Working with me

Hello. Thank you for visiting my website.

I am a teacher in the Tokyo and Kanagawa area. I am interested in how we teach English, especially how we teach listening and pronunciation. If you are interested in working with me, contact me.

Reverse outlining makes redrafting easier

At the moment I am nearing the end of writing one duoethnography and just about to submit another to a journal. One thing that has made things a lot easier for me has been reverse outlining, but in a spreadsheet.

As you can see, if you have images enabled in your browser, I have columns titled Section, Para(graph), Overall (paragraph idea), then three columns labelled Idea. The section is the section header and underneath I have a rough word count. Para is the number of the paragraph, with the Overall and Idea columns being the main contents of the outline.

This approach works for me because it means I can find any topics that are recurrent or tangential, or abrupt subject changes and work them into the piece better or cut them out without losing coherence. This is going to be something that I come back to again and again, I think, particularly in my PhD work.

Reverse outlining might not work on a text that is moribund but for something that needs a polish and a tidy up, it has saved more time than it took to set it up.

Manage life with a Bullet Journal

Anybody who knows me, both colleagues and students, know that I am rather evangelical about Bullet Journalling. It was one of the tools that helped me with my MRes. It’s not a panacea for every problem in the world but it can really make a lot more sense to see what needs to be done, and what gets done every day. I carry it everywhere and basically manage life with a Bullet Journal. It is a diary, research notebook and external hard drive for my brain.

There are some great introductory videos on YouTube, but in essence you use an ordinary notebook, you set up monthly calendars, a future log and daily logs, and an index for finding things later. The index is more of a reactive contents page that you add to as you go.

How I do it

The types of pages and spreads that I set up are:

Personal Index

Work Index

Research/PhD Index

Admin: Mainly reminders of passwords, but not the actual passwords.

Recurring items: Mainly birthdays and anniversaries, but also recurring deadlines like using up my research budget.

Achievements: Good stuff makes you happy, and it can be useful for listing things on CVs or other places.

Future Log: A 2-page spread. Upcoming 5 months plus other. The first 2 months are likely more crowded so they get a page to themselves. The next 3 and other are divided into boxes of decreasing size.

Monthly Brain Dump and Eisenhower Matrix: A 2-page spread. The brain dump is a list of everything that needs to be done, or is migrated from previous future logs. It all gets migrated to the Eisenhower Matrix .

Eisenhower Matrix – basically a grid of Urgent/Not Urgent, Important/Not Important

The Eisenhower matrix is where I organize items from the Brain Dump. Anything with a date attached to it (like events) gets moved to the schedule and bypasses the matrix. I can then see how to rank items for the month.

Monthly schedule and task list: A 2-page spread. Events and tasks with deadlines go onto the calendar page. Tasks that are open go onto the task list. These are from the Eisenhower Matrix and ranked according to importance and urgency.

Publication Pipeline: Cribbed from Ellie Mackin Roberts.

Daily logs: To-do lists and rapid-logging items, including ideas, notes and more.

Lesson recording: What do I observe in my lessons. What is good, not good. What is my evaluation and what do I do next?

Anything else is fair game, too, like pages of maths for working out the values of formants and/or vocal tract space based on equations, ideas for writing, reading notes, and more.

New Article: Problems Teaching Listening Online

I have a new article, on Problems Teaching Listening Online. It is quite short, and is published on The Language Scholar website. It should be in the next issue of the journal.

The reviewer who guided me through revisions did a wonderful job encouraging me to a be clearer in my writing. Hopefully it is clear and, I hope, useful.

Problems Teaching Listening Online

Preprints are awesome

I haven’t blogged here for a while because I have been busy writing other things, I have several projects on the go at the same time as usual because I hate being bored. Also, new job starting in April! I thought I would take a little time to pour out my thoughts about language teaching research, especially that done by teachers, and why preprint servers are fantastic. This post is aimed at very early career researchers like MA graduates or teachers who want to share findings with the wider research community (hello underrepresented teachers of young learners!)

Preprints are free and they can be updated based on any feedback that you get. You get your research out into the world while you wait for peer review (although check the policy of the journal you are submitting to). If you get feedback, usually through, you can address it quickly and the state of your research is basically much like a blog but you get a DOI for easy citation. This is something I have done with a few projects because I get really frustrated waiting to find out even whether my article has gone out for review.

Another good point about preprints is that if you cannot publish in an open-access journal, or afford to pay an extortionate article processing charge (APC), you can normally put up the preprint version, but check the journal’s policies first.

But Marc, why not just blog it if it isn’t peer reviewed? Well, the point is that it could be peer reviewed. Also, who is going to read an 8,000 word blog post? It would be a massive pain if you wanted to quote a part of it. You can also share your preprints on Research Gate (I virtually-met someone who didn’t know about Research Gate yet). I have 900 reads on there and about 1000 on SocArxiv if I remember right. This is pretty decent, I think.

So, yes, preprinting is great. You might get feedback, you might not, but at least people will be able to find your work.

Zotero resources

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I finished my MRes, and got a Pass with Merit (to be confirmed, but the numbers in Moodle say so), and I am looking in great detail at doing a PhD.

Regarding the PhD, I’ll need something to support my reading and referencing a bit more. I’ve been learning R and R Markdown, though my knowledge is still a bit basic. Knowing that Zotero references can be plugged straight into R Markdown (apparently) comforts me a lot. Another thing that eases my mind is that you can create ‘Smart Playlists’ like when iTunes wasn’t bloated enough to crash constantly. (FOSS Academic) and that led me into a bit of a Zotero rabbit hole. There I was just happy to import BibTeX or DOIs, and I find, hiding in plain sight, this wonderful manual.

Appearance on the TEFLology Podcast

The TEFLology podcast (one of the hosts is my supervisor at my main job, just to get that out in the open) recently had a couple of episodes recorded live and I was on there for a bit of time in the second part (episode 104). It was really fun, and I am definitely keen on appearing on other people’s podcasts.

New Preprint: English Language Teachers’ Stated Beliefs and Practices Regarding Task-Based Language Teaching and Listening

I put up the preprint of a recent project about teachers’ beliefs about listening and task-based language teaching.

Regular readers of my other blog will know these are particular interests of mine.

I’d like to thank all the participants and please, if you have any feedback, please comment here or on the SocArxiv page below.