Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Clarifying Question Idea

Hear a sentence in the L2, then, instead of translating or understanding the sentence, generate a clarifying question about the sentence. One observed trait of outstanding language learners is their ability to provoke more input.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cantonese Learning Resources

http://cantostories.podbean.com/
- stories in Cantonese.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Thoughts on Self Teaching Language

I stumbled upon a couple of new sites:


http://www.anthonylauder.com/
- this gentleman is teaching the benefits of connectors as he calls them, those little pieces of dialog that keep a conversation flowing. He is learning Czech and he tracked down the Czech phrases on his list, learned them well and uses them to keep the conversation moving along. It sounds like a great idea to me. Those little phrases like, I think ..., for example ..., I've heard, and so many others fit very naturally into nearly any conversation.

http://www.fluentin3months.com/
- from someone who has taught himself several languages. He's just posting his ideas on learning.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Shadowing

Suppose to assist development of a good accent and fluency.

Detailed here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=130bOvRpt24

Demonstrated here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdheWK7u11w


- walking swiftly, purposefully with good posture.

Steps of Shadowing. Each step is done several times, but really as many as you can, as long as it is still profitable.
- Blind Shadowing - no book, walking, listening, repeating.
- Reading & Shadowing - continue to shadow the material (listening, speaking L2), reading L1.
- Reading with your Thumbs - shadow and read with your thumb under the appropriate part of the L1 text, looking over to the L2 text whenever possible.
- now focused on the L2 text, flipping back to L1 text as you want for confirmation.
- Stay on the L2 text, even if uncertain. Now you are trying to keep your mind in the L2.
- Now, turn off audio, read and analyze the text.
- Read the text aloud.
- Writing the text.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Listening/Learning Strategies

From Lessons from Good Language Learners edited by Carol Griffiths:

1 Cognitive strategies: these are activites which learners use to remember and develop language and to facilitate comprehension.
- predicting what a pice of listening will be about, or what language/information will come next;
- drawing inferences when information is not stated or has been missed;
- guessing meanings of unkown words;
- using intonation and pausing to segment words and phrases;
- other micro-strategies to do with processing language - identifying stressed words, listening for markers, listening for structures etc.;
- using schematic and contextual information (top-down) together with linguistic information (bottom-up) to arrive at meanings;
- visualizing the situation they are hearing about;
- piecing together meaning from words that have been heard.
2 Megacognitive strategies: these are activities which learners ue to organize, monitor and evaluate how well they are understanding.
- focusing attention, concentrating and clearing the mid before listening;
- applying an advance organizer before listening (I think the topic is going to be ..., so ...);
- going in with a plan (I'm going to listen for ... words I know/key words/cognates ...);
- getting used to speed and finding ways of coping with it;
- being aware when they are losing attention and refocusing concentration;
- deciding what the main purpose of listening is;
- checking how well they have understood;
- taking notes;
- paying attention to the main points;
- identifying listening problems and planning how to improve them.
3 Socio-affective strategies: these are activities in which learners interact with other people in order to help their comprehension and encourage themselves to continue listening.
- asking for clarification;
- checking that they have got the right idea;
- providing themselves with opportunities for listening;
- motivating themselves to listen;
- lowering anxiety about listening;
- providing a person response tot he i nformation or idea presented in the piece of listening;
- empathizing with the speaker and trying to understand the reason for a particular message.

Mandarin Chinese Learning Resources

http://chinese-characters.org/
- a resource that discusses the etymology of the characters.

http://www.chineseetymology.org/
- a technical, dictionary like resource that describes the etymology of characters.

http://zdt.sourceforge.net/
- character flashcard program.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Language Learning Games

What to do to practice language input/output.

1. Have someone read the numbers in the L2 and then write them in numerical form. This is specifically aimed at over coming the trouble many people have negotiating in a market because the numbers don't come quickly enough.
2. 4/3/2 - documented by Paul Nation. Prepare a talk, then give the talk to 3 listeners. 1st listener for 4 minutes. No notes, no written queue cards. Just talk. This is not a vocabulary development exercise, this is a fluency exercise. After the talk, move to the next listener. Repeat the talk for 3 minutes. Move to the next listener. Repeat the talk in two minutes.
3. Circumlocution - or something like that. Basically talk around a word. Something like Taboo. This is a normal part of learning to speak a second language, you must be able to explain something when you don't know the exact word that covers it.

Comprehensible Input

I think it was Stephen Krashen who made the point that one effective strategy for language learning is to develope techniques for soliciting comprehensible input. For example, if you can ask for something you don't understand to be repeated, more slowly. Question statements by rephrasing. Provoke conversation.

With this in mind, make sure you take the time to learn phrases that allow you to respond when you don't understand, to ask for clarification.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No Critical Period?

http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/features/snow10012002.html

Reading for Learning

I've read several accounts by people who place an emphasis on reading in the target language as soon as possible.

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/12/29/15258/287

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kat%C3%B3_Lomb
http://tesl-ej.org/ej45/fr1abs.html

http://www.language-learning-tips.com/17_Schliemanns_method.htm

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shanghaihua Materials

http://www.mandmx.com/category/shanghaihua/page/2/

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Language Study Method Resources

http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/
- a blog from a man who taught himself Japanese while he was in
university. If you look around the site he covers the things he did
which he feels made his efforts as successful as they were. One of the
big things I got from him was to focus on phrases.

http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/staff/paul-nation/nation.aspx
http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/staff/paul-nation/nation-pubsdate.aspx
- the Second Language Aquisition researcher in New Zealand. He writes
about studies he has done about effective language teaching
methodologies. The second link are his publications. I haven't managed
to get any of his books yet.

There is a book by Barry Farber called How to Learn Any Language. I've
read it a couple of times, but the public library doesn't have it and
I don't have a copy. He is very big on flash cards and learning in
your hidden moments. He says he always keeps some flash cards with him
and studies in line, or on the bus, or whenever he has a spare moment.

http://www.thelinguist.com/en/en/book-contents/

http://watchtolearnchinese.com/

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mandarin Chinese Learning Resources

Here are the Mandarin/Language study resources I've found:

http://www.chinesepod.com
- There are over 1000 lessons at different levels. Based in
Shanghai, so I suspect it is Shanghai flavoured Mandarin.

http://www.slow-chinese.com/ - Spoken Mandarin at a slower rate of speech.

http://www.greatwallchinese.cn/
- a spinoff from the Confucious Institute. Do NOT purchase this product. Like the Confucious Institute site, it is badly organized and difficult to understand. Also, although it is quite new, don't buy the printed materials. They used Flash 7 and you will be unable to run the included CDs on any recent installation of Flash. Tech support is limited. They only support IE. There is limited material available on the site once you get in. No explanation of what you are trying to learn. For example, in the first unit of level 3, they are trying to teach the difference between you4 and zai4, two ways of indicating repetition (of saying 'again'). To teach the difference between the two, there is 2 example sentences, one with you4 and one with zai4. That is it. No explanation, no other examples, nothing. You are far better off with purchasing content from another site such as ChinesePod. They have better explanations (if you like explanations) and huge amounts of example sentences (if you prefer to learn by induction.)

http://popupchinese.com/
- this is a pretty new site, I think about 6 - 8 months old. You can
get a trial subscription to try it out. It seems to be very similar in
design to ChinesePod, but more focused on written work, and not as
much support on the site. Based in Beijing.

http://www.chineseclass101.com/
- This site is even newer. It's a partnership of PopupChinese and
another company. It's progressional based. ChinesePod and PopupChinese
produce lessons at different levels and you can learn them in any
order. This site seems to focus on a gradual progression of lessons.
Based in New York, with hosts from various places.

http://www.confuciusinstitute.net/resource/index.htm
- has a variety of videos, and possibly other material that I haven't found yet.

http://www.chineselearnonline.com/
- seems to be progressional audio lessons. Based in Taiwan.

http://www.cslpod.com/English/Lessons/home.aspx
- More podcasts. It looks very similar to ChinesePod or PopupChinese.

http://www.activechinese.com/
- on line learning materials, level based instruction. Has various streams, professional vs student, which affect the topics studied and the vocabulary learned. I have not yet tried it.

http://www.hanyu.com.cn/en/tvstastion.aspx
- Chinese Online Contemporary Chinese

http://www.imandarinpod.com/hoola/

http://www.im.tv/vlog/Personal/298597/2559661
- videos in Chinese.

http://ellenschinese.podomatic.com/

http://vsearch.cctv.com/

http://www.bcc.com.tw/
- BBC in Mandarin

http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/

http://www.clavisinica.com/annotator.html
- annotates Chinese characters with pinyin.

http://www.clavisinica.com/voices.html
- written stories with assocaited MP3s.

http://watchtolearnchinese.com/
- videos

http://www.michaelturton.com/Taiwan/teach_index.html

http://www.zhongwengreen.com/

http://www.zhongwenred.com/

http://www.xuehanyuonline.com/

http://www.zhongwenblue.com/

http://www.worldlearnerchinese.com/

http://www.chineselingq.com/

http://english.cctv.com/program/TravelinChinese_new/01/index.shtml

http://english.cri.cn/08chinese/index.htm

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition

Author: Stephen D. Krashen

First published in 1982. That is getting close to 30 years ago. I'd love to read something more recent and see how his ideas have changed or evolved.

He distinguishes between language learning and language acquisition. Language learning is a conscious process of grammar study, vocabulary memorization and drills. Language acquisition is a subconscious process of internalizing comprehensible input.

Comprehensible input is really the big thing I took away from this book. He theorizes that we do not need to spend our time practicing grammar and memorizing vocabulary, and that these things are not really helpful to the process of speaking a language most of the time. He believes that is is the quantity of comprehensible input that determines our language ability.

Friday, May 15, 2009

JAAS -> AD Configuration

JAAS (Java Authentication and Authorization Service) is a framework can be used to plug authentication modules into a variety of products. Then you enter a jaas configuration to load the module and tell it how to contact an authentication server (or whatever the module implements).

AD (MS Active Directory) is it's usual challenging self. Most LDAP authentication modules assume there is anonymous browsing access. They browse to the user info, and then authenticate the user with a bind attempt. I don't understand why they work that way. If those two activities were reversed, the bind occurred first then the search, you would never need anonymous browse access.

In any case, by default, AD does not allow anonymous browse access, so unless you want to encode a special user name/password in your config files so the module log in to AD, browse to the user info, then bind again with the user info that is trying to authenticate.

It seems incredibly redundant to store a user name and password in config files so we can authenticate everyone, so lets try for a better solution.

Bind authentication:


EMSUserAuthentication {
com.sun.security.auth.module.LdapLoginModule required
userProvider="ldap://192.168.1.10:389/ou=people,dc=jokers,dc=com"
userFilter="sAMAccountName={USERNAME}"
authIdentity="{USERNAME}@jokers.com"
useSSL=false
debug=true;
};

ldapsearch command line access to AD server


ldapsearch -x -h -b "OU=Users,OU=Vancouver,DC=Jokers,DC=com" -Duser@joker.com -W


Weirdly, the DN for AD looks like an e-mail address. What can I say? I don't know why this works, but this works. AD does not (by default) allow anonymous browsing, so you must authenticate (-D and -W) to list the info AD is storing.

This command is really useful for troubleshooting AD problems when you are trying to configure an app to authenticate against an AD server and you are not exactly sure of the settings. This utility allows you to quickly test different settings until you find something working.