TBLT Prep: The impromptu interview

I showed up at our bi-weekly group intending to discuss a different topic. It turns out many others could not attend this session, so Maria decided to ask me about my iTDi course as part of the Great Minds series. I wish I had prepared a bit, and Sunday night at 10pm lead to some lapses. Apologies. The interview is about the first 20 minutes of this video.

I was able to talk about Great Minds and how it came about, then focus on TBLT, the book, how the research is done, who is not mentioned, how it relates to projects and SLA, and how it fits into language teaching and research. I hope it provides a small window onto the course, but I have yet to get on to the 3rd reading, during which I create the course structure. More about that later.

I promised to mention a book I talked about, but have not read. Task-Based Language Learning in a Real-World Digital Environment. Edited by Paul Seedhouse (2017). More later on this…distraction?

Today Reading (0:34 Ch. 3) and Blogging (0:28)

Previously: Announcement. Book. Selection. 3Readings. FirstRead. BloodBrainBarrier. Serendipity. SecondRead.

Background: I’m preparing an 8-week course about TBLT for iTDi as part of their Great Minds series (not mine, the ones in the book). I am blogging about the process of preparation mostly for the fun of it. I was inspired by Cory Doctorow, an SF writer that does this with all his books. But it also helps me focus. This is even more exciting than teaching a grad school course. I’m looking forward to it and hope this might spark an interest.

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Categorized as TBLT

TBLT Prep: Second Reading

Once the first reading is finished and I have a feeling for the shape of the book and topic, now is the time to dive deep. I read a chapter and pick out one or two references and access those if I can. Doing this far ahead allows me time to get the articles I want.

The second reading serves more than one purpose, though. I need to fill in the holes, so I build a schema, a background database of interesting facts and conjectures. That means taking lots of notes. Now that I know what a Task is, I can be on the lookout to build a set of sample Tasks that I can use for the third reading (teacher reading).

I start mapping out where information is that will appeal to different types of participants. It will allow flexibility to more research-oriented, or teacher-oriented particpants.

This second reading allows me to create a grounding, look for patterns, find out who and what is more important. I focus on typical practices in both research and teaching.

I develop a taste for the flavor of authors (Ellis, Robinson, Li, etc), how each one writes, thinks, and what they believe. I can also put a perimeter on the topic by noting down what is not there. What about SLA? CALL? Steven Krashen and Beniko Mason? David Nunan?

Reading (Wed 0:32 Ch. 1, Fri 0:56 Ch 2, Sat. 1:13 Ch 3, Thu 1:22 Robinson 2011, Sun 0:55 Long 2014) and Blogging (0:36)

Previously: Announcement. Book. Selection. 3Readings. FirstRead. BloodBrainBarrier. Serendipity.

Background: I’m preparing an 8-week course about TBLT for iTDi as part of their Great Minds series (not mine, the ones in the book). I am blogging about the process of preparation mostly for the fun of it. I was inspired by Cory Doctorow, an SF writer that does this with all his books. But it also helps me focus. This is even more exciting than teaching a grad school course. I’m looking forward to it and hope this might spark an interest.

Published
Categorized as TBLT

Wolf Hall notes

A faithful historic rendition of the years Thomas Cromwell rises to power first under Cardinal Wolsey, then King Henry VIII. This account is the first of a trilogy, now finished, with the first two winning the Booker Prize. An acclaimed BBC mini-series brings the book even more to life. A story for all ages, reviewed in the Guardian and NYTimes, here a couple of takes on issues at the edge of the story: the printing of books and paper notes.

You get a really good picture of life in 1530s England under Henry VIII and his court with this book. Court politics aside, money and banking aside (both ample topics), we get a glimpse of how the printing press, tied to Luther and Protestantism, is infiltrating and changing England and Europe.

Cardinal Wolsey sees this early on and gains power and wealth by decommissioning monasteries, mostly full of corrupt monks, and using the proceeds to establish colleges at Oxford. You can see the power move from church to university.

When Tyndale translates the Bible into vernacular English, it becomes a target of the King, trying to maintain credit and credibility among the Catholic kings of Europe, to which he is indebted. With his annulment to Katherine, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabelle, things get confusing. But the disruptive nature of books in the hands of regular people is well noted by Cromwell, who tries to manage his fortune around that fact.

The other notable part of this book (for me) is Cromwell’s fascination with the Memory Palace, which he learned in Italy, and commissioned a sort of memory machine by the Italian (Name begins with C), now moved to Paris. He goes on about a box, or chest, with drawers, and drawers within drawers, each with a book in it, and each with more drawers inside, linked from the text to another book. There is an eerie resemblance to Vannevar Bush and his concept of linked texts in As We May Think. Evidently, though, this is an adaptation of a system to remember things, Method of Loci, where lists are remembered by assigning them places, so it is also called a Memory Palace.

I plan to take a short break and start book 2 of the trilogy in about a week, on my daily walks up the hill to the park, then winding down through the cemetery. The audiobook version read by Ben Miles is excellent. Also looking to find a place to watch the BBC mini-series (It’s on Amazon, 4 Episodes, each about 90 minutes).

TBLT Prep: Planned Serendipity?

Is it really serendipity if it’s planned? By starting prep so early (6 months before), it allows time to find things as they cross by during my daily info-grazing sessions.

Four things have come across my desk last week that will improve the course I am teaching in May/June.

The first is a discussion group for a previous iTDi course on Dogme. Maria from the Ukraine, our community builder, set up a Facebook Group after the course, and now every couple of weeks 6-8 of us gather to discuss teaching. Last week it was about feedback. Elena (Russia) brought some new perspectives, Andreea (Romania) brought her critically incisive examples, Bistra in Sicily brings her solid background in teaching (I want to assign her blog posts about language learning to my students), Fabio (Italy) is a natural teacher, Jorge brings his perspective from Mexico, Renata her energy and stories from Macedonia and the Middle East, and Priscila, a school owner from Brazil. We discussed CR (Corrective Feedback) in all of these locations, a real sampling of worldwide situations.

A former JALT-er (Japan teacher) Jim McKinley co-authored an article on oral corrective feedback. A substack newsletter by “The Educationalist” talks about feedback in a wider educational sense, giving perspective on language feedback. And finally, a TBLT-adjacent topic has a new book on Evidence-based language teaching. Out soon.

So with all of these filtering in (and a solid note-taking/organizing/archiving system), I can take advantage of all of these.

Reading (Yesterday 1:08 Ch. 12, Today 0:48 Ch.13) and Blogging (0:47)

Previously: Announcement. Book. Selection 3Readings. FirstRead. BloodBrainBarrier.

Background: I’m preparing an 8-week course about TBLT for iTDi as part of their Great Minds series (not mine, the ones in the book). I am blogging about the process of preparation mostly for the fun of it. I was inspired by Cory Doctorow, an SF writer that does this with all his books. But it also helps me focus. This is even more exciting than teaching a grad school course. I’m looking forward to it and hope this might spark an interest.

Published
Categorized as TBLT

TBLT Prep: Blood-Brain Barrier between Theory and Practice

The blood-brain barrier in physiology is a lot like the “barrier” between theory and practice. In language teaching, research and teaching oftentimes are not linked. This book (note the title) sits right at the barrier and attempts to straddle it. But we should all note that one (theory) cannot exist without the other (practice). Another reason I have chosen this book.

As I move into the second reading (next post), I want to acknowledge one of the most basic questions in research. TBLT has been wrestling with this since its inception, and rightly so. It is wonderful to see the contortions of both research design and teaching practice. There is a need to maintain that barrier in some places, to maintain a fealty to design, or to the practicalities of teaching. All the while, attempting to bring the two together, to increase the permeability of the transfer. Not just from research to practice, but to recognize that it goes both ways, something both good teachers and good researchers recognize.

I am delighted to read about Action Research and Exploratory Practice as a way to increase permeability by shortening the feedback cycle. These are just two examples of how design and practice work together.

Today Reading (1:29 Ch. 12) and Blogging (0:2)

Previously: Announcement. Book. Selection 3Readings. FirstRead.

Background: I’m preparing an 8-week course about TBLT for iTDi as part of their Great Minds series (not mine, the ones in the book). I am blogging about the process of preparation mostly for the fun of it. I was inspired by Cory Doctorow, an SF writer that does this with all his books. But it also helps me focus. This is even more exciting than teaching a grad school course. I’m looking forward to it and hope this might spark an interest.

Published
Categorized as TBLT