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Don’t worry about Rosetta, she’s just a stone

Lately there’s been some apprehension, among us foreign language teachers, about Rosetta Stone. Some people I’ve spoken to openly worry that, some day, they’ll be replaced by computer software. “Well,” I say to them, “Welcome to the world!!!” But one way to deal with evolution is to evolve along with it and, bottom line, if you get to be very good at what you do, it will be difficult to replace you, no matter how many engineers and software designers they assign to the cause. Let’s look at another field and another type of occupation, the TV studio cameraman (this term refers to women as well, I like genders and I don’t like neutering). Cameramen are smart people; they have to zoom, pan, focus, read scopes and adjust light levels while taking chaotic directions by often over-caffeinated TDs and directors. But their particular assignment remained fairly constant; there wasn’t much variation to what they did day-to-day; and that made them easy prey to the designers... read more

Multitasking and learning a foreign language

I'm very excited to be living in the 21st Century.   I have tools at my disposal that didn't exist twenty years ago, technology that helps me mix traditional textbook teaching with websites that allow my students to hear spoken Italian and see it spelled out on a screen. I have word processing applications that let me see my students' work in big bold typed characters instead of handwritten hieroglyphics, hieroglyphics that do nothing to help them retain what they're trying to learn.   Unfortunately, there's a downside to progress.  Part of that downside is the idiotic notion that technology has stretched our brains to the point that we can all do several things simultaneously and do them all well.    Yeah, right; that's why people all over the country end up in morgues and hospitals, stubbornly insisting that can text, talk and drive at the same time.   Some types of multitasking do work;  I've been eating, drinking and watching TV simultaneously... read more

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