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January, 2011:

The Fun Theory in Language Learning

This morning, a friend shared this video on facebook. It’s one of the entries for the Fun Theory award, which recognizes ideas and inventions that prove that fun is the easiest way to change behavior for the better. Wouldn’t you want to take the stairs if they were this much fun?

Of course, I immediately shared the video with my friends on Facebook and Twitter :-)

I wasn’t the only one who thought about what the Fun Theory could do for English class.

Just think. No matter how you package it, it’s hard to gain much fluency in a foreign language without a lot of repetition, which students often see as the learning equivalent of taking the stairs. Given the chance, students will choose the escalator every time. But, if repetition were fun, would students beg for more? Probably.

Of course, in the back of my mind I was thinking that applying the Fun Theory to learning tasks could mean a lot more work for already busy teachers.

Kim Takeda came up with a wonderful solution:

What a brilliant idea! Let the students solve their own problems! The process itself could be an excellent language task. Students can identify which tasks they dislike, and suggest ways to make them more fun (but still as effective). It would be interesting to see how students and teachers see the same tasks.

Do you think your students would change anything? If so, what?

Why Language Teachers Still Need a (Second) Life

Part of the series: Teaching and Learning in Second Life

My Second Life self, Lynn Carlucci, being camera shy in 2009

You may have heard about Second Life . I actually hadn’t heard of it before I saw the course description for a TESOL EVO workshop  on Virtual Worlds and Language Learning. Considering that I thought an avatar was a diety in Hindu Mythology, I think it’s fair to say that my learning curve was pretty steep. (more…)

Mind Mapping for Writers Part 3 (by Hobie Swan)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Mind Mapping for Writers Article 3

We’ve come to the last of three posts about using mind mapping for writing. The first article looked at using mind maps to brainstorming, capture and organize ideas. The second talked about focusing on an idea and adding details. This final article will look at how to use what you’ve entered into the map to help you write your article, play, novel or, yes, even your school or business report. Mind maps are content- and purpose-agnostic. Use them for anything that requires thinking, planning, organizing, or writing. (more…)

Mind Mapping for Writers Part 2 (by Hobie Swan)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Mind Mapping for Writers Article 2

Welcome to the second of three articles about using mind mapping for writing. The first article looked at using mind maps to brainstorm, capture and organize ideas. This article begins with the list of ideas, and moves to the second stage of creating and managing complex content. (more…)

Mind Mapping for Writers Part 1 (by Hobie Swan)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Mind Mapping for Writers: If you’re more artist than engineer, this approach is for you.

Article 1: Think first, organize later.

This is the first of three articles about using mind mapping to make your life as a writer easier or more creative. If you are serious about writing and have a “visual mind,” then mind mapping might be a refreshing way for you to brainstorm new ideas, capture and organize those ideas, manage complex content, chunk up your writing, and add new flexibility and freedom to your writing process. That’s a lot of claims. We’ll see if, by the time you’ve read all three articles, I’ve convinced you of their validity. I’d encourage you to read this Wikipedia entry to learn more about the history and practice of mind mapping. (more…)

What I’ve Learned from my PLN (January 3, 2011)

(Note: If this is the first post you’ve read in this series, and you’re mystified by the PLN acronym, start with What’s a PLN, anyway?)

It’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these posts. It isn’t that I haven’t learned anything from my personal learning network recently, just that it’s way easier to learn than it is to share what I’ve learned (I’m still very slow working online, especially with links). (more…)

2011 Challenge: Become a Beginner (again)

A few of the things that gave me that beginner feeling


This year

Try something that makes you feel foolish.

Something that guarantees you’ll make mistakes.

Something that frustrates and overwhelms you.

In other words, do something that helps you remember what it feels like to be a beginner. (more…)