Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Paper Project

I am working on an ethnography about Korean culture using the 'participant observation' research technique to gather data. I have been attending a language club that meets once a week. As I study Korean and help others with English, I try to determine what people's goals are and what motivates them.
Initially my literature review was an examination of intrinsic motivation vs. extrinsic motivation. It looked at what kind of rewards were best at motivating people. The paper concluded that positive feedback was the best way to intrinsically motivate people.
Does that literature review fit with my current research? It does so very loosely so it would not be the best thing to use it. I think it would make a paper with not much depth.
Currently my theme is "Why are Koreans so driven?" I could say, "Why are people so driven?" Or I could say, "Why am I so lazy?" since everyone else seems to be more driven than I am.
Professor Reynolds has been having us do a free writing exercise at the beginning of class where we write for 3 minutes. I used that technique to come up with the following. Go!
Today Koreans are driven because their ancestors gave up nomadic tendencies. They settled and domesticated plants and animals. The settled life led to culture. Culture over a long period of time involving a lot of people led to the revering of education. A highly educated society that did not have the most up-to-date technology was nonetheless able to adapt to the modern world very quickly because the educational system merely had to change focus. The strong education foundation had been in place from long ago.
The modern economic miracle that Korea came to be came about because the United States and other countries provided a lot of foreign investment. Korea had access to the largest markets in the world due to its proximity to China and Japan. It also had access to the market in the United States due to its close relationship.
Now Koreans are driven to enter the highly educated, highly skilled job market of a mature economy because of their long tradition of revering education. There is a limited number of good paying manufacturing jobs so that is not a viable option for a highly educated Korean. Also, a low paying job in the service sector is not a viable option for a highly educated Korean.
So why are Koreans highly motivated and driven to succeed?
The country has a large population with a static living location with a long history that is located in a very strategic area.
This would contrast with Mongolia (sorry Mongolia) that has a relatively small population that migrates in some cases in a country that is land locked and a less revered educational system.
What are the characteristics of someone who is intrinsically motivated to learn another language? They are ambitious, sensitive, empathetic, motivated to seek higher degrees and find a better job.
The language club that I attend is a social club with an international feel. But the over riding message that I come away from the club with is that 'Koreans are driven.'
So if I pursue this theory, "Koreans are driven" and I use the research question "Why are Koreans driven?" then I need to create a literature review that supports that. I need to find articles that examine this phenomenon. Can anybody help me? I need to find articles that are related to this theme.
Related to this.
Why are Koreans so driven? That is a question that I will attempt to answer. It is a complex question but there must be a reason that Korean society is so driven. Korea has harsh winters. In ancient times and today, Koreans would grow cabbage and radish and hot peppers in the summertime. In order to have food in the winter time, the Koreans would submerge the cabbage in crushed hot peppers in order to preserve it. This created what they call kimchi. They would also submerge the radish in hot pepper sauce in order to preserve it as a winter vegetable. In order to have enough food to survive the winter, they had to work hard in the summer time. Did this time honored practice create a very driven society? I have heard people say that some people in Thailand are lazy because there is no incentive to work. It is always warm so there is always food. There is nothing pressing to be done in order to survive. A person can just soak up the sun and be happy. In general, the people of Thailand are said to be some of the happiest and least motivated people in the world. Is there any merit to these generalizations?

Literature Review

A literature review is a reflection of the learning process that the researcher experienced. As Anderson (2003) discusses in Chapter 4 "The Literature Review Process in e-Research" the literature review generally appears near the beginning of the paper but it is constantly in need of revision. Initially as the researcher begins to create the literature review it will appear as reflection upon the articles that the researcher has read. After the researcher has narrowed down their research question, the literature review will need to be revised. So that the literature review flows smoothly, it must reflect a constant theme. It should consist of the theory that guides the research and helps to frame the research question.
As the researcher is looking for a topic, the more articles that can read, the better. As the researcher starts to realize what their topic will be, then articles that are pertinent and specifically address their topic need to be found. After the research for the project is completed, then the researcher must revise the literature review so that it flows smoothly. Even though the learning process is haphazard, the researcher must present a neat project so that others can understand and learn from the efforts that they made. Even though the researcher is constantly rethinking things, the literature review must be a clear thought that can be easily shared.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Learning a Language

In the last few years the biggest lesson I have learned is that the English lessons that I give are too difficult. The problem arose because I was bored when I presented a lesson. Sometimes I would present a simple lesson but I would move through it much too quickly.
Now I realize how important it is to present a simple and digestible lesson to students. The lesson may be, "What do you eat for dinner?" After going through that lesson, the next step would be a slight variation, such as, "What does she eat for dinner?" That can be followed up with a lesson that asks, "What do you have for lunch?" Then one can move on to, "What is your favorite food?"
Anyone can watch "Lost" or "Heroes" or "Desperate Housewives" and listen to an English speaker that they don't understand. A teacher needs to be understood by their students or everyone is wasting their time. So it is important to present a lesson that is digestible and that reinforces itself. It is important not to overwhelm someone. In pedagogy, this has been described as one's "Zone of Proximal Knowledge."
It is a big challenge for teachers. I am still guilty of doing it. Either I am bored and want to move to quickly or I don't spend enough time creating a suitable lesson.
As I study the Korean language I encounter the same thing. As Koreans try and help me they go so fast. "What was that?" I say and they are already on to something else. Do they think it is helpful if they just keep on talking?
I did have a good lesson from a Korean friend 5 months ago. That is the last one that I think was appropriate to my level. We kept going over one question and just came up with a variety of answers. I was amazed that I was learning something tangible immediately.
Of course I should prepare Korean material that I want to study. I need to be proactive and just get someone to help me with what I have already reviewed or prepared. I have done that and it is invariably a case where I am telling or showing someone something that needs to make them slow down. I have a children's dictionary and that usually is helpful to get someone to slow down and help me at my level.
When I study Korean I watch Korean DVDs. It might be a movie. However, I am currently watching "Winter Sonata" with Bae Yong Jun. It is on DVD so I can avoid the commercials. This gives me good listening practice. It also helps me learn about Korean culture. Culture is an experience that people share. If a Korean has watched "Winter Sonata" or even heard of it, then I have a great conversation starter with them because we are talking about a "shared experience."
I also read Korean Children's stories. I learn vocabulary from these books by learning the word first. After I know the word, then I look up the meaning. I have seen the word many times and I say it and use it. But only later do I try and discern the meaning. The meaning is secondary. It is better to know the word first and use it before you associate it with a meaning from your first language. Reading Children's stories out loud is also a great way to improve one's pronunciation.
Lately I have been reading "Kong Ji Paht Ji." This story is remarkably like "Cinderella." Knowing a Korean story is also a great conversation starter. Culture is shared experience so if you know the title and plot of a Korean story then you will have a great conversation with a Korean about a shared experience.
I hope you all have a great Chuseok! Cheers, Chad

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Swales' Article

In the extract from Swales' book we looked at Unit 1, "An Approach to Academic Writing." The author gives some good tips about how to get started writing and revising. The author is particular about how someone should write. This is not a free writing exercise. The student must be conscious about who they are writing for. After a first draft is ready then the student must clean up their paper. They can do this by using the words: assist, establish, reduce, create, determine, investigate, fluctuate, increase, and eliminate.
To this list I would like to add: "Research shows", "The author intends", "Research suggests", "The author goes on to say", and "The author continues."
A big part of doing a research paper is quoting and citing the research of others. If you would like to express yourself more then let me suggest that you do an Ethnography. This acceptable writing format allows you to engage in 'participant observation.' You can observe a situation, classroom, and/or phenomenon and make your own observations. Your own thoughts then become a focal point of your research as you record your experience.
Otherwise, you will be researching other people's work and then organizing the data. You will be able to express your own ideas in the conclusion but more often than not it will be a reflection of your source material. Good luck!

Critical Incident Protocol

Critical Incident Protocol


In 2004, I was teaching at a Kindergarten Hagwon in Hwa Jeong, Goyang Shi, Gyeonggi Do, South Korea. I had twelve students in the class. I asked each student a question. If they answered correctly I gave them a ‘check’ by their name. At this point all the students had six checks by their name.

One student named Thomas started joking around. I told him to be quiet and he continued to disrupt the class. I then took the white board eraser and erased 3 of his stars. He was so distraught by this that he collapsed on the floor in a pile of despair.

I had to spend the rest of the class trying to console him.


Why had my lesson gone array? What terrible punishment had reduced this student to mush?


I had failed to notice just how important the ‘checks’ were to the students. If they received 3 checks then that would lead to a sticker. They would put the sticker on their sticker chart. Once they completed their sticker chart then they would receive a gift.

For a Korean seven year old (five years international age), this was a big part of their self-esteem and self-image. I failed to recognize that their status in the classroom was based in large part by ‘checks’, stickers, and the teacher’s approval.


Now I recognized the value of this system and how it should be applied. I still gave the students’ ‘checks.’ Three ‘checks’ still meant a student would get a sticker to put on their sticker chart.

However, now I took a different approach to discipline. If a student disrupted the class then I would pick up the white board eraser and hold it over their ‘checks.’ I would call out the student’s name. “Thomas!” He would see my intention. Then he would prostrate himself and say, “Sorry, sorry, sorry.”

That was enough to get him back on task. I avoided an emotional meltdown that would have disrupted the class further. Instead we could continue with the lesson unabated.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reflections of Week 1's Readings

Reflections on the first week’s readings

By Chad Pozsgay

The first article we read was called, “Reflection is at the heart of practice.” I was impressed when it stated that “Split-second decision making is a crucial aspect of teaching.”

When I first started teaching I made a lot of mistakes. Usually I made an error but once I had made that decisions I could not quickly readjust and implement an alternative teaching direction or classroom management technique. I felt rigid. I felt like I had to lay down the law in the classroom. That meant that I could not even allow myself alternative options in my approach to something.

Over time, I started to realize that I needed to adapt quickly in the classroom. If a particular activity sparked the students’ interest then I needed to extend the time devoted to it. If an activity floundered then I needed to quickly adapt it or move on to something else that might be more stimulating.

In the “Reflection is at the heart of practice”, the authors talk about deliberately reflecting upon one’s experience and teaching practice. They give some examples of teachers reflecting on their experience and trying to learn from it. Letting the students sort through their emotions is a good way for the teacher to get the response they desire.

In Yamada’s article, “How to Avoid Plagiarism,” the author discusses the issues regarding stealing other people’s words or ideas. One remedy that the author offers is for there to be extension training in so far as people are taught how to cite other people’s work.

In the TESOL-MALL program the APA style is the required program to adhere to when citing sources. The APA style is updated quite often. Therefore, yesterday’s way of citing a source may be different today. That makes it more difficult to be completely accurate. However, the method of citing a source does not change that dramatically. That way, usually only a minor change or readjustment can be made in order to cite a source accurately.

In North America, students start to write at a very young age. They are encouraged to share their thoughts. Accurately giving credit to an author or source is taught very quickly.

In Korea, people are many times taught to emulate the teacher. They are suppose to do something the exact way that they are told. Therefore, when a Korean takes a TESOL-MALL course they are usually surprised to find so much attention being focused on the APA format and doing proper citation.

We will soon use the APA Sixth Edition guidebook in our academic writing class. That will help all the students avoid plagiarism.

In the optional reading, “Reflective teaching in EFL: Integrating theory and practice,” the authors talked about ways to close the gap between theory and practice. They make the observation that many teachers come out of university and they do not see how educational theory is related to educational practices. The future classroom teachers do not see how to implement educational theory into their classroom teaching.

I think this article makes a good point. I have been studying TESOL-MALL for two years and it is not often that I come across something that I can use in the classroom. I don’t know why it has to be so impractical. A major part of the problem is that I don’t understand the theories that are being put forth. But I do think more of an effort could be made to translate educational theory into practical classroom activities.

I have heard from people who study Adult Education that the primary focus is to make the classroom experience better for the teachers and the students. Less time is spent on theories that do not have or are in want of a practical classroom application. In that respect, Adult Education seems to be a more practical program to study.