Friday, May 22, 2009

Interpreting isn't always an easy task


I'm going to talk about music again and in particular about the difficulties of interpreting it. I think that music, all genre of music, makes part of everyone's life. Who doesn't have at least one favourite song? ;) Well, I think the answer is quite obvious because music is a great part of everyone's life, we are musical human beings!

Few days ago I came across with the problem of misinterpretation of songs. We were talking (me and my peers in my English class) about Coldplay's song Viva la Vida. The band has yet to make public their interpretation, the right one. When I listened to it I immediately thought about a love song. Through the use of sacred metaphors the author wants to represent a man that had everything from life but stupidly has lost everything. Then, reading some people's comments I thought that this song is a hymn of joy for J.W.Bush's fall in the latest US elections and for Obama's win (or perhaps I like very much this interpretation and I convinced myself of its truth!).

Songs interpretation is sometimes very difficult. I surfed the Net for a while searching for "misinterpreted songs" in the history. I found out two interesting blogs presenting some songs that have been and still are misinterpreted. Derek Powazek writes about the American Top 10: Most Misinterpreted Songs while Vicki Santillano writes about Eight Commonly Misinterpreted Songs. Go and have a look at them if you wish.

What struck me the most was the misinterpretation of The Police's song Every Breath You Take. This song is not about love, affection and devotion but talks about "a controlling character-person who keeps on watching every single thing the ex-girlfriend does" (Powazek, 2009). I always thought it was a love song...gulp! Now I realize that I never paid too much attention on it because I took its meaning for granted.

This is the video of this song performed in Torino in 2007. I found it on YouTube but I was there too! A great band and a wonderful concert!

Bye bye!
Chiara ;)

(photo source)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Music is life!

Hello everyone!

I love music and I put it into my PLE because I think that by listening to the music we can learn new vocabulary and pronunciation in a foreign language. Very often I don't understand all the words I hear in a song and so I go and check them on the Internet. It is just a very easy and funny way to learn something new and something more about a foreign language. I think that teachers should somewhat use lyrics of famous songs to teach the grammar or simply to encourage their students to deepen their learning of a language. It would be a funny and easy way for teaching and I'm sure it will be really appreciated by every single student. (Why school should always be so boring? ;)

I don't know very much about "brand-new" singers since I'm fond of a kind of music that is quite "old", like my friends kindly say! (I don't think music ever becomes old..., do you?). However, listening to the radio I found out a Lily Allen's song that I appreciated. It's name is The Fear and I think it is a nice song because it talks about the way our society behaves nowadays. It can easily apply to the latest Italian political events and to the way people use their body instead of their brains. Listen to it if you wish and in this website you can find its lyrics and many more.

Bye byeee,

(photo source)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mind mapping my future

Hello everyone!

This is going to be my very last post for the English course. We have done a long travel from last October. In particular, now we are all well aware of the fact of having a lot to do even after our graduation. Indeed, languages have to be kept alive into our minds because unfortunately they tend to slowly disappear.

Some months ago we started reflecting on our learning purposes, on our next linguistic goals and on the means for reaching them. Then, during these months we found out new computer tools useful for training our linguistic skills. I think we did a great job together this year and that it will be very useful for our future needs.

We'll have a lot to do to keep in mind the languages we studied at the University. Now, we have to make one step further building our Personal Learning Environment. A PLE is a kind of a new approach to language learning. Indeed, using different computer tools we can train our linguistic skills. I think that a PLE recognizes the fact that the learning process takes place at different levels, in particular the informal learning level is of great importance in everyone's learning process.

As far as my PLE is concerned, I began to put down my ideas of what I think are the main tools I used until now to learn a second language. It is only a first draft because a PLE can be expanded in every moment. In fact, it is important to add new tools and ways of learning we find out during the time. I divided my PLE into 5 sections: formal learning, informal learning, who, where and how. 'Formal' and 'informal learning' are divided in turn into 4 sub-sections, i.e. the four abilities: writing, reading, listening and speaking. The section 'how' is also divided into 3 sub-sections, i.e. gathering information, acting on learning and processing information.

In my PLE I decided to focus my attention on the four abilities since I think that we use different tools to develop each of them and that each of them is equally important as far as our language learning is concerned. Furthermore, in my opinion our PLE's mind maps should give an important role to 'how' we want to consolidate our linguistic learning, i.e. the means to reach our targets.

Bye bye,
:) Chiara

(photo source)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's my life!

Hello everyone!

We're dealing with a serious task this week: privacy. Nowadays the information we put on the Internet is easily accessible by everybody and we have to be really careful about what and where we write.

Last November I joined in
Facebook because a friend of mine moved to Madrid and suggested me to keep in contact with her through this social network. So, I became a member myself. At the first time, I only "friended" with her and few others who live abroad or far away from me. However, a lot of people immediately "asked my friendship" and of course I accepted. After a while I realized that I knew things of other people, and vice versa they knew things about me, because we wrote them on Facebook and not because we were friends in the "real life". So, I decided to be more careful about what I was going to write.

What about the pictures we publish? Are they covered by copyright or everyone can use them? After reading the article about Facebook and privacy
One Friend Facebook Hasn't Made yet: Privacy Rights I'm not sure I'll publish anything more... . According to Adam Cohen (the author of this article) : "in the Internet age, people -especially young people- do not care about privacy the way they once did". Perhaps we don't feel it like a problem that people know how we feel today or what time we usually go sleeping. However, we should worry a little bit more about the way our data are widespread and used without our explicit consent.

Facebook isn't a borderline case I fear. We should be really careful about putting personal information on the Internet. However, we should also improve our knowledge of Web technologies and so I don't think the solution to our fears is to avoid using the Internet. On the contrary, we should protect ourselves by attributing authorship to our writings. For this purpose we can use
Creative Commons, the non-profit organization that realized several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. I'm a beginner in this field and I'm talking about things I never tried myself. However, a lot of people use these free licenses and so I think we can do it as well!!

Bye bye,
;) Chiara

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Real-time work for saving our time

Hello everyone!

This week we learnt how to use Google Docs
. I have never used it before and I still have to practice a little bit to learn its different functions. However, I think it can be useful for everyone. Indeed, thanks to it we'll be able to save whatever document we want (.doc, .ppt, .xls, .pdf) simply logging in our Google Docs. The only thing we need is an online computer. I think it's a very useful tool especially for those people that don't work always on the same computer. In the future when I'll work on the University computers I won't be equipped with my USB flash drive (in some places at the University it is even forbidden using it!!). What a relief!

Thanks to Google Docs we can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Furthermore, it allows us to create and edit these documents online while collaborating with each other in real-time. I think it is a great tool when you have to work on the same project with people living in different places. During our University career we sometimes had to prepare written group works and the professor usually chose how to divide us in groups. It was difficult to meet all together since every student had their personal commitments or their lectures to attend.

With this tool we avoid this kind of problems and work online sharing real-time work with each other. On the other hand, I think that an overuse of this tool could lead to the disappearance of an important aspect of everyone's social life. I'm talking about getting in touch with people face to face and sharing ideas without an intermediary like Google Docs. However, this is a personal choice! Often we don't even have this choice since we lack time for doing what we have to do...what's sure is that technology makes our lives easier if we know how to properly use it.

If you wish let me know what you think!

Bye bye

Chiara ;-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Different style but same purpose

If you use a concept or the same words that another author used in a text you have to cite them. There are two main styles that you can use for this purpose. APA (American Psychological Association) style and MLA (Modern Language Association) style. They are two widely accepted styles for citing sources.
There are some differences between these two styles. I think the main ones are:
  • Abstract. APA style requires it while MLA style does not.
  • In-text citation between parenthesis. APA style uses: author name, year of publication and page number. MLA uses author name and page but not year of publication.
  • Bibliography page. The page that lists the bibliography is called Works Cited in MLA and References in APA style. In the reference page, APA style uses the full last name of the author and only the initials of the first name. In the works cited page, MLA style uses the full last name and the entire first name.
  • Titles. APA capitalizes only the first word and puts it in italics. MLA capitalizes every major word.
  • Dates. In APA style the date follows the author name. In MLA style it is placed at the end of the citation.
I had my first approach with APA style last semester when preparing the report for an intercultural project dealing with the subject of recycling. My first feeling trying to use it was confusion. I didn't know how to correcly use it and I still don't. I think one learns how to cite with the time, using citations in every written work one produces. Furthermore, when I was writing my thesis my supervisor didn't really introduce me to citations. Indeed, I was given a paper where it was written how I was supposed to write the thesis but I didn't know that some rules for citing existed. And surely this was my fault too because I didn't inquired about it.

Let me know what you think about it.

Photo Source

Monday, April 20, 2009

Good characteristics for a well written text

Hello everyone!

I had some difficulties choosing the article I'm going to discuss in this post because I found a lot of different interesting articles on the Web. I used Google Scholar to make my research and, as I said some posts ago, I found it useful for my academic purposes.
The article I chose is titled: "
The Association Between Television Viewing and Irregular Sleep Schedules Among Children Less Than 3 Years Of Age". There are some characteristics that are essential for a well written text. Let's discover what they are answering to some questions about the article I chose.

Who is the text assumed audience? What indications of this do you have? How does this influence how the text is written?
As you can perceive from the title, it deals with a specific subject. And it is written for a specific audience too, in my opinion. I think this because I found the article on the website,which is a specialized website. More precisely it is contained in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Its language is not too much specific with the exception of a paragraph called 'methods' where the 'data source', 'measures' and 'analysis' of the study are shown.

Does it follow the hourglass structure?
The article follows the hourglass structure. Indeed, it presents the argument more widely at the beginning and at the end while in the middle it goes deeper into the specific of the subject.

Is there a logical flow of ideas?
Being well structured, the article presents the main points with a logical flow of ideas too. This Journal article is a large scale argument where each part contains a claim supported by a data. The arguments are linked by however, first, second, third, etc.

Is the text cohesive?
The text is cohesive since the author uses conjuncts in order to present a clear flow of ideas. The main conjuncts used are: however, therefore, although and first, second, third, finally.

Is the writing clear or complex?
The writing of this text is clear. It is short but expresses precisely the main ideas. It is precise too since it doesn't use synonyms for the same term. Each paragraph has one main idea and doesn't contain obscure terms but some few technical terms well known in the field.

Whatever kind of written text should follow these main points. I think that a blog post too should follow all of this points. It should be clear and cohesive because reading something with these characteristics is much more enjoyable by everybody. And it should be logically structured and well organized as well since it is much more easy both writing and reading a well-written text.

That's all for now!
;-) Chiara

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Do words have an owner?

Hello everyone!
I hope you had a good Easter break...always too short anyway!!
I started reflecting a little bit on IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) today. I must admit that I never thought about it very much since nobody ever talked to me about it! Indeed, I was stricken that in Italy we don't care enough about respecting the rights of little owners. 'Little' because here I'm talking about people owning their written words and the thoughts they express through these words.
The title of my post is a provocation. Do words have an owner? Yes, of course they have. Would you be happy if someone copied your words and used them to do what he wants? No, of course you wouldn't. This is a simple question to answer but I think that in Italy this kind of things can easily happen. Italian teachers don't teach their students that copying is a mistake. Until now, I didn't even imagine that I risked sanction using somebody else's words.
Actually, there are exceptions. Indeed, last week I met a friend of mine that is going to take her MA in Psychology. She told me that her supervisor (but her professors too) was really concerned about plagiarism. My friend learned from the very beginning of her university career that she shouldn't use the work of others without citing it. She knew and I didn't. I'm still surprised! Forcing me to see the bright side I say: one never stops learning!
If you want to know a little bit more about IPR visit this website. It is the official website of the WIPO (World International Property Organization). On the Web you can find a lot of on-line journal articles and discussions about what is and what isn't right to do with Intellectual Properties. I read this article from the Los Angeles Times and I found it nice and useful for understanding that people have different opinions on this subject. Read it if you want and let me know!
Bye bye,
;-) Chiara

Photo Source

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I google, you google, he/she googles...

You should ask me: "Why did you choose to title this post like this?". And my answer is: "I titled this post like this because with Google you can do really a lot of things".

In particular I think that Google Scholar is an interesting and useful tool. Both for academic purposes like researching bibliography for our dissertations as well as to find books and on-line material of interest.
Yesterday I did a test. I want to make it clear first that I still don't know which will be the subject of my dissertation. So, I decided to search with Google Scholar a subject that interests me and that could probably be the subject of my dissertation. I typed in the search box the words "television and children". I was positively stricken both by the number of results that appeared on my screen and by their 'quality'. With the latter I mean that I mainly found books written by professors and specialists of the subject and documents by university students and professors. This means that they mainly are authoritative sources (we talked about this in my last post).
The majority of results are titles of books but searching carefully you can find .pdf and .rtf documents as well as fragments of books. This means that there are a lot of free online texts on the Web. I love this thing! Free information is always a good thing!

Thanks to this computer tool to find material and to build up a bibliography for our dissertation will be less difficult. We will discover soon if this is true!

:-) Chiara

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Authoritative or not authoritative, that is the question!


This week we talked about authoritative resources. How to decide whether a source is authoritative or not?

It wasn't an easy question to answer for me since I seldom used the Internet for my academic researches. But now that I know all the tools I need to do it I should think a little bit about it.
In class we listed some criteria to decide whether a source is authoritative or not. I never thought about some of these criteria before. The most important that from now on I'll try to remember are: that's a good thing if in the website there is a bibliography or links to other on-line sources and even more good if the information is given by an academic or a researcher.

Using Google blogs, I found out a blog containing authoritative information applying these criteria. I came up with a blog that I saved on . It is an e-learning blog called "Don't waste your time". It is written by David Hopkins who works in the Business School at Bournemouth University as a Learning Technologist. I think this is the first criteria for an authoritative source: a blog written by a well-qualified person. Then in the blog there is a section called "links/resources" where you can find a list of good websites, resources, articles for an easy access. And this is a good criteria for an authoritative blog as well. There is a bibliography of free eBooks, too. Finally, today I found out that Hopkins is a finalist for the prize EduBlogger 2009. This is a proof of his experience and competence in this field.

I hope to hear from you soon!
;-) Chiara

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

What a discovery!

Like every week, this week I discovered a new computer tool. I’m talking about, a social bookmarking service which everyone can join to save his/her bookmarks. At a first sight one can argue that it is like saving one’s bookmarks on the computer at home, but it is not like this! Indeed, using you can search for your bookmarks from whatever place you are. You simply have to connect to the Internet. Moreover, you can create a network of users which share their bookmarks. What's interesting is that you can do a research to find out useful materials through the bookmarks saved by other users. Furthermore, users tag each of their bookmarks with freely chosen index terms, exactly called 'tags'.

The second step of my discovery was beginning to search for some material. I searched for websites or blogs talking about language learning. Therefore, I typed in the tag box key words like: ‘esl’, ‘learning’, and ‘material’. And I found some interesting websites which I think can be useful for us all. I would like to suggest you in particular two of them. The Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL), an excellent on-line guide providing explanation paragraphs and exercises in order to achieve a good level in English writing. And BBC LearningEnligsh, website which includes: quizzes; exercises on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation; general and business English; and much more besides.

Have a look at them and let me know what you think about them!

As my third step I had a look at Ilaria's bookmark Slang O' The Day. It is a website where you can learn new slang expressions not only in English but in other languages as well. A new slang expression is introduced every day: its definition is given, as well as its origin and an example. The website is very simple and synthetic. Nevertheless, I think it is interesting for an esl learner since slang expressions usually aren't taught at school.

That's all for now!

I hope to hear from you soon,

:-) Chiara

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

How to save time with a feed aggregator

So, we learned how to use a feed aggregator, and in particular Bloglines.
What can I say about it? I didn’t find it very difficult to use probably because now I feel a little bit more self-confident since my knowledge on web 2.0 and blogs is growing. However, like everything we did before this, I ignored the existence of such a tool. It is really a useful and well-organized tool for everybody using Internet because our lives are so frantic that it becomes essential to save as much time as possible!

I looked for some American and English on-line newspapers like L.A.Times and The Times. However, what I found really interesting as far as my language learning purposes are concerned were the BBC radio programs. I think they can be very useful for me but also for you. Indeed, the web-page called “BBC Learning English” contains useful materials for any English learner and in particular I listened to a program called “Business Language To Go: Part 1” which can be useful for our homework for Professor Taylor, too. It is the first episode of a set of recordings called Business Language, and it talks about job interviews.

Have a look at it, or better listen to it!
That’s all for now!

Hear from you soon :-)

Friday, March 13, 2009

New tools for my old English!

So, this blog is going to be my personal learning environment and I hope it will be!! Indeed, Thursday we marked our comments to the post published in 'bloggingenglish' and I realized that I had done my usual boring mistakes. So I really hope to improve my written English thanks to this new tool, too.
Last week I wrote down my next language learning targets. The main points were: to achieve more self-confidence as far as oral language is concerned, to be more careful in writing and to widen my vocabulary. I wrote down that I will devote some time to achieving these targets. I usually read in English as much as possible to improve my lexicon and I'll go on doing it. Furthermore, I now and then watch movies and TV series in English; this surely is a good exercise to practice but with greater frequency, at least three times a week I suppose.
Honestly, I have to say that last week I didn't do everything I wrote on my learning target sheet. I completed my reading of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", which I found very interesting. This book is enough easy to read and in the same breath involving thanks to the sudden events coming one after the other. I recommend it to you if you wish doing a light and easy reading! On the other hand, I didn't watch any movie in English; however, this week I'm
going to practice a little bit more.
Unfortunately, while I was surfing the Net I didn't found anything that might help me achieving my learning targets. I felt overwhelmed by the vastness of the blogosphere and for this reason I didn't find anything interesting as far as language learning is concerned. I suppose I need to look for a blog containing podcasts to download, for example British or American radio programs.
As you might have understood, I'm not very familiar with these tools! For this reason feel free to suggest me anything useful. I think I need to be updated!!

See you next week and have a nice week-end!
:-) Chiara

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Hello everyone!!
So, here we are! :-) This is my very first message in my very first blog!
Welcome everyone, I hope I won't let you cry with my blog (this is why I chose to name it 'My Onion Sauce'!).
Have a nice day!

;-) Chiara

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