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Posts Tagged ‘administration’

I work with my institution’s international teaching assistant (ITA) program. The program, like those at many universities and colleges in the USA, is designed to provide language and pedagogical training to non-native English speaking graduate students who serve as teaching assistants for their departments.

Last fall, after testing all potential ITAs for oral proficiency training, our program received many concerned calls from departments whose international students did not meet the minimum English language standards to be TAs. In fact, a large number of the students were well below cut-off in the university’s policy regarding ITAs. Departments were concerned that these students needed funding and now they did not qualify to work as TAs due to their oral proficiency. To put it mildly was a very frustrating experience for many stakeholders.

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Because my wife and I live in a rural development about 30 minutes south from where we work, we have taken to listening to audio books during our commute. For the most part, we have listened to young adult fiction (entertaining and never contains questionable content like adult fiction), but while I was at the public library one day, I picked up a copy of “Creating Disney Magic” by Lee Cockerell. We had just been to Orlando the month before, so I was curious to see what were the “secrets” behind Disney leadership strategies.

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Despite the fact that I am a native speaker of English and work in an English-speaking country, currently I am what the TESOL culture would call an “ex-pat.” This term, which I have never liked the sound of, refers to someone who lives outside of one’s native country. I live in the USA, but I am from Canada.

I never planned to become an ex-pat. In fact, I don’t really consider myself to be one. When I hear that term, I think of Westerners who abandon their homelands in exchange for exotic locales where they reside for the rest of their lives. Certainly “ex-pat” is rarely used to describe such an extreme, but I have never thought of myself as “leaving” my homeland (i.e., ex-pat) but rather as just “visiting” somewhere else. As it is, the latest visit has lasted just over 5 years this summer. (more…)

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Today I lead a mini-shop as part of a teacher development day for the university’s intensive summer language program. Although I don’t teach in this program directly, the coordinator got my name from my boss as someone who could lead a discussion on technology integrated language learning.

I’m not so sure the session was successful. Those who attended seemed to be newbies and technophobes and even though I tried to keep my presentation to an introductory level, I got the sense that they just wanted to be shown exactly how to use one or two specific tools. Instead, I gave a survey of a few tool-types (wikis, blogs, etc.) and left it up to them to figure out the specifics of using the tools.

In other words, I think they wanted a how-to, and instead I presented a why-to. My entire discussion was “couched in the context” of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). Should they ask me to help out with this program in the future, I will just stick with one or two simple tools and provide more exact descriptions of how those tools could be used (even though I think this is a backwards approach).

Here are a couple slides from the discussion (which wasn’t very active since they did not seem to want to participate and instead were mostly passive, did not ask many questions). Certainly room for improvement on my part.

Please note that the TPACK diagram is taken from http://www.tpack.org

Technology for Language Learning2Technology for Language Learning

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A couple semesters before I started at this new job, the center had decided to stop using Filemaker to keep track of students, and instead switched to Access. I’m not sure what brought about this change (it may have had something to do with the fact that multiple users could use the Access database at once, and it was no extra cost since all computers in the center have Access anyway).

In any case, they migrated their records over to Access without any database planning. (more…)

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Given the University’s need to assess the English language proficiency of in-coming transfer students from the community college system, I was able to continue assessing the effectiveness of our ESL placement test. Earlier this week, a group of transfer students took the new grammar/vocabulary test, as well as the existing oral interview, and a revised writing test. Now that I have additional examinee data, I have been able to conduct an initial item analysis. (more…)

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In addition to language education sessions, I also appreciate attending presentations that help me deal with the administrative aspects of my job. This year I attended a couple sessions on management issues.

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