2014: A Checklist

Tomorrow is back to school for me. The Spring I term begins. Classes almost begin (they start on Wednesday, but tomorrow is orientation for new students). This marks my third term at the University of Tennessee’s English Language Institute. This also marks the end of my free time. After procrastinating to the last minute, I offer this detailed reflection on 2014.

To put it simply, it was a life-changing year for me. After seven years in Asia, I landed a job and moved my family back to the United States. We went from the modern metropolis of Busan to mid-sized city Knoxville. Korean food, Korean language, Korea culture, expat life to returning to life as a civilian. It was like going from smartphone to feature phone; Windows 7 to Windows 95, Concord to Ford Model T. It was not bad, but rather such a major change to the world I had matured in, and, needless to say, there was a lot of reverse culture shock to go through.

Besides this major change, what else happened for me in 2014? Well, in February of last year, I wrote a list of things I wanted to accomplish for the year. I think this is a great place to start reflecting on my past year. If this list were a checklist, it would look like this:

Teaching Goals

  • Focus on listening and pronunciation more in my conversation classes. 
    I spent a lot of energy on listening in 2014. I read heaps of research and feel that, at upper-intermediate and advanced levels, I know how teach listening (i.e. how to listen) very effectively. I continued to develop and work on listening journals, which my students have truly enjoyed and found useful.
  • Focus more on emergent language. 
    I am always cognizant of emergent language in my classroom, although, honestly, I don’t always focus on this as much as a I really want to. But, I do do it more.
  • Find ways to give more individualized feedback, even in larger classes. half✔
    I try to give as much feedback as possible in all my classes. In my listening and speaking classes, I often had students record their group conversations and I would send them a document with comments. This term, I plan on doing the same using Soundcloud, so that my comments are time-synced with their audio. I gave this a halfbecause I was not able to give feedback as often as I’d like.
  • Integrate music more into my teaching.
    Besides a few songs here and there, and introducing LyricsTraining, I did not achieve this goal.
  • Find a way to use Game of Thrones as a teaching activity (usually, I use zombies).
  • Use less paper, or use it more strategically.
    Nope. Even though I do so much stuff digitally, I still find myself making paper materials. Teachers use paper. I’ve accepted this.
  • Have students keep lexical journals. 
    Yes, and probably will not do it again.

Professional Goals

  • Write up and publish my research into a journal article. half
    A paper on DDL is under review. Feels like forever.
  • Find a new research project. 
    Yes. At the end of the year, my focus on listening shifted to corrective feedback. After reading research and reflecting on my own teaching, I decided to focus my research energy on this area. 2015 will be my year to focus on corrective feedback and improving spoken grammatical accuracy. I am planning on transforming this into a research project for the end of Spring.
  • Speak at a conference.
    Submitted a proposal for GATESOL. We’ll see.
  • Blog more about the activities I do in class.
  • Blog more in general.
    I’ve done more Research Bites blogging, but my blogging has slowed significantly since I moved back to the States. In Korea, I worked three days a week. The two days free meant more time to think, plan, and write. Here, I work five days a week and my mind seems more exhausted, though I have found some unexpected benefits to teaching more. Anyway, blogging more will always be a goal of mine.
  • Study for the GRE every week.
  • Take and ace the GRE this summer.
    I’ve put the GRE on hold for a year or so because grad school is on hold for a year or so.
  • Decide on a PhD program. 
    Indiana University or University of Florida. Focus on (applied) cognitive linguistics.
  • Join the Peace Boat.
    Can’t do it. Volunteer teachers travel for free, but their kids don’t. Damn kids.
  • Read one or two books on linguistics, applied or traditional.
    Applying Cognitive Linguistics to Second Language Teaching and Learning, Vocabulary Myths, Second Language Acquisition Myths, Listening Myths, The Language Hoax.

Personal Goals

  • Continue with Python and Android coding.
    No time.
  • Try to start again at the MMA gym.
    No money.
  • Relax more.
    I actually do relax more!
  • Publish my children’s book. half
    Minus a few tweaks, it’s ready for a Kickstarter campaign next summer.
  • Finish the Clan of the Cave Bear book series.
    I’m two books in.
  • Start the Game of Thrones book series.
    I don’t even own them yet.
  • Travel to Okinawa and/or Bali. 
    I traveled to Okinawa. One of the best trips I ever took.
  • Get off my phone.
  • Build more with legos.
    First, I need to buy more legos.