Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just an update

Well, yet again, I've done my best to kill this blog by disappearing for over a week. Therefore, despite the fact that it's 1:00 AM, here's a little update.

The semester started up 2.5 weeks ago. So far life is much better without the journal. I might have just as much to do, but it all actually involves linguistics, my actual field. As opposed to copying names and abstracts from one field to another field. I'm teaching my one class, which is going okay. I need to get better at organizing my lectures as I can be haphazard in the way I present stuff. I'm working on it.

The most interesting thing in the class is that I'm attempting to have them all do research projects with me. If they do the minimum, then they are my research assistants; if they actually get into it, then they could be collaborators/co-authors. This research is in lieu (for some reason, I hate that I knew how to spell "lieu") of homework. Research is the homework. Anyway, I've got 24 students, so they've been put into 6 groups. They then selected a project to work on out of 8 choices I gave them. Supposedly, this is what they will be doing. (Remember the class is "children's speech.")

1) Looking at the effect of mysterious characters in stories on memory in 6-8 year-olds who speak English.

2) Same as above except with speakers of ASL, American Sign Language. One of this group is bilingual in ASL and English, so we might be able to pull it off. The question is: how many native ASL-signing children are there on Oahu that we can get access to?

3) A recent study found some difference in how Japanese-speaking children and English-speaking children understand pronouns. So, I ask, what do bilingual Japanese AND English-speaking kids do?

4) In English, you can put focus on a word by stressing it and, for kids and adults, this affects how they interpret the sentence. Korean doesn't do stress like this. Instead, they put the focused word at the beginning of a phrase. With eye tracking, we will try to see if Korean kids know this yet and when.

5) As far as I'm aware, there aren't many diagnostic tests for language impairments until fairly late, like 5 or 6 years old. But there's one study I know of that hints we might be able to look for language difficulties as early as 18-months. I want to work with some of the speech pathology students to see if this can really go anywhere.

6) People group objects into categories such that tabbies and siamese and persians are types of cats; cats, dogs, and cows are furry things; and furry things, slithery things, and fishy things are moving animal things. There's a sort of hierarchy even for children. I am wondering if such a thing exists for actions. Do people think of strolling, moseying, and running as types of walking, while walking, swimming, and skipping are types of bodily motion? Gonna try to find out.

And that's the sort of thing I've been doing. And now it's getting close to 2:00 AM, so I'm going to sleep regardless of how I have ignored the blog. However, you can see me here singing Nat "King" Cole's Unforgettable on video!


fairyhedgehog said...

That research sounds really interesting.

I half wish I was one of your students.

December/Stacia said...

It all sounds fascinating. Especially the bit about tracking the kids' eyes to see if they look for the emphasised word.

Sammy Jankis said...

Uhm, yeah, those are fascinating topics . . . but I would drop your class having to address those topics in a group setting.

Remember Sammy Jankis!

McKoala said...

Paca lives!

Your class sounds interesting, if slightly scary. What do you mean by 'mysterious characters'?

I watched your vid. I am never, ever taking you on at karaoke. For the first part I thought you were miming to the original, it was that good.

writtenwyrdd said...

Interesting research ideas, Paca. Like FHH I half wish I was studying linguistics under you. Your enthusiasm is catching. But I'm too old and lazy to go for another degree at this point, even it it meant moving back to Hawaii.