Thursday, 17 April 2008

"Language teachers of the world!"

Inspired by several things & (more specifically) people - including the work being done by Jess McCulloch, Don Osborn and the International Year of Languages itself - I have decided it is time for me to try to contribute to the theme that "Languages matter!".

This all began with the creation of an ICT assignment for Year 9 Japanese. In trying to come up with something original and something related to UNESCO's Year of Languages, I decided to give them a scenario:

Japanese has become an endangered language. The number of people speaking it in the world has rapidly declined and it is in danger of becoming an extinct language (like many of our own country's Aboriginal languages). Your task is to help save the language.

In order to complete the above students were given various tasks, including making a movie or slide show depicting Japanese language and culture and what it means to them. However, it is the last part of their project(slightly adapted) which I would now like to assign to language teachers and any other bilinguals out there. The idea is to share our experiences with students to encourage them to persevere with their language learning.

As part of your task to promote the learning of language, you are to use voicethread to give your opinion on how learning language is important to you. Why should we study language? How can language learning help us to grow personally and where has learning a language taken us?

This is an invitation for all language teachers around the world to reflect and share with the students of the world why we continued with learning languages and what we have discovered on our language learning journey. I have created a wikispace entitled "Our Language Journey" and a voicethread for us to do this. It will take me a day or so to add my journey but I invite anyone interested in language - and encouraging our students to learn languages - to participate.

ありがとう、merci, danke ...

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Meme: Passion Quilt

Well, I have been tagged by Isabelle Jones to carry on the Passion Quilt, started by Miguel Guhlin. The task is to find an image that captures what we are passionate about in our field of education; what do we want our students to learn at school?

Let's call the photo above - "Now & Then"

I took the photo above at Kiyomizu temple (Kyoto, Japan) whilst there in December last year with a school group. So, for me, it is not only the picture but also the circumstances of why I was there that contributes to the "passionate" theme. It was tiring work travelling around Japan with the school group, but well worth it. Seeing them respond to the places and the culture they were engaged with was, in their words, pretty cool. Watching them using the Japanese language to do this was even better. Seeing them passionate about Japan was very satisfying.

Now to the picture itself. My main teaching area is Japanese and this photograph encapsulates what drew me into Japan and subsequently the teaching of Japanese; that Japan is a modern nation but at the same time is so ancient / traditional. This is the original reason for choosing this photo. However, the photo represents more than simply Japan & Japanese. It represents my passion for teaching the students not only about language and culture but also about broadening their thinking, expanding their horizons. Despite the world having shrunk, there are still many students who do not see outside of their area, let alone their region or their country. Furthermore, expanding on this from my subject area (& thinking about some of what I've read over the past couple of months), this photo also represents the need to embrace the new directions and opportunities in ICT, whilst remembering that there are pieces of 'the old' culture that we still must learn from and use. My passion in this area continues to develop and grow - thanks to those in my expanding networks out here ...

So, now it is my turn to tag for the extension of the Passion Quilt ...

  1. Jess McCulloch
  2. Anne Baird
  3. Lisa Stevens
  4. Graham Hughes
  5. Tom March
3 simple rules of the Passion Quilt meme are as follows:
  • Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about and give your picture a short title.
  • Title your blog post "Meme: Passion Quilt" and link back to Miguel Guhlin's original post.
  • Include links to 5 people in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.
This has been a most useful exercise!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Clipmarks - bringing things together

I am in the process of experimenting a little with Clipmarks which allows you to take pieces of text and images from different sites and put them together into a 'clipcast', like the one I have pieced together below. Without much thought, I collected the excerpts from 2 different sites about the Japanese animated movie Spirited Away and placed them into a clipcast. If you haven't seen Spirited Away - I recommend it!

Although clipmarks does have a character limit of 1000, it doesn't seem to limit the images you put in. Once saved, you can email it, embed it or post it straight to a blog - which is what I am doing right now. It not only allows you to put it on your site but also onto facebook , myspace, iGoogle & more. You can also add comments to other people's clipcasts & favourite them. Try the explanation on YouTube.

10-year old Chihiro becomes trapped in a forbidden world of gods and magic when her parents take her to investigate the other side of the tunnel. In order to survive, Chihiro must work and make herself useful, and find within her the courage and resolve she needs to save her parents and escape from a world where humans are dispised.

clipped from
Names are equally important in the characters’ quest for
freedom. After Yubaba steals part of Chihiro’s name, Haku warns
Sen not to forget her former name or she will be trapped in the
spirit world forever. Sen must remember the qualities that make
her who she is and remain true to them
Only those characters with the inner strength
to hold onto their names and identities can free themselves
Words play a role in both Chihiro’s initial enslavement
at the bathhouse and her eventual escape from her contract.
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