Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Last Weekend

It's Saturday night (actually very early Sunday morning!) and you will be taking your exit proficiency test on Monday and Tuesday. I wonder how you are spending this last weekend. A lot is at stake for you, because if you don't do well on the proficiency test, you will have to retake the course--a huge expense and a big inconvenience for people who just want to get their degrees as soon as possible.

I hope that you understand that a proficiency test is designed to measure your competence in English. Unlike an achievement test, it cannot really be prepared for in the sense of reviewing particular grammar, vocabulary, or skills. A well-designed proficiency test is like a snapshot of your ability to function in English.

The best way to do your best on a test such as the MEIPE is to make sure you get plenty of rest beforehand; if you stay up all weekend studying for it, you will end up sleep-deprived and unable to do your best. Go to bed early on Sunday and Monday nights. Eat a healthy breakfast before the test, and make sure you arrive in the classroom (HBK 0123) in plenty of time. If you are late, you will be flustered and upset, and again, unable to do your best on the test. The time for studying is past. If you have been working hard all semester, your test results should reflect that, so don't worry. Have a nice Sunday, and good luck to everyone!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Maryland Day 2

We had a beautiful day for Maryland Day! We visited the Comcast Center, the Rock Museum in the Geology Building, and the new Global Village, where MEI Intensive English students had mounted some wonderful displays. We spent four hours there and came home very tired!

Looking down Terp Town Center at the TDK fountain

Jennifer, David, and Vicki

Vicki and me with the Basketball Terrapin (Comcast Center)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Maryland Day

Have you noticed the tents being erected on McKeldin Mall? Mysterious preparations going on in other parts of campus?

This Saturday is Maryland Day, which is the university's annual community day, when the campus is open to everyone and anyone to come and see what the University of Maryland is all about. There will be games, exhibits, performances, food, music, demonstrations, dance, children's activities and more. It's a wonderful opportunity for all to experience the university in all its diversity. Even those of us who live, work, and/or study here cannot begin to know all of what goes on here. It's a fascinating place! I hope you will take a few hours off from studying this Saturday to come and join the fun. You can get a sense of what it's all about from this website. I hope to see you there!

P.S. MEI's Intensive English Program will participate with tables in the Global Village area, Hornbake Plaza.

P.P.S. Even though rain is forecast for the next few days, it's supposed to be nice on Saturday.

P.P.P.S. Last year, I touched a live tarantula on Maryland Day! Yes, really!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

An Interview with Ibrahim Rustamov

Do you remember Ibrahim Rustamov, who joined us from Tajikistan for an online chat last week? You can listen to an interview with Ibrahim and another colleague from Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan), done by Avi Arditti of the Voice of America (VOA) when they were at the TESOL Convention in March. The site also has links to other listening passages, so if listening is your weak point, you can use this site for additional practice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tragedy at Virginia Tech

Yesterday at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, a student went berserk and murdered 32 people.

It was hard at first to grasp the full extent of what had happened. Gradually, as I watched the news on TV, listened to the radio, and read accounts in this morning's Washington Post, I began to realize the horror. (Click here for the Washington Post's coverage.) I feel so sad for the victims and their families and perhaps even sadder for the parents of the killer, a Korean immigrant from Centreville, Virginia. I can't imagine their grief and despair at the knowledge that their son could have committed such a heinous crime, coupled with the pain of losing him (he killed himself).

Monday, April 16, 2007

If the World Were a Village of 100 People....

We are studying conditional sentences in grammar this week. An exercise in the book asks students to use world population statistics to write a description of what a hypothetical global village would be like if it reflected these statistics.

The original essay upon which this exercise was based can be found here. Geographer Matt Rosenberg disagreed with some of the statistics and revised it here. Can you see any differences?

Sometimes the village has 1000 people instead of 100, as in this site. (Notice that the author shifts from the hypothetical conditional to simple present tense as she describes her imaginary "village".) You could practice your conditionals by rewriting the sentences using unreal conditional forms.

Finally, here is a little video produced by campers at Camp About Face in Georgia, USA:

Friday, April 13, 2007

Intercontinental Chat

This morning we used the first half-hour of class time to chat in my office at Tapped In, an online educational community. We were fortunate that one of the Webheads, Ibrahim Rustamov, joined us from Tajikistan, where he is Educational Coordinator for Relief International Online Schools.

Here is a picture of Ibrahim and me at the TESOL Convention in Seattle, Washington in March--our first face-to-face meeting!

Here are two excerpts from the chat:

NinaTL: Ibrahamjon, why don't you tell the class about your job?
IbrahimjoR: In 2002 I graduated from the department of foreign language of Khujans State University in Tajikistan, where I studied English and Farsi, so then I went to my home town, Isfara, to teach English at secondary school.
JennifeGst1: It's very interesting.
IbrahimjoR: and later in 2004 I joined Relief International Schools Online, where I worked as an educator at an Internet Learning Center, teaching students to use computers and partnering with US schools. In March 2007 I attended the TESOL Convention in Seattle.
NinaTL: How did you first become interested in educational technology, Ibrahimjon?
IbrahimjoR: In 2003, I got my first computer, and for the first time I used Windows Start button, though I had been using email since 1997. In April 2004 I began using computers with students, and the whole day I had to use my computer, learning and creating materials. Later I became interested in creating web projects with my students.

And later...

NinaTL: Can you please tell Ibrahim what you are studying here at the U of Maryland?
FelixGst3: I'm studying Plant Science.
NasserGst5: I’m studying fire protection engineering.
MacakinGst8: I'm studying Civil Engineering.
HsingchGst13: I’m studying dietetics.
FeitianGst6: I major in Animal Science.
NazaninGst4: I'm studying French literature.
KashishGst10: I am studying computer science.
JennifeGst1: My major is Library & Information Science, and I am minoring in children’s libraries.
IbrahimjoR: so different!
NinaTL: Most of the students are in graduate school,...
MohammeGst9: fire protection engineering
AzizGst7: I’m studying Electrical Engineering
GreivisGst14: I'm undecided because I need a major that won't take all my time, so I can play basketball at the same time.
MohamedGst2: I'm studying Entomology.
NinaTL: but we have some freshmen and a couple of transfer students as well.
MakotoGst15: I am studying semiconductors.
NinaTL: Is that in the dept. of Electrical Engineering, Makoto?
MakotoGst15: Yes, it is
NinaTL: For the graduate students, this class may be their only opportunity to meet students who are not studying the same thing they are.
IbrahimjoR: I'm impressed to learn about what you are all studying. Well done; good job! ;)

I think everyone enjoyed this intercontinental chat! You can learn more about RISO's Internet Learning Centers in Tajikistan here. Thanks, Ibrahimjon, for visiting us at Tapped In today!