What makes a person look up a word? When do you use a dictionary? Looking up a word in the dictionary is an intimate act for each of us as individuals, but the words sought by millions of users put together tell us a surprising story about the English language. By watching trends of lookups on a heavily consulted online dictionary, lexicographers track which entries are being consulted at any given moment. Some words are perennial sources of curiosity, while others show spikes of interest triggered by news from the worlds of politics, entertainment, and sports. Some words express the general mood of the culture; others reflect a poignant specificity. At the same time, this Web traffic tells a story about the changing business of dictionaries – and what is expected of a dictionary in the 21st century.
Authentic Materials and Media Literacy: Curation and Evaluation
As learners of English in the 21st century, we are fortunate to have seemingly endless materials available to us online, especially authentic materials, but whether we have access to the internet on our phones, via wifi in public spaces, or even in the classroom, it can be difficult to choose materials that make sense and that are trustworthy. In this talk, Jen will discuss the need for curation of materials, the need to be able to evaluate sources, and will share several of her favorite American sources for authentic materials to learn English from.
► Peter Sokolowski has been writing definitions for nearly 25 years at Merriam-Webster, America's oldest and largest dictionary publisher. He also contributes blog articles, podcasts, and videos for the company's online dictionary, and his writing has appeared in Slate and The New York Times. He is a frequent guest on national radio and television, and was named among TIME's 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013. He leads workshops on dictionaries and the English language, and serves as pronouncer for spelling bees worldwide. Peter attended the University of Paris and earned his M.A. in French Literature at the University of Massachusetts. He is also a freelance musician and a music host at New England Public Radio.
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►Jen MacArthur is the Regional English Language Officer (RELO) based at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, covering Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Baltics. Prior to joining the U.S. Department of State in 2012, Jen taught English as a Second Language and Social Studies in the United States; pre-service and in-service foreign language teacher education courses at the University of Bucharest, Romania and through the Romanian Ministry of Education; English for Specific Purposes and Communication courses at the University of Vaasa, Finland; and served as the Language Program Coordinator for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians (Maine). Jen studied European History and German at Bates College in and holds an M.Ed. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and an M.Sc. in Public Policy and Planning in Developing Countries. Born in Scotland, Jen calls Maine home.