Summary of Learning

As I was working on my Summary of Learning, I realized that I never experienced such growth in the course of one class. I am very thankful to Alec for creating such an amazing, rich, user friendly, supportive environment where I was able to experiment with technology while being out of my comfort zone.

At the end of my very first Ed Tech class, EC& I 834, I feel emotional and also very excited for my upcoming classes. I am looking forward to the next step of this journey, believing that the first one is always the hardest.

Thank you so much for all your help and support!

See you again!

Looking back at the past three months, I don’t even recognize myself. I am embarrassed to say that I was only familiar with Facebook, Reading A-Z online program, Flipgrid, Adobe Spark and Power Point. I am very thankful to Alec and all of you for being so patient with me and helping me this semester to learn and grow. I cannot find words to describe how much I appreciate you all!

It was probably one of the hardest course I have ever taken in my life, since it was such a foreign world to me. I was nervous and still am about every single assignment. When they are done, they look so short, but the amount of thought and work goes in them is hard to describe. I was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone, and I am thankful for that. The number one reason me applying for the Master’s Certificate Program in Educational Technology was to overcome my fear. I know I am in for an unbelievable journey.

So, if we ever question the importance of technology in education, I think it is a MUST! I don’t want my students not to be able to create a project let it be a presentation, or a movie, or even interact with people from around the world. I don’t want my students to struggle when posting their thoughts online. As a teacher, many of my students not having support in this area at home, I feel it is my job to help them become digital citizens. 

And the big question is “When should we start this process?” I feel it is like learning a foreign language. The earlier technology is being introduced in kids’ lives, the easier they learn without seeing it as an obstacle. Working with English as Additional Language (EAL) students, who come from different parts of the world, I feel it is crucial to be familiar with technology, online- and blended learning as well. Through technology they can share their world, that makes learning more engaging. It is also the key to reaching the students while away for months during a school year for various reasons, such as sick relatives, death in the family, or simply visiting after many years. When creating my blended course made up of flipped lessons, I realized the benefits of it. The students who are in the city, can become familiar with the content at their own pace, having the opportunity to listen to a lesson as many times as needed, using the face to face instruction time for interaction. For my traveling students, it would be a wonderful way to have access to the content and study at their own pace without having to worry about the time difference. For my LMS, I chose Scholantis, so my students could find all the materials in one spot, that they can access from all over the world. This would also give us the option to stay connected and provide additional support.

During this semester I also learnt from Kristina about the effectiveness of Seesaw, and I would like to give this soft LMS a try in the future. I think Scholantis would be too overwhelming for my younger students. I would like to find a tool that is accessible for most of my students without stressing them out.

Before taking EC&I 834, I would have never thought that an online course can be so cool. I absolutely loved the content and the way it was delivered. Having the breakout sessions, class discussions and peer reviews, were great opportunities for us to connect, interact, share our thoughts and support each other. I think this way of interaction and socialization need to be taught from a very young age. I found Colette’s idea very useful, when providing peer feedback, suggesting students to focus on the 3Cs and a Q (compliment, comment, connect, question). I think this could be implemented at a very early age to help our students on their journey to becoming true digital citizens.

Thank you!

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Summary of course prototype

The course prototype I created with a small grade four English as an Additional Language (EAL) group in my mind, is focusing on adjectives. In order to have easier access, I organized and posted all the elements in Scholantis , under “Assignments”. This will give the students an opportunity to become familiar with using the LMS Regina Catholic Schools utilize. Creating the Ten-module course prototype was a wonderful learning experience, giving me a chance to become familiar with a variety of online learning tools, such as Sway, Mentimeter, Edpuzzle, Kahoot, Youtube, Flipgrid, and Screencastify. I am looking forward to further develop the other eight modules of my blended course and implement them. I think that these flipped lessons will be beneficial for a number of reasons, such as: encouraging students to learn more about technology, giving them a chance to learn at their own pace and providing more time for student-student and student-teacher interaction, as well as helping students learn while away in their countries of origin.

Course walk through  provides a short overview of my Scholantis site including all the elements. After having to redo the recording several times and dealing with a huge range of emotions …

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… I can definitely see the benefits of students’ recording themselves, especially if they are not native speakers.

Thank you for all your ideas and positive feedback and a special thank you to my reviewers for the amazing ideas! I couldn’t have done it without you!

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Forms of student/student-instructor interactions implemented in my course prototype

The ten-module unit plan I developed is a blended learning course including both, flipped lessons and face-to-face instruction. I chose asynchronous format for this course to better address the needs of the grade 4 English as an Additional Language (EAL) students giving them the opportunity to listen to the course as many times as needed, with the focus of reaching students who are away from the classroom for a longer period of time. By having Scholantis as the Learning Management System (LMS), students become not only familiar with the learning platform used by the Regina Catholic School Division, but they also have easy access from all over the world using their Office 365 accounts. The advantage of the flipped format of the course is that it gives students the opportunity to listen to instructional videos through the Scholantis Learning Management System (LMS) before class, providing more time for group work and addressing questions.

In my first module on adjectives, I implemented the three key phases of knowledge construction of the Online Collaborative Learning (OCL) developed by Harasim (2012). As part of the flipped lesson, students become familiar with the content while listening to a short lesson on adjectives. This lesson includes pictures, written sentences and audio recording so it is easier for the EAL students to follow, leading to better understanding. After the students listen to the recorded lesson at their own pace, and practice using descriptive words related to the short video on Hawai’i pollution, they review the content in class with the help of Mentimeter. After watching a motivational video, students brainstorm adjectives that describe the main characters from the short film using Mentimeter, organize their ideas through student-teacher and student-student interaction by sharing their answers, and synthesize the new information by creating and recording five sentences in Flipgrid. During this class, the role of the teacher is to focus on scaffolding the students through their learning process by providing the appropriate resources, activities, and guidance if needed. Students can build knowledge through being active and engaged participants (Harasim, 2012).

Throughout the unit, as part of the face-to-face lessons, students will practice working as a group while playing various games, such as memory games, matching, error correction, etc. Students will have assigned partners in Flipgrid, whom they will provide positive feedback focusing on the 3Cs and a Q. This is an effective way to teach positive peer interaction while learning from each other.

In order to meet all students’ needs, I incorporated various assessment strategies. The formative assessment will include anecdotal records on student participation and assignments, quizzes on Mentimeter and Kahoot. As part of the summative assessment, instead of giving the students a quiz, they will create a culminating project to show their understanding of the material in the form of an assignment. The students will pick a family picture that they will describe by forming and recording eight sentences using adjectives in the correct order as well as regular and irregular forms of comparative and superlative adjectives. They will examine a sample in class as part of student-teacher interaction. Students can use the example given to create their own description using Flipgrid. I will also provide and link the assessment rubrics to the module. With the help of the online aspect of learning through flipped lessons, I am focusing on providing my students with a more flexible model of delivery in order to meet their needs in a digital age (Harasim, 2012).

Response to feedback

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my assignment and providing me with positive feedback and great suggestions! I would like to apologize that accessing my work created some difficulty. The school server went down on that weekend and nothing was accessible. Luckily, I had everything saved on my computer and I was able to send them as attachments. One thing I learnt in the past is that technology is wonderful, but you always have to have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. I did make some changes in the meantime and my Scholantis site should be easier to access next time.

The other issue was caused by Mentimeter.com. Interestingly when I signed up, I was able to create a five-question assignment, but when I was trying to access it, it did not let me. So, I ended up redoing the assignment, and this time I was only allowed to put in two questions, since I am a non-paying member. This time it worked but it had a different code. I liked Mentimeter.com, but I also see myself using it only if I can afford to be a paying member. 

I would also like to clarify the age group I am targeting. This unit is planned for ten-year old students, attending grade 4. I think this unit would be way too complex for eight-year old students. I don’t think that the curriculum for younger grades requires students to have such thorough knowledge of adjectives.

I think having an introductory module teaching the students about the functionality of Scholantis is a great idea. I was actually thinking of teaching the students at the beginning of the school year how to use Scholantis, Mentimeter, Edpuzzle, and Flipgrid before any content is introduced. I think it is very important for them to become familiar with these terms and tools first and learn how to use them, otherwise this unit would be an overwhelming and stressful experience.

I really like the suggestion of adding a You tube video. I already found one that I like, and I think it will fit perfectly in my next module. The reason I created the Sway lesson, was to practice making content from scratch.

Since this is a flipped-lesson, the first part was intended to be completed at home. The students had a short content video (Sway) to listen to followed by assessment where they had to listen to the Hawai’i Pollution video and add descriptive words when the question marks pop up. The students’ answers are recorded in edpuzzle. I could give them feedback in both edpuzzle or Scholantis. Scholantis shows the students when an assignment is due, it shows if it was turned in or not, and if it was assessed or not. There is also opportunity to comment on students’ work and provide feedback.

The second part of the lesson was intended to be the face-to-face lesson, where as part of teacher-student interaction, we review the role of adjectives. The two-question quiz developed in Mentimeter.com would show the teacher if they can identify the adjectives in a sentence. The second assignment is focusing on the students’ ability to come up with descriptive words of the man and mom & girl from the motivational video. For example, the vocabulary words I was looking for to describe the man are: caring, helpful, kind, generous, giving, loving, happy, believer, strong, tall, short, brown hair, brown eyes. I like the idea of providing students with a list of adjectives or a link to a web site with supporting material. This would be helpful in case they are struggling with descriptive words and even for vocabulary building.

The reason I picked this activity to be completed in the classroom, so as part of teacher-student interaction we can brainstorm and record the adjectives on the board, that the students can use later on when creating and recording their short summary of the video in Flipgrid. The latter would be assessed as well, where I look at correct use of adjectives in content. 

Throughout the first module there are a number of little assignments that I would use as part of my anecdotal record to have a better picture of student understanding and provide continuous feedback when needed.

Thank you! 🙂

University of People

Reading my peers’ blogs, I was surprised that I was not the only one having a hard time finding the right topic for this week’s blog. I am still not sure if I found the right one, but I found something that raised my interest and made me do some research.

Feeling lost, I typed in TED talk – online learning and I came across a 2014 presentation done by Shai Reshef, founder of an online university, named University of People.

What I liked about this TED talk was that it pointed out the benefits of online learning being a lot more affordable, and accessible. To make it accessible to students who don’t have broadband, this university created a low-tech online program using open-source. Students can access the text-based materials and respond to them asynchronously. There are also optional video lectures and links to online videos. The benefit of this online program is that students can study at their own pace completing an assessment at the end of each week. There is also a peer-to-peer system included, where they provide each other with feedback. Students view this as a great support system, with the opportunity to learn from each other. The university also assigns students to a personal adviser to help them be successful. Teachers can be reached through email and having only 20 students per class makes it possible to provide individual support.

After reading a few reviews and articles about the university, I came across a number of pros and cons: https://www.reddit.com/r/UoPeople/comments/8pxcfp/questions_about_studying_at_the_university/  The first issue that was brought up was that this university has national and not regional accreditation which can cause problems later on when looking for jobs. Another major con was that this university is advertised as a tuition-free university, but there is registration fee and assessment fee that students pay before taking their exams. The advantages of this fairly small online university are that they offer three undergrad and a master’s program taught by professors from different universities, who have expertise in teaching university level classes. Having the opportunity to access this program from anywhere in the world while studying in English is also a major benefit, with English becoming lingua franca.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find information if the credits can be transferred and how a degree from the University of People is viewed by employers. Since there is no demo class, I guess one has to give this program a try to see if they like it or not. 

I don’t know how prestigious this online university is and it is not my job to decide, but going back in time, in the small town in Eastern Europe, having an online option for further studies in English would have steered my life in a different direction. After graduating from high school, I ended up going to a renowned university in the capital city and passing the entrance exam, I was able to study for free, meaning there was no tuition. But this university life was far from being free. The special library passes, the materials, and living in a different city far from family made it both financially and emotionally draining. Experiencing different ways of teaching and learning, I would have preferred online courses, with the possibility to listen to the material several times if needed, to be able to acquire the material more profoundly from the comfort of my home. But the real surprise was when I realized that my degree from this prestigious, accredited university was not accepted in Canada and my four years in education program needed an extra three and a half years of full time studying in my new country in order to be able to teach.

What I found out over the years while moving from one country to another is that transferring credits can be tricky. Since studying takes a lot of effort, I feel one should always try to find the right fit. Both deciding on a face-to-face or online course/program can be overwhelming. Taking the time to do research to find the most valuable courses for ourselves is crucial. At the end of the day it all comes down to one’s needs when considering further studies.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Khan Academy

I decided to take a closer look at Khan Academy, since under Arts and Humanities there is a Grammar course with six units, one of them on adjectives, the topic I chose for my blended course. I found the site quite easy to navigate and the lessons engaging. 

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/grammar/parts-of-speech-the-modifier/modal/v/intro-to-adjectives-v1

The content covered in the unit entitled “The modifier” is well developed and detailed with clear explanation. The unit includes lessons on articles, adjectives and adverbs. As an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher, I would probably structure the unit a little differently, teaching the skills in smaller steps. Teaching the articles, adjectives and adverbs separately, before I compare and contrast adjectives and adverbs would help avoid any possible confusion. Pre-teaching might be necessary since I found the lessons be at a higher level. I would probably add more modules focusing on adjectives, their synonyms and antonyms, to help my students build vocabulary skills in order to express themselves easily. 

The unit itself consists of engaging lessons representing the content through text, sound, still pictures and moving images. The text of the lessons is short and to the point. I particularly liked the teaching method chosen, giving the sensation of looking at a board, just like in a classroom. This is very helpful especially if we are teaching EAL students, since the learner can follow the lesson a lot easier when they hear it and see the information written down. This is a great tool to develop reading and listening skills at the same time. I also think that neat printing is crucial especially when teaching students who are new to the language. Incorporating typed up text can help avoid misunderstanding. The drawings and interesting stories make it easier for students to understand and remember the content covered, enabling them to use both eyes and ears in conjunction (Bates). The use of two different colours when explaining also helps in directing the listeners’ attention. The fact that the learners have the ability to stop and start the recorded audio, it enables them to master content, improve pronunciation, and listening skills. It also supports students with low literacy skills. 

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/grammar/parts-of-speech-the-modifier/modal/v/adjective-order

I liked that Khan Academy made the lessons more effective by including subtitles and transcript to every lesson. I think the auto-translate option is fantastic for the students with limited English level of proficiency, having the option to translate the subtitles for a better understanding. Listening to the Hungarian and Romanian translations, I found the accuracy level quite high. The added transcript makes the lessons accessible even to people with hearing disability.

The style of the lessons was quite catchy. I also found the length of the lessons very appropriate, ranging between 2-7 minutes, depending on the content covered. Every mini lesson is followed by a practice exercise where students can apply what they have comprehended. With the help of immediate feedback, students can easily reach mastery. The 16-20 minutes long unit test at the end assesses the ten skills covered by the unit. The detailed skill report provides the teacher with an accurate picture of the students’ understanding that is useful in order to support the students in the areas they are facing difficulties. The assessment is lacking in composed textual response though.

Although I found the modules effective and enjoyable, I think EAL students would benefit from short videos as well, that have a richer medium providing the opportunity to link the use of modifiers to our everyday lives. On the other hand, according to Bates, creating an audio clip has its advantages, requiring far less bandwidths than video, making the downloads quicker, and can be combined with text. 

I think that Khan Academy’s freely available units can be very helpful for teachers who lack experience and/or time to develop high quality educational videos. The lessons can be posted directly into Google Classroom, Facebook, Twitter, and Email. There is also the option for teachers to create their own classroom of 24 students, with a ready to download parent permission form for students under 13. Unfortunately, the letter of permission is translated only into 9 languages. Having EAL families with limited English it would be beneficial to have the option to auto-translate the letter in various languages.

Course Profile: The colourful world of adjectives

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/50191609@N00/43125632014/”>Adam Bruderer</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

Target Student Population

The target student population for this course is a group of six, grade four English as an Additional Language (EAL) students at the age of 10. These students are at an A2.2 CFR level.

Course Timeline

The course is designed to run over a six-week period of time. It can be adjusted by the teacher depending on student needs.

Demographics

The lessons will be delivered at a Regina Catholic Community School, where most newcomer students have little or no experience with blended-, or online learning, depending on the length of time they have been living in Canada for. Some students have little access to digital devices and Wi-Fi at home. The students have access to shared devices in the classroom, that can be booked by the classroom teacher through a centralized booking program. For students who have limited access to technology, there will be suggestions for possible accomodations.

Course Format

The course on Adjectives is designed for blended learning in order to provide support to the students when accessing and engaging in an online space. In order to better assist the students to connect with the content, the asynchronous format of the course will include both face to face discussions and online videos and projects that can be accessed from home or school. The flipped format of the course will give students the opportunity to listen to instructional videos before class, providing more time for group work and addressing questions.

Course Toolset

The course will be housed within the Regina Catholic Schools platform, which utilizes Scholantis Portal as its Learning Management System (LMS). Scholantis Portal was chosen since some students may already be familiar with it. Since Regina Catholic Schools utilizes this online learning platform, it is beneficial for students to become comfortable navigating it.  It also has easy access, students having Office 365 accounts, which makes student set up faster. There is also available online and in-person training and support regarding this platform. 

Assessment Strategies and Tools

In order to meet all students’ needs, there will be various assessment strategies incorporated. The formative assessment will include anecdotal records on student participation and assignments, quizzes on Menti and Kahoot. As part of the summative assessment, students will create a culminating project using Flipgrid, where they will describe a family picture applying correct usage of various types of adjectives. The assessment rubrics will be provided and linked to the module.

Course Content

This course is made up of ten modules starting with an overview and expectations for the course that will be delivered through a Power Point presentation accessible to the parents as well through My Site (Scholantis LMS). All student will receive the classroom website information via agenda, note home, email to parents and online reminders.

There are ten course content modules. All modules will incorporate the content-, and learning/ language objectives. After exploring the content as part of flipped lessons consisting of a brief video lecture (3-5mins), the students have the opportunity to implement their knowledge through both, face to face and online activities to enhance understanding (2-4 mins). There will be also room for asking questions and discussing difficulties as well as successes regarding the content. 

Learning Objectives

In the field of English as an Additional Language, we mainly focus on the four domains, such as: listening, speaking, reading and writing as part of our Language Objectives. All activities and assessments will focus on the following outcomes taken from the Common Framework of Reference Global Scale Data Wallhttps://www.spiritsd.ca/cfr/

  • Students use enough vocabulary to briefly describe an aspect of daily life, an event or personal experience using simple language.
  • Students use adjectives to provide descriptive detail.
  • Students begin to use increasingly advanced adjectives, with support (e.g. smooth, shiny, etc.

Overview of the topics covered in the content modules

  • Identifying adjectives and their role in the sentence.
  • Learning and using adjectives to describe people, places, things, and events.
  • Expanding written and oral vocabulary by demonstrating understanding of words, by relating them to their opposites (antonyms) and to words with similar but not identical meanings (synonyms).
  • Expanding sentences following the royal order of adjectives in order to improve written skills and quality conversation.
  • Converting adjectives into their comparative and superlative forms, incorporating irregular comparative superlative adjectives.
  • Examining spelling rules related to the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives.

Considerations for common concerns

The two major concerns are lack of devices and absenteeism. For students who have minimal access to technology, there will be possible accommodations made either by referring the family to Community Computers to provide them with a used device, or giving them access to the shared devices in the school building. Absenteeism can be addressed by the wealth of opportunities blended courses offer. The benefit of this blended course on Adjectives is that students can have access to most of the course content as part of the flipped lessons. In case students are travelling back to their country of origin for a longer period of time, they can engage in the online lessons, responses and collaboration activities, providing they have access to devices and Wi-Fi. Students who are absent from school, will be asked to complete what they can at home and if they are unable, can be given time at school.

English Language Learners
In order to best support English Language Learners, the instructional videos will include subtitle to improve both reading-, and listening skills. The asynchronous nature of the course will also allow students to spend as much time on the content as needed.

Rationale

The topic of the blended course on Adjectives was chosen to help foreign language learners express themselves with a full range of emotions. The goal of the blended model incorporating flipped lessons is to accommodate a variety of learning styles, as well as providing additional support regarding both content, navigating- and engaging online in order to help students become successful digital citizens.

Thank you for reading my blog and special thank you to Logan Petlak , Jennifer Stewart, and Ellen, Angela, and Sam

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/128629824@N06/26854484632/”>http://tvorbaweb-stranok.sk</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

My experience with blended learning and technology

As an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher, I work with over one hundred students from grades 1-8 who are at different English level proficiency, with CFR (Common Framework of Reference) levels varying between A1.1 and B1.2. Being a resource teacher, I work in small rooms with not a whole lot of access to technology. If I choose to incorporate technology into my lesson, I need to borrow devices from a classroom teacher, having only one Ipad of my own. On previous occasions, many of the laptops were not charged, we had difficulty with student log ins, or Internet access. It seemed that I always had to have a backup plan when technology use was planned. Having the students for half-an-hour sessions doesn’t give a lot of time to work on projects involving technology either.

In order to avoid frustration, as part of my blended learning instruction, I provided my students with accounts to an online reading program consisting of leveled books. Students have the opportunity to listen to native-like reading and pronunciation, read the books and record their reading, as well as answer comprehension questions. This program is a very effective tool since the learners can work at their own pace on books that are at their level. Students can use it independently, even if their parents are at work, or do not understand English. I think this form of blended learning is engaging and motivating since the majority of the students enjoy using technology and they can read about topics they are interested in. At the same time, I have access to the students’ detailed skill report, that shows their performance in all areas. This helps me shape my lessons to better address my students’ needs.

One of the biggest challenges I have experienced regarding blended learning was that some of my families do not have devices, or internet access. There are also parents who believe that anything the child works on the computer is equal to “screen time” which is “bad” for the child.

In the past, with the help of our Edtech person, I had a chance to use Adobe Spark to record the story called “Sugar Snow” that my students read in different languages as part of celebrating diversity. We also did a Flipgrid presentation. Both were interesting and safe ways for students to showcase their experiences and learning without being put on the spot when presenting in front of guests at school functions. For foreign language learners, talking in front of big crowds can be intimidating and scary, always fearing of being judged. Looking back, both projects were very time consuming, but at the same time great learning experiences for both, my students and me. These experiences prove that in order to make blended learning effective, exceptional design and implementation are crucial (Bates & Poole, 2003) which require significant effort and time.

As I reflect on my relationship with technology, honestly, I do not feel that I am knowledgeable enough in this area. I am here to learn more about what the world of blended-, and online learning is offering and how to implement them into my practice to make learning more effective and engaging. Reading about the “unprecedented capabilities” of technology (Oblinger & Hawkins, 2006), I am hoping to find an effective way, to reach my students, especially the ones who travel to their countries of origin missing school for months. I also feel that it is my job to gradually introduce technology and help my students on their journey of becoming independent learners.

Thank you for reading my reflection! Looking forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.

Introduction

Hello!

My name is Melinda Demeter. I am an English as an Additional Language teacher working with students from over 20 countries. Coming from a small town in Transylvania, I had the opportunity to face the difficulties of learning different languages and dealing with culture shock. I am fortunate to be able to help my newcomer students adapt to their new home environment and help them on their journey towards a successful life.

I am thankful to my students for sharing their personal stories, cultures, traditions, and beauties of their previous home. I am grateful to God for helping me live for my passion and learn more about the world through travelling, and seeing life from different perspectives. And the two most important people in my life who give me hope, joy and strength to live my life to the fullest, are my amazing children, Mariska and Daniel.

Being a teacher and a mom of two young children, I feel that becoming more familiar with technology is crucial. It not only opens up the world, but it also helps to connect with my students in an unconventional way. I think sharing my experiences through a blog would help my students get to know me on a different level. It also gives them an opportunity to share their ideas and build trusting relationships. Beside learning how to create and maintain a blog, my goal is to learn ways to incorporate technology into my teaching. At this point, the world of technology is quite new to me and I am thankful to my professor Dr. Alec Couros and my fellow colleagues for helping me on my journey towards learning an “additional language” with its unique vocabulary.