Post-MA Reflections

Bogazici University South Campus

Bogazici University South Campus

The inspiration for this post may well come from my longing for Bogazici University and Istanbul. I will always cherish the memories of the time I studied towards an MA degree at Bogazici University, Istanbul. The Department of Foreign Language Education provided me with an academically stimulating and challenging environment, which enabled me to gain a wider perspective into second language learning, applied linguistics and sociolinguistics. For instance, we had the opportunity to take a course on World Englishes, which was not offered in the similar programmes at other Turkish universities at that time. Almost each course required a final research paper in addition to reflection papers and presentations. I greatly benefited from writing research papers since they substantially improved my research and academic writing skills. More importantly, after having received feedback, I expanded on some of the research papers that I wrote for assessment and presented them at the conferences. For my MA thesis, I enjoyed the privilege of having two co-supervisors. I had the chance to obtain more feedback and moral support during the writing process in comparison with my peers. Best of all was the 5th International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca at Bogazici University. It was an inspiring learning experience for me to attend the plenaries and talks delivered by notable scholars including Prof. Jennifer Jenkins, Prof. Tim McNamara and Prof. Anna Mauranen. Finally, when I look back on those years, there are few things that I would have done differently:

1. Many distinguished scholars come to deliver talks and seminars at our department from all around the world. Unfortunately, I could not go to some of them. If any new MA students are reading this post, I strongly recommend you to attend them even if they are not directly related to your research interests. These talks and seminars are vitally important to broaden our knowledge and widen our horizons.

2. I didn’t study abroad as an exchange/erasmus student during my MA studies. The department has an agreement with many prestigious universities, including University of London and Georgia State University. It would be a wonderful opportunity to collect your data or even write your thesis at the host university since you may have an access to different student/teacher groups and a wide range of resources.

Cartoons and Foreign Language Learning

tamirci manny
I recently came across an article entitled “Handy Manny: The Pragmatic Functions of Code-Switching in the Interaction of Cartoon Characters”. I was immediately intrigued by this article since I previously thought about the learning potential of this cartoon but I couldn’t find the opportunity to examine it. Also, Handy Manny (Tamirci Manny in Turkish) is one of my favourite cartoons (Okay… I admit that I still watch cartoons at the age of 24).

The researchers counted the number of target words and examined the vocabulary introduced in one episode. According to the results, the episode included a great number of L2 target words, especially formulaic expressions which were greetings, questions, directives, apologies, expressions for agreeing and disagreeing, evaluating or appraisal expressions of appreciation and judgement. Children are exposed to formulaic sequences during the episode, which helps improve the children’s pragmatic competence in the target language. Most of the formulaic expressions are presented in the form of code-switching or translation from L1. Although the input may be regarded as insufficient, it is a good beginning for children who are between 3-5 years old to start learning a foreign language. Further studies that investigate the effect of the input provided in Handy Manny on childrens’ language acquisition would shed more light on whether the cartoon really contributes to language acquisition and children comprehend code-switching used in the cartoon (Gregori-Signes & Alcantud-Díaz, 2012).

Another positive aspect of Handy Manny is that it instills friendliness, kindness and cooperation in children. Therefore, I strongly recommend that parents watch Handy Manny with their children. Happy watching!

Reference:Gregori-Signes,C., & Alcantud-Díaz, M. (2012). Handy Manny: The Pragmatic Function of Code-Switching in the Interaction of Cartoon Characters. In García-Pastor, M.D (ed.) 2012. Teaching English as a Foreign Language: Proposals for the Language Classroom. Valencia: Perifèric, pp. 61-81. ISBN: 978-84-92435-47-0.

ELT Newspapers

There are always news that you can read about ELT and English language in the daily newspapers, but ELT has its own newspapers, too. If you want to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest articles, news and events in the ELT world, below are some newspapers that I read and recommend you to flick through:

1. English Language Gazette (ELgazette): At the 45th IATEFL conference, we were given a free print version of it. It includes news and articles about the recent developments, trends and research studies worldwide. If you sign up on the webpage, you can read a digital version of it. Plus, there are some downloadable resources and lesson plans.

2. Guardian-TEFL Page: This is a very useful page I visit regularly. There are news from both the UK and all around the world. Ones who sign up to TEFL update can receive free news-based English language teaching materials from the Guardian Weekly. Also, The TEFL expert is ready to answer your questions about TEFL career.

3. The TEFL Times: It is actually a blog written by various contributors from the world. It gives career advice and touches on controversial issues in ELT. They are also looking for contributors to their blog!

Regardless of your interests, I’m sure you will find something captivating to read in these resources. Happy reading!

Post-IATEFL Reflections

Many thanks to British Council, I had the privilege of attending the 45th IATEFL Conference in Brighton as a roving reporter. It is undoubtedly one of the biggest ELT events in the world. It was a very fruitful conference with a great variety of talks, symposiums, workshops and evening activities.

My favourite events of the conference:

The greatest debate that I had seen in my life with a lot of audience participation.

A very thought-provoking talk on teacher reflection and how to benefit from it effectively.

An enlightening discussion on English as a Lingua Franca and the role of English, the impact of English on minority/indigenous language.

Learning technologies and teacher identity were certainly the hottest topics of the conference. I was amazed at innovative developments of ELT in learning technologies.

I wrote 30 blog posts about this fabulous event. You can read them here.