Would you rather text than talk?

Would you rather text or email than talk?

It’s just so easy. I don’t have to interrupt anyone, I can write while I’m in the moment, I don’t have to hold anything in my memory, or remember to ask what might have happened after a doctor’s visit or some sort of major life event, I don’t even have wait my turn to talk. When the thought appears, I can just shoot a message off and my counter part can react when it is convenient for them. In some case, with my more talkative friends (and family members) a digital message is the only way I can get a word in edgewise.

Plus, I can re-read, check my tone or make sure I didn’t word anything in an insensitive way. I can edit. Digital communication allows me to put forth my best self. Great stuff…right?

Sherry Turkle is not so sure. Her TED talk Connected but Alone? takes a good hard look at what digital communication may be doing to us. We have all heard that technology may be making us more isolated, so beyond this statement, just how it is doing that? Turkle gets right under the hood of our communication habits and puts forth some thought provoking concepts that definitely gave me pause.

This lesson is definitely for more advanced students. I did this with a mixed class of high level and lower level students and the lower level were a bit lost. However, I still recommend using first language material as much as you can to get their ears and minds used to native speaking. Once they get over focusing on what they don’t understand and focus on what they do, they will increase their ability to get into the English speaking community.

Pre discussion

  • Let’s hypothesize…Why do you think Turkle thinks texting and emailing is making us more isolated?
  • Make a pros and cons list for digital communication
  • What is the difference between isolation and solitude?
  • What is the difference between friendship and companionship?
You can change the play back speed
And add subtitles

The Video: TED Sherry Turkle: Connected but Alone?

There is a ton of stuff to talk about here. And rather than try to Tell Back everything Turkle says (although you are free to do that), I would jump right into the discussion with some of the following key ideas:

  • “We want to customize our lives and control where we put our attention”
  • “We are getting used to being alone…together”
  • “We are compromising companionship for friendship”
  • “We have an illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship”
  • “We can’t get enough of each other, at a distance, in amounts we can control”
  • “We use technology to manage our relationships in ways we can comfortably control”
  • Technology is satisfying 3 basic fantasies:
    • We can put our attention where we want it to be
    • We will always be hear
    • We will never be alone
  • “Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved”
  • “I share therefore I am”
  • “Connection is creating isolation”
  • “We need to cultivate the capacity for solitude”
  • “We need to build a self-aware relationship with technology”

And I could go on and on pulling quotes from this video. Turkle is articulate, astute and a fantastic social analyst.

I am ready to admit that I am getting caught in the fray of convenience, but short of stopping (which is not going to happen) Turkle has helped me see where I might be more self-aware.

I hope you enjoy talking about this as much as me and my students.

Bitmoji Image

Are you protected from identity theft?

Are you protected from identity theft? It’s a scary thought really because my own personal answer is: I don’t know. I change my passwords regularly, I back up my computer, I don’t open any emails that ask me to give my personal information, and I never, repeat never, give my password to anyone. But is that enough?

Pre discussion

  • Have you or someone you know had problems with having your identity compromised?
  • What do you do to protect your identity?

The Video: Pattie Lovett-Reid: Tips For Preventing Identity Theft


Discussion

  • According to Lovett-Reid, when is your personal information most vulnerable?
  • What are some of her tips?
  • What are some of the things we should be aware of?
  • What are some of the first things you should do if you think your identity is compromised?

I don’t mean to scare anyone, but the more we talk about it, the better prepared we can be.

 

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When you speak, do people listen?

When you speak, do you think people listen to you? Do you think they understand–that they hear you? Ever watch a speech by former President Barak Obama? I just can’t stop listening. However, when my husband gives me the run down of the daily news, most times I totally tune out.

Why is that? According to Julian Treasure, there are many different aspects to a successful speaker ranging from tone of voice to subject matter. His TED talk presents some of the communication approaches that shut people down and those that open people up.

It is a talk that explores both the behavioural and mechanical aspects of speaking that I find rather interesting. Perhaps you and your students will too.

Pre discussion

  • Name some of the people you love to listen to
  • Why do you like them?
  • Name some people you tend to tune out of.

The Video: TED Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen

  • What are some of the behaviours or approaches that make listeners tune out?
  • What are some of the tools in Treasure’s tool box?
  • Do a little analysis of yourself. Which behaviours do you have that may put your listeners off?
  • Do you use/have some of Treasure’s tools already?
  • What could you adopt that may enhance your speaking without making yourself seem unnatural?
  • Do you have any anecdotes of good and bad speakers (e.g. teachers, parents, bosses, etc…)

Legends Only

Are you a procrastinator or a planner?

Are you a procrastinator or a planner? That is the question. Personally I am a planner. I get a sense of what needs to be done, break it down into task and plan it out so that I can do it before the deadline. I think that is largely due to the fact that being dyslexic, I need time to review. But that is certainly not true for everyone. In fact, Miles Bess exposes that up to 95% of people consider themselves to be procrastinators. That’s huge! I had no idea.

So let’s talk about this…

Pre discussion

  • Do you wait t’ill the late minute to do things or do you plan ahead?
  • What benefits do you get out of being one or the other?

The Video: PBS  Above the Noise: Can Procrastination Be a Good Thing?

Questions

  • Why do you think so many people procrastinate?
  • What are the pros and cons of procrastination?
  • What famous people or documents were made last minute?
  • Can you explain ‘task-driven’ and ‘deadline driven’
  • What are some of your procrastination ‘go-to’s’ (e.g. video games, eating, shopping, etc.)
  • What advice would you give the procrastinator?
  • What advice would you give the planner?

Hope you have fun with this lesson…

 

Are you media literate?

Are you media literate? When we hear the word literacy, generally our thoughts go to reading. But the idea of literacy encapsulates many different skills that we are now extending to many different areas.  For example, you can have financial literacy, digital literacy, ethical literacy, computational literacy and yes media literacy (and the list goes on).

Essentially, when you have reached a level of proficiency in an area where you are able to decode, analyse, see patterns, and spot errors, you have become literate in that area. The trend to view literacy as skill that extends beyond reading is a fairly recent one. Not so long ago, before the web took off, the flow of information would generally come from what was deemed reliable sources. We got your history lesson from a history teacher and our news from a trusted news sources. We didn’t really have to question or doubt (perhaps we should have).

But now that information can come from anywhere, it has become increasingly important to be critical and analytical. In other words, we all have to have the instincts of an expert. Radio personality Jay Smooth has  created a great YouTube series on probably the most important of the literacies: media literacy. See if you can scoop up some of the ideas he exposes and make a list of the tips he shares.

Pre discussion

Let’s play the good and bad game…go through the list of words and say whether they are good or bad:

  • Consuming media
  • Influence of media
  • Mass communication
  • Social media
  • Navigate media

The video: Introduction to Media Literacy by Jay Smooth

Smooth speaks very fast, and he goes very deep into ‘sociology speak’ so if you are working with lower intermediate students, I suggest you adjust the settings on YouTube to make the video slower and show the subtitles.

Also, I would stop the video at about 2 min (just after the definition of media literacy).

Doing this video requires a little teacher bravery, it’s fast and complex–but it’s also adult, current and intelligent. Remind your participants that the idea is to simply come away with the general concept, that they can deduce from context and perhaps try to recognize one or two new words.

  • What is media? Make a list
  • What is the difference between messages and effects?
  • Go to 5:25 of the video, watch the texting example.
  • Do you use emojis in your emails and texts? Do you have some signature emojis?
  • Have you ever sent a message that was mis-interpreted?

This is a vocabulary dense lesson, but it is true to native speaking. I believe it is important to expose students to this so they can develop skills and tricks for when this happens to them in real life. But like I said, it takes a little teacher bravery…let me know how it goes.