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Teaching

Posted on: April 11, 2007

Today I held a 3 hour introduction to building user experiences (that’s UI’s for those who don’t like Buzz words :) using the Microsoft Expression suite of applications.

Focusing mainly on Expression Blend and how to integrate it into the workflow, I took the class from understanding the relationship between code-behind files and XAML, walked through data-binding, control templates & styles, animations and events, and finally built a small RSS reader.

I also gave a short introduction to the .NET framework and how its various parts come together to form the basis of the Expression/Visual Studio workflow.

The whole presentation was in Japanese and I suspect I did some interesting mistakes in both grammar and vocabulary. Sometimes translating technical terms from English to Japanese can be really tricky. A few times I managed to mix the word for Relationship with the one for Jump-Suite, causing some very confused looks :). 

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8 Responses to "Teaching"

Can’t comment much on the specifics of your class. I do however recognize the challenge of being didactic in a foreign language. I’ve always tried to avoid giving classes in Spanish simply because I feel that my level of understanding of the language is not up to par with that of the subject matter usually at hand.

I wonder if, in a collective sense, knowledge can be considered deeper than the ability to express said knowledge? If the audience only understand part of what you are trying say, then that part is all that counts. Anyway, this is always my standard response when someone ask me to do a lecture nowadays: “Sorry, can’t externalize my knowledge at the moment”.

I do however respect you for doing it, and apart from such abstract arguments that I make here I think people generally have both tolerance for and ability to interpret language that is less than perfection.

Daniel:

Haha, first off, thank you for being you :-)

And on to a more serious point – I definitely feel that when it comes to lecturing in a foreign language, what one says is what the audience believes one knows, and that’s it. Personally I constantly find myself struggling to remember that the language barrier is in the way when listening to lectures in foreign languages or discussing with someone in a language they don’t master. It is so very easy to forget this point, and interpret situations like the ones I mention like I do when discussing with someone in their mother’s tongue.

This door of course swings both ways, as I myself often feel that I can’t really form a perfect argument when, like now, I am discussing in a foreign language.

And on that note, why in god’s name do we carry on commenting each other in english, when it is quite clear that the only ones bothering with comments are… well… us?

;-)

Daniel!
I understand your dilemma. I kind of walked away from the experience with a feeling that maybe I got about 80% of my message across, and I guess that is enough for an introduction.

On the whole lecturing in a foreign language note, my approach is really simple though. I try to communicate in really simple words and constructs, sometimes taking good time to explain something rather than trying to be efficient through complex statements and such. Sure this takes longer and most definitely rhetorics are all out the proverbial window, but at least it serves to get the point across. :)

Also I think it helps that the topics are always technical in nature :). I would never volunteer to do a lecture in say social science related topics or politics. My language just won’t go that far…

Peter!
Fortunately when doing lectures that are technical i nature, there seldom is much arguing :). At least not on an introductory level.

On commenting in English. I for one have two reasons. First, I can’t type Swedish letters which sucks :), and second, I know that there are readers both here in Japan and over seas that actually enjoy reading our comments. Not many but still :).

That said, I sure don’t mind if people comment in Swedish on this blog, and I do agree that sometimes it might feel a bit krystat to keep our conversations in English.

Still one thing that makes me happy to think of, is that even though we are Swedish, these comments are actually coming from 3 different continents spanning almost the entire GMT :). That alone makes it pretty cool :).

…yeah, that’s the only reason I keep commenting, man! ;-)

Hahaha, no seriously how the heck did people manage back in the days :)

I remember when I was abroad in the US. That was 1995-1996, the internet had just become commercialized and made available to the general public. More so in the US than in Sweden though, I didn’t know a single soul with e-mail in Sweden. Or an internet connection for that matter. And calling swedish BBS:s wasn’t really an option as international calls cost a fortune. Which also made voice communication very rare. My main form of communication was by mail (which took approx. one week to reach its destination) with my then-girlfriend, and by fax with my family. Fax! Imagine, I actually used fax to communicate. Incredible.

I remember sitting one night at my american home, browsing the internet using Compuserve, and suddenly realizing that I could search for swedish web pages. Yes, today that’s a pretty lame insight, but like I said, back then the distance between countries was vast. I stumbled across the home page for the swedish band “Just D” and the feeling of reading something in Swedish was very, very surreal.

The internet HAS made the world a smaller place.

Actually it’s funny what’s happening to the Fax these days. I heard a comment recently that the fax machine in one of my friends’ office ‘more of a spam-delivery-channel’ these days than anything else.

Still I remember the old TV-shows before emailing came of age, where you could communicate in near-real-time with the program using an official fax-number :)

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