A French Girl in the Merchant Marine

Thanks to Audrey for the photos. At the end of the interview there’s a brief account with videos of the cable ship, Île de Sein, recovering the black boxes from the wreckage of Air France 447. The video provides a good look at the ship, the personnel on board and some of the equipment. Another video is a documentary about the plane crash in the middle of the Atlantic.

Audrey’s story

Becoming a sailor wasn’t an obvious choice for me. I grew up in Orleans, in north-central France, definitely inland, and I had no seafaring relatives. But I wanted contact … Read More

Teaching English in Taiwan and Japan

My first experience in language teaching was in 1966, when I taught German with the Audio-lingual Method of repetition drills, substitution drills and communication exercises—a close relative of the Direct Method or Berlitz Method—all conducted in the target language and reinforced in the language laboratory. It can be extremely effective with most beginning language learners, so that students can produce a few short sentences after the first hour of instruction.

John’s experience with language teaching includes classic novice mistakes followed by proper training, success, administrative duties and finally the frustration of apathy and “chalk and talk.”

John and I spoke Read More

Misspelling “Embarrassed” in Korea

Ana’s experience teaching in the language school reminded me of the first time my supervisor observed me when I was teaching elementary German in the US as a PhD student in German literature. I was very nervous. At the end of the class she pointed to the blackboard where I’d made a mistake in elementary grammar—in subject-verb agreement or something like that. I blushed, and we laughed it off. At the same institution I took a linguistics class from an instructor whose illustrations of linguistic phenomena on the board always contained English spelling errors. That was a bit much, because Read More

From Adjunct Faculty to Korean Faculty

One event that was been very much in US social media lately was the National Adjunct Walkout Day, a nationwide strike and education project on February 25. Stories had appeared of someone teaching as an adjunct faculty member dying in poverty, homeless PhDs living in their cars, teachers not having the time to go over students’ exams or homework, people living on food stamps without health insurance. (Link) (Link) (Link

The stories resonated with me because even way back in the late 70s I’d been unable to find a permanent job after getting a Read More