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About This Blog
This blog is written for English language teachers who are interested in the intersection of teaching, learning, research, and technology. It was originally created with the purpose of answering frequently asked questions when I was a teacher educator in Russia.  I often found myself with limited time to answer questions during my outreach program presentations, so this blog gave me a platform to more thoroughly answer their questions.  It also helped me to demonstrate the relatively new phenomenon of blogging at the time.

The purpose changed when I became an English language teacher in Wisconsin.  I wanted to use this blog as part of my portfolio, especially with activities and lessons I found to be successful and/or fun to implement.  Just as I started getting grounded with ideas such as skeptical thinking and cooperative speaking and listening activities, I enrolled at the University of Iowa, where I spent the first couple years fleshing out my ideas that emerged in Wisconsin.
About Me
After earning my PhD in Teaching and Learning (Foreign Language and ESL Education) at the University of Iowa, I have become the Curriculum Coordinator for CESL at Southern Illinois University.  I have lived in Carbondale, Illinois with my wife and daughter since July 2015.  My research interests are in teacher education, specifically in developing the intercultural competence in pre-service and in-service educators of English language learners.  My dissertation is on the adjustment process of sojourning English language teachers in Japan and South Korea.  

Prior to my life as an Iowa graduate student, I was an associate lecturer for two years at the ESL Institute at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, where I began to develop my ideas for incorporating skeptical thinking into the English for academic purposes (EAP) classroom, a frequent topic in this blog a few years ago.

My interest in English language teaching methodology and curriculum development came from my four years as a teacher educator in South Korea and Russia.  In South Korea, I became a disciple of content-based instruction and a practitioner of classroom interactions, which are a collection of techniques used to develop learners' oral proficiency and increase their oral output.  As a Senior English Language Fellow in Russia, I focused more on cooperative learning techniques and task-based learning and teaching as I traveled around the Greater Volga Region as part of an outreach teacher education program.

The foundation of my pedagogical knowledge and philosophy comes from my graduate studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  There I learned not only about English language education but also instructional systems design, an incredibly useful tool for efficiently developing curricula.  My training at UMBC has helped me stay focused on the academic, linguistic, and affective needs of the learner and to develop course objectives, assessments, and activities based on those needs.


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What Is So Great About Extensive Reading?

I'm collaborating on a research and development project for integrating extensive reading into intensive English programs. After the initial review of the most recent literature, I was quite surprised at the overwhelming positive effects of extensive reading on reading proficiency, comprehension, and motivation. Although I'm still skeptical, I'd like to share the findings with you.

I looked at 17 articles published since 2012. Although this may not seem like much, 3 of these articles were meta-analyses, which investigated a much larger quantity of studies on extensive reading. Only one was not relevant to intensive English programs, bringing it down to 16 articles. Many of these articles came from the 2015 discussion forums in Reading in a Foreign Language. The majority of those discussion forum articles were not empirical studies, but they went in depth answering "What constitutes extensive reading?" After summarizing these answers, this blog post covers the res…

Are you an Open Educator?

Image from What is an Open Educator? According to a recently published article from the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL):

An Open Educator chooses to use open approaches, when possible and appropriate, with the aim to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning. He/she works through an open online identity and relies on online social networking to enrich and implement his/her work, understanding that collaboration bears a responsibility towards the work of others.

Does this sound attractive for English language teachers? It seems to some who offer courses through or with YouTube. But what does it mean "to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning?" Working for free? Not necessarily. If you read the article, it seems you'd be working on a sliding scale depending on the socioeconomic status of the learners, but this sliding scale is a sliding slope. How can poor le…

The Tao of Praxis

Last week, I started reading The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff to my daughter as part of her bedtime regimen. I bought this book years ago after a colleague recommended it to me when he learned I was interested in Taoism. Since then I have embraced much of its philosophy, but I stop short of calling myself a Taoist. I didn't realize until now that Taoism has deeply affected my attitudes and beliefs towards English language teaching and scholarship, especially concerning the concept of praxis. Below are some examples.

The passage above comes from Chapter 3: Spelling Tuesday, page 26. It's not a subtle attack on academics, specifically those whose goals are to get published to be accepted among an elite circle of scholars. This is particularly striking to me because, at this point in my life, I would like to gain acceptance among this elite circle, which I perhaps naively equate to tenured professors. However, I strive to make my life's work beneficial to English language te…