Getting all organised before the last workshop in May

I managed to return my learning journal for my Approaches to English Linguistics course this week. This week I was reading something on conversational analysis and a  study of social action as sense making practices by Anita Pomerantz and B. J. Fehr, (Conversation analysis, An Approach to the study of social action as sense making practices) as well as

psycholinguistics and work by Tanya Stivers and Federico Mossano on Mobilizing Response  and how they are proposing a model for how responses to social actions are regulated across the species rather than for speakers of one language. Both of the before mentioned articles fall into the category of linguistics but are a bit different from grammar for instance. The latter writers argue that speakers of different languages rely to different degrees on response mobilizing resources, across languages, ethnicities, and cultures and say that people rely on the same four resources: gaze, lexico-morphosyntax, prosody, and epistemic asymmetry, to mobilize response. (=mobilizing response meaning getting an answer from a recipient).

I also accidentally returned my final essay (1200 words) on Skinner for our Academic communication course I. I got the essay done and then sent it through our learning management system Optima to the return box. I almost immediately realised it wasn’t due until the end of the month; and that we were supposed to get some extra instructions for the last part of writing it some time soon… Ah well.

I don’t think I can withdraw it anymore now, but I’ll try and see if I manage to pass the course with this version. Could be a bit risky, but I did work hard on writing it so maybe it’s okay.

I have also been working on a pair teaching assignment online with Jaakko. We should be presenting together in our next workshop as a pair on the topic “B.F. Skinner and Jiddu Krishnamurti and educational philosophies”. I think we need to meet to get the material sorted out. It’s always nice to be able to start working online, but after the initial collecting of material phase, it’s necessary to have a chat face to face. Hope he will have time next week, I have to have my car fixed end of this week so I won’t be driving anywhere I think.

Before our next workshop in mid-May we are to read more short stories; not novels like I wrote earlier. ( I had no idea the stories were so short, we used to read novels when I was a student doing my Master’s degree, but that was last century!). I haven’t yet started on those, so I shall be doing some short stories reading next, I think.

After the workshop we still have a term paper on literature to write & return before mid-June. The paper shall be a critical analysis of ONE of the following short stories:

  • James Joyce:  “A Painful Case”
  • Katherine Mansfield: “Life of Ma Parker”
  • V.S. Naipaul: “The Mechanical Genius”
  • Carson McCullers: “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.”
  • Flannery O’Connor: “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

I haven’t read any of the short stories yet, but we are recommended to read them all and then pick which one to write the term paper about. We will see if I can get them all read or if time runs out and I only manage one.

In addition to all the above we also have a home exam coming up in English grammar I! We have something to read for the exam. I doubt it was the Glossary of English Grammar Terms even though it’s given as a resource to us in Optima. I have to start finding out… It’s coming up soon. Have a great rest of the week!

Picking The Finest Words

I’m feeling a cold coming up! So happy that I managed to return my 2nd edition of the essay as required, the deadline is tomorrow. I’ve been reading and writing my learning journal for our independent distant course in English linguistics but today it felt too heavy to read the remaining articles with the cold coming up and a slight headache. I left the more complicated articles for last. I think I need to get better before I will be able to focus on 30 pages of psycholinguistics; I plan to read Stiver’s and Mossano’s Mobilizing response article next. It’s something I find interesting but I definitely need to be able to concentrate. (A headache and a sore throat is not the best medicine for concentration!)

I’ve really been digging into the course material and read several articles on the reading list. I’ve for instance learnt more about how ecological educators see language learning as relationships among and between learners (Leo van Lier’s From input to affordance),  how linguistic relativity does not constrain our thoughts or perceptions but that it tends to influence what we as humans routinely think (Kramsch, The relationship of language and culture) and how being a good language learner and student requires not only demonstrating linguistic competence, but also understanding of the specific instructional setting and learning to develop communication skills and being interactive and interpreting a situation and how to act in that situation (LORENZA MONDADA, SIMONA PEKAREK DOEHLER, Second Language Acquisition as Situated Practice: Task Accomplishment in the French Second Language Classroom). I won’t go into the details of the above and some other articles here in my blog, but language IS truly complex and as an academic research field it is very wide – if that can begin to describe the art and science of language.

I also read a couple of essays today, as I prepare to make the peer reviews of essays. To be able to review the academic essays, we have been given the task to read also The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need by Susan Thurman ; Edited By Larry Shea. I’m not sure if we were to read the whole thing, but it’s almost 200 pages and for me that is so much reading that it requires some sinking in. I can’t do it in one or two session’s. The book is well written and not at all a what-you-would-expect, it’s not a typical, dare I say, boring grammar book! I already wrote a few lines in my previous post about the book and that I ordered it for myself. It seems to take some time to arrive with the mail so I haven’t yet had a chance to turn the pages of the actual book. Luckily we can use the online editions for free through the university. I read the first chapter in a breeze! It was an easy read and I surprised myself, because I enjoyed the read. I wouldn’t expect a grammar book to be enjoyable. Silly me, but I’m a linguist so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.

The first chapter was about finding the right words when writing. We all know how hard it can be to find the right words! If you want your words to have influence, it helps if you check common errors, misspellings or possible misuse of words. The book promises it will give your reader more confidence in what you are trying to say, so I recommend checking whenever you are in doubt. Finding the right words means also knowing the exact meaning of the words you are using. The better you are at knowing the meaning of words, the better you will be at conveying your thoughts when writing.

The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need has excellent lists of rules and exceptions and uses examples for clarifying them. There are plenty of words that often get people mixed up, but of course the book is only for those who need the advice. I’m not going to continue this post any further and advise you on how to pick the finest words. That you need to try on your own.

See the difference between advice = noun and advise=verb there? The example is from the book.

Approaching: Linguistics!

Studying at an open university course means many things nowadays. I don’t know if it compares to regular studies at the humanities department, but we have a whole lot of individual studies. Compared to the time I was a full & first time student here at the university of Oulu we don’t have that many contact studies now. Language and philology studies used to be much more contact oriented. There was a requirement of 80% participation in classes. This Basics Studies 25ECTS course is very different and requires plenty of individual study in the form of reading papers, writing essays and reviewing peer work.

Today I read a paper (sociology) for our Approaches to linguistics course, a course that appeared out of nowhere. We thought all our courses were visible in Optima, our digital learning environment, but haha- No! This individual study course had gone into hiding and one of our teachers notified us last weekend, during our workshops. I hate surprises. I thought I had a plan and that I was well ahead of that plan. This course appearing out of the blue is not catastrophic, but it’s 9 more papers on linguistics to read and a learning journal to write.

I started with Spolsky’s Styles, gender, and social class and jotted something down in what I call “my learning journal”. It’s a bit like this blog, but more academic ( I hope!). I like sociolinguistics and this particular, well-written paper was a joy to read. It was edutaining.

There was something in that paper that I liked very much. Spolsky wrote about the role of language in social bonding and how speakers seem to be “moving in the same rhythm” when they unconsciously adapt their speech to each other. Moving in the same rhythm – that’s exactly how it feels when you talk to someone you bond with! It’s like a dance.

Sometimes it feels a bit laborious to study this much individually because you don’t get to bond with fellow students so much by talking. Nothing really stops us from talking and discussing studies, but with people scattered around and some people working full-time jobs, it doesn’t happen too often. It’s also different to sit in the humanities cafeteria if you compare it to WhatsApp-conversations.

At the moment I hope there won’t be new surprise-assignments coming up. My calendar starts to fill up with TODO items to be done before mid-June. I have countless academic papers and novels to read, essays and learning journals to produce. I’m also trying to find a job, which IS time-consuming. I try to keep up with different job boards to see if there are any suitable openings. I sometimes wonder if I have too fuzzy goals for actually landing a new job (yet)? Well, no luck so far, but busy days reading and writing – essays and applications.