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Paper vs Monitor: How Technology Is Rapidly Changing The Way We Read

August 31st, 2015

The Internet revolutionized reading in the 21st century, something everybody realizes now. The numbers alone speak volumes: 11 years ago about 22% of Americans chose the Internet to get their news, but in 2013, that number had risen to 39%. The statistics are revealing, and attest to the fact that e-books, news, entertainment, and communication are all taking place online.

Online, tech-based reading is on the rise

According to Kathryn Zickuhr, Internet researcher at the Pew Research Center, 55% of Americans own a smartphone and 24% an e-reader.

E-reading is a trend that continues to grow. In 2011, only 16% of the American participants in the Pew study read an ebook, but in 2012 that number rose to 23%. Print book reading dropped from 72% to 67% from 2011 to 2012. Again, there’s a strong but gradual tendency to read more ebooks than paper ones.

Rituals that are intimacy-based favor print book reading

While traditional reading rituals like reading with a child or with another person are still mostly likely to be done with print books, participants in the study who commuted regularly confirmed that ebooks are their preferred medium for reading when travelling. Not only does an e-reader have the advantage of letting you keep a wider selection of books available, it allows you to access new books easily and quickly.

The future of libraries

Libraries are not dying, and many people still visit them. In fact, 73% of the people surveyed visit a library with the express purpose of borrowing books.

What’s been noticeably absent from libraries is the time spent in them. People generally no longer browse shelves as frequently. They find the books in the library’s website, reserve them on line, and go pick them up, a time-saving approach that librarians say is on the rise.

As the purpose of libraries shifts, their cultural role is becoming even stronger. People regard libraries as community spaces for ongoing cultural expression and communication. Lectures, cultural events, and meetings are all part of the many activities taking place at libraries today, giving them a role in peoples’ lives beyond studying and reading books.

Reader expectations changing

Online content is changing the expectations of readers. The print book is not going to be replaced any time soon, but libraries are already feeling the need to adjust to a more tech-based environment.

In fact, the survey illustrated that people are keen to use tech services like pre-loaded ebooks, or classes on how to use e-readers. Most modern libraries have online catalogs that let people borrow library-owned e-books, and even the smallest library is striving to offer more automated and online services to the public.

As we move into a digital era of content dissemination, the need for libraries and other cultural institutions to keep up with technology will not decrease. Libraries that stubbornly refuse to offer online facilities like ebook borrowing, free access to databases, and digitized books will run the risk of being neglected and forgotten. Technology is changing the reading expectations of modern readers, and society – and its libraries – has to respond accordingly and promptly.


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10 Hysterical Spelling Mistakes During Protests (PHOTOS)

August 24th, 2015

People make mistakes – especially in spelling. We should make sure we are not going to announce it in public though.

Here are some of the hysterical spelling mistakes you will see roaming around the streets during protests. Get ready to LAUGH OUT LOUD!

Hungry For A Steak or A Mistake?

Talking About Competence

Let’s Make It Official Then

Oh No! Not in PUBLIC

Really Confused Here

The Lack Of Space

Vandalize, You Say?

Kindly Put The Letter G To Complete Washington

Arithmetic Is Really Hard

Pardon Me?


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Schools Are Now Adapting To Technology For Learning

August 17th, 2015

Technology is taking over a school near you! Well, not exactly, but slowly but surely, steps are already being taken around the world and education is undergoing a massive shift. Textbooks and whiteboards and the occasional DVD-based class are now making way for tablets, digital content, and 3D printers.

While the message remains the same, technology is changing the medium. Students don’t go browse for a book on the shelves in the library, they do so with a search through their library’s app. From the cloud-based Chromebooks by Google to Amazon’s e-reader Kindle, for the average student learning is more and more tech-driven.

While there’s still a long way to go before every 2nd grade student has their own tablet or laptop to work with in class, the change is underway. The tech-based educational model is not a distant possibility any longer, and what was once science fiction is becoming daily reality. And here’s why that’s a good thing:

Efficient Research

The web offers students access to academic databases and the Internet itself, making the research process easier and more efficient than ever before.

Collaboration

Students can now interact and collaborate through Personal Learning Networks, dedicated forums, and other online school communities to share their thoughts, pose questions to teachers and each other, and work together.

Project-based learning seems to have found its ideal mate in modern technology. Students can continue collaboration after school hours, emphasizing the importance of working together, something that helps students in their education and prepares them for a team-driven workforce.

Independent Learning

With fundamental computer and Internet literacy, students as young as 8 and 9 years old can study independently and at their own pace.

A student can go back to what a teacher said by re-watching a class or lecture. Asking questions via Twitter, creating a blog post for what they’ve learned, or linking to sites that show how that knowledge complements and provides solutions to other issues are but a few more ways technology facilitates education.

Active Learning

Interactive games, instant communication, access to class notes and other media content – everything is more easily and quickly available to students these days through technology.

Students that miss school can join the rest of the class through an online video conference and even participate with questions.

Technology has transformed, and will continue to transform, education. There’s immense potential in new ways to make learning more efficient and successful for the younger generation, and these well-educated students will become the innovators of the future.

Do you really have to go overseas to learn English? (Guest Post)

August 10th, 2015

This week I’m in New Zealand, checking out some of the language schools here. They are really quite good and the students certainly improve their English.

But do you really have to travel overseas to get really good at English?

Well, if you asked me 15 years ago I would have said “Yes!” To learn English well you need to hear it, listen to it, speak it and really live it. And to get a great accent, it all has to come from native speakers. 15 years ago we had no option. We had to travel overseas to get this experience.

But today everything has changed. We carry around in our pockets dictionaries that contain every word ever written, we have pronunciations for every phrase we can think of, we have videos of every movie or TV show ever created and we can video chat with people at the other side of the world virtually for free. If you add in all the great software and computer learning packages around, you really don’t have to leave home if you don’t want.

Of course it’s better to learn overseas if you can. But before you invest all that extra money on the big trip overseas, really get the most out of your time back home using all the technology you can. Set yourself weekly goals, and set aside 50 minute blocks where you’ll just do language work. Set time for reading, listening and speaking (via skype or social media.) Plus of course listen to your favorite songs and movies in English whenever you can.

I promise you, the more you learn now, the more you’ll get out of your big trip!

Author’s Bio: Richard Graham is the CEO of GenkiEnglish.com He is constantly learning new languages, speaks 3 of them fluently and has lectured on language learning throughout the world. You can find out more at: http://GenkiEnglish.com

Originally posted in Ultimate Vocabulary Blog

7 Practical Ways To Improve Your Reading (Guest Post)

August 3rd, 2015

Dominic Cole


There are a number of ways in which you can improve your reading skills. Some of these are technical – there are certain techniques that need to be trained if you want to be a more efficient reader. These techniques include training yourself to avoid bad habits such as sub-vocalization (silent speech as you read) so that you can learn to read more quickly. This article though is about a different set of skills – skills that are much less technical – they are really just practical ideas to get you reading more and understanding and learning from what you read.

1. Read for enjoyment

Okay, this one should be self-evident. If you want to read better, start out by reading things that you are positively interested in. The very simple insight here is that if you are interested in what you are reading then your brain will take in the content of what you are reading. More than that, the more interested you are in the content, the more quickly you read, the more you can’t wait to get to the next idea, the next sentence or the next page. Before you know it, you have finished the book. Job done!

2. Don’t just read – read then speak or read then write

Sometimes people find reading difficult because it is such a solitary activity – it’s almost invariably something you do by yourself. If you spend too much time reading, it gives you less time for more “communicative” activities such as speaking to other people. Here’s an idea: talk to other people about what you are reading: there are book clubs galore out there after all. The insight is that if you share what you read by speaking or writing about it, then reading becomes much less of a chore. I’d add that, speaking as a language teacher, reading then speaking and/or writing will speed up your vocabulary learning no end – it makes a passive skill more active.

3. Think about what you have read

Why does reading often go wrong? Well, quite frequently people read “numbly” – the process becomes too automatic, the eyes are moving but the brain isn’t engaged. The symptoms of this are that you get to the end of the page and you have no idea about what you have just read. If this happens, then nothing much has been achieved. Is there a solution? I think so. It can be as simple as asking yourself the question “What have I just read?” at the end of each page or chapter, or perhaps “Do I agree with that?”. These are questions anyone can ask and answer – you don’t always need a language teacher to help you!

4. Think about where and when you read

One way reading has changed is that there are now much more media out there: for example different varieties of e-readers now make it possible to read almost wherever we go. This, for me, is a “good thing”. However, it does pose a challenge to the reader: you are much more likely to lose concentration if you are browsing the net on your mobile phone on the train during your daily commute. The idea here is just that if you want to take in what you read, it is much best to find somewhere quiet first.

5. Use pictures and headings to help you

Another way technology is changing reading habits is that a huge proportion of texts are now in multimedia formats – you don’t just get words, you get pictures or other forms of media too. If you want to understand what you are reading take a look at the pictures first – they’ll give you a good overview of what the text is about. A related idea is to take time to notice and read the headings – that’s what they’re there for! A little word of warning though: newspaper headlines can be very difficult to decipher – they tend to have their own grammar and often make use of highly idiomatic language.

6. Don’t always read in the same way and give yourself breaks

Good habits are good, right? Well, yes, but if you do the same thing all the time it does tend to become boring. So the suggestion here is to do different things as you read – read in different ways and keep your mind stimulated. My personal advice is to find a number of different things to read and vary between them. For instance, you might want to read a novel in bed at night and the newspaper on the way into work in the morning. All I’d suggest is that you choose reading activities that suit you as an individual and make them part your daily routine.

7. Just read lots – forget your dictionary

There is no science behind this idea! My experience though as a teacher is that almost invariably the people who read best are the people who read most. There is a lot to be said for quality of reading, but quantity matters too. If you are aiming for quantity, I’d make one small suggestion: forget the dictionary sometimes – dictionaries are good but they do slow you down. The idea is to learn to guess at meanings and not look every word up. All this takes is a little confidence and texts that you enjoy and want to understand – which takes me neatly back to idea number 1: my very best advice is to learn to read for pleasure.


About the author

Dominic Cole is the author of DC IELTS a website for learners of English and anyone interested in the better use of language.


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Texting As A Way Of Improving Phonological Skills

July 27th, 2015

Do u lk 2 type like ths? The world is divided between those who say texting – and for that matter, any other technological innovation – add to the devolution and degradation of language, and others who assert that language is always evolving, even if that means using abbreviations or slang.

What people on both sides of the debate generally don’t realize is that texting can actually be used for improving phonological awareness and performance. What this means is that your phonological skills – your ability to spell words correctly – have to already be fairly high in order for you to be able to abbreviate words for use in texting or tweeting. Therefore, texting a message like “2nite @ Ben’s home 4 T” presupposes a phonological awareness of these words and their sound and letter patterns. A non-native speaker of English probably won’t be able to decipher this sentence because of this phonological knowledge gap that would allow them to match the abbreviations to the corresponding intended words that make up the sentence, “Tonight at Ben’s home for tea.”

A recent study by Coventry University has shown the proof of this phenomenon: that “textisms” improve children’s reading and writing skills. So instead of looking at texting as the death of language, it is more constructive to see it as a skill that improves a student’s phonological awareness. In other words, texting not only doesn’t damage people’s spelling skills, it improves them.

As students send out text after text, they’re constantly using the spelling and phonological rules that permeate language in order to create meaningful and generally applicable and intelligible abbreviations. While texting won’t be taught in language arts classes any time soon, it shouldn’t be condemned outright as something that causes language skills to decay, or worse, encourages illiteracy. Texting has a robust set of rules. Coming up with new textisms and other abbreviations requires advanced linguistic skills and creativity. Like all other aspects of English, they are based on a person’s basic knowledge of phonology, spelling. and even grammar.

People do argue that texting and tweeting using initialisms and the shorthand widely used on social media will ultimately make people forget how to properly spell words in formal contexts, but this argument loses sight of the mechanisms at work behind texting. This new form of English is still decidedly grounded in the same principles as the non-abbreviated language format, and due to its popularity it deserves study and support, not merely criticism.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Spelling blog.


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Internet Tricks You Might Want To Know and Try for Yourself

July 20th, 2015

1) Handy Browser – Use it as a Notepad!

Click the Link Below:

White Background Notepad – data:text/html,%20<html%20contenteditable><Title>Notepad</Title>

 

Click the Link Below:

Black Background Notepad – 

data:text/html;charset=utf-8,%20<title>Notepad%20(Nightmode)</title><body%20contenteditable%20style=”font-family:%20DejaVu;font-weight:bold;background:#1E1E1E;color:#FFFFFF;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.4;max-width:80rem;margin:0%20auto;padding:2rem;”%20spellcheck=”false”>

 

2) Nostalgic Search – Remembering Childhood Days

 

3) Notable Keyboard Shortcuts

 

4) Have Fun and Destroy This Website – COOL!

Visit daskeyboard.com. At the bottom part of the page, click the “Destroy This Site” and blow the page to pieces! Just like old video games.

 

5) Another Nostalgic Effect – Arcade in Google Search Page

Go to Google and search for “zerg rush”. Stop the “o” invasion and enjoy! A Zerg Rush is an overwhelming attack in a video game. (Available only in Chrome/ Firefox/Safari).

 

6) Kodami Code Effect in Wired.co.uk

Once you entered the website, type in the Kodami Code (using your keyboard): “Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A”, and keep on tapping “A”. See Nyan Cats and Dinosaur invading the website!

 

7) It Also Has Its Effect in BuzzFeed!

Type Fast the Kodami Code when BuzzFeed.com loads!


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When Good Vocabulary Is Not Enough

July 13th, 2015

Which do you think is more important, good vocabulary or good spelling skills? Many teachers would tell you that the main objective for young learners is to expand their vocabulary so they can communicate efficiently and accurately with their peers.

A good vocabulary is key to being a competent speaker. Having the words for the thoughts, feelings, ideas and notions you want to communicate makes it easier for you to get heard, convince people to follow you, and get what you are after.

However, as many teachers would also tell you, good vocabulary is not enough. Having an extensive lexicon filled with impressive and obscure words doesn’t mean you are a competent language user overall. If your spelling skills are weak, then your written language output will more likely suffer too. What’s more, it will make you look bad.

Take an 8th grader’s essay. They might be using vocabulary that’s well above their grade level and that’s impressive and worthy of praise, but if that same essay is laden with misspellings, then the first impression the teacher gets is that this student is sloppy, pays no attention to detail, and needs to work more on their language skills.

Bad spelling skill ruins communication on any level, and overshadows any other language skills you might have. Which is, of course, a pity. English spelling is notorious for its absurd patterns, lack of rules, and thousands of loanwords from other languages, so what’s a frustrated ESL student to do?

Fortunately, good spelling skills can be mastered, and you can become a proficient speller — we’re talking spelling bee champion kind of level. The trick is to have a systematic approach to spelling mastery. Of course, a love for language will also help!

If you’re a teacher, ensure you devote ample time to teaching your students how to spell, and if you are a student don’t give up on your spelling practice.

Spelling is an acquirable skill you can easily master as long as you are willing to learn. Invest in a spelling improvement program or practice your spelling with the help of a friend or teacher. The Internet has also many free quality resources for you to practice with.

To become a proficient user of the English language don’t focus on vocabulary only. Make sure you cultivate your spelling skills as well, because it’s an equally important skill that can make – or break – your language skills in general.

Cross-posted on the Vocabulary Software blog.


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Comparing Paper-Based Reading With Its Digital Successor: Three Differentiating Factors

July 7th, 2015

Does the brain process language differently when text is on paper than when it’s read on an e-reader? Is it a myth that when we read on computer screens we cannot be as focused on what we are reading, or does science prove otherwise?

Digital reading has become very popular for many reasons. Some people prefer digital books for practical reasons of portability and cost-effectiveness, others for ecological ones.

Millions of people have already integrated the two reading modes, or completely switched to digital reading. All of the trends reveal that the popularity of e-reading will keep growing – but the debate over which is best may never be resolved. Here’s a look at the three main factors that make digital and paper-based reading so different:

Digital reading requires different cognitive resources than paper-based reading.

When people read on paper their cognitive processes related to reading are complemented and reinforced by the tactile stimuli of the experience.

This physical component that the hard-copy book provides doesn’t exist when we read on computer screens and e-readers, a fact that explains why reading comprehension in digital-based reading is often significantly lower when compared to comprehension when reading print media.

This study published in the International Journal of Educational Research looked into how reading modality affects reading comprehension, and found that students reading on digital screens did worse than their counterparts reading on paper.
What seems to compromise reading comprehension during digital reading is an issue that is a part of the medium itself. It seems that the cognitively heavy task of navigation using an e-reader or computer (buttons, keys to push, even tactile screen scrolling) is something that has a high potential to distract the reader, and that distraction has a toll on reading comprehension.

A difference in portability and cost-effectiveness.

The paper book is still widely used and read around the world, and despite the markedly important growth of digital reading, printed books have their unrelenting fans. However, even die-hard fans of print books admit the perks of the digital book: it’s green, it’s portable, and it’s significantly cheaper.

Reading on screen means less tree pulp wasted, and more and cheaper books easily carried around. These three attributes of the digital book obviously promote increased reading. If people can carry several books with them, they’re more likely to read while commuting to work rather than playing Angry Birds.

Book reading and the sense of control.

Digital reading is fluid and open-ended, but this means at times it’s hard to manage, both cognitively and physically. On the other hand, a paper book gives the reader increased control over the reading process.

A pdf file or an e-book gives you no tactile power whatsoever. You need to repeatedly click on the keys or scroll, scroll, and scroll again to find a paragraph you’ve missed or to re-read a passage you loved. All of that takes time, and leads to a loss in concentration and interest.

When reading paper-based content , though, you the reader are in charge. You flick through pages easily and re-reading a favorite passage is tied to the physicality of the activity of turning those pages, giving a sense of great control over what’s being read and ultimately understood.

Superficial reading and its aftereffects.

What’s more, this lack of physicality with digital reading – and of course the sheer volume of digital content available – makes digital readers more inclined to be “skim and scan” readers. People don’t pay attention to digital copy the way they do with paper-based text. Digital reading prompts careless, hurried reading, because the modality is much more difficult to keep focused on – ads pop up, social networks notifications distract you, and so on.

Researchers are keen to understand how reading modality affects reading efficiency. Preliminary findings suggest that the two are very different cognitive processes, with a different set of requirements in place.

Whether one is better than the other is of little importance. What’s important to understand in this debate is that the two are distinctively different, and for their enthusiasts, each one is the best.

Cross-posted on the 7 Speed Reading blog.


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Touch Typing Skills Gives Your Children An Edge

June 29th, 2015

Keyboarding is omnipresent, and yet many people fail to realize it. We touch type to RSVP a wedding invitation or to play games on Facebook. We touch type a work report and we touch type to chat and interact with online friends.

Touch typing is a tech skill that will be increasingly important in the coming years – so important that people lacking this skill will have a harder time keeping up with all the technological breakthroughs that will soon take place.

For this reason, it’s important that children are given the opportunity to formally and efficiently learn how to touch type. Typing in schools has unfortunately not given the due attention it deserves. Given its central role in any and all other computer-based class and skill learning, it’s puzzling why the average school curriculum doesn’t already include keyboarding classes.

Even if your local school doesn’t provide the tools, with the help of typing software, your child can learn how to type correctly, accurately, and quickly. This will give your child an edge they will be able to rely on throughout their lives.

–   A proficient touch typist saves hundreds of minutes each week on touch typing based tasks, such as homework, projects, research, or writing up essays.

–   A child that touch types quickly and accurately is more confident in dealing with keyboard-based tasks and school assignments because the lack of typing skills doesn’t get in the way.

–   A good touch typist who learned the right keyboarding techniques early in life will continue improving on their typing performance, because every touch typing activity will be a touch typing practice, helping them to constantly improve upon their typing performance.

–   Dyslexic children find it easier and less frustrating to touch type rather than write out homework by hand, so keyboarding can play a crucial role in ensuring that no child stays behind in class.

–   Touch typing equips children with a skill that will come in handy in college and later on in their careers. Keyboarding activities permeate all aspects of our lives, from education and entertainment to social interaction.

–   Efficient touch typists are happier with their typing competency because it leads to increased productivity, creative breakthroughs, and early task completion.

Teachers and parents who wish to give students this invaluable skill can do so through readily-available typing software. While it is possible to teach typing without a typing program, using a well-designed software product offers benefits to both instructors and students. A good program provides a structured learning experience for the student which both accelerates the learning process and makes it less challenging and more rewarding, by offering typing practice in the form of typing games as well as a range of tools for further enhancing the keyboarding experience. Teachers will enjoy the fact that the lessons have been prepared for them, leaving them more time to devote to students in the classroom. With top-rated typing software, everyone benefits.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Typing blog.


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