I know, I know, I wasn’t going to post anything else this year. But there’s a “thing” going round the blogging world where people write 11 random facts about themselves, answer 11 questions and then ask 11 more questions, which they send on to 11 more bloggers. I have now been tagged to do this twice, by Carol Goodey and The Secret DOS. When Carol tagged me I thought I could maybe hold off and then do it in the new year, but when I woke up this morning and saw that The Secret DOS had tagged me too, I thought I’d better respond before it gets out of hand. I’ll answer both sets of questions of course, but I’m not going to do two of anything else – I hope that’s not breaking some recently-invoked rule of blogging.
11 random facts about me
- I grew up in the Scottish Borders.
- I am really bad at golf, but it doesn’t stop me playing.
- I once saw Sean Connery walking past IH London.
- My favourite means of transport is the train.
- I am a member of Ken MacDougall’s skinny club.
- I ride a bike.
- I have very squint bottom teeth.
- I was in my own wedding band.
- I genuinely think that the world’s best curry can be found at the Yadgar in Calder Street, Glasgow.
- My Dad reads my blog posts but doesn’t comment on them (unless he’s the Secret DOS – could that be?)
- I’ve never been to America.
My answers to Carol Goodey’s 11 questions
1. What do you most enjoy about blogging?
It helps me to lay out my thoughts more clearly, and then I can get feedback on those thoughts.
2. Do you play a musical instrument? If not, would you like to? Which one?
Yes, I play the guitar, and the harmonica. I used to play a lot -never very well, but well enough to get me into bands. I hardly ever play now, which I feel bad about.
3. How far do you travel to work? How do you travel?
It’s about 10 miles door to door, and I go by bike as often as possible. Otherwise I go by bus, which takes longer, or car, which takes less time but puts me in a bad mood.
4. What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
Probably the wide range of different people that I get to interact with.
5. What was the first thing you ate today?
I’ve had a smoothie with beetroot and parsnips in it. Does that count?
6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Why?
Right now, some island in South-East Asia would be nice, just for the weather and the snorkeling.
7. What month next year are you most looking forward to? Why?
June – I should know what my new job is going to be by then.
8. What meal do you prepare most often for friends?
Some kind of stew.
9. What was the last movie you saw? What did you think?
I watched Kick-Ass 2 the other night. Not as good as the first one.
10. What three things do you like to have with you when working?
Depends what you mean by working. For teaching, I’m happy going into the classroom armed with a Good Idea. When I’m working at home, I like to have my laptop and different coloured pens for making notes. In general, I like to have other people to bounce my ideas off.
11. What do YOU think about reality TV shows?
They are a very lazy way of making cheap TV.
My answers to the Secret DoS’s 11 questions:
1. In your profession, what is the greatest myth that people still believe?
That you can teach different groups in the same way using the same materials and have the same results.
2. What is the single greatest truth that you think a language teacher should be aware of?
Linguistic complexity has nothing to do with order of acquisition.
3. If our cognition is located in our environment rather than in our heads, how should language teaching change? (One suggestion is enough!)
I suppose we need to be a lot more conscious of how to maximise the learning environment – get out of the classroom more, for example.
4. What do you wish you didn’t know?
While there are some things that are difficult or disappointing to know, there’s nothing that I actually regret knowing.
5. The Michel Thomas method offers language learners the chance to go from beginner to confident speaker without books, homework or having to memorise anything – how likely is this?
It’s as likely to happen for some people as it is for others to use learn languages using books, homework and memorisation.
6. Does language learning have more to learn from the field of linguistics, psychology or neuroscience?
Of course, though I think it is already strongly influenced by those fields. Language teachers could perhaps learn a lot more from the field of general education than they think they could.
7. What single small change would make a classroom a more effective place for learning?
If teachers listened more to their students.
8. Can language actually be taught?
If it can be learned, it can be taught. But the relationship between how it is taught and how it is learned is still a bit of a mystery.
9. Who has more to teach us: Tony Soprano, Jimmy McNulty or Walter White?
I never watched The Wire, and didn’t see enough of Breaking Bad to really get into it (what is wrong with me?). I suppose we can learn from all of these guys. I think Tony Soprano demonstrates some great leadership skills.
10. If somebody doesn’t have what it takes, can they get it?
Yes. But if they just don’t have what it takes, then no.
11. Is language learning a uniquely human endeavour? Are there any parallels to it elsewhere?
Other living things seem to have a capacity for interacting with others, but that doesn’t mean they actively learn languages. You don’t see dogs sitting in rows and practising how to miaow, for example.
11 people I would like to tag:
11 questions for them to answer:
- What motivated you to start working in education?
- What is it about teaching that makes it a “profession”?
- Is language a subject?
- What can you not do that you would like to do?
- What do you do that you wish you didn’t do?
- What’s the best bit about your current job?
- What “big idea” are you currently turning over in your mind?
- What’s the best place you’ve lived in?
- Who is the most annoying person on television at the moment?
- When did you last learn a new word, and what was it?
- Where would you rather be right now?