Re-Release of The Lost Diadem

 

After the small publisher had to close its doors due to health reasons before my series was released, I’m happy to announce that all three books will be re-released by me, freshly edited (we were already through with the edits–only minor changes were made), starting–of course–with book one, The Lost Diadem. Trouble in the Mage Guild (part II) and Pirates, Pirates! (part III) will follow soon.

So what is the A Rogue’s Tale series about?

It’s a mystery series for children and YA aged 8 and up, set in a fantasy world with gods and magic. The two main characters Govin and Tayla strike an unusual friendship (a city guard in training, and a street urchin) and solve mysteries together. Each book contains a stand-alone story in chapterbook format, fast-paced and story-driven.

Where can I get it?

Glad you asked. For the time being, the books are only available on Amazon, and only as ebooks. I will explore paperback format as well as more online bookstores in the future once things have returned more to normal for me.

Just a Single Kiss (LoL Fanfic)

I stared at her empty seat and sighed. She was skipping school—again. For the fifth time this week. I hadn’t seen her since our row on Sunday, and by now, I was pretty worried. It wasn’t like her at all to stay away from me for long. From school, sure, but she should have texted me by now, or sneaked up to my window at night, like she’d done last time.

“Lux! Can you conjugate the verb for us, or not?”

I blushed a deep crimson and sank down my seat. Of course our French teacher had to catch me with my mind with her!

Some students laughed, and I could feel Jenna’s disapproving stare in my back. In a split second, I made a decision. I got up, mumbled an apology, and left the classroom while whispers erupted behind my back.

Once outside, I sank down and cried. I missed her, and I was afraid I’d ruined our friendship forever. Had I so misread her? Had I been wrong?

We had been watching a cheesy movie at my place, like on so many Sundays before. A romantic flick, something with Julia Roberts or some other famous star. I didn’t even remember the title, but I still remembered what she’d worn that night. An old pair of jeans with more holes than a golf course, and a black tank top. She’d smelled of motor oil and sun on her skin. I’d watched her instead of the movie: the gentle curve of her neck, how she’d puckered her lips in disgust at a cheesy scene, the sparkle of mischief in her eyes as the female lead took her revenge.

At some point, she’d glanced at me and her eyes had widened in surprise when she’d realised I’d been watching her for a while already. She’d cocked her head and my heart beat had sped up. Now or never, had flashed through my mind. I still remembered every single detail of that moment, every agonizing second. I’d leaned over to her and had planted a kiss on her lips. For what seemed like eternity, I had felt her soft lips, slightly open in surprise, but that connection had been abruptly ended when she’d jerked her head back. That stare! I squeezed my eyes shut but that shocked look had etched itself into my memory.

And now I’d lost her. She had jumped up and a moment later I’d heard the engine of her bike rev up. I’d sat there, staring at the credits of the movie for hours, listening, hoping, crying. Nothing. She hadn’t returned.

I don’t know for how long I’d been sitting there, hidden from the other students, outside our school. The last student had long since left the building, and even our principal’s car was gone.

It was quiet. My breathing had slowed a while ago, and the dried tears had left salty streaks on my face. When I heard soft footsteps on the gravel, I didn’t know who to expect. Maybe my mother, who’d come looking for me. Or Janna, to tell me how ridiculous I was. I sure as hell didn’t expect to find Jinx kneeling in front of me, her hand timidly on mine as if she wasn’t sure whether she’d be allowed to touch me.

“Hey,” she said.

“Hey,” I said back.

“Can we…I don’t know, maybe start over again?” She chewed on her lip and tried a half-smile. “I don’t think I reacted quite the way you expected…”

“I…you…” I burst out laughing from the sheer absurdity of the situation. Here she was, over-confident, always-sure-of-herself Jinx, looking as if she’d been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Her eyes pleading with me to give us another chance.

When I had caught my breath again, I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. My heart was in my throat and I was afraid if I’d breath, she’d disappear like the illusion this had to be.

She took my face in her hands and wiped a tear away with her thumb. I hadn’t even realised that I’d started crying again. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. And then she kissed me. Gently, kind of unsure of how to do it, and yet it felt true. Her lips were soft, and the kiss tasted slightly salty. My tears, I realised.

After the kiss, she got up and extended her hand towards me. Without a word, I let her pull me up and followed her to her bike. She never let anyone ride with her, but today she gestured to me to climb up behind her. I leaned on her back and held tight. When she revved up her engine and drove off, a bit smile spread across my face.

A Paper about English Sentence Structure in an EFL Context

My latest paper for university dealt with the issue of regularising English sentence structure especially for low-level EFL learners. The way it is traditionally taught is confusing for a lot of students since it is rife with exceptions (randomly appearing do-support, adverbs of frequency changing places, exceptions concerning the verb be).

In the past four years, I’ve been teaching a lot of EFL classes at an elementary level, but also at higher levels, and basic sentence structure (e.g. questions, negation) has been a constant struggle for some students no matter their level. Since I started studying linguistics in 2014, I’ve started to notice some underlying structural regularities that aren’t taught by text books or grammar books. So I started teaching them the way I saw them, and although it might be a bit more confusing at the beginning when first confronted with it, my students seemed to gain a better understanding of English sentence structure, and I’m noticing less mistakes in my beginner’s class who learnt “my” structure from the beginning.

The paper has been graded a 1.0 (best academic grade in Germany) by my professor, and has been proofread for formatting issues and clarification afterwards. Feel free to share it with others who are interested in this topic, but don’t change it or claim authorship. I publish my paper under a CC-BY-ND-NC licence.

a-practical-approach-to-the-ip-analysis-and-the-empty-i-theory-and-to-the-identity-of-be-in-an-efl-context

My Promise to Myself

About nine years ago, when I had just finished vocational school, I made a promise to myself: I would continue to learn languages, and by the time I turned thirty, I would know at least ten languages. At that time, I knew four languages pretty well (German, English, French, and Spanish), and had another language at a higher elementary level (Italian), and had started with Chinese. In the coming year or two, I added a decent knowledge of Dutch to the list, to the point where I was able to read books in all six languages but Chinese. I bought a language self-learning course for Swedish, and for Chinese, since I wanted to continue with Chinese, and learn Swedish as well (that would have been languages seven and eight, with two more to go).

Fast forward to now: My French, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch are rusty at best (to the point where I’ll still understand a fair amount when reading something, but am unable to hold a simple conversation). I started the Swedish course but stopped not even one unit in. I started the umpteenth attempt to learn Chinese this spring, and didn’t continue because life, work, and university got in the way again. I studied Turkish for two semesters at university, and have forgotten most of it again. So basically, I speak two languages fluently and have ruins of five (six if I count Chinese) other languages in my brain that need severe repairs. Still two languages missing. I did try to learn Hungarian (broke off because I’d missed two weeks in a row and didn’t have time to catch up) and Arabic (same story) in university courses.

I turn thirty next year at the end of October. My deadline is getting closer and closer, and the work has become a lot more since I made that promise to myself, not less.

In the coming two semesters (which will end before my thirtieth birthday), I’ll have to learn Sanskrit for my linguistics degree (the historical part), which will be the first dead language on my list. That makes three (German and English being the first two, since I use them daily and teach English).

I just started refreshing my French (which was the first foreign language I learned after English), count four. Once I’m back up to a decent level (not even aiming at my previous B2/C1 level, just getting back to B1 across the skills would be nice), I’m going to do the same for my Spanish. Then, to (hopefully) prevent myself from mixing those two again, I’m going to work on my Dutch before refreshing Italian. B1 across the board is the goal for those four languages. Count seven.

Since I already did Turkish up to A2.1 level, I guess going for Turkish next, up to A2 across the board, is realistic. Count eight.

Chinese is still on my bucket list, and I’m planning on taking the HSK exam next year if it is offered in Berlin again. My minimal goal is HSK 2 (which, I think, is the Chinese equivalent to CEFR A2), both the written and oral test, but I’ll shoot for HSK 3 in writing if I feel confident by the time the exam comes around. I’ll probably study Chinese here and there while also refreshing the other languages, just because I know it’ll take a hell of a lot of time to get those characters memorized. Count nine.

The last one will be Swedish, for two reasons. One, it’s been on my bucket list for a long time now. Two, it’s a Germanic language like German, English, and Dutch, and Dutch was fairly easy to learn for me because of the similarities to German and English. I’m hoping for some help from those three languages when I try to get Swedish up to A2 level by October 29, 2017. Count ten.

I haven’t yet figured out how to evaluate my language skills, though, since there are probably not enough language exam dates available to cover all those languages in the next year (plus, exams can be pretty expensive). Any recommendations of cheap or free online tests are appreciated.

Transitioning to Blended Teacher

So while I’ve used videos in class before, once or twice, it was an exception for a special class. It wasn’t for my normal classes, and it didn’t really feel like blended teaching. Back then, it was just a way to get my students’ attention, all of whom were teenagers, on a Friday morning in their summer break.

This year, after the presentation of our new textbook series for teaching English, which contains video elements and an online language lab, I took some online classes on Coursera to familiarize myself with online and blended learning and teaching. And I slowly realised that blended teaching offers a lot of possibilities. Still, I thought that, apart from the video elements, I wouldn’t really be able to use much of what I learnt in my classes.

Now this week, I’m teaching an intensive communication and grammar class at an intermediate level (CEFR B1) from 9 – 2pm every day, and part of the materials I want to use as conversation starters are short video clips I found online (next to more classic elements like reading or listening texts, or simple questions). After some technical problems with the Internet connection today (or, rather, me not checking the second outlet after the first didn’t work…), my boss sent me an email this afternoon to assure me I will have a working Internet connection tomorrow. So my classroom has a laptop, loudspeakers, a projector, and Internet. And it’s dawning what that actually means.

The possibilities I now have go beyond a few online video clips. I can show them cartoons or photos online, use presentation tools like PowerPoint (or let my students use them for their end-of-class presentation on Friday), maybe even access quizzes online that they can take together. My vault of teaching materials just increased a hundredfold, if not more.

Sure, it takes a little while to set up laptop and projector, but once I’ve done it a few times, it should be a routine that doesn’t take much longer than a few minutes at most–time I often spend copying materials.

On days where my knees hurt too much to write stuff on the board much, I could even use a Word processor to write explanations or vocabulary for my students to see. Without leaving my chair.

And when I finally get a smartboard installed in “my” classroom (read: the classroom I teach most of my classes in) and get my training done, things will get even easier.

I think I’m really looking forward to transitioning from an offline teacher to a blended teacher.

Word Puzzles about Transportation and Verbs

I’ve had a little bit of backlog due to not posting my word puzzles for a while, so here’s yet another fresh batch of word puzzles for you and your classes. This time, it’s all about methods of transportation, and about verbs. These two were used in my A1.2 class.

I’m making them available under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence, which means you may use them for teaching as is, without changing anything, without deleting my byline, and without making a profit with them (e.g. by selling them). Print them out and copy them for your students as often as you like:)

And a heartfelt thank you to all the other teaching material creators out there who make their materials available for free use by teachers! I love you, and you make teaching a lot easier!

Word Puzzle A1.2 Modes of Transport

Word Puzzle A1.2 Verbs and Phrasal Verbs (1)

More Word Puzzles for Teachers

Here’s a new batch of word puzzles for beginners of English as a foreign/second language. This time, they are about everyday objects, and about family and kinship words. These word puzzles are great as a warmer to revise some vocabulary, or as a cool-down at the end of a difficult or long lesson. Have fun with them!

I’m making them available under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence, which means you may use them for teaching as is, without changing anything, without deleting my byline, and without making a profit with them (e.g. by selling them). Print them out and copy them for your students as often as you like:)

And a heartfelt thank you to all the other teaching material creators out there who make their materials available for free use by teachers! I love you, and you make teaching a lot easier!

Word Puzzle A1.1 Everyday Objects (with solutions)

Word Puzzle A1.1 Family Words (with solutions)