The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Friday, July 03, 2020

10 ways to tackle coronoavocab: #5 learning and teaching

Whether you’re still teaching online or getting back to some kind of normal, this is an obvious topic for a 5-minute activity. If you've been teaching online over the past few months, a lot of this vocab will probably have already come up (mute/unmute your mic, break-out rooms, type in the chat box), but if you're just getting started, say on a summer course or looking ahead to the new academic year, then these are going to be vital terms for your students to know to help things run smoothly.

Some of the other terms here are a bit more 'meta' (synchronous/asynchronous etc.) and perhaps more relevant to teacher chat, but could still be useful as part of a discussion with more advanced learners about their feelings about different types of learning and teaching. Although if you're asking for feedback, think about how you'll be able to respond to students' likes, dislikes, preferences and grumbles.

Some examples in context:
For those with children at home trying to do homeschooling as well as their job, it can be very difficult.
Synchronous learning, such as a live videochat with a teacher, requires reliable internet access.
Many schools provided paper packets and asynchronous instruction as well as synchronous instruction via Zoom.  
She believes remote learning could remain a part of the plan next school year.
Now, create breakout rooms for trios to discuss their answers. 
There will be a short presentation to kick off small group conversations in breakout rooms.  
There's a lot of questions in the chat box. 
When they begin, the students mute the microphones on their devices to just listen to her, unless they have a quick question. 

  • If you have time ahead of a new online/remote course, you could send out some worksheets/activities to help familiarize your students with the platform they'll be using and crucially, feed in some of the key vocab they'll need to negotiate the online learning environment and deal with issues that might crop up. That could include some of the words and phrases above (mute/unmute you mic, chat box, etc.), but perhaps also some basics too (click on, a pop-up, drop-down menu, icon, etc.). A lot of this vocab lends itself very nicely to simple images, but don't forget the language that goes around the key terms too (type sth in the chat box).

  • If your students have already had experience of remote teaching, getting feedback on what they like, what they don't and what problems they've had can be an opportunity to feed in (or correct) some appropriate vocab. Everyone likes a moan too, so vocab for glitches (the screen freezes, the sound is distorted, my connection isn't very reliable/drops out) may prove popular. 
  • Remote, online or distance learning – which term do students think’s most appropriate and why? They could discuss in groups, pick a term, argue their cases, then vote on the best one. Check out my blog post on the topic here to see some of the trends.
  • Retronyms: to contrast with the ‘new normal’ of remote teaching and learning, we’ve had to come up with new ways to distinguish that from what used to be just normal – face-to-face/classroom teaching/learning. Use these as a starting point to explore other retronyms and get students to explain why they’re needed (landline, acoustic guitar, snail mail, hard copy, print book, etc.). Can they think of any others or suggest new ones that might be needed ... a live/ face-to-face meeting/party, perhaps?

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

10 ways to tackle coronavocab: #4 new compounds & contexts

Somewhere in-between the new coinages we saw in my first post (coronacoaster, isobaking) and the increased use of existing terms (isolation, hand sanitizer), new compounds (social distancing, social bubbles) and new uses of existing words have emerged (e.g. shielding to describe how high-risk people need to self-isolate to protect themselves from the virus). And of course, as the ever-changing siutation develops, new terms are being created all the time to describe the new normal ... oops, that's another trending term I forgot to include!

A lot of these overlap with the previous posts, so you could easily mix and match items, for example, social distancing naturally fits in with some of the phrases from post #2 (keep your distance, stay 2 metres apart, etc.). Remember to choose just a handful of terms – it could even be just one for a short activity – and make sure to explore how the terms are used in context. Think about collocations (practise/maintain/ensure/observe social distancing), prepositions (in/during lockdown) and variations (a socially distanced coffee/walk)

Some examples in context:
We are maintaining social distancing by making wider aisles.
People are not social distancing and are going out and breaking rules.
There's only one thing more exciting than a socially distanced walk with a friend this weekend -- a socially distanced picnic.
With children at home, life in lockdown can be a challenge.
New Zealand has already allowed people to expand their social bubbles to contact with close family outside their own households.
Is it OK to bubble with another family this summer? 
The family is supposed to be shielding because her son suffers from severe asthma.
All of the staff went into self-isolation at home when they developed symptoms.
Staff who came into close contact with the woman have been tested.
The report says that testing and tracing efforts should reach 70% of all contacts within two days.
Even in Singapore, only 20% of the population have the government's contact tracing app installed.
Restrictions are expected to continue in Mumbai, a major virus hot spot.
Australia and New Zealand are discussing the possibility of opening up borders to each other, creating a travel corridor between the two countries.

  • Although it’s quickly been adopted as the standard term, social distancing caused some disagreement early on, with the WHO arguing for the term physical distancing. This could make an interesting short discussion about which term is better and why.
  • What do students think about contact tracing apps? Lots of scope for discussion with vocab feeding in (come into close contact with sb, go into self-isolation, proximity, etc.)
  • What about creating imaginary social bubbles? Who would you bubble with if you could choose absolutely anyone?! 
  • Get students to put together posters/presentations/videos explaining the different terms, for example, what social distancing or contact tracing is, why we need to do it, tips and warnings, etc.
  • There are lots of memes around about how to judge the appropriate distance between people – there are some fun illustrations in this CNN article and a couple of quick mock-ups of my own below. Or here's a short BBC video. Get students to come up with their own ideas in terms of the things they're familiar with around them and using whatever distance is recommended in their own country. And of course, don't forget to get them to explain their ideas using all the relevant language.

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