I have decided to blog my ongoing work on my MA thesis. As with most graduate students, I'm sure, the whole thing is taking much longer than expected.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Pierre is Awesome

I must admit that the highlight of my MA studies lies in the existence of and comradeship with my three buddies: Steve, Steve, and Pierre (and no, this is not New Heart). They are my after class drinking buddies. My "lit" drinking buddies. What would I know about Bart Simpson, Seinfeld and reality TV without them? Their influence on my work has been major, and that is why I took Pierre's criticism so much at heart. Yes, he checked out my blog and found it generally OK except for the lack of reference to him.

Pierre, please accept my apologies. My shortcomings are the result of my inexperience as a blogger and should not be considered in any way as a lack of respect, hell as a lack of reverence towards you. To prove this to you, I have decided to listen to your advice and to write a proper blog. Except... my inability to equal your prose has just discouraged me, so I've decided that the best treat I could offer my blog readers is to experience the art of king for themselves! I will transcribe his example blog for your reading pleasure (and buy him a shot next time a see him to pay off the copy rights).

Without further ado...
Ladies and gentlemen...
I give you (drum roll...): Pierre the Awesome

"Today I went to the Concordia U library. (Pierre is perfect by design.) I had to hurry to get out of the cold April rain. (Pierre is a ray of sunshine.) While walking in the hall I wondered about the choices I've made, and where they have led me. (Pierre's ass is a slice of heaven.) I thought: "why don't I have children? Why don't I have a career?" (I want to bare Pierre's children.) Then I realized my nerves are shot because the semester is over. (Pierre is a pillar of strength.) I perked up and caught a bus home. (Pierre makes my nipples hard.)

That's it for today. (Being Pierre is next to godliness.)"

All I can say is, "Thank you Pierre."

***For all you single (and not so single) ladies out there, Pierre is now single and available. His ass is pretty cute and he's way buff. I hear he's a good kisser though I've never venture to explore the cavern of sweet suckling love myself. He's into tattoos but not, I repeat NOT into piercings. For a picture, an email address or any other extra info, just drop me a comment!

Monday, April 25, 2005

yesterday afternoon

It did hit me, though now I must say that I’m doing OK. It happened yesterday and only lasted a few minutes. I had gone out for breakfast with Kenny and Michelle and afterwards went to Concordia and McGill to pick up some books. Actually, I went to Concordia and seeing that one of the books on my list isn’t part of their collection, I headed towards McGill. They tend to complement each other like that. McGill indeed has two copies of the needed book, neither of them on loan right now and neither of them on the bookshelves, a recurring theme for me in University libraries, especially at McGill. I was about to head out when I noticed all these drenched people walking in the foyer. It was pouring outside. Much like a summer rain storm except without the heat and humidity to be relieved of. I decided to pass out the storm not quite comfortably seated on the side-railing of the windowed walk-way that links the library to the study hall. And this is where it hit me. I was thinking of Roxanne who I saw the night before. Roxy’s going to law school in the fall. And I was looking at this girl in the walk-way on her cell phone. A nice looking girl. Her school bag had the U of Ottawa’s logo on it with ‘MBA.’ And that’s when it hit me: “What am I doing? What will I do next? I’m lost. I have no career. No plans for one. And I’m almost 30. I have no money and I’m only getting older.” Panic. The panic of a student who cannot let go, remembering everything you’re supposed to know and yet try hard to forget: by my age, I should be settled with a career, a larger flat and planning for babies. But who says? Who’s whispering this in my ear? If only it weren’t for that dread that I’m sure eats at all of us, all of you, from time to time; the dread that somewhere we did something wrong. Took a wrong turn. But where? I can’t think of it! So why do I panic?

It actually only lasted a few minutes. In my old age I’m getting wiser, such a consolation. I pulled myself together and rationalized: “You’re just thinking this way ‘cause your semester's over. It’s the void. It came. It’ll go. You know you’re OK and that all will be fine.” Reassured, I pushed myself off the side-railing, popped open my umbrella and walked out into the rain. I took the bus home reminding myself that endings always offer up new beginnings.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Just came back from handing in my two last final assignments. I'm a bit surprised I've succeeded in finishing up everything before the ridiculously early 4 PM closing time of the TESL reception, where assignments are to be dropped off.

Now I'm waiting for a huge vague of emptiness to fill me. How soon will a constant impression of being disoriented overcome me? Tonight I have two parties. Tomorrow we change the kitchen floor. Then, spring clean-up. A week will pass and then I'll have to resume my work on my thesis for real. No joke. No procrastination.

Two days ago I got a call from QC's Ministry of Education, saying there's an opening somewhere and if I'm interested to please send my cv. Now how often does your government call you asking for your résumé? I'd be flattered if I weren't convinced that they have to do such stuff. They must have quotas. They must offer a number of temp jobs to graduating students everywhere just to show that they're encouraging the job market. Anyway, wouldn't that be a weird dilemma: do I go for a very secure job with the government or do I feign it, finish my thesis while I keep sapping off my boyfriend and complain about being dependent of him. I must admit, I'm leaning towards the second option. I don't want a steady job right now... I want to finish my MA, go to France this summer and find a sweet teaching position starting next fall! Goddammit! Is that too much to ask for?

Actually, immediately, I just want to change my pants. I've been wearing the same ones for the past five days and it's tired now.
And I want to eat peanuts. Why aren't there ever any peanuts around the house when they're most needed?

Bon, fini.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

TESL webliography

Walcir suggested I add my Webliography to my blog, so here it goes!
A listing of useful reading, writing and vocabulary sites for the ESL/EFL teacher.


Reading Group Guides
URL: http://readinggroupguides.com/
Not specifically geared towards the ESL class, this site is of value to any ESL teacher who wants to add a book to a class and promote insightful discussion. The lists of guides are separated by topic / genre. The guides include a description of the book and discussion questions. Some also feature the author’s bio, an interview and an excerpt from the book. Great for any ESL teacher who is “literature-challenged.”

Folger Lesson Plan Archive
URL: http://www.folger.edu/eduLesPlanArch.cfm?cid
This site does not offer exercises per se but a wide array of lesson plans involving the reading of the plays of Shakespeare and divided by general, elementary, film and interactive media lessons and by play. They are adequate for intermediate to advanced ESL learners. They are for the most part topic-oriented and promote communicative learning teaching. The lesson plans are complete, the design is impeccable and all necessary extra documents are downloadable. This is a highly recommendable site.

The University of Victoria’s English Language Centre Study Zone
URL: http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/studyzone/index.htm
This site offers various exercises for five levels of learners. The first levels clearly split the reading exercises from the writing, vocabulary and grammar ones. They are skill-specific and concentrate on multiple-choice reading comprehension questions, story recreations and gap-fill exercises. The higher levels offer more integrated exercises, such as sentence-ordering, cloze, sentence writing and skimming and scanning exercises.

English works! Gallaudet University
URL: http://depts.gallaudet.edu/englishworks/reading/main/indexframe.htm
The most helpful element of this site is its sections on ‘Reading and Maping Strategies’ and ‘Types of questions and Tests,’ which offer ESL teachers a good guide to creating reading activities and tests. This site also has interactive reading exercises, mostly reading comprehension and cloze exercises that are interesting and offer detailed correct answer explanations.

Story Archives
URL: http://literacynet.org/cnnsf/archives.html
This site offers a wealth of stories that can be used in the ESL class. They are divided into categories such as adventure, business, health, environment, education and so on, which makes pinpointing a specific topic easy. Each story is offered in a full and an abridged version, hence authentic and simplified texts, as well as the story’s outline which are useful if the teachers wishes to create a dictocomp activity. The site is clear and easy to navigate. It is a great story resource for ESL teachers.

Online Book Club
URL: http://readinggroupsonline.com/
This site allows you to either join an existing reading group or to create a new one. Discussions can be conducted via chat rooms or message boards (provided by the site), or Listserv, email or web pages. This tool can be used to compliment one class or several ESL classes from different countries.


Spider-Man in Amazing Adventures

URL: http://www.ed.gov/inits/americareads/spidey/spidey.html
This site features some reading but mostly writing exercises all based on the action figure Spider-Man, which is especially fun for the younger ESL learners. This site is not an interactive exercise site. Rather, it offers downloadable pdf exercise sheets. They are an assortment of fill-in the conversation bubbles, cross-word puzzles, word games, create your own super hero and cloze activities.

Writing Exercises for Engineers and Scientists

URL: http://www.writing.eng.vt.edu/
This site is great for any ESL learner who wishes to improve their scientific academic writing. It covers the various genres of writing (memos, résumés, lab reports, progress reports, dissertations, etc), the expected academic style as well as many writing exercises (grammar, punctuation, usage, parts of speech, etc) to help the student polish their compositions.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
URL: http://www.bartleby.com/141/
“This book is intended for use in English courses in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature,” states its introduction. It generally covers elementary rules of usage and principles of composition, and it’s free! An invaluable tool for students and teachers alike.

Creative Writing Process
URL: http://www.nzcal.com/hp/adk/index.php
This site covers all the stages of process writing, explaining what to do and why. It can be used by teachers who need a refresher of the process writing stages (from brainstorming to outlining to drafting to editing), though the site is mainly directed to students. It also samples some proofers marks.

Creative Writing Activities
URL: http://www.creative-writing.ch/active.html
This site offers several engaging writing activities that can be used in the ESL classroom. There are group / workshop activities as well as individual ones. They are well detailed and explained as one would expect from an activities book. This site is great for giving teachers some content ideas.

Web English Teacher
URL: http://www.webenglishteacher.com/creative.html
This site basically links to others that offer writing exercises, ideas and prompts. It is a great site to help teachers find inspiring writing practices for their students. This site also offers a wealth of links pertaining to other English teaching oriented subject, such as ESL/TESOL/EFL, children’s literature, critical thinking, poetry, Shakespeare, speech & debate, vocabulary, etc. Worth bookmarking!


The Works of the Bard
URL: http://www.it.usyd.edu.au/~matty/Shakespeare/test.html
This Shakespeare concordance is simple and straightforward. You simply type in a string of words (indications to maximize the search are given) and the concordance pulls out all plays and sonnets where it can be found. This is a very helpful site to help integrate Shakespeare by topic into a language lesson.

URL: http://www.lextutor.ca/
This site has a wealth of vocabulary tools for the ESL teacher. It includes a concordance, a i+1 output writing tool, a word level knowledge test, various exercises that include lists of the different word level and much more. This site can be used by teacher to create exercises or by advanced students who wish to examine their language (vocabulary) level.

Merriam-Webster Online
URL: http://www.m-w.com
This site is more than just a dictionary. It also offers a thesaurus, word-of-the-day with a complete description of the word’s origins, a collection of romance words and their literary etymology, links to Encyclopaedia Britannica and Merriam-Webster for Kids. Of special interest to ESL learners, each word definition comes equipped with a sound file featuring its North American pronunciation.

URL: http://www.englishpage.com/vocabulary/vocabulary.html
This page offers several online vocabulary exercises in the shape of cloze activities that can be done by the ESL learner. They are divided by topic and can easily be used as homework/post-activities. The design is consistent and easy to use. This site also offers several grammar activities that are equally good.

Vocabulary & Affixation
URL: http://www.learn4good.com/languages/toefl/vocabulary.htm
The vocabulary listed on this site is considered necessary to know in order to successfully complete the TOEFL exam, which is of interest to many ESL/EFL students. This site stands out because it also offers a complete list of the root, prefixes and suffixes of these words so that learners may practice deducing word meaning by its affixes.

Monday, April 18, 2005

one down, two to go

As usual, school work takes more time than planned. Especially when the warm weather comes our Northern way. Saturday afternoon, Ben (my boyfriend) and I went for a casual drink with some friends on their patio. We returned at dusk with much wine and beer in our bodies. Needless to say, I did little school work that evening. Instead, I worked yesterday and finished my Grammar paper today at noon. I gave it to my teacher and am now starting on my History assignment. So, one more big breath...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

pre-thesis work

Part of getting my MA thesis done entails first finishing my TESL Certificate. This week is my last week. I have three final assignments to write. The first one is for Grammar for Teachers. It's due Monday. I'm starting it now. Then I will work on my History of the English Language assignment and try to get that done by Monday or Tuesday. Last, I will work on my Teaching Advanced / Bilingual Students assignment, which needs to be finished by Friday.

A week or two ago I was speaking to my classmate Tom. I was saying how my brain, when pressed to work, sometimes goes in revolt mode. I can't think. I can't read. Lately, I've been getting huge headaches. Tom was telling me that he can't relax and read a book while being conscious of all the school work he still has to finish. I, on the other hand, at times can't do otherwise. All I can do is read a book or watch a movie that has absolutely nothing to do with anything that can be related to work. It's like my brain goes into forced rest.

I must now start working on my Grammar project. I have a headache. I'd rather stay in bed and read my Heningham book. Or slouch on my balcony. Spring has finally arrived to Montreal. A first beautiful week-end to be spent indoors at my desk. The first of the many to come...