mitcho Michael 芳貴 Erlewine

Postdoctoral fellow, McGill Linguistics.


Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Lecture at ITSP - 先端ITスペシャリスト育成プログラムにて講義

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Yesterday I was invited to give a lecture for students the [[MEXT]] IT Specialist Program. ITSP is a partnership between Keio, Waseda, and Chuo Universities and NTT, IBM, and Mozilla to bring advanced IT training and opportunities to their Master’s students. It was a longish time slot so I decided to split it up into two different talks: one on open source and open processes (similar to one of my sessions at the recent BarCamp Tokyo) and one on the future of interfaces, internationalization and globalization, and Ubiquity. Here are the slides for posterity. (Note: the second set of slides is mostly in Japanese.)


Design processes in the open-source era オープンソース時代のデザインプロセス

Ubiquity: Interfaces and Internationalization インターフェースと国際化

Talking Ubiquity in Japan: 拡張機能勉強会にて発表

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Yesterday I presented on Ubiquity internationalization and the new parser design at the Mozilla Extension Development Meeting (Japanese), a community event organized by some extension developers in Japan. There were a couple other Ubiquity-related “lightning talks” as well, so I’ll summarize some of the interesting ideas from those talks below.

昨日第11回Mozilla拡張機能勉強会で Ubiquity の国際化と次世代パーサについて発表してきました。色々鋭いコメントをいただき、僕も良い勉強になりました。^^ スライドの方をslideshareに載せたので、是非参考にまた見てみてください。ライトニングトークでも Ubiquity の話で盛り上がったので、そのLTの内容で特に面白いと僕が思ったものを下に英語でちょっとまとめてみます。


Co-schooling in Dongshan

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

The Fulbright program sets up an extra “co-school” to work at for a small period of time in the spring, as a means of giving us ETA’s increased variety and different school experiences, as well as letting us touch more students’ lives. For the month of March, I will be at Dongshan Elementary in Dongshan (冬山).

Teaching at Dongshan every day involves taking the train every day, and I’m fully psyched about that. I was first quite worried as there are, according to the online trip planner, only three trains a day that go directly from Nan’ao to Dongshan but this has turned out to be false. It still does mean at least an hour a day on trains, but I’ve got my [[iPod]] with wonderful podcasts, and I’m pretty sure my class schedule lets me avoid transfers.


Dinner with Barack and Hillary

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

I made some pasta tonight for dinner, and decided to share it with [[Barack Obama|Barack]] and [[Hillary Clinton|Hillary]]. I haven’t cooked in a long time here in Taiwan, especially as the noodles down the street are so cheap. Now that I have, though, I do really enjoy the process and the smells, and of course the familiar flavors that are hard to come by. I look forward to cooking more in the months to come. ^^

On a side note, very cool section in the Texas Democratic debate on second language education.

I’m Seriously Dreaming of a White Christmas

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Today we finished up all our Christmas lessons at school, spread over the past week. The lesson involved some basic Christmas vocab, making Christmas cards, and my retelling of [[The Gift of the Magi]].


It’s That Time of Year!

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Time to apply for summer 2008 with Concordia Language Villages! I just applied—you should too!

Make sure to read up on the new position descriptions before applying (no more Junior and Senior Counselors… take a look), as well as the important policy clarifications. Good luck to all who apply!


Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Every day at school they play some music over the PA after lunch and during cleaning time. Today I really enjoyed the music, which was not the usual classical or opera (our orchestra teacher normally chooses from “the classics”), and asked some teachers for the artist name. I then found a couple CD’s by the artist, 王宏恩 (Wáng Hóng’ēn), on the way to Chinese class in Yilan. The CD’s are solid overall. 王宏恩 is a Bunun aboriginal whose aboriginal name is biung tak-banuaz, and half his songs are in the Bunun language. To my pleasant surprise one CD also included a song we dance to at Nanao Elementary every week. The song is called “Buklavu,” written about his hometown and sung in Bunun. it’s beautiful, incredibly catchy, and encapsulates the aborigines’ energy. I found the song online and have embedded it here:

In addition, here’s a YouTube video of someone who’s figured out another one of my favorite songs of his: a beautiful song called “Ana tupa tu” (“moon”). I may try to learn parts of it, but simplified… it’s a little intense.

Krashen The Party

Friday, November 9th, 2007

Yesterday we ETA’s went to a workshop at Lan-Yang Institute of Technology. The workshops were focused around the instruction of reading. The three afternoon sessions we saw included two workshops on building vocabulary and one by [[Stephen Krashen]].

Krashen is kind of like the Chomsky of language acquisition and teaching—a huge and controversial (some may say incendiary) figure who you can love or hate, but can’t ignore. Last Wednesday in our weekly workshop, Dr. Collins delivered a chronological run down of Krashen’s theories.1 As an entertaining aside, one task given to us was to draw a schematic diagram of Krashen’s view of language acquisition and production. Below is Dale’s drawing, which eerily reflects the geography of the brain… the input comes in through the ears (or eyes, at the back of the brain), then hits the Affective Filter (the amygdala), goes to the Language Acquisition Device (the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas), then the output is filtered by the Monitor—a product of conscious learning—(the frontal lobe). Pretty creepy.


Krashen’s talk2 was fascinating, albeit not what I expected: given that the workshop’s focus was on the teaching of reading and that he himself has been a big advocate of recreational reading for language learners, I expected more on teaching English reading as to non-native speakers. The majority of the talk, though, was on writing and the composing process: “reading more makes you a better writer, but writing more makes you smart.” He talked about how the act of (regular) writing clarifies and organizes our thoughts, and advocated for a writing process which involved much revision as, “every time you have to revise, it means you’ve become smarter,” and building relaxation (to allow for eureka moments) into the process. His conclusion and analysis are important for first-language speakers just as much as the second-language learner, and the talk did feel more like a writing seminar than a pedagogical one. Krashen is an engaging and entertaining speaker, using many examples from famous writers and common experience to draw his conclusion.

The intensity with which he spoke and the passion for thinking about thinking reminded me of Sally’s Honors Analysis class, which was as much about thinking as it was about mathematics. Sally once told us that, when we’re stuck on a problem, we should find someone just about as smart as us and just explain the problem to them. He claimed that the majority of the time, the simple process of explaining the problem outloud and answering clarifying questions would make the solution come to us. It’s a powerful technique that I’ve used many times at Chicago and elsewhere, and Krashen’s analysis of what happens when we write thus struck a chord with me.

Afterwards I was fortunate enough to go out to dinner with the speakers, some of our advisors, and some faculty from the Institute that hosted the workshop. I had some great conversations about my background, where my future directions may lie academically, and of course the ideas. ^^ It reminded me of dinners with linguists back at home, after a workshop or CLS. I realized I miss the fraternity of academia—the sense of mutual respect and interest academics have for each other’s work and ideas, even if the “other” is only 22 years old.

  1. A similar basic run down of Krashen’s various theories is found on this blog post, The Krashen Revolution

  2. Krashen, Stephen. “What is Academic Language Proficiency,” presented at the International Conference and workshops on English Language Teaching: Pedagogical Aspects of Reading. Yilan county, Taiwan, November 8th, 2007. 

Cell phone charm

Friday, November 9th, 2007

A sixth grader at Nan-ao today gave Jennifer and me cell phone charms. ^^


I do believe she made it herself. The large bead on top is unique… it is very geometric and features diamonds. In Atayal culture, diamonds represent the eyes of ancestors watching over us. I love the green color of the beads too… it complements my phone very well. ^^

Halloween Recap

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

All last week, I taught a Halloween lesson for all of my classes. Both of my schools got decked out in Halloween decor: Jack O’Lanterns, ghosts, bats, etc.


I was dressed as the devil, coming to class late and scaring the children. Then I introduced some basic Halloween vocab, like “bat,” “pumpkin,” “witch,” “ghost,” etc.


I then told a story about a girl who always wears a green scarf… the punchline is that she’s old and takes her scarf off and her head falls off. Some kids were scared, but many thought it was funny.


We then taught them about Halloween costumes and they drew what they wanted to be for Halloween.


This one was particularly sweet… but, then again, we were also in the process of grading their midterms then. ^^


At the end they Trick or Treat’ed and got candy. All the kids had a lot of fun. ^^


What are you doing?

Monday, November 5th, 2007

“I’m eating a baby.”

English Easy Go!

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

Today was the ROC Year 96 Yilan county English Easy Go! competition. There are two parts to the fall competition: a song competition (song and dance, costumes, sets, the whole nine-yards) and a reader-theater. I think the competition is a great idea, getting kids all over the county excited about English through performance.

A group of 11 6th graders from Penglai have been practicing for the song competition for the past month or so under my co-teacher Jennifer’s direction. They sang and danced to the Fiona Fung song “Proud of You.”

The military guy and I met the kids at the train station at 7AM.


The kids liked playing with my camera and abusing me.


The competition was held at 凱旋國小, a huge elementary school.


We first practiced downstairs a few times and hung out. They were all wearing little angel crown-ish things, black t-shirt with a gold “belt” of tape, and bells on their wrists.


Our school was the third group in the later-morning performance group. They were not at all nervous and did fabulously!


All of us ETA’s were of course all there with our respective teams. In the photo below Katie is videotaping another school’s choreographer standing in the back of the crowd dancing with/directing the kids. He had this whole face, haircut, and outfit that screamed “I am a choreographer.”


Then we came home. A great time was had by all. ^^


How I name my kids

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I previously mentioned that I named a first-grader after my dear Evan, but I should also mention how I named a number of other first-graders after characters from the West Wing. Here are some photos:

Leo:LeoWest Wing Leo McGarry
Donna:DonnaWest Wing Donna
Sam:SamWest Wing Sam Seaborn
Josh:JoshWest Wing Josh Lyman
Abby:AbbyWest Wing Abby Bartlett

Perhaps some day these kids will find this blog post and identify their namesake as the fine men and women of The West Wing.

Field trip: Guang-xing Farm

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Today I went with Peng-lai Elementary on their field trip to the Guan-xing Educational Farm (廣興農園). The farm has ducks, pigs, and some rabbits, as well as a large carp pond.


Steven (seen below rolling down a hill—he also goes by the name Seven Eleven) started referring to this pig as “mitcho.”


We also had a hands-on activity—or, as they say in Chinese, “DIY.” The kids were given bowls of cooked taro and sweet potato and a plate of flour, potato starch, and a little sugar. The kids kneaded them into small balls (粉圓) which were later boiled and put in a sweet bean soup and served with lunch.


I was excited enough to buy a stuffed animal boar at the gift shop. It was just so cute!


After lunch we went to the Luodong Sports Park to hang out and play for an hour and a half. The weather was great and it was an altogether wonderful day. :)


Atayal cultural festival

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Last night there was an Atayal cultural festival: a traditional Atayal wedding demonstration supplemented by a variety of cultural acts. The wedding demonstration (which actually was a wedding—four couples got married) included:

  1. the first proposal with tribal elders meeting with the families to discuss whether the two should get married—the first proposal always fails, to add value to the marriage;
  2. the second proposal, again with tribal elders, this time accepting the terms of the marriage;
  3. an offering from the groom’s family to the bride’s;
  4. the wedding itself, with the groom carrying off the bride on his back.

A couple famous aboriginal singers came, as well as a number of local primary and secondary school dance groups (complete with pyrotechnics). The (very nice) high school gymnasium was packed.


We sat near the Nan-ao elementary school contingent—here’s a photo of me with some of my kids:


A few other ETA’s came to check out the event as well, and got to play with my kids. (One later told me, in English, that Jeannie is beautiful.)


The real highlight of the show, though, was my kids’ dancing act. Somehow I was under the impression that they were going to do a traditional dance, but it turns out it was a hip-hop routine set to Beyoncé and Sean Paul’s Baby Boy and what I believe to be an Amuro Namie single. Remember, these are elementary school kids. Pretty amazing talent, especially given that this is over 10% of the students at the school.


(Some photos courtesy of Katie.)