that this is possible.

2. Martin and Hamilton (2007) propose a model of working memory that has striking differences from the original model proposed by Baddeley. On what evidence do they propose their new model?
Of the three components of working memory outlined by Baddeley and Hitch (1974, as cited in Martin and Hamilton, 2007, p. 183), it seems that the item most directly challenged by Martin and Hamilton is the phonological loop. Martin and Hamilton point to numerous cases that contradict the phonological loop’s proposed purposes in the fact that prose is easier to recall than unrelated words and that various STM patients have demonstrated comprehension of complex sentences despite severe short-term memory loss (p. 184). As an alternative to Baddeley and Hitch’s working memory theory, Martin and Hamilton propose a model of STM wherein language processing functions through separate semantic and phonological components. The logic of this separation can be seen in patients whose semantic short-term memory deficits cause difficulties in recognizing the anomaly in a sentence such as ‘She saw the green, bright, shining sun, which pleased her,’ but not in a similar sentence where the position of the adjectives was changed, as in ‘The sun was bright, shining, and green, which pleased her’ (p. 185). Changing the position of the word
green, the anomaly, allowed the semantically-challenged patients to identify it correctly, but no such pattern was seen in patients whose short-term memory deficits were phonological in nature. Likewise, Freedman, Martin, and Biegler (2004) found that semantic STM patients were at a great disadvantage in comparison with phonological STM patients when asked to name two semantically-related pictures in a single phrase (as cited on p. 186). Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 5/11/2015 | No Comments

My hilarious TESOL joke

Someone in my Teaching Writing class tonight was talking about how he had attended a thing where the Stephen Krashen was speaking (Krashen is very well known in the world of TESOL). He talked about how Krashen said over and over that reading skills lead to better writing skills.

And then I chimed in…

“And then Swain stood up and starting saying how writing influences reading!”

GET IT? The teacher laughed. She thought it was funny.

posted by Michael in Back to School on 5/6/2015 | No Comments

Midterm papers

Well I haven’t posted any homework since week 5. Does anyone care? No? Ok. Since then we’ve had one week where there was no homework because midterms were coming due, so I think I really only forgot to post one week’s assignments.

In each of my classes we were given options such as writing a theoretical assessment of an issue, conducting research, writing lesson plans, etc. There was no actual exam and I suspect there never will be unless I choose practicum over writing a thesis in order to graduate. So anyway I chose to write a theoretical assessment for both classes. It was a lot of research, and I actually learned a lot from writing the papers. My finals in both classes will be a continuation of the midterm, so I’ll be continuing my research on both topics at semester’s end.

Teaching Writing: I wrote about how Twitter, Facebook, and blogging can be used to improve second language learners’ writing skills.

(Download PDF) Social Networking Platforms and Their Potential to Aid in the Development of L2 Writing Skills

Human Learning & Cognition: I wrote about how age affects second language learning, and I also talked about different views of the critical period hypothesis (this theory says that you have to start learning a second language during childhood if  you want to master it).

(Download PDF) Investigating the Disparate Relationship Between Age and L2A Success

posted by Michael in Back to School on 5/2/2015 | No Comments

Week 5 homework

I already posted my Easter thing so this is just a bunch of questions from the reading for both Teaching Writing and Brain Class (Human Cognition and Learning).

Brain class. I kind of punted on the last three questions. I really should hold off on cracking open the celebratory beer until I’m actually done with homework. 

Terry (2006) Chapter 7, Human Memory: Conceptual Approaches
1. What is Dual-Store Theory and how does it explain memory?
The Dual-Store Theory states that memory is divided into short- and long-term memory, and each of these types of memory exhibit different traits. Short-term memory, as indicated by its name, is very brief and is limited in capacity. Once an item or series of items have been stored in STM, they may be displaced by additional items that follow, such as when attempting to remember a string of numbers or words. LTM does not suffer from these shortcomings and has no discernible limits on storage capacity or length of recall. For example, it would be difficult for another person to remember this string of numbers: 71839111402569103070. I, on the other hand, stored these numbers years ago in my long-term memory as the respective birthdates of my father, mother, sister, and brother. STM and LTM may be separate in the way they function, but STM does serve the purpose of encoding information into LTM (Terry, 2006, p. 196-197). Glanzer & Cunitz (1966, as cited on p. 197) also found that the primacy effect was enhanced when words were presented at a slower pace, allowing for more rehearsals in STM which led to better LTM encoding. Terry also noted that the recency effect of the serial position curve disappears over time but the primacy effect remains (p. 197). Most teachers are probably already aware that delivering lessons slowly is more conducive to learning than speeding through them, but Glanzer & Cunitz’s study serves as a reminder that pace can be an important factor in the classroom.

Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 4/10/2015 | No Comments

I don’t think she got the joke

In my Teaching Writing class I have to participate in this message board thing that the whole class does. One of the students complained that her refrigerator is making a high-pitched noise and asked for advice on how to stop it.

Her: Since I moved other town last week, I annoyed with noise of my refrigerator. It sounds high frequency and I cannot help hearing this sound. Is there anyone know about this sound? How can I do? For now, I stand this sound and try to ignore the sound. But it’s too hard to ignore the noise..!

Me: Your ears gradually lose the ability to hear high frequency sounds as you get older. This is why old men can’t hear their wives, but they can hear other men just fine. If you live in that apartment long enough, the high frequency sound will eventually go away! It might take 30 years, but it will happen. Just be patient.

Her: Really?? I didn’t konw that ever! THanks for your advice~~!

Me: Ummm… you’re welcome? haha 🙂

I know. I’m hilarious.

posted by Michael in Back to School on 4/7/2015 | No Comments

Week 4 homework

We didn’t have writing class last week, so this thing I wrote about Easter is due this week. I just finished it, so I’ll post it now because, um, it’s Easter Sunday. The assignment was to use internet sources to put together an account of how Easter started. Now that I look back at the written description of the assignment I’m not sure if I was supposed to copy and paste from other websites or write it myself… oh well. Fuck it. I wrote it myself, and if the professor has a problem with that then tough shit! I’ve been kicking ass in that class (it’s pretty easy) so if I get dinged on this then so be it. I’m not doing this again.


The Surprisingly Pagan Origins of Easter

Easter Sunday is one of the most important religious holidays on the Christian calendar and, every spring, Bible School teachers around the world dutifully explain to their young pupils how Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and was resurrected three days later. Special emphasis is placed on Christ’s rebirth as being the true reason for celebrating the Easter holiday. What the Bible School teachers don’t explain, however, is how this holiday came to be known as “Easter” and how the holiday has evolved into a time-honored tradition of filling baskets with candy and brightly colored eggs that have ostensibly been delivered by a mythical egg-laying rabbit.

While there is much debate over the origins of the word “Easter” it is interesting to note that the word is all but absent from the Bible. The King James version of the Bible, for instance, mentions Easter by name only once and many other versions omit the word entirely (Aust, n.d.). Most authorities on the subject, including Christians themselves, acknowledge that the naming of the Easter holiday originated from paganism. A widely accepted theory is that Easter’s etymology is derived from Eastre, the Teutonic Goddess of Spring, while there is also evidence to suggest that the name comes from a Babylonian Queen named Semiramis, also known as Queen Ishtar. The association is due to “Ishtar” being a homophone of “Easter” (, n.d.). Other sources claim that the Easter name is the product of an Anglo-Saxon “goddess of the dawn” named Eostre (D’Costa, 2013). Regardless of which version is most accurate, the fact that Easter predates Jesus Christ’s crucifixion (Aust, n.d.) is fairly convincing evidence that it originally had little to do with Christianity. Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 4/5/2015 | No Comments

It’s like grade school all over again

This is how my brain class professor grades our work.

posted by Michael in Back to School on 4/2/2015 | Comment (1)

Week 3 homework

My class on teaching writing is kind of silly. The homework is sort of challenging, but the classroom exercises seem designed to help the mostly-Korean students improve their own writing skills, so the professor is, in effect, teaching showing us how to teach. I guess the idea is sound, but for the three or four native English speakers in the class it’s laughably easy.

Teaching Writing: Writing Assignment 3 – Letter of Complaint. We were supposed to write a fictional letter of complaint to someone so I went with the Nigerian prince who failed to make me a millionaire. Also, I just now figured out that my $3.3 million share isn’t 20% of the fake money involved. Good thing I’m not a math teacher.

March 24, 2015

His Royal Highness Prince Abu Salami
Noble Defender and Great Steward of Nigeria
1600 Royal Nigerian Way
Lagos, Nigeria

Your Royal Highness,

I am writing to you in reference to a mutual agreement between your son, Mr. Tahmi Salami, and myself, a US citizen residing in Seoul, South Korea. On January 1, 2015, your son and Royal Finance Advisor, Mr. Salami, informed me via email that Your Royal Highness was seeking an overseas partner to assist in releasing US$31.5 million in royal tribute funds that were being held by the National Bank of Nigeria and that my assistance was desperately needed.

Because, as Mr. Salami explained, the release of the funds required the assistance of an overseas trustee as mandated by Nigerian banking laws, I would be entitled to 20% of said funds in return for my cooperation (US$3.3 million). He assured me that I would receive my portion of the funds within 10 business days of wiring the US$5,000 bank processing fee to your royal bank account. I wired those funds on January 2, 2015 yet, despite dozens of attempts to contact him, I have not heard from Mr. Salami since.

Your Royal Highness Prince Salami, Noble Defender and Great Steward of Nigeria, please forgive my insolence but I should have received my $3.3 million long ago. This transaction has dragged on for far too long and I hereby request that Your Royal Highness transfer my share of the funds immediately to my U.S. bank account. Please hurry. Your honor as a Nigerian prince is at stake.

Humbly Yours,


Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 3/29/2015 | No Comments

First homework for Teaching Writing

1. Read a book (200+ pages) and write an essay focusing on one or two chapters that were somehow interesting or something

2. Answer a couple of questions based on reading an 11 page chapter

Waaaayyy less work than my brain class. Except we also have to write in this online journal thing every day of the week (except weekends). That’s gonna be a chore, but at least we’re only expected to write a paragraph or so, and it’s very casual. No academic nonsense with all that citing of references and whatnot.

Here’s #1:

The Subtle Significance of Hedging

In my short and not-quite-yet illustrious career as an educator, I have taught precisely one class on academic writing. It was, to put it mildly, challenging. The textbook was designed in the most intimidating way imaginable with long, complex passages interspersed with word charts and sidebars and bullet lists and all manner of distractions that culminated in a universal sense of fear and loathing on the part of my students each time the class bell rang. Unlike most other classes at the English academy where I teach, this particular class was not tied to a rigid schedule where X number of pages were required to be completed on X date. Hence, I seized this opportunity to toss most of the book aside and attempt to teach academic writing in a way that I thought would be more effective and, indeed, more palatable to the seven young writers seated before me. Suffice it to say that, while I (and the entire class) was relieved at the removal of the book’s unforgiving structure, I quickly found out how difficult it is to teach others to write within the stiffly starched confines of EAP. I struggled to produce lessons that were clear and focused and I also found great difficulty with teaching my students how to use the proper tone that academic writing demands. Reid and her counterparts touch on the importance and subtlety of tone in several chapters of Writing Myths (2008), but Ken Hyland’s chapter on the myth of making academic writing “assertive and certain” (p. 70) struck a chord with me in particular. The notion of hedging rarely ever crosses the fringes of my mind as a writer and, now that I see its versatility of purpose and how directly it can affect the tone of a written passage, I feel that I have gained something useful that I can research further and pass on to future academic writing classes. Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 3/12/2015 | No Comments

My first homework assignments for Human Learning and Cognition

1. Read a 400+ page book and write an essay about it that answers the professor’s five questions (this was assigned before class began)

2. Answer five more questions based on reading two other chapters from other authors.

The good news is that my Teaching Writing class is a lot less work (so far… it’s only Week 2).

Here’s #1:

Winter Reading Project: A User’s Guide to the Brain

Despite medical and technological advances that have greatly advanced the study of the brain in recent decades, what we know about how it functions still pales in comparison to what is unknown. To attempt to understand an organ that has “more possible ways to connect…neurons than there are atoms in the universe” (Ratey, 2001, p. 26) is a tall order indeed, and attempting to explain brain function in lay terms, as Ratey has done in A User’s Guide to the Brain, could arguably be viewed as an equally herculean task.

As the human brain is “the most complex system known to science” (Ratey, 2001, p. 397), Ratey chooses to frame its function and development within two core metaphors, the first being that, “like a set of muscles, it responds to use and disuse by either growing and remaining vital or decaying” (p. 11). Ratey applies this metaphor to the brain in several ways; he begins by explaining that the very structure of our brains can be changed through experiences, thoughts, actions, and emotions, and that “by viewing the brain as a muscle that can be weakened or strengthened” we can take an active role in choosing who we become (p. 24). He goes on to support his “use it or lose it” (p. 56) view of brain development in the story of Martha Curtis, the musical virtuoso who maintained her mastery of the violin even after surrendering 20 percent of her right temporal lobe to surgeries aimed at putting a stop to her severe epileptic seizures. Ratey concludes this story of triumph by asserting that our memories, like Martha’s memory of her violin skills, can be strengthened with exercise, “just as weight-training strengthens our muscles” (p. 213).

Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 3/12/2015 | No Comments

Well this should be fun

Phase two of Plan Z is in effect. After getting rejected last year I applied again to the MA program and this time I’m in.

I’m not at all surprised that there’s homework due on the very first day of class, but it looks like that homework entails reading two books “in (their) entirety” and then writing an essay about each. Yaaayyy. Time to start skimming! I’m told that’s pretty much the only way to survive Sookmyung’s MA TESOL program.

posted by Michael in Back to School on 2/2/2015 | No Comments