presentación. comic strips and the pragmatic wastebasket. september 2008

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Eduardo José Varela Bravo. F.I.F.A. Department. Vigo University. Alarming Ects et Alia news have arrived at Headquarters. Junior and Senior hold an emergency video rendez-vous! Comic strips and the pragmatic wastebasket: download your free update! INTRODUCTION

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Presentation for the first ICTL1 Conference. University of Santiago de Compostela, 10-13th September 2008 on creating comic strips to use in an English class.


  • 1. Eduardo Jos Varela Bravo. F.I.F.A. Department. Vigo University. Alarming Ects et Alia news have arrived at Headquarters. Junior and Senior hold an emergency video rendez-vous! Comic strips and the pragmatic wastebasket: download your free update! INTRODUCTION
  • 2. Comic Strips and the Pragmatic Wastebasket: Download your Free Update! ABSTRACT HIGHLIGHTS 1.- What I knew, heard of and read about. The origin of the idea. 1.1.- to discuss structures, vocabulary and expressions (standard and substandard) . 1.2.- linguistic approaches that study how language and visual representation combine to convey a message. 1.3.- Creating ones cartoons to explore language characteristics, to promote participation and interaction and to study some grammar points. PAPER. My idea arises from the need to make my teaching more effective by using the recourses and strategies Ive been using for years and by updating my knowledge in methodology, new linguiitic orientations and in the use of new technologies applied to the teaching and research in Pragmatics and Linguistics. The title I chose for this paper tries to express this complex idea! It goes without saying that this is a serious proposal to present grammatical studies under a new perspective.
  • 3. I wanted to combine my Pragmatic background and experience in class with: 1- The new interest in the pedagogy of language and grammar. 2.-The communicative approaches to the study and learning of English as a foreign language. 3.- An interest in applying creative techniques in which language and visual display combine to acquire a discriminatory knowledge and skill in the use of English in communication that can help students to acquire a proficient performance in that language. 3.- The use of comic strips to promote productive activities in the classroom, to arise curiosity about problems that involve language and communication and that can lead to research work. 4.- The use of humour to improve the atmosphere and the social relations between people in the different courses. [This process led to the composing of three class books using the facilities of the Uvigo-Faitic (Tema Platform), other academic stuff and free software and materials that I took from the web. The Platform is the core of the online sections of each of the courses: storage of documents, distribution list, newsletter, links, forum, course list. Next. Cover of the Tic for English 1. Course 2008-09]
  • 4. ENGLISH 1. CLASS BOOK. 2005-06//2006-07/2007-08 2008-09 FIRST GEAR FIRST
  • 5. 5- The familiarization with the free sites in the web that allow you to draw , send, exchange and publish cartoons both in terms of acquiring skill in the use of the software -also the distribution- and to provide materials for my course blogs and newsletters. 6.- The interest in using this idea to help me transform the language and grammar courses Ive been teaching from the traditional orientation based on the assimilation and correct application of a body of given knowledge to the access of that knowledge by the exertion of the communicative skills and competences that validate that knowledge, in terms of learning, assimilation, application and creation [The grammar courses are, in principle, more reflexive and they need more study materials and more elaboration. However, they are in principle much more suitable for a class structure with a very high percentage of online activities. Cover for English Grammar. Fourth year course.]
  • 6. ENGLISH GRAMMAR CLASSBOOK Course 2006-7// Course 2007-08 Course 2008-09 Uvigo-Ephilology.
  • 7. 7.- The use of the new teaching and researching possibilities provided by the Web 2.0 8.- The combination of actual class activities with online activities that enable the student to organize his/her work and present the evidences and activities of the course in a gradual and organized way. 9.- To adapt the traditional structure of courses to the new regulations that spring from the Bologna process of University reform. It goes without saying that the activity Im describing here is only a minor, even though significant, part in the global structure of the courses in English Language, English Grammar, Pragmatics and so on that I (may) teach in the future. [The fifth year course: English Grammar Seminar (one semester, optional subject) is a course where the debate advanced level- about specific points of language, grammar and communication can be held and where the online facilities can be most rewarding. If pragmatics is the study of language in context then the use of strips and cartoons can be useful and illustrative. The fifth year semester is still in the process of re-design.]
  • 8. 2006-07 Uvigo#Ephilology ENGLISH GRAMMAR SEMINAR CLASSBOOK
  • 9. THEREFORE combining need, necessity, possibility, advisability and my main interest in my teaching and research in English Linguistics: Pragmatics. This means, among other things the need to combine Grammatical Competence and Communicative Competence in English as Second Language, their interdependence, their common characteristics and, of course their defining distinctive features: language system// communicative ability. The quotation Ive always had in mind for many years is. I take it from one of my Fifth Year newsletters. ABOUT COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE. Maybe I have also presupposed that you were acquainted with the term communicative competence as contrasted with grammatical or linguistic competence. Im going to include two quotations today so that you can see easy!- why I consider these concepts important in the seminar and why I proposed a double process top-down, bottom-up in the discussion of examples and in the list of papers.
  • 10. THE COMMUNICATOR. Bulletin of the complex subject English Grammar Seminar UNIVERSITY OF VIGO Course 2007-08 Seventh issue 27th April 2008 Both formal approaches and communicative approaches are based on some common assumptions. Please, visit the course blog: By grammatical competence I mean the cognitive state that encompasses all those aspects of form and meaning and their relation, including underlying structures that enter into that relation, which are proper to the specific subsystem of the human mind that relates representations of form and meaning. A bit misleadingly perhaps, I will continue to call this subsystem the language faculty. Pragmatic competence underlies the ability to use such knowledge along with the conceptual system to achieve certain ends or purposes. It might be that pragmatic competence is characterized by a certain system of constitutive rules represented in the mind, as has been suggested in a number of studies.
  • 11. THE PRAGMATIC WASTEBASKET. MACRO SPEECH ACTS. Again there are empirical assumptions embedded in the conceptual distinction. For example, I assume that it is possible in principle for a person to have full grammatical competence and no pragmatic competence, hence no ability to use a language appropriately, though its syntax and semantics are intact. [Noam Chomsky. 1980. Rules and Representations. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 59] To cut a story short. My interest in pragmatics and communication in teaching English Language and Grammar led me to the personal project of creating comic strips focused on language and communication with the aim not only of creating god atmosphere or exploring the free resources of the net but to integrate them in the structure of courses production and composition and vocabulary work in first year- discussion and comment on language, communication and culture in the superior courses. I will proceed now to describe what I did last year, what I want to do this year, a brief discussion of the positive and negative aspects and some tentative conclusions. Fifth years newsletter.
  • 13. The drawing of strings as a symptom. I see! Sorry to be old fashioned, but part from Rules and Representations could you provide us with some other relevant sources that may justify your approach?
  • 14. I see your point, Prof. Alter Ego. I mentioned productive and cognitive approaches to language teaching, Pragmatics, and new course design based on Skills and Competences. I will provide now some quotations, but keep in mind that I cannot account for all the aspects involved in comic strips, that I use this idea for specific courses I that one of its main aims is to raise questions that may lead to a detailed search and advanced research work. About Methodology, one of the reference books Ive been using during these year is: Brian Tomlison (ed). 2003. Developing Materials for Language Teaching. London, Continuum. One of the books on course design. One creative way of approaching realia, visuals, and audio output is to pass responsibility for providing input to the learners themselves. They may prepare their own photographic displays, videos, sound collages, perhaps as part of a project. The internet is clearly a massively important resource. But only recently has serious thought been given to ways of using it in an integrated manner, and in ways which creatively exploit its potential. Alan Maley, Creative Approaches to Writing materials, 193.
  • 15. I could extend to discussions about all the productive language skills and the role of context and communication in other sections of the same work, in many others, an also in many internet sites and forums without being exhaustive. Id like to finish this first mention with a comment on grammar teaching: Jeff Stranks, Materials for the teaching of English Grammar quotes M. Lewis 1993: Awareness raising is a term which has recently acquired currency in language teaching terminology. The unifying feature behind all these commentators is the assertion that it is the students ability to observe accurately and perceive similarity and difference within target language data Which is most likely to aid the acquisition of the grammatical system. Within this theoretical framework grammar as a receptive skill has an important role to play.
  • 16. I could propose this activity: Class activity: Do a search under the heading: Teaching English (Grammar) with (by means, using) comic strips. You will find there: 1.- books.- 2.- teaching blogs. 3.- comments and surveys on this possibility. 4.- some methods 5.- information about sites 6.- some course and class teaching plans. However, in most cases the comments are oriented to the use of comics to talk about language difficulties. They may be either original or from the big names, but not many emphasize production. Serious joke.
  • 17. I need to add three more quotations to justify my approach in terms of: Pragmatics and Grammar, Language structure: new teaching methods and goals (Etc, ects, ects. Ects.) Please, keep always in mind, that this is the beginning of the project and that the strips in my curses can occupy a significant (innovative, creative) but restricted place in the overall course structure! 3 more books from the shelves in my office: Delia Chiaro. 1992. The Language of jokes. London & New York, Routledge, 4 Francisco Yus Ramos. 1997. La interpretacin y la imagen de masas. Diputacin provincial de Alicante 1997. Anderson and Krathwohl. 2001. Revised taxonomy of the cognitive domain http: //www.learningand teachinginfo/learning/bloomtax.htm.
  • 18. Finally, a word of caution. I see no possibility at the moment of producing spontaneous errors in a way that would allow experimental control. Authentic data which allow legitimate constructions have to be collected where they happen to be observed.Mandred Bierswich, Linguistics and language error, 600 in Anne Cutler (ed). 1982. Slips of the tongue and Language Production. Berlin, New York, Amsterdam, Mouton. Please, visit: www. www. www. Free sites Ive used for this paper. My approach lies on an uncontested fact (-please, qualify)-, there is a language, or contextual anomaly (not necessarily a mistake) that triggers a potentially comic effect that can be accounted for, at least partially, in verbal terms. Im interested in those anomalies or mismatches in terms of utility for my classes on language, grammar and pragmatics, not in the quality of the joke, the kind of effect or message searched for, the possible aesthetic merit and so on. Im interested in those features to use them productively. Discrimination: if mistakes, malapropisms, misspelings and so on to find out why they are wrong. In case of acceptable structures to examine what characteristic may give raise to a possible joke or humorous story. VERBAL COMPONENT OF JOKES, LANGUAGE AND CONTEXT, PRAGMATICS.
  • 19. 1.- Delia Chiaro. Word play the use of language with intent to amuse, is, of course, only one of numerous ways of provoking laughter. Although at first sight it may appear to be convenient to detach it from non-verbal stimuli. It may appear to be an impossible task due to the fact that word play is inextricably linked to circumstances which belong to the world which exists beyond words. 4 THEREFORE: We will concentrate in the language of the jokes restricting our scope to account for the linguistic features and draw conclusions with respect to correct and incorrect use. 2.- Yus Ramos. En resumen, los supuestos comunicativos deben tener en cuenta los siguientes factores: (1) si la comunicacin se establece entre el dibujante y el lector sin mediacin de los personajes (comunicacin que denominaremos dialogica) o si tiene lugar entre los personajes del cmic (comunicacin que llamaremos diegtica); 2) si el mensaje proporcionado se comunica mediante un enunciado verbal o mediante un comportamiento no verbal; 3) si el mensaje responde a una intencin del dibujante en la comunicacin con el lector, del personaje en la comunicacin con otro personaje) o es consecuencia de alguna transmisin accidental (no deliberada) de informacin; y (4) si el mensaje es interpretado correctamente por el destinatario (sea ste el lector o bien otro personaje)..
  • 20. THEREFORE: 1). We will use Yus Ramos model to account for the study of comics in our language and grammar class constraining ourselves to the language characteristics of the strip in terms of structure and pragmatics so that we can exploit the examples to our interest. This means that we will not go into the intepretative process, nor will we study effect, reception and so on. 2). In terms of production, the verbal study has to cover all the different levels, but the priority may well rest in the diegetic level. We create these strips with a particular specialised intentionality different from the standard one. Were interested in the language characteristics in terms of: 1.- Spelling and pronunciation. 2.- Lexicon. 3.- Grammatical pattern. 4.- Meaning: ambiguity, double meaning, metaphorical use, metonymical cognitive mechanism. 5.- Meaning in context: Pragmatics. 6.- Social, political, cultural values. That is, an entire grammar syllabus!
  • 21. . AND WITH RESPECT TO THE NEW BOLOGNESE DEMANDS- Recordar Comprender Aplicar Analizar Evaluar Crear TAXONOMA DE BLOOM. Revisada segn Aderson and Krathwohl. 2001. Jos Vicente Novegil Souto. Universidade de Vigo. Encuentros sobre calidad en la educacin superior 2008. Vigo 14-15 de julio 2008. Production Reception Top Down One specific, activity to count as practice on production of examples and discussion with respect to the grammar rules in term of language and communication in the course structure.
  • 22. DONE! 1.- Introduction and Goals. 2.- Ideas and main references in the project. TO DO! 3.- Examples and application. 4.- Main conclusions 5.- References. OCCAMS RAZOR! YEAR 2007-08. I started to draw diagrams, either rudimentary sketches or using the free sites in a first and tentative mixed structure for my courses in which I explored the possibilities of combining the online resources provided by the University of Vigo, the classes on campus and my personal initiative. It was an exciting an hard process in which I had to map the traditional courses and approaches onto the new designs and rules! The sketches and strips appeared: 1.- In the course newsletter I sent the students every two weeks or so providing a summary of the main points in class, some further comment ad some recommendations. 2.- In the course blog. All my courses have now their own blog. All of them connected and blooming!
  • 23. 2.- My personal project. ABSTRACT HIGHLIGHTS 2. 2.1.- Description of the project: 2.1.1.-I distributed the cartoons to my students on line 2.1.2.- I need to improve its functionality. 2.1.3.- Advantages and disadvantages: false friends, collocations, confusion in the pronunciation and spelling of words, ambiguous structures, double meaning, common grammatical mistakes and terminological issues..They relate language to the world of ideas. They need to be integrated in the course structure. The students seemed to welcome the initiative in terms of novelty, use of computers, possibility of discussion, new approaches and, especially the discriminatory ability I was pursuing: the need to accommodate, language and expression to be successful in communication. Also the negative, if they failed in their communicative intentionality and a ludicrous effect appears they should not feel embarrassed or intimidated. They must get used to overcome the difficulty and learn through their mistakes. However, of course, the main priorities remain. They need to be able to be competent in terms of communication, knowledge and use of the language structures.
  • 24. ABOUT THIS YEAR. Id like to perfect what I did last year in terms: 1.- Of use and knowledge of the software and sites. 2.- Of integration, using the cartoon to illustrate some points in the syllabus. 3.- Of motivating the students to participate and get hooked in the language strip experience. 4.- Of proposing an online activity to be supervised and to be used as evidence in the course evaluations. 5.- Of enticing the students to consider that Pragmatics and strips can provide very interesting and rewarding research topics. 6.- Of exploiting the educational, social and professional possibilities of the Web 2.0 7.- Of keeping on experimenting on new course design according to Bologna. I must acknowledge the help and patience of my colleagues in the Faitic Tema Platform and the training provided by the University of Vigo by means of specialised literature, training courses and congresses.
  • 25. 4 examples: 1.- Pronunciation and vocabulary. (Mine) 2.- Grammar rule . (Mine) 3.- Grammar rule. (Not mine) 4.- Grammar and communication. Mine. 4.1.4.- Possible integration as an activity. 4.1.1.- On what occasion? Possible questions: 4.1.2.- What for? 4.1.3- Main trigger?
  • 26. Occasion. Last years graduation ceremony. Published in 1st year Newsletter. What for. links. To warn the students about pronunciation, misunderstandings and possible comic effects. Main trigger. Pronunciation. Item of vocabulary. Context (party). Possible integration as an activity. E.1. Practice on misunderstandings produced by vocabulary and pronunciation. E.G. Semantic interpretation of lexical items in the string. E.G.S. Implied meaning. Intentionality. Acceptability.
  • 27. Hot moment about grammatical analysis and patterned behaviour. A little bit before the exam week. No special occasion. Combination of lexical items and sentence structure in the discussion of the negative in terms of Discourse types, acceptable collocations and meaning! Lexical choice and negative on two levels clausal and lexical (leaving aside the problem of the type of sentence. E.1.- Funny situations, contradictions and misunderstandings. E.G. Lexical meaning. Scope of negation. Words wit negative meaning. E.G.S. Pragmasytilistics: marked, heavy structures and sylistic effect.
  • 28. Specialized seminar on reanalysis (one topic: double modals) delivered by Prof. Wim van der Wurff (University of Newcastle upon Tyne) in Vigo Grammar rules. Standard and Substandard. Structure and Meaning. Acceptability. E.1.- Slang, colloquial expressions and so on. E.G.- The Semantics of the modals. Language processing. Intelligibility. E.G.S.- Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis: Manner Maxim. Quantity Maxim.
  • 29. Taken from my web free service when writing this paper. Not mine Productive recourse potentially humoristic: compounding. Conventional trigger but relating two main clauses that may produce surprise or raise humour. Same activity on different level, exploring the possibilities of relating two unexpected thoughts, or events, or propositions, or expectations or a context that can potentially be used humorously.
  • 30. 3.- This project as an exercise on course redesign according to Bologna 2.0! 3.1.- Methodology must be adapted to combine the work in class with the resources provided by the online methods. 3.2.-Strip design links the study of English with the use of creative software and the modern Web 2.0 approaches. 3.3.- It also hints at the need to redesign university courses keeping the Bologna process in mind. The activity Ive discussed here must be seen in the context of a gradual change in the structure, methods and goals at University. The use of the new technology, the flexibility provided by the online methods and a the new roles of teachers and students should contribute to improve the learning environment. Thisis very important in language courses. A creative process such as the familiarization with strips must be clearly defined in realistic terms and always keeping in mind the goals and objectives of the different courses.
  • 31. TO SUM UP? In this paper I made some considerations about the use of comic strips in courses on English Language and Linguistics that went beyond, not only the anecdote or the need to fill some spare time between activities, but also beyond the widespread practice of using them to prompt debates, discuss language difficulties and pay attention to some cultural aspects. My intention is explore the linguistic basis of a joke in a cartoon or strip in a productive sense using the recourses provided by the free sites available in Internet, so that a clearcutand well defined activity can be proposed to explore the role of laguage in communication from the point of view of the exceptionality that can provoke not only a mistake or ambiguous use but a regular paradigm in certain cases. In this way, language problems are seen not only from the point
  • 32. Of view of reception, but also of creation. This activity can help the students in perfecting the specific skills and activities of each of the courses of the degree together with a global communicative ability and accesory transversal and aleatory- competences that are acquired in the familirization with the tecniques (poetics?) and software used to draw these free strips. In principle, this kind of activity would encourage the students initiative and participation in the courses and would help to transform the traditional perspective of education based on acquiring an assimilating a body of knowledge transmitted by each of the course teachers. I have included some references to base my project on properly linguistic, pragmatic, methodological terms. I have also mentioned that more bibliographical work is always welcome but that here I was only proposing a limited initiative in a 20 minutes paper. Finally, being an online recourse, the relevance of the new trends in online courses that spring from the Web 2.0 model of creating, sharing and transmitting knowledge and inititiatives and the ideas on University teaching structure and design that are part of the Bologna process hace been duly included.
  • 33. Some practical activities have been pre-designed as an illustration to try to defend that this project was neither showing how to use some software to draw cartoons nor showing a fancy illustration and just talk, something, by the way, that is always welcome. The sites and the main references are included in the final slide. I include there one internet address and the address of my course blogs if somebody is interested in knowing what I have done since last year. The material designed and stored in the Faitic Tema Platform is accessible only either as responsible of as participant of a course, as it should be in an official, well organised course.
  • 34. 1.- Theoretical works. - Anderson and Krathwohl. 2001. Revised taxonomy of the cognitive domain http: //www.learningand teachinginfo/learning/bloomtax.htm. En Jos Vicente Novegil Souto. Universidade de Vigo. Encuentros sobre calidad en la educacin superior 2008. Vigo 14-15 de julio 2008. - Delia Chiaro. 1992. The Language of jokes. London & New York, Routledge, - Anne Cutler (ed). 1982. Slips of the tongue and Language Production. Berlin, New York, Amsterdam, Mouton. -Francisco Yus Ramos. 1997. La interpretacin y la imagen de masas. Diputacin provincial de Alicante. 2.- My course blogs and newletters. http://
  • 35. 3.- The four sites Ive used here. ic.swf 4- The main grammars in my classes when dealing with examples. -Ronald Carter and Michael Mc Carthy. 2006. Cambridge Grammar of English. Cambridge University Press. -- Sidney Greenbaum and Randolph Quirk.1990. A Students Grammar of the English Language. London, Longman. -John Sinclair (ed.). 1990. English Grammar. London & Glasgow, Collins. - Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum. 2005. A students introduction to English Grammar. Cambridge University Press.
  • 36. 5.- Some internet examples on cartoons and English Teaching. g_comic_strips.html?cat=4 =4 strips comics.htm,9171,766794,00.html p Tools/
  • 37. Eduardo Jos Varela Bravo. Dept. Filololoxa Inglesa, Francesa e Alem Universidade de Vigo 01092008.