Monday, January 15, 2018

How to Ace an Emergency Room Abroad

3:38 AM

Having found myself in the hospital this past Christmas holiday, while on vacation, with a impaired ability to focus, I realised just how scary it can be to be sick and literally unable to describe it.
I know all of my students travel either for leisure or business so I thought I'd put together a list of phrases you might need to ace an emergency room visit! So if you're a teacher you might want to take these to class and if you're a student you might want to print them off and stick them in with your socks!

I am a proficient user of language and yet I found myself strangely unable to communicate with my doctor, another proficient user of language with a different accent. I was mumbling and I could see that he was having a difficult time understanding me as well. This situation gave me an idea about a blogpost. Because albeit I didn't always understand what he said and he didn't understand me, we were able to communicate through our shared knowledge of hospital situations and phrases. We both knew what more or less to expect from each other.
But when you are a learner of language in a similar situation you do not have that advantage to help you through a tricky conversation. So here is a helpful list of phrases you might hear or want to say in an Emergency Room situation.

Doctor Phrases
Here are some things the doctor might say to you and what they mean:

Tell me what happened.
or Can you tell me what happened?
The doctor will ask you to report what caused the sickness to begin with. If you are incoherent (like I was) make sure you tell the people accompanying you to the hospital. Tell the first responders (the people on the ambulance). Tell a friend in a text, etc. Try to be as accurate as possible and put the actions in order staring around 24h before. You might say something like: "Well, yesterday morning/afternoon/evening I...., then ..... . This morning/afternoon/evening I felt...."

We'll need to run some tests 
They need to primarily test your blood, although sometimes they might ask for a urine sample. They might want to perform scans such as an ultrasound (used for seeing internal organs; often used for pregnant women to see the baby), X-rays (used for seeing the bones) or even a MRI (scan that passes through bone and takes pictures of soft tissue, such as tendons, blood vessels, and the brain) or CAT scan (the super detailed scans that show everything in your body using many x-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce cross-sectional images of specific areas of a scanned object)

Do you have any allergies? or Do you have a history of allergies?
If you are allergic to something you might find in the hospital, always make it your business to tell the doctor, nurse, friend, taxi driver as soon as possible. You can respond to this question by saying “I’m allergic to…”

Does it hurt when I press here? or Do you feel any pressure when I press here?
If you have pain in your body, the doctor might press (apply pressure) on different places and ask you if you feel any pain at that particular point.

I'd like to keep you here (overnight) for observation.
This sounds scary, I know. But sometimes all the doctor might need is a couple of hours just to make sure you are OK. They might use a machine to monitor your vital signs – observe the rhythm of your heartbeat and breathing.

Your WBC count is looking low
The WBC count is the white blood cells count which has normal parameters when you're OK and are elevated when you have an infection.

Your lab results are not looking good
Some of the parameters for your blood test are not normal and hence the doctor might prescribe further tests.

Your results came back and they're fine.
Yay! Be happy. You get to go home with just a scare and a hefty bill.

I'm going to prescribe some antibiotics
You have an infection. The doctor will give you a prescription (official note with permission) that will allow you to buy antibiotics.


Patient Phrases
Here are some things that you might need to say:

I have a high fever
High for Celsius degrees is anything between 37,1° and 40° while for Fahrenheit it's 98.6° to 107°.

I have a rash
A rash is a red, irritated area on the surface of your skin. If it’s itchy, it means you feel an annoying sensation that makes you want to scratch it with your nails.

I have a terrible headache
I have a stomachache
To describe the pain you’re feeling, you can say “My (insert body part) hurts.” or "I have a terrible (insert body part)+ache"

I have been vomiting
Don't want to sound overly teacher here, but please avoid "I vomit" or "I vomited" as this doesn't give an accurate account of your state. using the perfect continuous makes much more sense. Yes. I have just insisted on correct tense while in the emergency room.

I feel nauseous
Nausea (pronounced /nɔːʒə/) is a major symptom that needs to be promptly reported to your doctor.

I feel a sharp pain when (insert reason) 
A sharp pain is a strong, sudden pain. The opposite is a dull pain – a feeling that is weaker and more continuous.

I can't feel my (insert body part)
Loosing feeling in a body part (being unable to physically feel it) is a serious condition that could mean nerve damage and needs to be promptly reported to your doctor and addressed.
Obviously you might need a combination of these when talking to your doctor. You might also be unable to report this to your doctor if you are feeling too sick. Make sure the people around you are constantly informed about your condition. This means that if you won't be able to talk for yourself, somebody will have the necessary info.
And don't forget to buy health insurance before going on vacation. It will save you a lot of money and grief.

The Sound Eater

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Stories - a Connoisseur Selection for the occasional Christmas storyteller

8:14 AM
Every time I find myself randomly suggesting to people that they read more Christmas stories/storybooks to their kids or if they've ever read <insert one of the 1001 Christmas stories/storybooks I know>, I get blank stares. Now that might be because I am a Christmas Freak with a Family Feud winner sized Christmas knowledge. Or simply because with Christmas being as short as it is (yes I know nowadays the whole world dives into Christmas frenzy as soon as Halloween is over, but that's mainly for shopping), most Christmas stories and storybooks don't get told or bought because we have classics that usually take front stage.

Cue The Sound Eater. I'm here to the rescue! I've put together a careful selection of slightly more obscure Christmas books that will spice up your teaching this festive season.
Here is a full list of Christmas storybooks to explore with your kids and adults. Just in time for the last week of school!


1. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs


Raymond Briggs created the perfect Christmas story without even writing a word. It's winter, there's lost of snow and snowman  comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. It is narrated entirely through pictures and allows the storyteller to adapt the text, involve the listener and create some Christmas magic.



2. How to Catch and Elf by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton




With delightful rhymes and a self-explanatory title, How to Catch an Elf is a rhyming pleasure to use. It's full of jokes and has great illustrations. Great to use with kids and adults alike, this book will allow you bring some particular holiday cheer to class.





3. Dream Snow by Eric Carle

We all know Eric Carle is the undefeated champion of any Kids Books/Simple yet Incredible Kids Materials Competition.
It's December 24th, and the old farmer settles down for a winter's nap, wondering how Christmas can come when there is no snow! In his dream he imagines a snowstorm covering him and his animals—named One, Two, Three, Four and Five—in a snowy blanket. But when the farmer wakes up, he finds that it has really snowed outside, and now he remembers something! Putting on his red suit, he goes outside and places gifts under the tree for his animals, bringing holiday cheer to all.
I mean, can it get more Eric Carle than this?
Yes, because the book has flaps that have hidden pictures. EEK!




4. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh (illustrations J.otto Seibold)

Olive will make your heart melt because she doesn't just realise she is a Reindeer (yes, out of the blue), but she also travels to the North Pole via the polar express and manages to convince Santa and the other reindeer (who are a bit surprised in the beginning) that a dog should definitely join their team. In the end Olive and her unusual reindeer skills are just what Santa and his veteran reindeer team need. Adorable Olive and her hilarious adventures are sure to make anyone's Christmas merry, kids and adults alike.

5. The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy (illustrations Emily Sutton)


Probably the best illustrated Christmas story I've ever seen, this storybook is definitely going to impress your older kids and adults. The story is simple,  an ugly little fir tree is taken to the city, no one wants to buy him; they prefer the big tall trees. But a homeless boy asks the shopkeeper if he can take the tree, and down by the river in a cardboard box, decorated with a few candles, the tree finds itself at the centre of a magical Christmas Eve it will never forget. A Christmas tale with a classic feel but a modern theme at its heart. You need go to amazon and order it asap. And try not to cry the first time you read it.


6. Paddington and the Christmas surprise by Michael Bond (illustrations R. W. Alley)

Do you know Paddington? If you don't and you teach, you need to google him asap and get schooled on the great bear that is Paddington (he hails from Peru mind you) and his marvellous adventures.
This story is funny and festive, with the Browns taking Paddington to the Christmas grotto at the local department store, where their journey through the Winter Wonderland is full of unexpected surprises. But the best surprise is a present from Santa. After all, who else would find the perfect present for a bear like Paddington?
Great for little kids and for avid storyteller who want to start a tradition. Paddington is a series of books that you can use for the whole year.



7. Winnie-the-Pooh: Pooh's Christmas Adventure (illustrations Andrew Grey)

                                      

It's not a Storybook selection without my favourite little English bear. It’s a very snowy day in the Hundred Acre Wood, and Pooh Bear realises that some of the other animals might be snowed in to their houses. With the help of Piglet, he determines to help all of the other animals clear the snow away – and then it’s time for a Little Something! After all that, there’s just enough time for Christopher Robin to show them all how to make a snowman.


8. Tales from Christmas Wood by Suzy Senior (illustrations James Newman Gray)  

I discovered this book in a quiet bilingual library on a quiet scenic street in midtown Bucharest a few years back and I've secretly loved it ever since.
Christmas wood is full of animals: Badger, Fidgety Fox, Owl (not Wise Old Owl, just Owl), the Rabbit family, Tiny Mouse, and Robin. It's nearly Christmas and all the animals are getting ready to celebrate - Badger is looking for new friends, Tiny is making (or is that eating) gingerbread, and Rosie Rabbit just can't get ANY peace and quiet!
Tales from Christmas Wood is a lovely collection of five short stories, recounting the adventures of Badger, Owl, Fidgety Fox, Tiny Mouse, Robin and the Rabbit Family.
This is a lovely collection to read to children before Christmas as the stories deal with values such as friendship, honesty, kindness, self-control, self-worth, co-operation, taking responsibility and togetherness, as well as talking about the original Christmas story with a traditional Nativity scene. My children love these tales and particularly love looking at the beautiful illustrations, pointing out what they can see in each scene. I think this one will become a firm family favourite, perfect for sharing together on cold, winter nights!



9. The Christmas Bear by Ian Whybrow (illustrations Axel Scheffler)


Here's forgetful Father Christmas on his way to deliver the presents, when poor Bear realises he's left behind. Christmas adventure full of smart rhymes and silliness a-plenty, illustrations by none other than Axel Scheffler (remember the  The Gruffalo?) and lots of flaps to lift on every page, so children can join in the fun!











10. A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas by Philip Yates (illustrations Sebastia Sera)


What can I say, I'm a sucker for pirates. And nothing makes me happy than to combine two things I like such as Christmas and pirates and get it in a book. Your kids will enjoy this Christmas story with a with a sly buccaneer twist and it will keep them guessing about the gifts from day one, when low and behold, you get a parrot in a palm tree. Styled on the eponymous song, A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas can be sung or told as story, used from pron or as a starting point for the creation of your own Twelve Days of Christmas!





Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Storytelling tips for the occasional Christmas storyteller

1:28 AM



There are few times in a year when breaking out the books and doing some storytelling with your students feels like the most appropriate thing to do. But Christmas is definitely one of them. I was one of those lucky kids who got to be told countless stories using countless voices and some pretty nifty face mimics by various family member starting with my mom.

I need to clarify that my native Romania might well be the place that storytelling got invented or was born. If you've ever met a Romanian, you'll know what I mean since he or she has told you at least one fantabulous story complete with mimics, body movement, several voices and at least 3 jokes. That's what I love about my genetic pool.

I'm a storyteller. It must have rubbed off my family. I enjoy telling and listening to stories and I've brought that into my classes more times than I remember. I do the voices, I do the face mimics, I run around the class, I go on chairs and I have cool sound effect, literally at my fingertips (thank you Keynote).

Here are some tips and tricks of the trade. The storytelling trade that is.

1. Start small. Plan for a short session where you will introduce the students to the story. This will give the opportunity to create a bit of anticipation, give students a chance to practice their predicting skills and introduce any illustrations.

2. Depending on where you're storytelling and who your audience is, have them sit around you. On the floor is better cause it puts you above them and hence it's easier to hold their attention. Of course, if you're doing it with adults (and I have), mind the knees. Us, adults, have crazy knees that tend to ache.

3. Make sure everyone can see you and the illustrations and can hear you clearly. Cue Keynote. Or PPT. Or any other presenting app, device or program. Just make sure everyone can see.

4. Read slowly and clearly. Not too slow to bore them but slow enough to allow the students to see the illustrations, see the connection between them and the text, get the emphasis in your tone. This will also allow your students (especially the tiny people) to think, ask questions, make comments.

5. If no one does, make comments about the illustrations and point to them to focus your students attention on them. Also encourage your students to dive in the storytelling through those comments.

6. Assigns students chunks from the story that they can repeat while you tell the story. If that's too difficult, give them an emotion. An "Aww!" or and "Ooh". It will make them part of the story. I remember I used to be in charge of providing the Oohs and Awws when I was a kid and I loved it!

7. Do I need to say this? Use gestures, mime and facial expressions to help convey the meaning of feelings and actions. Run, jump, duck, yell, stretch, fly and all other actions one might find necessary to show your students what's happening in the book. So yes, take your self-confessed dignity and throw it out the window if you will be doing storytelling. You can get it back later.

8. 
Pause for dramatic effect. Pause in order to allow what you have just said to sink in.

9. Do voices as much as possible. I know it's not easy and you feel silly but it will give your story a whole new feeling.

10. The same goes for sound effects. If sound effect are not your thing. Go to findsounds.com or nosili.com (great background noises that are meant to improve productivity and help you relax) or finally go to soundsnap.com (if you're feeling splurgy since everything needs to be paid for, but hey, you could recycle the story over and over and cut your costs and the quality of their audio is ah-mazing).

11. My last tip is quite simple. Choose a book you like. You need to feel involved and enjoy yourself or else it will show and nobody likes to feel like having fun should be a job.


Come back on Thursday for my top 5 Christmas books to use in the classroom!

The Sound Eater












Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tis' the season for Top Ten Christmas songs

1:04 AM
Sitting here at my computer, typing away for a Christmas workshop I'm going to do later today, I found myself diving head first in my Christmas song list. I don't know what kind of person you are, but I'm the kind that has a serious, unchanging Christmas song list that basically plays on repeat for the whole of December.

Being the Christmas freak I am, I love everything about it, the tree, the baking, the gift giving, and I used to be a caroller in the strictest of senses. So now, being a teacher, I get to project all my excitement on my poor, unsuspecting students (both young and old) and try to make them as excited about Christmas as I am.

Cue Michael Buble, cinnamon cookies, endless Christmas lessons and the teaching of the futures with the only purpose of allowing me to inspect my students' plan for the holidays. Don't forget the endless vocabulary lists useless throughout the year but fundamental for the month of December in all English-speaking countries (this is obviously not true, but hey, I'm the teacher, I decide what gets taught, right?)

And the songs. Ah, the songs. Christmas carols and songs are to be played, included in lessons, potentially pushed upon students in order to make them carol, analysed and then neatly shelved for another year.

So here is a list of said songs that you can use with your tiny and not so tiny students to your heart's content!



1. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

This classic Christmas carol is loved by everyone, young and old. It talks about Santa’s special reindeer, Rudolph, who made a name for himself by using his glowing red nose to lead Santa’s sleigh through a dark, foggy night.

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say,
"Rudolph, with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
"Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!"


2. Jingle Bells
This particular song has a catchy tune and the chorus is easy to learn. This is one of the first songs taught to children at a very early age.

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And we, we got upsot

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh yeah

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh


3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town

This song gets children thinking about being good and obeying their parents. Most little ones tend to consciously think about their behavior more around Christmas so Santa will bring them gifts instead of a lump of coal.

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He's making a list
And checking it twice;
He's gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
Oh! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town


4. Frosty the Snowman

The song tells the story of a snowman who comes to life and plays with the children who built him, all because of a magic top hat. Sadly, their fun comes to an end as the day begins to get warmer and the sun melts the snow.

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
and two eyes made out of coal.
Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but the children
know how he came to life one day.
There must have been some magic in that
old silk hat they found.
For when they placed it on his head
he began to dance around.
O, Frosty the snowman
was alive as he could be,
And the children say he could laugh
and play just the same as you and me.
Thumpetty thump thump,
thumpety thump thump,
Look at Frosty go.
Thumpetty thump thump,
thumpety thump thump,
Over the hills of snow.

Frosty the snowman knew
the sun was hot that day,
So he said, "Let's run and
we'll have some fun
now before I melt away."
Down to the village,
with a broomstick in his hand,
Running here and there all
around the square saying,
Catch me if you can.
He led them down the streets of town
right to the traffic cop.
And he only paused a moment when
he heard him holler "Stop!"
For Frosty the snow man
had to hurry on his way,
But he waved goodbye saying,
"Don't you cry,
I'll be back again some day."
Thumpetty thump thump,
thumpety thump thump,
Look at Frosty go.
Thumpetty thump thump,
thumpety thump thump,
Over the hills of snow.


5. Silent Night

This is a classic Christmas carol. It depicts the more spiritual side of Christmas and refers to the birth of Jesus Christ, the reason Christians celebrate the Christmas holiday.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the savior is born
Christ the savior is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord, at thy birth
Jesus Lord, at thy birth


6. The 12-day of Christmas

This fun little song describes 12 gifts given on the 12 days leading up to Christmas. It is a fun song for children to sing, and might even help younger children with their counting skills.

On the first day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree

On the second day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the third day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
Three French hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
Four calling birds, etc.
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the fifth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
Five golden rings!
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the [sixth - twelfth] day of Christmas
My true love sent to me

Six geese a laying

Seven swans a-swimming

Eight maids a-milking

Nine ladies dancing

10 lords a-leaping

11 pipers piping

12 drummers drumming

Five golden rings!
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree


7. Deck the Hall


This perennial favorite dates all the way back to the 16th century, with some help from Mozart in the 18th century.

Deck the hall with boughs of holly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
'Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Don we now our gay apparel
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
Troll the ancient yuletide carol
Fa la la la la, la la la la


See the blazing yule before us
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Strike the harp and join the chorus
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Follow me in merry measure
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
While I tell of yuletide treasure
Fa la la la la, la la la la


Fast away the old year passes
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Sing we joyous, all together
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
Heedless of the wind and weather
Fa la la la la, la la la la


8. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

To get kids in the holiday spirit, there's nothing like wishing everyone a Merry Christmas with this easy to learn tune and lyrics.We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy new year

Chorus:
Good tidings we bring
To you and your kin
Good tidings for Christmas
And a happy new year

Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
And a cup of good cheer

(chorus)

We won't go until we get some
We won't go until we get some
We won't go until we get some
So bring some out here

(chorus)



9. Winter Wonderland

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland

Gone away is the bluebird
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song, as we go along
Walking in a winter wonderland
In the meadow we can build a snowman
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say, "Are you married?"
We'll say, "No man"
But you can do the job, when you're in town

Later on, we'll conspire
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid, the plans that we've made
Walking in a winter wonderland

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland

Gone away is the bluebird
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song, as we go along
Walking in a winter wonderland

In the meadow we can build a snowman
And pretend that he's a circus clown
We'll have lots of fun with Mister Snowman
Yes, until the all the kids knock him down
And later on, we'll conspire
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid, the plans that we've made
Walking in a winter wonderland
Walking in a winter wonderland

10. I'll be home for Christmas

I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

The Sound Eater

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Sound Eater does video

2:02 PM


Despite going through a very difficult November, I managed to put this together for all of you. And for myself. Definitely for myself as well. Going into video has been something that I've meant to do for the longest of time. While I'm not new to blogging in general, I am new to blogging about ELT and it all feels like a constant struggle to better my content and create meaningful material to share with you guys. 
That's why I think going into short videos will be a welcome change and maybe the future. A series of videos will focus on talking about aspects of sound production, trying to explain it as clearly as I can. Or even better yet, as clearly as I wished I had had someone explain to me when I was doing my Delta and started to get really interested in sounds.

Here is the second video that focuses on sounds. I'll be looking at voicing, something that will be explored further in Part 2.

Please hit that LIKE button if you enjoyed it and don't forget to SUBSCRIBE!



The Sound Eater

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Teaching and networking - why should we?

12:58 AM

As teachers, we know our job is mostly a solo gig and I think most of us chose it for that reason. It's nice to be in charge of what you do and how you do it. That being said, for all my teaching career, there have been all sorts of events, workshops, seminars, conferences, team building events; all meant to foster comradeship and present ample opportunities to network. Ah, that word, network, networking, networked. Why should we?

A quick search on Google will get you several million hits on the use of networking. Not all of them are about teaching, but the principle of bettering oneself though connecting with others is a valid point for all professions. Maybe not if you're an international, Bond-like spy. But for the rest of us, it's safe to say networking is not a bad idea.

So why should we? Here's my list of reasons:

1. Support
You will rarely feel as much part of a professional category or tribe as you do during an event, conference, workshop. There is something intrinsically good about getting like-minded people together so they can meet each other, be impressed with each other, like each other, and ultimately provide support to each other. That is if they are not hell bent on world domination. In that case, bad, very bad.
That feeling of belonging might get you through a bad day, might make you reach out for help, might make you help someone, might  mean a new friend and in a job where you’ll be flying solo most times, I sure do appreciate moments when I can cheer on fellow teachers and get cheered on.

2. Growth
This connects to support. When I started teaching, most of my growth came from teachers I worked with that graciously passed on their knowledge and patiently held my hand. But as your career grows, so do your needs for personal growth and if are a senior teacher, the chances you’ll be on the receiving end are slimmer. 
That doesn’t mean you don’t grow. You will learn about new technology, about new topics and trends, you’ll get a rush of energy from the new people. But you might want more.
Great. Go to a conference, event, workshop. Connect to people you don’t see everyday and you are bound to learn a trick or two. I credit my Delta classmates and the conferences I’ve gone to in the past two years with helping me grow as a teacher and as a person.

3. Change
Unless you live in a big city (or even if you do), you probably have a chartered course that you run though in a week. I’m a work, farmers market, dinner in a couple of places, shopping, walk the dog kind of person. My favourite thing about networking is that it’s usually somewhere I’ve never been. I get to change my course for a few days, see a new city, be around different people, try my hand at the local language (should I say try my tongue?) and enjoy the temporary change.

4. Fun
Most events have dinners, snacks, drinks preplanned. It’s in the schedule. It’s the epitome of networking. So have fun with it. Drink and eat, both until you can still entertain an adult, mumble-free conversation while managing to stay upright. Don't hog people, but rather mingle. If don't know anyone, chances are there are at least 5 other people with the same problem so now, go out there and find them. Most importantly, don't forget your business cards at home. 


So at the end of it all, should we network? Should we go that extra mile?
The answer is absolutely yes.



The Sound Eater


Friday, July 28, 2017

Why do we hear with our eyes?

2:41 AM


Do we really separate our senses? Do we really hear with our ears solely? I don't think that is true and this is why.

"Speech is multimodal and is produced with the mouth, the vocal tract, the hands and the entire body and perceived not only with our ears but also with our eyes"
Marion Dohen
Speech through the Ear, the Eye, the Mouth and the Hand
(Multimodal Signals: Cognitive and Algorithmic Issues, Springer, pp 24-39)

The auditory-visual (AV) speech integration has been steadily growing in importance and has most certainly benefited from recent advances in neurosciences and multisensory research. AV speech integration has started to raise questions regarding the computational rules we need in order to put together  information though one sense or across all senses. It has also made scientist wonder about the shape in which speech information is encoded in the brain (auditory vs. articulatory), or how AV speech interacts with the linguistic system as a whole.
After correcting the umpteenth student pronouncing words wrong because he was reading the word, Ihad a sort of a revelation. After spending a few months reading about AV speech integration and becoming fascinated with it I feel confident enough to say: we hear with our eyes, we listen with our eyes, we make our mouth produce sounds based on what our eyes see. Or at least on the quota our eyes share with our ears in AV speech integration. 

Think about it. Basically every single error correction I have provided regarding pronunciation in the last couple of years was, with very few exceptions, an error resulting from focusing on the visual cues. Learners were basing their expectations and performances of sound on the visual representation of the word. Now, I'm not saying it's wrong to use your eyes and prior knowledge to anticipate pronunciation, this is actually something you should be doing according to how our brains already function. But what did happen was not integration but rather superseding. What did happen was that the eyes and the expectations coupled with L1 interference and filtered through my learners mother tongue trained sound producing apparatus into English.

Any correction given to learners while they are still visually stimulated usually resulted in short-lived results, and sometimes not even those. 
Why? Because neurolinguistic research has shown that the brain learns to process different linguistic stimuli at different levels, depending on what your L1 is, how your senses developed as child, is you had any brain injury or not, etc. So what that means for learners is that something has to give sometimes. Their ears give out to their eyes and they listen with their eyes. This is why learners are so comfortable with listening with the transcript. Our job is to break that pattern and help them develop an (hopefully somewhat) equal AV speech integration that can help their brains decode and encode correctly the English language.

So what can we do about it? I've started experimenting with taking away the visual stimulation or introducing a positive visual stimulation. 
I alternate having learners say the words with their eyes closed, counting sounds and syllables, deciding stress, thinking about and focusing on sound production inside their mouths.

We record words with their IPA transcription, I teach them how to read a dictionary entry, we analyze graphic differences between letter and sound transcriptions, we look at how letters combine to create predictable patterns of sounds.
All small steps that could go a very long way.

What suggestions do you have about improving your students AV speech integration capacity?

The Sound Eater