Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Eye on idioms

First meaning & then idiom

She's sweet and helpful.

She is a peach.

He's not telling the truth.

He's full of beans.

I don't care for that.

It's not my cup of tea.

He doesn't know what he's talking about.

He's full of baloney.

They have resentment.

It's just sour grapes.

It's sentimental.

That's corny.

I'm in a dilemma.

I'm in a pickle.

He brings home the family money.

He brings home the bacon.

She's upset.

She's in a stew.

He's the headman.

He's the top banana.

He's a very good person.

He's the salt of the earth.

She's a valuable employee.

She's worth her salt.

If you see one you see the other.

They're two peas in a pod.

I'm in love with you.

I'm nuts about you.

It's quite simple.

It's a piece of cake.

You can't use it and save it.

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

He's a frustrated actor.

He's a real ham.

It's a difficult problem to solve.

It's a hard nut to crack.

Let's talk seriously.

Let's talk turkey.

He cannot be trusted.

He's a bad egg.

Everyone's a little tense - lets be friendly.

We need to break the ice.

We'll get items.

We'll get a baker's dozen.

He has many deals going.

He's got a finger in every pie.

Be happy with what we have on hand.

You'll have to take potluck.

She makes tough deals.

She's hard-boiled.

He's my favorite person.

He's the apple of my eye.

He is a thoroughly evil person.

He's a rotten egg.

It's a crazy idea.

It's for the birds.

She eats little or nothing.

She eats like a bird.

He's a bad guy pretending to be good.

He's a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Someone has betrayed us.

I smell a rat.

He has no courage.

He's chicken-hearted.

I'm extremely hungry.

I could eat a horse.

Get serious and stop playing.

Please don't monkey around.

One solution solves two problems.

We'll kill two birds with one stone.

It's three miles going straight.

It's three miles as the crow flies.

Don't give a false alarm.

Don't cry wolf.

It's a well-used popular book.

It has dog-eared pages.

He's not the favorite to win.

He's the underdog.

She is not in her area of expertise.

She's like a fish out of water.

You'll cause a great deal of new problems.

You'll stir up a hornet's nest.

Don't let him get you upset.

Don't let him get your goat.

He'll back out of all agreements.

He'll weasel out.

Don't make big of something insignificant.

Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.

There is absolutely no room for even one more.

They are packed like sardines.

We had a very good viewpoint from on high.

We got a bird's eye view.

We were chasing something that didn't exist.

We're on a wild-goose chase.

She'll become very upset.

She'll go ape.

It is the heaviest rain I have ever seen.

It's raining cats and dogs.

The business is either his own business or fake.

It's just monkey business.

Don't tell our secret.

Don't let the cat out of the bag.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A kindergarten type activity for MA students!

Look what we did last week in our teaching language skills class! we were asked to make groups of fours while we all had a paper containing different concepts of education. on the paper it was written:

Many educators believe that any rigorious language learning program is made of components like: Student, Teacher, Parents, Context, Milieu, Theatrical framework, and Curriculum.

We were asked to think about these concepts and describe them in a "Picture"!!!WOW
First we were shocked, because in this level ,(MA), you never expect your teacher to give you blank sheets of paper with crayons and ask you to DRAW a colorful picture! Such a thing is usually done in kindergartens!! right???
Any way, we divided in to groups of fours ...still confused!...and started to think about the concepts. As soon as we started thinking about a good picture and a suitable way of illustrating the concepts of language learning, we found it very interesting and entertaining! many pictures crossed our minds. At last our group decided to show all the concepts in a GARDEN, " Garden of education"....nice!!! Isn't it??!

As you can see in our drawing, we simulated these concepts to trees, soil, sun, river, gardener, and so forth..

And here is a list of our similes:

1. Sapling: Lower level students

2. Tree: Higher level students

3. Gardener: Teacher

4. Sun: Parents

5. Fruit: Knowledge, attitude, self confidence,maturity

6. Fence: Curriculum

7. Soil: Context

8. River: Milieu

9. insects: obstacles in the path of learning

The teacher like a gardener who takes care of the trees and helps them grow, helps the students to grow and become knowledgeable. The teacher facilitates the process of learning. It is obvious that a garden with out the trees is meaningless, just like the educational system with out students. students are the most importand elements in an educational system. They are the central concepts! Soil is the context in our educational garden. with out it, growth is impossible! Parents , like the sun, are out side of the context; but their presence plays a vital role in educational growth. like the sun that shines for the trees, they can shine for their children and motivate them to try harder.Fences of the garden are the curriculum in our educational system, which show us the borders and limits. The river is the milieu that flows naturaly, and since our gardener is a good one, he has made branches of the river in to his garden! A good teacher should use the milieu (The way the world looks at educarion) in his educational program. Insects are harmful for the growth of the trees, just like the obstacles of learning for the growth of the students' knowledge. And at last, the whole picture is our Theatrical framework.

Other groups in our class also drew wonderful pictures with great similes. They simulated the educational system to a FOOTBAL FIELD, and a VEHICLE.

I could never, ever imagine how useful this activity could be until I did it! Now I have a better and clearer picture of these concepts in my mind and I think I can distinguish them much better!

~Special thanks to our professor Dr Mahdavinia~

Monday, March 9, 2009

Theories of learning
Summary: Behaviorism is a worldview that operates on a principle of “stimulus-response”. All behavior caused by external stimuli (operant conditioning). All behavior can be explained without the need to consider internal mental states or consciousness.
Originators and important contributors: John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, E. L. Thorndike (connectionism), Bandura, Tolman (moving toward cognitivism)
Keywords: Classical conditioning (Pavlov), Operant conditioning (Skinner), Stimulus-response (S-R)
Behaviorism is a worldview that assumes a learner is essentially passive, responding to environmental stimuli. The learner starts off as a clean slate (i.e. tabula rasa) and behavior is shaped through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. Both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement increase the probability that the antecedent behavior will happen again. In contrast, punishment (both positive and negative) decreases the likelihood that the antecedent behavior will happen again. Positive indicates the application of a stimulus; Negative indicates the withholding of a stimulus. Learning is therefore defined as a change in behavior in the learner. Lots of (early) behaviorist work was done with animals (e.g. Pavlov’s dogs) and generalized to humans.
Behaviorism precedes the cognitivist worldview. It rejects structuralism and is an extension of Logical Positivism.

Summary: The cognitivist paradigm essentially argues that the “black box” of the mind should be opened and understood. The learner is viewed as an information processor (like a computer).
Originators and important contributors: Merrill -Component Display Theory (CDT), Reigeluth (Elaboration Theory), Gagne, Briggs, Wager, Bruner (moving toward cognitive constructivism), Schank (scripts), Scandura (structural learning)
· Schema
· Schemata
· information processing
· symbol manipulation
· information mapping
· mental models
The cognitivist revolution replaced behaviorism in 1960s as the dominant paradigm. Cognitivism focuses on the inner mental activities – opening the “black box” of the human mind is valuable and necessary for understanding how people learn. Mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem-solving need to be explored. Knowledge can be seen as schema or symbolic mental constructions. Learning is defined as change in a learner’s schemata.
A response to behaviorism, people are not “programmed animals” that merely respond to environmental stimuli; people are rational beings that require active participation in order to learn, and whose actions are a consequence of thinking. Changes in behavior are observed, but only as an indication of what is occurring in the learner’s head. Cognitivism uses the metaphor of the mind as computer: information comes in, is being processed, and leads to certain outcomes.

Key Concepts of Cognitive Theory
Schema - An internal knowledge structure. New information is compared to existing cognitive structures called "schema". Schema may be combined, extended, or altered to accommodate new information.
Three-Stage Information Processing Model - input first enters a sensory register, then is processed in short-term memory, and then is transferred to long-term memory for storage and retrieval.
Sensory Register - receives input from senses, which lasts from less than a second to four seconds and then disappears through decay or replacement. Much of the information never reaches short-term memory but all information is monitored at some level and acted upon if necessary.
Short-Term Memory (STM) - sensory input that is important or interesting is transferred from the sensory register to the STM. Memory can be retained here for up to 20 seconds or more if rehearsed repeatedly. Short-term memory can hold up to 7 plus or minus 2 items. STM capacity can be increased if material is chunked into meaningful parts.
Long-Term Memory and Storage (LTM) - stores information from STM for long-term use. Long-term memory has unlimited capacity. Some materials are "forced" into LTM by rote memorization and over learning. Deeper levels of processing such as generating linkages between old and new information are much better for successful retention of material.
Meaningful Effects - Meaningful information is easier to learn and remember. (Cofer, 1971, in Good and Brophy, 1990) If a learner links relatively meaningless information with prior schema it will be easier to retain. (Wittrock, Marks, & Doctorow, 1975, in Good and Brophy, 1990)
Serial Position Effects - It is easier to remember items from the beginning or end of a list rather than those in the middle of the list, unless that item is distinctly different.
Practice Effects - Practicing or rehearsing improves retention especially when it is distributed practice. By distributing practices the learner associates the material with many different contexts rather than the one context afforded by mass practice.
Transfer Effects- The effects of prior learning on learning new tasks or material.
Interference Effects - Occurs when prior learning interferes with the learning of new material.
Organization Effects - When a learner categorizes input such as a grocery list, it is easier to remember.
Levels of Processing Effects - Words may be processed at a low-level sensory analysis of their physical characteristics to high-level semantic analysis of their meaning. (Craik and Lockhart, 1972, in Good and Brophy, 1990) The more deeply a word is process the easier it will be to remember.
State Dependent Effects - If learning takes place within a certain context it will be easier to remember within that context rather than in a new context.
Mnemonic Effects - Mnemonics are strategies used by learners to organize relatively meaningless input into more meaningful images or semantic contexts. For example, the notes of a musical scale can be remembered by the rhyme: Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit.
Schema Effects - If information does not fit a person's schema it may be more difficult for them to remember and what they remember or how they conceive of it may also be affected by their prior schema.
Advance Organizers – Ausebel’s advance organizers prepare the learner for the material they are about to learn. They are not simply outlines of the material, but are material that will enable the student to make sense out of the lesson.

Summary: Constructivism as a paradigm or worldview posits that learning is an active, constructive process. The learner is an information constructor. People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective.
Originators and important contributors: Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey, Vico, Rorty, Bruner
· Learning as experience
· Activity and dialogical process
· Problem Based Learning (PBL)
· Anchored instruction
· Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
· Cognitive apprenticeship (scaffolding)
· Inquiry and discovery learning
A reaction to didactic approaches such as behaviorism and programmed instruction, constructivism states that learning is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment. Learners continuously test these hypotheses through social negotiation. Each person has a different interpretation and construction of knowledge process. The learner is not a blank slate (tabula rasa) but brings experiences and cultural factors to a situation.
NOTE: A common misunderstanding regarding constructivism is that instructors should never tell students anything directly but, instead, should always allow them to construct knowledge for themselves. This is actually confusing a theory of pedagogy (teaching) with a theory of knowing. Constructivism assumes that all knowledge is constructed from the learner’s previous knowledge, regardless of how one is taught. Thus, even listening to a lecture involves active attempts to construct new knowledge.
Vygotsky’s social development theory is one of the foundations for constructivism.

The Assumptions of Constructivism - Merrill
· Knowledge is constructed from experience
· Learning is a personal interpretation of the world
· Learning is an active process in which meaning is developed on the basis of experience
· Conceptual growth comes from the negotiation of meaning, the sharing of multiple perspectives and the changing of our internal representations through collaborative learning
· Learning should be situated in realistic settings; testing should be integrated with the task and not a separate activity
(Merrill, 1991, in Smorgansbord, 1997)
Realistic vs. Radical Construction
Realistic constructivism - cognition is the process by which learners eventually construct mental structures that correspond to or match external structures located in the environment.
Radical constructivism - cognition serves to organize the learners’ experiential world rather than to discover ontological reality
(Cobb, 1996, in Smorgansbord, 1997)

Experiential Learning
Summary: A four-stage cyclical theory of learning, Kolb’s experiential learning theory is a holistic perspective that combines experience, perception, cognition, and behavior.
Originators: David A. Kolb (1939-)
Key Terms:
· Learning cycles
· learning styles
· concrete experience
· reflective observation
· abstract conceptualization
· active experimentation

Building upon earlier work by John Dewey and Kurt Levin, American educational theorist David A. Kolb believes “learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (1984, p. 38). The theory presents a cyclical model of learning, consisting of four stages shown below. One may begin at any stage, but must follow each other in the sequence:

1. concrete experience (or “DO”)
2. reflective observation (or “OBSERVE”)
3. abstract conceptualization (or “THINK”)
4. active experimentation (or “PLAN”)
Figure 1. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle.

Kolb’s four-stage learning cycle shows how experience is translated through reflection into concepts, which in turn are used as guides for active experimentation and the choice of new experiences. The first stage, concrete experience (CE), is where the learner actively experiences an activity such as a lab session or fieldwork. The second stage, reflective observation (RO), is when the learner consciously reflects back on that experience. The third stage, abstract conceptualization (AC), is where the learner attempts to conceptualize a theory or model of what is observed. The fourth stage, active experimentation (AE), is where the learner is trying to plan how to test a model theory, or plan for a forthcoming experience.
Kolb identified four learning styles, which correspond to these stages. The styles highlight conditions under which learners learn better. These styles are:
· Assimilators, who learn better when presented with sound logical theories to consider
· Convergers, who learn better when provided with practical applications of concepts and theories
· Accommodators, who learn better when provided with “hands-on” experiences
· Divergers, who learn better when allowed to observe and collect a wide range of information

Summary: Humanism is a paradigm/philosophy/pedagogical approach that believes learning is viewed as a personal act to fulfill ones potential.
Key proponents: Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Malcolm Knowles
Key terms:
· self-actualization
· teacher as facilitator
· affect
Humanism, a paradigm that emerged in the 1960s, focuses on the human freedom, dignity, and potential. A central assumption of humanism, according to Huitt (2001), is that people act with intentionality and values. This is in contrast to the behaviorist notion of operant conditioning (which argues that all behavior is the result of the application of consequences) and the cognitive psychologist belief that the discovering knowledge or constructing meaning is central to learning. Humanists also believe that it is necessary to study the person as a whole, especially as an individual grows and develops over the lifespan. It follows that the study of the self, motivation, and goals are areas of particular interest.

Key proponents of humanism include Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. A primary purpose of humanism could be described as the development of self-actualized, automomous people. In humanism, learning is student centered and personalized, and the educator’s role is that of a facilitator. Affective and cognitive needs are key, and the goal is to develop self-actualized people in a cooperative, supportive environment.

Some other theories:
Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
Summary: Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is an instructional method of hands-on, active learning centered on the investigation and resolution of messy, real-world problems.
Originators: Late 1960s at the medical school at McMaster University in Canada.
Key Terms: open-ended problems, self-directed learners, teacher as facilitator, student as problem solver

Experiential Learning (Kolb)
Summary: A four-stage cyclical theory of learning, Kolb’s experiential learning theory is a holistic perspective that combines experience, perception, cognition, and behavior.
Originators: David A. Kolb (1939-)
Key Terms: Learning cycles, learning styles, concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, active experimentation

Affordance Theory (Gibson)
Summary: Affordance theory states that the world is perceived not only in terms of object shapes and spatial relationships but also in terms of object possibilities for action (affordances) — perception drives action.
Originators: J. J. Gibson (1904-1979)
Keywords: Affordances, direct perception, ecological

GOMS Model (Card, Moran, and Newell)
Summary: The GOMS Model is a human information-processing model that predicts what skilled users will do in seemingly unpredictable situations.
Originators and proponents: Card, Moran and Newell in 1983; Bonnie John et al.
Keywords: Goals, operators, methods, selection rules

Discovery Learning (Bruner)
Summary: Discovery Learning is a method of inquiry-based instruction, discovery learning believes that it is best for learners to discover facts and relationships for themselves.
Originator: Jerome Bruner (1915-)
Keywords: Inquiry-based learning, constructivism

Situated Learning Theory (Lave)
Summary: Situated Learning Theory posits that learning is unintentional and situated within authentic activity, context, and culture.
Originator: Jean Lave
Key Terms: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP), Cognitive Apprenticeship

Attribution Theory (Weiner)
Summary: Attribution Theory attempts to explain the world and to determine the cause of an event or behavior (e.g. why people do what they do).
Originator: Bernard Weiner (1935- )
Key terms: Attribution, locus of control, stability, controllability

Stage Theory of Cognitive Development (Piaget)
Summary: Piaget’s Stage Theory of Cognitive Development is a description of cognitive development as four distinct stages in children: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete, and formal.
Originator: Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
Key Terms: Sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete, formal, accommodation, assimilation.

Multiple Intelligences Theory (Gardner)
Summary: Multiple Intelligences Theory posits that there are seven ways people understand in the world, described by Gardner as seven intelligences.
Originator: Howard Gardner in 1983.
Key Terms: Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Body-Kinesthetic, Musical-Rhythmic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It is to be revised at the end of the course! hopefuly!!

A sample of syllabus, assessment program and methodology in a given classroom of phonetics
The objective of this outline is to determine how a student of TEFL devises an appropriate syllabus, assessment program and methodology for a given classroom of phonetics.
Explanation of materials by the teacher in the class, researches done by the students as weekly assignments
Teaching aids:
Books, audio visual system, Maquette of the organs of articulation in human body
1. Distinction between phonetics and phonology
2. Organs of articulation
3. Phonetic alphabet
4. Branches of phonetics
5. Traditional phonetics
(a) Consonants
_ Place of articulation
_ Manner of articulation
6. Systematic phonetics
(a)Vocalic vs. Consonantal
(b) Sonorant vs. Obstruent
(c) Anterior vs. back
(d) Syllabic
(f) Tense vs. lax
(g) Fortis
(h) Continuant vs. Abrupt release
(i) Coronal
(j) Strident
(k) Sibilant
(l) Lip rounding
(m) Aspiration
II. Assessment program
1. Subjective
(a) Class participation (%10)
(b) Weekly assignments (%10)
2. Objective
(a) Midterm exam (multiple choice type tests) (%30)
(b) Final exam (multiple choice type tests) (%50)

Monday, March 2, 2009


Delara Shahriari is a student of TEFL. She was born on 5 May 1983 in Tehran, in a well reputed family as the last child. She has always been intrested in English language and arts. In 2001, she earned her diploma in the field of mathematics, in one of the high schools of Tehran; but since she never enjoyed studing mathematics, she decided to change her field of study and try to pass the university exam in the field of English language which she had always loved. She earned her BA degree from the Islamic Azad University of Tehran (south branch) in 2006, in the field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language and now she is studing in the same university as a student of MA in the same field of study. She also hopes to continue her education to get her PHD in this field.


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