Entries Tagged as 'Technology'

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Spelling Incorrectly Hurts Online Sales

If you have hired, or if you are, a content manager or editor whose native language is not English, please read this report from Search Engine Watch.  The report spells out how misspellings can hurt online sales, stating that it’s not important if the author isn’t concerned with the spelling.  What really matters is the website visitor’s opinion.  Specifically alarming is is the fact that your visitors will equate good spelling and grammar with legitimacy.

Accurate spelling and good grammar are equated with legitimacy, if not consciously then subconsciously. Some of us may be more aware of this sentiment when it is expressed in the negative: Bad spelling and bad grammar are cause for suspicion. For example, what’s the first clue a piece of email from a stranger is a scam? Many people would say it’s the bad spelling and grammar.

The article is also helpful by providing tips for avoiding such costly mistakes.

  1. Don’t rely on spell checkers. The above heading passes a spell check with flying colors. Spell checkers can be a big help, especially those that flag errors as you type, but they just don’t have the human intelligence required to know which words you should be using.
  2. Use multiple human editors. I don’t know any serious writers who believe they can reliably copy edit their own work. As the writer you tend to see what you think you wrote, not what characters ended up on the page. In a pinch, “multiple human editors” can mean the person writing the copy and one other person, but three sets of eyes are better than two.
  3. Make sure your graphics people use the spellchecker in Photoshop for any images that include words. They need to use it before rasterizing the text layer. Editing typos in flattened image files is a real pain so check before you save to JPEG, GIF, or PNG.

If you are an ESL student, you should know what your instructors’ goals are when grading.  Some might focus more on content rather than on accuracy.  If  your instructor looks more at content and less on grammatical accuracy, ask them what areas you can improve.  There is always room for improvement whether it is working on native English phrasing, choosing the right diction to present the intended meaning, or using the most appropriate verb tense.

Blog Updates

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As always, thank you for visiting!

No Laughing Matter

Oxford English Dictionary has decided to conserve LOL and OMG in its 2011 edition.  The expressions depict not only our recent use of concise communication, but also demonstrate our tech savvy. Mark Brown from Wired writes of other terms:

There’s also dot-bomb, used to describe web concepts that fizzle out and die. That one derives from the soaring, stock-market dot-com bubble of the late ’90s, and the eventual bubble burst in the early 2000s. Ego-surfing, another new addition, means searching for your own name online.

Do you think these terms are worth saving?  Do they describe real English, or have they stripped the language of its academic and professional integrity?


Gaming towards a better world

I didn’t believe that gaming could make a better world, either, that is, until I watched this TED presentation by Jane McGonigal.  She can explain how teaching the skills necessary for an “epic win” in gaming, successful social strategy, and achievement in science and technology lead to cohesion of our common goals and solutions of our world’s biggest problems so much better than I can.  So watch…

For a while, it seemed possible.  In fact, I still love this presentation and have listened to it several times.  I enjoy her reference to “+1 intelligence” (the relationship between actual level and potential) that occurs frequently in games, seldom in real life, and what we always try to get our students to meet.

Shortly after watching this video and geared up with a dose of “urgent optimism”,  I glimpsed (in this South Park clip) the reality of getting to where we need to be from where we are today.

So the first step to creating a sustainable future through gaming is…?  I’ve always been a big fan of goal setting…maybe these can become your goals:

  • define what skills you’re learning by gaming
  • meet 3 new people you can network with during this session
  • accept challenges from other gaming characters
  • trust others

Jane McGonigal’s idea doesn’t sound impossible, now, does it?  Isn’t this what we are trying to achieve in our classrooms anyway?

Twitter Tags for the South Eastern US Region

If you’re looking for people in your region to connect with on Twitter, here is a list of local hash tags for the south eastern region of the US.  As you tweet, add the pound sign (#) and a tag below, and others who are in that region will read your message.

Virginia – #va
Richmond – #rva
Washington – #dc
Northern Virginia – #nova
Hampton Roads – #hrva
Southwest Virginia – #swva
North Carolina – #nc
Charlotte – #clt
Raleigh – #raleigh
South Carolina – #sc
Charleston – #chs
Upstate – #upstate
Lowcountry – #lowcountry
Georgia – #ga
Atlanta – #atl
Florida – #fl
Tampa – #tampa
Miami – #miami

If you have one that I don’t, let me know and I’ll add it.

Speech to Speech Translator

Isn’t one of the biggest problems in the world today that we just can’t seem to be on the same page, or that through miscommunication, we constantly mistake the others’ intent or meaning?  That’s one of the reasons I’m so proud to be in a field that helps people bridge the gap between what they say and how it is understood by others. As an ESL teacher, I wonder how Google’s attempts at a speech to speech translator will improve upon that?

Google plans to make its Babel Fish a lot like a human translator; the software would analyze chunks of speech, and translate them in their entirety rather than translating word for word. Franz Och, Google’s head of translation services, claims the technology could go live in a couple of years. “Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that’s what we’re working on. If you look at the progress in machine translation and corresponding advances in voice recognition, there has been huge progress recently,” he says.

Anyone who’s used Google Translate knows that translations aren’t (and probably never will be) perfect, but they’re very helpful when you can’t understand a word of some foreign language. However, Google’s voice recognition also has issues of its own, and I fear that these two combined would produce a very high amount of errors. The Times also mentions the issue of different accents, a problem that Google plans to solve by making the software gradually learn the speaking habits of the phone’s owner.

Whether for business, career, or friendship, are there any benefits to NOT learning the basics of the language of your communication partners?  Any ESL teacher can tell you that it’s not necessary to learn other languages to teach English, but the advantages of doing it anyway are indisputable.  You can reach more people, teach more diversified groups, understand their languages’ syntactic patterns to better assist them with those in English, and have better interpersonal relationships.

I’m not afraid of the obsolescence of the field of TESOL;  any translation tool will be additive…like calculators in math or spell check in Word.  But just as I tell students who rely on spell check yet continue to turn in papers with “to” instead of “too”, I will also advise that using technology is grand, but it can’t (and shouldn’t) replace the good old fashioned noodle to solve the world’s problems.

Sharing Exams Online and Critical Thinking Skills

Dan Macsai wrote an article on www.businessweek.com about the increase and impact of students sharing exams online.  Here’s an excerpt:

Having easy access to quizzes and notes could also reward laziness, says Nichole Mikko-Causby, a senior at the University of Georgia. “The whole trend seems to be more about getting the grade than improving critical thinking skills,” she says, noting that she’s visited Course Hero but never used it. “It kind of cheapens my degree.”

If students spent the time it took to upload a test or to find the one they needed online on something more productive such as meeting in study groups, reviewing their class notes, or reading, wouldn’t their grades improve?

IM, Text and Twitter Abbreviations

Click here for an activity to finally decipher those symbols and learn to use the IM, text and twitter abbreviations that you come across daily!

I’m not supporting the practice of misspelling, but if it’s crucial to your job for you to deliver a smooth message, there is a time and a place for these symbols.

How Twitter Helps Writers

Dan Santow has a good point, which is to narrow down your two to three word phrases to one word.  On Twitter, you only have 140 characters to say what you want.  A lot of writers tend to add words to embellish their writing which, in the wrong context, can actually be a distraction from the topic.  Twitter forces you to reconsider how you phrase what you want to say.  It also requires more thought about including only the information that is necessary to make your point.

Here’s Dan’s list of phrases that can be (and sometimes should be) substituted with just one word.