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MARCH 18, 2008
Taking the work out of reading
Extensive reading makes challenging material easier
March is reading month. Reading is clearly one of the most important skills in learning a language, but what is the best approach to learning or teaching reading? Intensive reading is the highly focused reading of difficult material. This almost always requires the use of a dictionary and grammar reference book due to the high level of material used. Intensive reading is done with materials well above a learner’s level. Extensive reading, on the other hand, involves students reading material that is somewhat easy. The reading material should be challenging but not require the use of outside assistance for comprehension. Dictionaries and grammar references should not be necessary when engaging in extensive reading. It is in fact recommended that readers understand at least 95 percent of the
Sean Smith on EFL
vocabulary on the page. The key to success with extensive reading is to read a lot. The more students read, the more language they will be exposed to. Extensive reading works by exposing students to a lot of comprehensible language. Ideally, students should be reading daily about 20-30 minutes. Learners will repeatedly encounter grammar and vocabulary in natural contexts, thus reinforcing the learning of new forms and words. Paul Nation has stated that recycling vocabulary is one of the key methods to long-term acquisition of new words. When reading a novel, it is more likely that students will repeatedly encounter new vocabulary than if they merely
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In focus: 6 tips for shooting portraits
By David Smeaton
I’m really keen on portrait photography. What can I do to improve the quality of my portraiture? Katie, Daejon. Here are six useful tips for improving your portraits: 1. Use a longer lens. It sounds crazy, but for portraits, you shouldn’t shoot at 1855mm. The ideal length is 80100mm or longer. This is because lenses are more distorted at wider angles. To get natural face shapes, longer lenses are much better. 2. Fill the frame. One thing I hate about portrait photography is when the subject takes up less than half the frame. So much of the shot is wasted on backgrounds, clothing and unwanted features. Don’t be afraid to zoom in on your subject and let the face fill the frame. 3. Keep the eyes at the top. Usually, the photograph will look much better if the subject’s eyes are kept towards the top of the frame. The main reason is so that the portrait looks natural. This rule can be broken if you’re trying to be creative, by putting the person in the bottom half of the shot, and using sky or other elements in the top. 4. Head room. Too much space above the head is usually bad. Most people are conservative when they shoot, and leave space above the subject. In fact, many photographers
suggest even cutting off the top of the head, slightly, to ensure that the frame is filled with important facial details. 5. Backgrounds. Consider your background before you press the shutter. Where possible, you don’t want much background visible. However, when you can see backgrounds, it’s preferable to have a nice bright color or interesting background. Don’t be afraid to ask your subject to stand somewhere more interesting. 6. Use a different angle. Be creative and photograph from a different angle. Tilt the camera slightly, or shoot below eye level. You could even try pointing your subject’s face slightly away from the camera, but have their eyes turned toward the camera. It’s a good skill as a photographer to work with your subject to make him or her calm, happy and trusting. So try talking to your subject and make him or her feel at ease. Then he or she will be more comfortable and the resulting photographs will look great. Happy shooting. Send David a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at davidsmeaton.com. If you want to be a part of the weekly Photo Challenge, join the “Seoul Photo Club” group at flickr (flickr.com/groups/seoulphotoclub). — Ed.
study word lists or study from a course book. Additionally, authors tend to use the same set of words. Extensive reading can be done with students at all ages and all levels. All major ELT publishers now have a series of graded readers that enable beginners up to high-intermediate level to read extensively, with comprehension in the 95-98 percent range recommended by researchers. These readers are available for young children, middle and high school students, as well as adults. Graded readers take popular novels in all genres and re-write them using only words from the high-frequency lists. Lower-level readers will use the most frequent words and higher-level readers will gradually move up to less frequent words. In the same manner, grammar is also introduced from sim-
ple progressing towards more difficult forms. Extensive reading is recognized to have many benefits for the language learner, including increased intrinsic motivation (reading without a dictionary is fun), improved vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. In fact, extensive reading of easy, interesting and engaging reading material may be the best thing that language learners can do on their own, outside of the classroom, to improve their language skills. Extensive reading is found to be superior to intensive reading in building up the key reading skills, including clumping, sight word development, and reading speed. These skills can only truly be developed when students are reading at the sentence or paragraph level rather than a wordby-word approach, which is slow
and not enjoyable. To learn more about extensive reading, visit extensivereading.net/er where there are several articles, links to other resources, downloadable materials, and awards for graded readers. Two well-written articles on intensive reading include toshuo.com/2005/what-is-intensive-reading and extensive reading toshuo.com/2005/whatis-extensive-reading are worth reading as well. Here in Korea, KOTESOL has recently launched a new extensive reading SIG where teachers can learn more and share ideas about how to incorporate extensive reading into the classroom. Scott Miles is the head of the SIG and can be contacted via e-mail email@example.com Sean Smith teaches English at Hanyang University and may be contacted via his website eflgeek.com — Ed.
Dropping the ‘you’
James Devereaux on Studying Korean
In my last column, I touched briefly on some of the aspects of Korean that can create difficulties for those beginning to study the language — like myself. While the previously discussed differences were very apparent aspects of the language, such as the vocabulary and grammar, there are more hidden differences with Korean. The style of communication makes studying it an interesting, and at times astonishing, experience. One of the first things the student of Korean will encounter is speech levels. This happens when words need to be altered to fit the situation and to pay appropriate respect to the person the student is addressing. What students may not know, however, is that this is just one part of a whole set of differences in the language which stem from the influence of Confucianism on Korean culture. Although a summary of Confucian ideals is well beyond the scope of this column, the most important thing to know is that there can be five possible relationships between subjects, determined by age and status. We begin with the concept of “jeong,” which is the idea that people need to have knowledge of their position in the hierarchy in order for relationships to be established, and for it to blossom from there. From the language student’s perspective, these differences can be somewhat invisible unless they are educated in Korean culture or, better yet, living in the culture. It is not obvious, for example, that the innocent-sounding question “What’s your name?” can be considered unnecessary and even rude, due to the preference for calling people by their familial titles (except in close relationships or between elders and inferiors.) What this means is that the question “How old are you?” is the more valid one, as it helps the subjects work out the nature of their relationship. That then acts as a basis for them to know which questions to ask next. While this difference in the language has now become familiar to me, there is another I am finding more difficult. Pronouns are less common in Korean, yet even among these, the second-person “you” occupies a special place. It is generally acceptable to use “you” only in close relationships. I found this out first-hand when my dictionary-translated “tang-shin” made listeners either uncomfortable or it send them into fits of laughter. I’ve since learned that this “you” pronoun is usually reserved for formal use or between married couples. While adapting your style of questioning to fit Confucian teachings is one thing, the dropping of the “you” pronoun altogether is much harder for the student who has grown up knowing the world in terms of “you” and “I.” James can be reached through his blog shootingwords.wordpress.com — Ed.
Touch rugby season springs into action
By Jeremy Burks
Touch rugby sprang to life this weekend as the Seoul Spring Tournament attracted eight teams from around Korea eager to compete in the new Spire Touch Championship. In Saturday’s competition, after a tepid start against Hangang Exiles, Seoul Survivor’s high-pressure game saw them ease through the opening rounds and see off a tiring Baa-baas team in the final. Meanwhile, in the Plate competition, Exiles redeemed themselves with a comprehensive win over the Seoul Sisters. “We are really happy to have won the Plate” said Paul Schenk, Exiles captain. “But we fielded our strongest possible squad so we are disappointed not to have held onto the title we won last year.” Baa-baas skipper Aaron Small won the champagne moment for a piece of individual brilliance to round off a team try in the semi-final. “Our side has not even held it’s first practice of the season,” he explained. “So we should be happy to be runners-up and we’ll take that forward to the next tournament in April.” This tournament is the start of the season in Korea and the rest of the year will see other tournaments staged around the Peninsula, with teams gathering points at each stage. The 2008 champions will be decided on the sides that have the best overall performance through the sea-
son. “We’ve adjusted the competition this year,” said Barny Hampson, tournament director. “The new format allows us to accommodate teams from around Korea as well as giving us the chance to take the show on the road. So we are interested to see if other cities are willing to stage tournaments.” He also mentioned improvements made to the standard of refereeing and said that it was a “continual quest for reliable and safe playing facilities in Seoul.” Players, clubs and referees are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if they are interested in getting involved in touch rugby, no matter where they are in Korea.
PHOTO CHALLENGE — Open to all entries — Taken in Cheonggyecheon, downtown Seoul. In 21st century Korea, young people enjoy the benefits of a technologically advanced society; they have more disposable time and income than ever before. But behind them stands the sacrifice and industry of their parents and grandparents, whose blood and sweat managed to successfully put a broken country back toAaron Raisey gether.
Dictating language to so and so
I take delight in reporting a most passionate response to my recent column, “Mucking up the English language.” Fellow Milton scholar professor C. Cox has troubled himself to quote me briefly and comment upon my words: “Horace Jeffery Hodges (in his column) wrote: ‘ ... Licentiousness, regrettably, is not liberty,’ which as Lincoln Steffens magnificently argued, is not just not true, it is viciously untrue. This false contrast of Licentiousness and Liberty, and not (as Milton argued) necessity. [and liberty] is the true plea of the Tyrant.” Thank you, Professor Cox. I take heart in having attentive readers and appreciate the gallant corrective, but you have neglected the context, which begins: “Lest pedants once again correct me on a point that I know full well ... “ I myself would hardly be earning my own keep as official pundit pedant if I failed to draw attention to the unorthodox capitalization of “Licentiousness,” “Liberty,” and “Tyrant.” Professor Cox is either reverting to seventeenth-century orthographic conventions, as perchance befits a Milton scholar, or he is committing the fallacy of misplaced abstraction, perhaps reading my frivolous remark as some Grand Pronouncement. Or possibly, in hastening to correct me, the good man has simply erred in capitalizing these three common nouns. Well, hasten slowly, sir, so as not to sow the wind, for a stitch in time saves nine, else your white canvas doublet will sully! But not too slowly, either, for indolence begets indigence. Let me word it so:
Jeffrey Hodges on Language
So ... I s’pose you know It’s best to sow Than be a lazy so and so! Though even the lazy sow and sow If forced to, though. I s’pose that’s so. When I say “sow,” I don’t mean “sew”! If I meant so, I’d tell you “sew”! It’s just, you know, We’d better sow To be in dough — don’t you think so? Although, of those who sew and sew, I s’pose also It’s also so. I trust that I have made myself as vehemently clear as professor Cox has made himself. Vehement, that is; not clear. For instance, I am not quite certain what the professor means by referring to the “false contrast of Licentiousness and Liberty.” By “false contrast,” does he mean that licentiousness and liberty are not altogether opposite in meaning? If so, I agree, for licentiousness even derives from a Latin word for freedom: li-
centia. Or does he mean, instead, that licentiousness and liberty are identical in meaning, having no contrast at all? I would find that problematic, for licentiousness entails the flaunting of rules, whereas liberty covers rather a broader range of meanings, including the freedom that one gains through following rules. Similarly puzzling in its manner of expression is the professor’s larger assertion that the “false contrast of Licentiousness and Liberty ... is the true plea of the Tyrant.” In identifying a “false contrast” as a “true plea,” professor Cox might appear to be asserting a contradiction, but I think that I understand his meaning. The expression “true plea of the Tyrant” should be read as “true Tyrant’s plea.” The professor means that I expressed myself with the voice of a genuine tyrant when I wrote these words: “Licentiousness, regrettably, is not liberty, and trapped in this prison house of language, I reflect upon my own linguistic crime of passion and perceive that I stand guilty of the very thing for which I have accused Larkin.” Professor Cox is right. I have been tyrannical in judging myself so harshly. I deserve amnesty, and as tyrant, I hereby declare myself pardoned. Jeffery is a professor at Kyung Hee University and can be reached through his blog Gypsy Scholar at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com — Ed.
A Waegook Cook player is on the attack.
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