pennswoods: (Default)
A little bit of a cheerful update to celebrate my move to Dreamwidth. My first review article on online fan practices and computer-assisted language learning was just published in the latest issue of the CALICO Journal. I had a lot of fun writing this article even though the deadline I was given for it meant I was writing it during my Christmas holiday (in Gran Canaria).

If you're desperately curious and want to read it but don't have a subscription, send me a message and I'll get you the PDF.

pennswoods: (Sherlocked)

I mentioned the fanfiction project I have been using in my teaching in the talk I posted recently. For those who are curious, here are the links to my students' Sherlock AU fanfiction.
A Study in Sherlock... )
pennswoods: (Sherlocked)
Back in January, I was invited to give a talk for the local Creative Mornings branch here in Malmö on the theme of language. Since I've been doing work on fandom and fanfiction, I decided to talk on the transformative world of fandom and fanfiction and the many different kinds of learning (language and otherwise) I've seen in it.

pennswoods: (Sweden)
Swedes take their vacation time very seriously. My university quite literally shuts down for five weeks while everyone and their mother is on vacation. I am having to beg colleagues in the US to send me PDFs of research articles from their own institutions since my university library is closed, and I have to wait until August before I can put in an interlibrary loan request.  Some of my colleagues have left explicit away messages in their email indicating that they will not be checking or answering email until August 11th and for students to wait until then to contact them. People still come into the building from time to time, but all but a few of the bathrooms have been closed until mid August since the cleaning staff is on vacation!

Yesterday I received two emails from students who wanted the answer key to the resit exam they took in the beginning of June. There is no readily available answer key (I grade my portion of the exam and my colleague graded the vocabulary and pronunciation portion) for resit exams; we are not obligated to provide a key and students are encouraged to read the feedback on their exams when they pick them up (which these students didn't do); and even if I wanted to put an answer key together out of the goodness of my heart, it's the very last thing I would devote a day to during summer vacation.

You can probably imagine the great satisfaction and joy with which I deleted these emails.  
pennswoods: (221B Baker Street)
One of the less than awesome things about moving to Sweden is the fact that I have so many more students, so much more grading, so much more teaching and so much less time to read and think and research than I did when I was in Texas. This also means most of what I am reading is for the benefit of others (textbooks for lesson planning, emails, curriculum documents, student papers and exams) and not for the benefit of my own mind or personal development. I feel a part of myself withering away and feel a whole host of other negative feelings that undermine my self-confidence.

We have exactly 5 weeks of official summer vacation when there are no resit exams, bizarre time-wasting projects for faculty, and students sending demanding emails, and I am trying to do as much as possible in these 5 weeks. This includes reading and reading and reading. And it feels so good. It's like my brain is coming back online.

I have finished four books so far, some for fun (His Last Bow) and some for research/writing purposes (Convergence Culture; The Language of Social Media). I set aside time to read and take notes on 4 different texts at a time, so I don't get bored. Today's set of readings also includes 10 pages from Richard III in preparation for my trip to London to see Martin Freeman and his amazing beard on stage. I've also got a list of tasks both work (green) and fun (pink) that I am checking off for all of the things I read and do. And absolutely none of this has to do with grading or teaching.

It feels so good to be using my brain again and making connections. We'll see how much I get through, but hopefully it will be enough to rebuild my confidence and to energize me for all the new teaching I'll be facing in the fall.
pennswoods: (221B Baker Street)

On Wednesday, our  college hosted a Science Slam competition among its 5 departments. This meant that teams of 3 researchers from each department had 3 minutes each (9 minutes total) to present their research in an accessible yet interesting way to a crowd. I was tapped to be on the team for our department (Culture, Language and Media or Kultur-språk-medier in Swedish) for some reason - probably because I'll say 'yes' to anything. I had no idea what the heck I was doing, but we actually WON!

In which I am super last minute... )
pennswoods: (221B Baker Street)
Since moving to Sweden, one of the other things I find really aggravating and where cultural norms clash is in student email requests. As I mentioned in my last post on education in Sweden, educational socialization is different from that of the US. There are no titles used and there is an emphasis on democratizing education such that students are meant to have a greater say in the system. This leads, I find, to more demands of accountability from the students to the teachers which take the form of more accusatory emails than I am used to getting from students in the United States. The below is an example of one I received today from a student who was put out that she/he bought the wrong books for class and wants me to explain why I changed the reading list at the last minute. I did not - she/he was obviously looking at an outdated reading list, but the fact that she/he felt entitled to ask that I justify myself is what I find grating.


I would just like to ask why you changed the course littratture list in the last minute. Because I thogut I had bought all the books. But now i turns out that I have the book "Test your pronunciation" by Michael Vaughan-Rees and i do not have "The ins outs of English pronunciation" by Sylvén and Liss Kerstin!

I like to know why becasue it said the first book until like a week ago and I bougt all the english books to part 1. And the books are not cheap, so I really would like to know why, I could have used that money for food instead of a not needed book.

From Future Student


On bad days, when I'm feeling really stressed out, this type of email angers me. Rationally, I also know that some of what I am encountering are differences in expectations and perhaps linguistic and pragmatic norms because my students are having to compose these emails in a second language. (Though I do get a fair number in Swedish as well). This is where being able to dig deep and compose a compassionate but informative response is necessary, even when the email puts me in a bad mood. And this takes some mental space. Fortunately, I am done with teaching/observing for the day so I was able to compose the below response, which I think is sufficiently understanding and informative (and also requires the student to maybe look up a few words).

My response behind the cut... )


pennswoods: (Default)

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