This is finals week here in Paca Land. It doesn't have me as crazy as in past semesters where I would disappear from home for almost the entire week, but it's still keeping me busy with gradings and exam prep and such. This is also heavy editing week for the journal. I need to ship articles off to our web manager by January 1, and to do that I have to get all the papers back to the authors pretty much now so that they have time to review their proofs. So that's how I'm spending most of my time.
Let's see. From that editing, I can tell you about differences in academic style between mainland Chinese students and "Western" students. Essentially, there's a Chinese rhetorical style to essays as there is to American and UK ones, and when Chinese grad students go abroad to study, their essays get marked up as being illogical and poorly written, when in fact they are just being written well according to a different standard. So some profs invented a class to try to teach people how to write essays across cultures.
Wow, it takes about 8 hours per paper, you'd think I'd remember something about the other ones.
Oh, when people chat online in cross-cultural exchanges, they frequently fix their errors before they hit "send". This seems utterly obvious, but a lot of academics have been relying on chat transcripts to study various things, and yet most of the errors are gone before you have a transcript. So it's important to research methodology.
And something about students correcting other students in their language mistakes, again typically across cultures. What were the findings? Hm. If you ask them to do it, they will, but if you don't, they won't. That's one. And apparently Spanish speakers in both Spain and Chile can rather accurately explain to American students some grammar point about their language, while American students basically have no clue how to explain their grammar. They know it, as they know what's right and wrong when they see it, but they can't explain it. This might be due to the fact that many places, such as Spain and Chile, start teaching foreign languages at a young age and go at it for years, while American students usually take a couple years in high school and then wait until college. I also suspect that Spain and Chile might just teach grammar more than Americans do. I went to one of the premier prep schools in the nation and I think we only had an explicit grammar section in maybe two terms out of 12 or 15.
I will be able to tell you something about Japanese learners of English tomorrow. However, the most important thing I care about on that paper is slashing words.
In completely different news, N's mom arrives tomorrow or today for everyone not reading this in the next 32 minutes in Hawaii. She will be staying with us for two weeks and we've spent many, many hours cleaning in preparation. She's not some mean ogre who will come through with a white glove; we just took the opportunity to do some spring cleaning -- in December. This included things like dismantling the computer system and moving a book case in order to get the dust bunnies buried there. In fact, we completely empty every room and clean it and then move everything back. It's only yesterday that all of the furniture was actually in its designated room again.
Apparently, two geckos were also living behind the radio. We like our geckos and leave them alone because they eat bugs and cause little trouble. They still can startle you when you open a cabinet and one goes running off. I remember being bewildered for several weeks at what the heck was making those chirping sounds at night. Geckos. Unfortunately, I managed apparently to pin one when I grabbed the mattress to lift it up and when I moved my hand, because that texture sure didn't feel like mattress, and looked up he was running off without a tail. In fact, his tail was in two pieces and one twitched on the floor for a good two minutes without the rest of the gecko attached. Oops, sorry, gecko buddy. It's good to know that they don't bite even when losing appendages, however.
And that's the news.