Attaining Knowledge of Idiomatics in the Age of Corona and Beyond

Attaining Knowledge of Idiomatics in the Age of Corona and Beyond

John I. Liontas
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 34
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6609-1.ch001
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This chapter investigates the affordances of technological processes and educational resources for attaining knowledge of idiomatics. It first explores the training practices language practitioners will need to foster a tech-driven pedagogy of the reconstructive nature of idiomatics understanding and production in English. Following a brief review of the most significant themes and concepts spanning the literature of idiomatics, the chapter then anchors its communication-of-information pedagogy in an online methodology of idiomatics teaching-and-learning. Said methodology facilitates and enhances idiomatic-figurative synergism in discursive and communicative contexts. Thereafter, the chapter highlights and examines the most critical implications in applying idiomatics resourcefully. Recommendations for idiomatics training-and-teaching are also suggested.
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Under the crushing shadow of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), a global pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) now impacting the lives and livelihood of billions of people in 220 countries and territories around the world, online pedagogy in American higher education is fast becoming the leading topic of discussion and the subject of intense research interest for online teacher training. How best to address online teaching and learning in the Age of Coronavirus and beyond remains a challenge not easily solved even by those who claim to have attained “expert” status in the delivery of online instruction. With the death toll rising daily, economic activity grinding to a halt, and (mis/dis)information in a constant state of flux, emotions are riding high, ethical dilemmas are put to the test, emotional health and wellbeing are now an open question. And yes, toilet paper and hand sanitizers are the latest missing-in-action games played across stores, big and small. New safety protocols, including health checks, mandatory use of masks/face coverings, distributed workforce, remote workplaces, social distancing in public spaces, empty sports and entertainment venues, faceless classrooms, zoombombings and more, are fast becoming the ‘New Normal’ in the Age of Coronavirus. Add to that new words, phrases, shortenings, abbreviations, and terms—Pandemic, COVID-19, CARES Act, Flatten the Curve, Safer at Home, Self-quarantine, Social Distancing, Elbow Bumping, Virtual Learning, Webinar, Zoom—and the picture of living during this Corona-speak period of extreme and unprecedented uncertainty is far from complete. The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the world around us forever: transparency now gives way to the politics of urgency, changing ideologies challenge the decrees of government agencies, uncivil discourse tests public policy. New fiscal forces in the trillions of dollars ripple through global economies like wildfire set ablaze by an enemy unseen. Turbulence ahead, we fasten our seatbelts, tighten our belts, pinch pennies around the house. We wash our hands time and again. We abandon old rituals like handshaking and hugging in favor of forming new habits: elbow bumping and a head nod from afar. Uncertainty feels destabilizing. Our sense of identity as language professionals is fractured. Social shifts heighten our growing anxiety of what changes tomorrow may bring still. We fall prey to the insecurities living rent free in our heads 24/7. One after the other, the Domino pieces fall in an unending spiral chain reaction. The Coronaphobia domino effect is all but complete. Enter paralysis by analysis.

And yet, we soldier on. Calls for “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps” give way to COVID-19 rapid response research grants now dotting the academic landscape of inquiry, innovation, and knowledge enterprise. Digital technologies are lauded like never before in the annals of information computing. Social media the latest superstars in staying connected online, in cultivating relationships, in solidifying connections, increasingly across space and time, any device, anytime, anywhere, with anyone. Creating, sharing, and exchanging information and ideas in virtual communities and networks in real time are as commonplace as the air our lungs demand. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, the social networks we use to socialize and customize our individual profiles. Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, the media sharing networks we use to upload and download content, photos, and (live) videos. Pinterest, Flipboard, and Reddit, the bookmarking and content curation networks we use to expose, discover, share, and save new and trending media and content (web pages, articles, blog posts, images, and videos). Yelp, CNET, and TripAdvisor, the consumer review networks we use to advertise, review, and post products, events, services, and programs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

XR: Abbreviation for Cross Reality , XR is content using emerging technologies such as AR, VR, or MR. It is also hardware such as Google Tango that combines aspects of immersive technologies.

Distance Learning: A form of asynchronous or synchronous learning form transpiring in physically separate locations. In the former, having the freedom to respond at their own convenience, teachers and learners do not have to be present at their computer stations simultaneously to participate, for example, in Email communication or Discussion List. In the latter, teachers and learners have to be present at their computers synchronically (i.e., at the same time) to communicate with one another. Videoconferencing and Chat Rooms are two instances where both parties have to be present. Other distance learning forms of internet-based a/synchronous learning now commonly include Blended or Hybrid Learning (i.e., internet-based distance learning combined with face-to-face instruction), eLearning, Online Learning , and Virtual Learning Environments.

Idiomatic Competence: The ability to understand and use idioms appropriately and accurately in a variety of sociocultural contexts, in a manner similar to that of native speakers, and with the least amount of mental effort. It includes knowledge the speaker-hearer has of what constitutes appropriate and accurate idiomatic language behavior in relation to particular communicative goals as well as linguistic (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics) and pragmatic (non-linguistic, paralinguistic, sociolinguistic/ functional, discourse, personal/world, intra/intercultural) knowledge (see Liontas, 2015).

MUVE: Considered a further development of the MOO and MUD concepts, MUVE is an abbreviation for Multi User Virtual Environment , also known as a Virtual World. Today, MUVEs are closely associated with Web 2.0 applications. Second Life is a prime example of a MUVE that allows hundreds of simultaneous users to interact with other residents through self-created 3D avatars in a virtual reality playground bursting with people, entertainment, experiences, and opportunity. In this virtual world, users become fully immersed through a user-created, community-driven experience. There, through 3D avatars, they can change their virtual identities at will, create machinims videos, customize and share their digital creations instantly with friends while retaining intellectual property rights, socialize and, using the inworld unit of trade, the Linden Dollar , which can be converted to real US dollars at several thriving online Linden dollar exchanges, engage in commerce by buying, selling, renting or trading virtual property, goods, and services with other residents, connect and chat with other residents from around the world, and also travel with friends to thousands of beautiful, exciting places, the combined gamification activity of which can significantly foster higher psychological processes and transcultural communication while promoting social and emotional learning. Players can equally adopt amazing avatar characters in many of the fantasy worlds depicted with painstaking detail in an MMORPG (i.e., Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, often shortened to the abbreviation MMOG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Game) game or in any one of the many available adventure games (e.g., Myst, SimCity) , simulation games (e.g., Minecraft, School Tycoon, Real Lives ), real-time strategy (RTS) games (e.g., Starcraft, League of Legends, Age of Empires ), turn-based strategy (TBS) games (e.g., Total War, World of Warcraft, Civilization, Heroes of Might and Magic ), or open-world or free-roaming games (e.g., Viva Piñata, Zoo Tycoon, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Assassin’s Creed ).

MOO: Deriving from the earlier MUD, MOO stands for Multi-User-Domain Object Oriented. It is, as the term states, a multi-user, programmable, interactive system of a persistent object database allowing players from around the world, either synchronously or asynchronously, to build their own landscape and objects within the MOO (or MUVE) environment by using object-oriented techniques and domain-specific programming language (DSL) to author new rooms, objects, or interface operations. Adventure Games are a prime example of MOOs. Dating back to the early days of mainframe computing where adventure games consisted entirely of written text, today’s modern adventure games incorporate elaborate graphics, simulations, sound, and video sequences. Players assume the role of the protagonist who is required to conquer a number of obstacles and solve puzzles along the development of the interactive story. One such widely successful adventure game is Myst , a graphic adventure puzzle video game, which immerses its players in the fictional world of the seemingly deserted island of Myst. To complete the predominantly nonverbal exploration of the island, a player must solve a series of logical, interrelated puzzles along the unfolding of the non-linear story with several endings, depending on the course of action taken by the player in the game’s self-contained mini-worlds or “Ages.”

eLearning: A form of online learning on the web, Electronic Learning , or eLearning for short, is an umbrella definition relating to and embracing the use of ICT (an abbreviation for Information and Communications Technology, same as the reverse British term, CIT, Communications and Information Technology) in teaching and learning that widely employs eLearning authoring tools (i.e., software or online services that assist users to design courses, simulations, or other educational experiences).

TIL: Abbreviation for Tech Inventory List , TIL includes types of information and communication technology organized in media to record information (e.g., magnetic disks/tapes, optical disks, CDs/DVDs/VHS tapes, media cards, flash memory, and arguably even paper records), technology for broadcasting information (e.g., radio, television, webcams, smartphones, smartwatches, digital players), technology for communicating through voice and sound or images (e.g., microphone, camera, loudspeaker, telephone, cellular phones, voice mail, video conferencing, distance learning, fax, electronic bulletin boards), computing and general tech hardware (e.g., PCs, laptops/netbooks, servers, mainframes, networked storage, LAN/WAN, interactive whiteboards, document cameras, classroom remotes, classroom performance systems, handheld voting systems/clickers, calculators, assistive technologies, photocopy machines, digital scanners, DVD/VCR players, film projectors, overhead projectors, audio/video tape recorders, videogames consoles, CDs/DVDs/VHS tapes, flash drives), personal hardware (e.g., smartphones, smartwatches, personal wearable devices, tablets, media players, headsets), and internet access (e.g., e-mail, online chats or instant messaging, Web 2.0 applications such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies, podcasts, and vodcasts).

Mr: Abbreviation for Mixed or Merged Reality , MR is the merging (blending) of real worlds and virtual worlds that includes both real and computer-generated objects. It combines aspects of VR (fully digital experience in a computer-generated, 3D environment) and AR (a semi-digital experience in the real, physical environment) to produce new environments and visualizations, where physical (real) and digital (virtual) objects co-exist and interact in real time. Users can interact with elements of both routinely experienced through a headset. Virtual objects are anchored to a point in space and are integrated into a physical view. MR is sometimes called “enhanced” AR since it is similar to AR technology.

VLE: Abbreviation for Virtual Learning Environment , VLE is an internet-based learning management software package used to deliver, track, and manage training and education online. Ease of delivery and management of learning materials within an institution, at the local level and even worldwide, characterize the popularity of VLEs in today’s educational information systems environments. Also referred to as Course Management System (CMS), Learning Management System (LMS), Learning Support System (LSS) , or simply Learning Platform , VLEs feature both teacher-learner communication and peer-to-peer communication. Canvas , Blackboard , and Moodle are all widely used VLEs in language teaching and learning, wherein students can submit course assignments and project work, read and respond to discussion questions, and take tests and quizzes. Conversely, teachers can post announcements, email individuals or groups, grade assignments, check on course activity, and participate in whole-class discussions. They can also monitor performance and patterns of activity in real-time, intervene proactively to influence student performance and behavior, and configure, customize, display and securely share learner performance and course reports with parents, mentors and other stakeholders via a single, easy-to-learn console.

AI Systems: Abbreviation for Artificial Intelligence computing systems that make use of high-level, complex-programming techniques simulating human intelligence and cognitive functions in various contexts seeking computer application solutions to learning and problem solving as in Machine Translation (MT), for example, where dynamic computer software is used to translate natural language text or speech from one language to another (see Liontas, 2006).

Online Learning: Closely associated with the concept of eLearning, Online Learning is learning that employs primarily Email and the Internet in following a course online that can result in the award of a course grade, certificate, or degree completion.

Idiomatics: The scientific study of idiomatic language and figurative language. Idiomatic language is the natural mode of expression and phrasing of a language, that is, language that uses, contains, or denotes peculiar or characteristic expressions, words, or phrases native speakers would routinely use and consider natural and correct. Figurative language is the extraordinary creative use of language that deviates from the conventional work order and plain meaning to suggest meaning rather than directly giving meaning, that is, any figure of speech that plays imaginatively with the meaning of words in order to build and furnish layers of meaning beyond the purely literal for particular descriptive effect.

Web 2.0: Characterized by the user experience need to stay connected incessantly to and with other people in the form of social media to share user-generated content and knowledge of all sorts in real time, Web 2.0 technologies entail internet-based applications, text-based chat programs, audio/video podcasts, SNS/SM sites, web-based social networking services, and wikis and blog sites.

MUD: Abbreviation for Multi User Domain or Multi User Dungeon , MUD is primarily a collaborative text-based multiplayer real-time virtual fantasy world in which players can engage across computer networks in online chat, role-playing adventure games, or reading/viewing descriptions of objects, actions, rooms, players, and other non-player characters, including real-time web environment fictional races and monsters.

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