Personal Learning Plan – The Way I Do It, The Way You’d Improve It

As I promised in one of my other blogs, I’m up for describing my routine for the upcoming semester. This note might be a bit lengthy, so I won’t be mad if you save it to your Pocket or somewhere similar.

PLP – What is it?

Since visiting this page and being turned down for a PhD programme, I slowly grew to think about myself as an Edupunk – someone who is solely responsible for one’s educational goals, can take advantage of modern technology and knows how to give and take in the skill market.

Being an edupunk requires some cunning planning. The central part of it is called a PLP – Personal Learning Plan. I’ll show you the process of creating my first PLP.

What this post is for?

I can think of three reasons:
1) For people that want to create their own PLPs, let it be a walkthrough and inspiration. I’d also love to see yours, when you’re finished!
2) Sharing it will provide some accountability to the process.
3) I’d LOVE to get some feedback. More on it at the end of the post.

My PLP

I got really inspired by “The Edupunks’ Guide to DIY Credential” by Anya Kamenetz (you can download the book for free!)! I breezed through it during one night!

That got me thinking – I want new knowledge, but this year there is no university curriculum to keep it structured! Bummer! I need to take care of it myself!

Writing many curricula for my students I though that it would be easy-peasy, yet it turned out to be much more complicated when you want to cover totally different fields, alone, without any specific exam you are working towards and no imposed restrictions. I also need to keep my motivation and flexibility high!

What I ended up with is THIS – click to open in a new window for reference.

I organize a lot of my links, lists and notes in Springpad and I grew to like it. Please use any platform that you like, be it Evernote, Diigo, Google Drive, Wunderlist etc.

First of all – remember how to use SMART technique in setting up your goals. Here’s a crib on SMART goals:

For me, some of those were taken care of of – the goals should be assigned to me and I decided upon the time constraints rather quickly – they are more or less similar to the original winter semester, hence this part of the project lasts for 22 weeks (including one week off around Christmas) from 28 September 2013 to 28 Februrary 2014.

A word of explanation on why I decided to start on Saturday – a lot of productivity gurus (see Tim Ferris or Scott Young) remind you to take a day far, faaar away from work – for me a day to sort out my priorities and reflect is Friday, because on Friday there are a lot of party opportunities, cultural events happening and it tricks my mind a bit. Frown-upon Monday is already the middle of my week! Also if a job opportunity comes my way, I’ll be able to tackle most of tasks during weekend and go easy for the rest of the week.

Another step was to write down my Expectations – I didn’t name them goals to assure myself that the world won’t end if anything goes wrong and I tweak those along the way. I also feel more responsible and less tense about my “expectations” than, say, “responsibilities”.

Some of my expectations, as you might see, are general – I want to keep on blogging, for example, or remember about making proper breaks and keeping up with current news and creative presentations. The rest of them I divided into 5 fields I feel passionate about right now: education, languages, culinary, sociology and science (esp. neuroscience). I then proceeded to breaking it down to more
measurable, specific skills and concepts I want to master or books I want to read.

Even though it looks busy, I weren’t harsh with myself. I thought that after a year in post-grad on Public Relations (away from linguistic major), it’s time to finally to refine my elemental skills, defossilize some basic knowledge and review some vocabulary depending on my mastery of given language (my students were surprised I decided to work through the whole Basic Kanji Book series in one semester – being it both a time-consuming, and fairly… well, basic task). Furthermore, I took genuine interest in fields I won’t be able to master at a University (FOOD. Still, I have to admit I’ve just received my Certificate of Accomplishment in “The Science of Gastronomy” MOOC from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology).

I decided also what to leave out – for example I want to hone my computer science skills (esp. coding) again, but during the summer semester. I have some interest in multimedia – but the idea of shooting anything in dim winter light seemed unappealing and so I postponed it until summer as well.

I tried to include not only passive knowledge, but also productive output – like tweeting, reflecting on blogs, putting things up for peer review and making connections.

Then I compiled lists of resources, books I want to read (Sorry for so many Polish titles! That’s what I have at hand!), courses I want to attend (MOOCs mostly) and lectures I want to dive into. To keep it simple, I refer back to specific parts in my Expectations drive. Later on I also started saving links to resources I want to tackle if I find the time – if not, they are valuable resources for the next semester.

To be sure I stay on track I designed what I called a Progress Page – PDF for that is included in the Springpad notebook. Taking into account what can be done to make me closer to the desired outcome, a Progress Page is a single sheet of paper to log my successes, failures (“There’s no failure – only feedback!”) and reflections each Friday.

Your Feedback

I would really love you to take a look at my PLP and share your thoughts, for example:

  • How would you batch the tasks together? 
  • Do you think it’s more sensible to choose a field each day on a whim or to tackle tasks based on some sort of timetable, regardless of I want to do something or not?
  • Can you support me in any of those goals? (shout out to Katriel, who has my back on Korean and German!) 
  • Do you see any possible failing points in my PLP? Would you add anything or cross anything out? Make anything less daunting or more specific?
  • Have you ever designed a PLP yourself? If so, can you share it? Any thoughts / expiriences worth sharing? 
  • Maybe you are willing to become a fellow edupunk? I love meeting new people and helping each other! Please contact me! 😀

Dear Language Learner Who Cries At Night…

Dear Language Learner Who Cries At Night,

Sorry for not writing to you earlier. Life was busy, the Internet was full. All of us forget about that special, quiet person from time to time. But I know how you feel.

In weeks and months to come, you will sigh, cry, and dispair some more. You will hate your Anki deck, your might want to shred your notes to pieces, you will put your dictionaries up for sale or donate them to the closest library. There will be no job post for someone whose biggest achievement is mastering Wilamowicean, your better half will hate your Skype friends of opposite sex and KPop will have lost its appeal.

But let me tell you something. Those shreded notes? – they’ll become a colorful confetti over the most English breakfast and the most Japanese lunch you’ll ever eat. The dictionaries will be the beginning of a new polyglot study group at that local library of yours – maybe you should pay them a visit? And the job post you’ll create for yourself one day will earn you enough money that someday you will go teary at a karaoke bar somewhere in Asia, hearing the first song in Korean you mastered lyrics to.

There are many people out there, whom you meet online and share your passions with. They cry over their languages too, you know? Maybe they shall visit you one day? People who are like you have tired eyes sometimes, be there for them. Write e-mails like this and tell them how awesome they are. Be a good ambassador or a good host. Reach out. All the bloggers want is to hear from their readers, know they have an impact.

You’re having an impact too, Dear Language Learner Who Cries At Night, not only with every Anki deck you share and every language exchange over Skype you have and each piece at Lang-8 you checked – but also with every dictionary you sold, every notebook you tore and every break-up you lived through.

Please gather the confetti. And throw a party, alone, sobbing.

Then we need to know your name. Tweet it, blog it, vlog it, in any language you want – let us now. We’d be delighted to share our old textbooks with you and embark on much happier adventures ahead.

Yours,
Agnieszka “Mizuu” Gorońska
@kantanda
mizuuko(at)gmail.com

Back from a Long, Unscheduled Hiatus

Hi there. I’m back and alive… after 6 months of silence, devoted mostly to writing my thesis. My own, monochrome, softback copy below, as evidence.

Image

As I’m back on track, you can expect new article this weekend, this is only a harbinger. It will have something to do with the issue of curiosity, for those of you who are… erm, curious. 🙂

Breaking The Shame Syndrome

OK, I wonder how many people out there can relate to my situation.
I’m overwhelmed (there’s a great sign for that in ASL) and afraid this year more than I have been anytime before. This year is a total disaster – I spend too much time at hospital and doctors’ offices. I’m a mess at work and at lectures, I failed to get another job to repair my miserable budget. Then, cherry on the top, my fiance dumped me out of the blue.

I really refrained from foreign languages. I even resigned from my Esperanto course. I shun away from blogging and ask myself 100 times a day what it is I really, really want.

Do male polyglots even struggle with situations like this? Is anyone really bothered?

Anyways, here’s what I’m up to lately, after slowly getting my s*** together:

  • Learning German – and with a tutor like Robo there’s absolutely no way I can fail at this attempt.
  • Translating another Aaron’s e-book – this time I’m working on Polish version of “Getting Started Guide” (Polish working title: “Przewodnik na Dobry Początek”)
  • Publishing my own book on Japanese Sign Language – you can view the announcment about “Wstęp do Japońskiego Języka Migowego” on my publisher’s page. It’s gonna be out later this month!
  • Writing an e-book on Japanese particles – with Michał Moroz, one of my students. We barely started, but the first version of “PARszywe PARtykuły” (ang. “Those Nasty Particles!”) should be out in a month or two.
  • Changing everything about my graduation thesis – please, don’t throw rocks at me!
  • Preparing for an upcoming student conference on linguistics – more about this in May, probably.

Especially for Kamey: SMILE!
At least it won't make things any worse!

Sickness, E-Book and Medical Japanese

Sorry for this longish hiatus. To be completely honest with you: I am a sickly and puny person. Since I was a little girl I am suffering from type I onset diabetis. Apart from that, there’s always something wrong with me. Last two weeks I spent at either a hospital or doctors’ offices. There’s always a probability that’ll happen now and then and sometimes twitter is my only way to let you know – so follow my twitter – I try to keep it full of useful content and links with some personal updates thrown in-between.

While I was at the hospital though, one fantastic thing happened – just before I had been hospitalized, I finished the translation of Aaron Myers “Sustaining” as a part of I-586 Project. You can find my Polish translation [at the bottom of this page]. It’s immensly fun to work with Aaron and I hope we can get all his guides translated at one point. We’re planning to work on “Getting Started Guide” next and we’ll definitely let you know when it’s up. Please spread the word through any media you find suitable. I would also love to hear from you – any comments, insights, reviews will be more than appreciated!

I also wasn’t SO lazy as to do nothing, but lost count in my linguistic diet process, so I’d probably better start it over. While making all those tests done, I learned some nifty new words in Japanese. All with the theme of hospital in them (I chose 20 for this post):

  • 点滴 (てんてき) – a drip
  • 痣 (あざ) – a bruise
  • 血液検査 (けつえきけんさ) – a blood test
  • 車椅子 (くるまいす) – a wheelchair
  • レントゲン - X-ray
  • 面会時間 (めんかいじかん) – visiting hours
  • 処方箋 (しょほうせん) – a prescribtion
  • 血圧 (けつあつ) - blood pressure
  • 吸入器 (きゅうにゅうき) - an inhaler
  • 失神する (しっしん) - to faint
  • 胃痛 (いつう) - stomach ache
  • 脈拍 (みゃくはく) – pulse
  • 包帯 (ほうたい) (を する) - (to apply) a bandage
  • 診察 (しんさつ) - medical examination
  • 膵臓 (すいぞう) - a pancreas
  • 神経系 (しんけいけい) – the nervous system
  • 黄斑 (おうはん) - macula lutea (macula of retina)
  • 血糖値 (けっとうち) -  blood glucose level
  • 高血糖症 (こうけっとうしょう) - hyperglycemia
  • 外来患者 (がいらいかんじゃ) - an outpatient

Do you strive to learn new words as you come across daily situations?

Again and again – Hello World!

OK, let’s start this again.
My name’s Agnieszka, I’m also known as Mizuu and I need a place to handle the linguistic mess in my brain – NOW!

Who am I?
Well, I tend to say that I am an avid language learner and teacher, and this is true. But let’s start from the very beginning, shall we?
I was born in 1987 into a Polish family, in Poland, and I consider Polish my “mother tongue” because those two words describe it the best – it’s the language my parents use. I was introduced to English prior to being 3, therefore I also say my native language is English – it became the language I mostly think in, yet for some it is not clear enough – I probably never reached a 100% proficiency in neither of those two languages (even though I still reside in Poland and I have a CPE in English). There are still words, phrases and collocations I come across in both English and Polish that I don’t know.
When I was still a kid a lot of Japanese Anime were aired at my country (although some were dubbed in Italian, English or French) – in 1994 “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon” was aired for the first time, and shortly after, around 1996-1997 when magazines like “Secret Service” (on gaming) and “Kawaii” (on Manga and Anime) started to stream the words “Anime” and “Manga” into my conciousness, my childhood dream became working as a seiyuu – a voice actress. I even voiced some amatour Flash animations at deviantArt and places like that… but in English.
It took me some time to realize that they won’t need an English speaking seiyuu in Japan too soon, so around 2000 I had my first brush witch Japanese. I got bruised in the process, didn’t pick kana up then and generally stopped at “Hello, my name is…, I like…” level.
Before starting high school however, I could read and write hiragana and could ask directions in Japanese. Then I got admission into an International Baccalaureate Organization High School – one of two English-only schools in my city.
This was somehow a turning point for me, because I have started French classes and being a volunteer teacher in different places. I helped kids from broken homes as well as handicapped children in their homeworks. This is where my dream of becoming a seiyuu finally perished – I yearned to become a teacher! A language tutor!
This is what I am now, after trying different majors at the Univeristy – Japanese Studies, Linguistics & Information Science, Cognitive Science and Ethnolinguistics.

What do I know?
Since grade 1 in high school I’ve studied a large variety of languages.
The languages I’d learnt for a some time and then abandoned include: Ancient Latin, Russian, Czech, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portugese (one small group of my students of Polish was from Brazil and they REALLY wanted me to know some basic vocabulary) and 3 Sign languages (PJM – Polish Sign Language, NS – Japanese ign Language, and ASL – American Sign Language). I also wanted to learn Mandarin Chinese but I got defeated by the tones. Guess I started too late. ^^;
I’m native-like fluent in Polish and English. And advanced in Japanese (but lately, I lost my heart for it a bit, to be honest…). Those are the three languages I teach. I also teach basic level Esperanto, but I still fight to master it.
Recently I’ve started German and Korean and I hope to get back to French and Spanish someday. I’m thinking of starting an African or Arabic lannguage one day, too, because, well, for me languages are the most entertaining way to know a way of thinking of other nations and I know next to nothing about those culture (well, I have a girl I know who majors in Arabic and she’s always very informative! But that’s not the same!)

Why am I here?
Uh, well, once I was the owner and the founder of a really big blogging project called “Kantan da!” (“It’s easy!” in Japanese) – same as my twitter username, created back then as a social media addition to that page. I worked together with other people to target Polish-speaking Japanese learners. That page gave me a lot of satisfacion, but at one point, due to other commitments of our crew members, we had to shut the blog down.
We never really got back together, as a team, even though I sometimes contribute to Robo’s Zajęzykuj, contributed to Lort’s Drunk Otaku Inn and I’m writing a textbook that Merillian illustrates (she’s the head illustrator). I don’t really know what happened to the rest of the team, apart from palnik who’s still a friend of mine but his career doesn’t involve foreign languages nor webmastering.
This time I want to write a blog in English, for myself. I want to reflect on my teaching, my learning, make new connections (I follow so many talented bloggers out there!), brag a bit, note down links, rate some tools and resources. I hope it’ll help my future readers (and my dedicated fans ;D) at the same time.

I named it “Kantan datta” (Japanese for “It was easy”), partly because I wanted to pay a tribute to that old project, but also due to the fact that at one point nothing is as easy as it seemed at the beginning of the road. But fear not, that’s good! Otherwise it would be boring on the way, wouldn’t it?

どうぞよろしくお願いします.
Please, give me your kind consideration.

(and, if you’re happy to see me again, blogging and alive, please leave a comment below, drop me an e-mail or a tweet – I would be more than delighted!)