Now Playing: Free comic book for all
My latest script for comics is now available for
this weekend (20-22 April), free of charge
Click on Summer Love and enjoy!
My latest script for comics is now available for
this weekend (20-22 April), free of charge
Click on Summer Love and enjoy!
Here you can read an academic article of mine on Talent issues.
Talent issues and ELT: a Folk Psychology view
By Lia Metal
The issue of talent has always been in my mind since my childhood years. I still remember statements like: “That child has got a talent in painting, just like her father”. Thus, I have always believed that talent is an inherent quality that only very few people possess, agreeing unquestionably with the folk theories (Bruner, 1999a) that prevail in everyday life. Who can deny the fact that some persons find it easier than others to make progress in a specific field? It is that fact that makes people assume that talent is inherent, that some persons have in-born potential to be gifted from birth. But is that belief correct?
To provide an answer to that question I will mention the relevant theories of a team of linguists (Sloboda et al, 1999) who investigated the origins of musicality (Sloboda et al, 1999). As one young musician reported, his mother thought he had got ‘a gift of music’ while his sister had got ‘a gift in school work’ (Howe and Sloboda, 1991 cited in Sloboda et al, 1999). This belief (a folk psychology view) is still ‘widely held by musicians’ (Sloboda et al, 1999, p.46), but it remains controversial.
First of all, the investigation into the origins of musicality revealed that the discovery of one’s talent in a specific field encourages the gifted person’s achievement and promotes self-confidence, aspects that are both missing from a young person lacking talent. In the latter case the folk psychology view (Bruner, 1999a) has got damaging effects. The main factor is self-esteem (Bruner, 1999b) which is high in talented persons, and low in the non- gifted ones. Thus, gifted children are confident and have more achievements that other, less talented children (Sloboda et al, 1999). Consequently, this leads to education issues. Bruner (1999b) mentions the crucial role education plays in the formation of ‘self’, while he emphasizes that different cultures shape it differently. Therefore, schooling plays a major role in the shaping of self, ‘judges the child’s performance and the child responds by evaluating himself or herself in turn’ (Bruner, 1999b, p.173). Therefore, evaluation and self mix and create self-esteem. How low self-esteem is experienced varies, depending on one’s culture. In cultures that emphasize achievement, high self-esteem increases level of aspiration.
On the other hand, not gifted children lack self-confidence and as a result, encounter problems and lack opportunities to learn, as in the case of music where the lack of talent may be used as ‘a reason to justify failing to make musical opportunities available to them’ (Sloboda et al, 1999, p.47).
Sometimes it appears that musical ability runs in families, but how can this be explained? Innate talent is not necessarily the most satisfactory explanation. Based on research (Sloboda et al, 1999), it was found that children whose families have no musical expertise make good progress in music if they are given opportunities and encouragement to learn. However, early experience can influence musical ability. It is said that musical learning can begin before a child is born. Also, when parents sing to their children, for example at sleep time, every day form birth they promote talent. These activities seem ordinary and are often taken for granted, but they should not be underestimated. Research has shown that acquired skills which become systematic with experience can lead to superior musical abilities. Expressive skill in music is affected by emotional and motivational circumstances. One kind of motivation (Sloboda et al, 1999) develops from pleasurable experiences, while the second one is concerned with achievement. However, emphasis on achievement can inhibit the first kind of motivation as children become concerned about what others may be thinking of their performance and thus they do not get the pleasure of music. In conclusion, early differences in exposure to music can lead to variability in children’s ability to take advantage of later formal learning opportunities such as instrumental lessons.
Applications in the ELT field
The aforementioned research in the origins of musicality leads to the following simple conclusion: Given the opportunities, children can make progress. Talent or no talent, all children must have equal opportunities to promote achievement and through a series of pedagogic applications they can develop self-esteem and acquire skills and expertise in the required field. Therefore, the following aspects should prevail in ELT teaching:
It should be highlighted that all aspects should be equally applied to all children, regardless the level of their performance, in order to give them a sense of achievement that will consequently develop their self-esteem and expertise in a field.
To sum up, a preoccupation with everyday beliefs of innate gifts and talents can only ‘inhibit efforts to gain a proper scientific understanding of this complex phenomenon’ (Sloboda et al, 1999, p.56)
Bruner, J. (1999a) ‘Folk pedagogies’ in Leach, J. and Moon, B.(eds) Learners and Pedagogy, London, Paul Chapman Publishing, The Open University.
Bruner, J. (1999b) ‘Culture, mind, and education’ in Moon, B., and Murphy, P. (eds) (1999) Curriculum in Context: A Reader, London, Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd, The Open University
Sloboda, J., Davidson, J. and Howe, J.A. (1999)’Is Everyone Musical?’ in Murphy, P.(eds) Learners, Learning and Assessment, London, U.K., Paul Chapman Publishing, The Open University.
Lia Metal is an EFL teacher, book reviewer and writer living in Corfu. She is an MAEd (Applied Linguistics) holder and she has been working in the ELT field for many years. She loves writing articles in a variety of genres for publications worldwide. For any questions or comments, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some new markets for writers...
The Academy magazine
See you soon!
I've written a short course for those who are interested in creating ACTIVITY books for kids.
Here's the outine:
How to create Story/Activity Books for young children
Instructor: Liana Metal
In this course I will show you how to create your own Story/Activity books, the way I have done.
But why create an activity book?
There are many reasons:
Because you love writing and drawing
Because you feel you can create much more than just texts stories.
Because you wish to show your work to your students and try it out in class.
Because you wish to learn something new and exciting.
Because you want to try a new market.
There are more reasons, depending on the needs of a writer, so why don’t you just add your own ones? Story/Activity books can be fun to create, so, even if you only need that fun, it’s a great activity for you, the writer and artist.
Objective: Aspiring writers and artists will learn how to create a story for kids and enrich it with illustrations and activities that cater to primary school children. The final product will look like a picture book with activities that will educate and entertain the young readers.
Duration: There are 5 lessons within 5 weeks.
Prerequisites: Basic writing skills.
Class material: Instructor will use e mail to supply all material to student. No need to buy any book, but if the student wishes to have more sample material they can follow the suggestions of the instructor.
Curriculum: In this 5-week course, you will learn how to create a story for kids, how to combine the illustrations with the text, how to create the activities and finally, how to transform your word copy into a PDF file, that is, an e book. The course will also instruct you on how to promote and sell your book.
Lesson 1: The Story.
This lesson will look at how to craft and present a story for kids through fast and simple tips.
Lesson 2: The illustrations.
In this section the student will learn how to combine text and illustrations via the use of a computer.
Lesson 3: The book structure.
This lesson focuses on the book plan. The student will learn how to compile the different parts of the book and create a Story/Activity book. There is advice on the kind of activities that a story book can have, so that the student can create their own pages.
Lesson 4: The e book.
Finally, there is advice on how to transform the Word file into an e book. All is free and a great fun to do.
Lesson 5: Promote your book.
In this section the student will learn how to market the book in a variety of ways. There is information about reviewers, agents, publishers and a lot of other recourses and help, such as publications and organizations related to children’s books.
Liana Metal, an MA (Applied Linguistics) holder, has been teaching young children for over twenty years, and during that time she has written a wide range of teaching material, fiction and non fiction for children and young adults. She is currently writing articles and reviews for various publications, both online and print ones, and creating e books. Her first site, http://lianametal.tripod.com, caters to all writers and artists, while her second site, http://liamet.tripod.com, is for e books. Both sites offer free exposure to writers and artists.
Her latest children’s book is Achilleas’New Pet and can be viewed at http://liamet.tripod.com/achilleasnewpet
My first story was for kids.
Not because I thought it would be easier for me. But I've been working with kids almost all my life so I just put to paper what I believed would appeal to them.
Then I turned the story into an activity book and piloted it in class. I've enjoyed doing it and the kids enjoyed reading it. The best part was illustrating the story. I've always loved drawing and painting so I had great fun!
My first title was, THE WHITE SNAIL.
Here's one of the pictures:
I am thinking of creating a new anthology with true stories.
When I have the plan ready I will let you know.
It will come out as an e book as the previous one (Flowers for Women-see site at http://liamet.tripod.com/flowersforwomen ).
More news soon. Keep visiting this blog!
Practically, everywhere. But if you would like to find some specific sites that display reviews online you can visit my site at http://lianametal.tripod.com
and click on the Reviews section. There you will find a lot of URLs of sites that I send my work to. Click on each one of them and read the reviews. You can read my reviews, and other people’s reviews. Watch the style and the language. See what comes first and what is next. The more you read, the more you learn.
If you visit my site, you will see an e books link on the home page. If you click on it, you will find another site dedicated to e books. There you will find my e book titled Writing Basics, which includes a lot of information on reviewing. A revised edition will soon be available online.
What else can I achieve by writing reviews?
You can become a columnist. In this way you can get more publicity. Some e-zines or newsletters need writers to volunteer. In exchange, you will be widely known.
One of the best review sites is MBR. Click on the link below and get some information.
They even publish your link below your work.
Here you can read some reviews and examine the writing style.
Midwest Book review
To sum up, if I’ve done it, you can do it too! And it’s never too late to learn something new and exciting that will help you change your outlook on life! I am always searching the net for something new that will add some spice to my life. After all, I have nothing to lose, only to gain!
What about you?
If you feel like I do, start now. Don’t miss the thrill and fun of it!
And Good Luck!
Can I send a review of the books I already have on my bookshelf?
Yes, you can. Actually, this is the best way to get started. If you like a book you’ve read, review it. Later on, when the editors get to know you, they’ll send you books to review.
First person or third person? Which should I use throughout my review?
Most editors accept only third person. They do not want ‘I’ or ‘my opinion’ sentences. Read a review first of the site you are going to submit to, and adjust your review to that style. Sometimes editors need a particular lay out and style, so study a sample review of theirs before sending yours.
If your review follows the editor’s guidelines, the editor will love your work and will have it published at the next update of the site.
A piece of advice: Do not use both first and third persons. Be consistent throughout your review. It is much better to write the text in the third person. For instance, you can say:
‘Readers will find in this book…’ or you can use ‘you’ when you address the readers.
Where can I find review sites?
Here is a short list, so you can give them a try. They are all good sites and some of the editors may order you free books. Just click on any of them to get familiar with their writing style and other requirements, or read on to examine the samples below.
However, you can look for more sites in search engines. Try http://www.google.com
How can I get published the easy way?
Is there a way to display my work online fast?
These are only a few of the usual questions new writers ask. But is there an answer to them?
Sure, there is! Become a reviewer.
Maybe you haven’t thought of it, or if you have, you have discarded it since it isn’t a paid job to do. But let’s look at the facts:
Reviewers get published easily enough as long as they are good enough to produce a clearly laid out critique, usually on any book they wish.
There is a great demand for reviews on the web, so why not take advantage of it?
What is a reviewer?
What does this job involve?
A reviewer is somebody who reviews the work of others. A reviewer can review a book, a CD, a video cassette of a film, practically anything at all. Most sites online need book reviews, so this is the best market to get started.
Reviewers are expected to write a text –a critique- about the book they have read and liked, and send it to the editor of a reviews site. Although there is no set deadline for this task, a good reviewer will try to be fast and responsible. Reviewers can work on their own books or get books from site editors.
The pros of the job.
1. Reviewers get publicity.
Editors usually publish the writers’ byline and links below each review or in a special section about the writers, so the reviewer can become known worldwide fast.
Some editors publish only the name of the reviewer, though, so be careful to do some research before submitting your review and wish to have your byline and URL (if you have one) published as well.
2. Reviewers get books.
Do I have to pay for the books they send me to review?
This is a frequent question that needs an answer.
Absolutely not! They are free books for you, the reviewer, in reward of the prospective review you are going to submit to the editor who ordered the books for you. You can fill up your bookshelf with extraordinary books and read, read and read!
3. Reviewers gain experience, education and entertainment.
This job is the perfect chance for you to enhance your education in all fields. The more books you read the better chances you have to become a better writer, if this is your goal.
Reviewing adds invaluable experience to prospective writers. Moreover, reading a variety of books can keep you entertained. What is better than a good read?
The cons of this job.
Well, there are not actually any disadvantages if you love reading. But since most people search for paid jobs, this one is not going to give you any cash. The only payment you get is the free book. However, you should think of this: isn’t it a decent payment, after all?
If you love books you are going to do it, just for the sake of it. Reading new titles is always exciting and rewarding!
What if the book I’ve read is not so good? Should I mention the bad points of it in my review?
This question is controversial. You should consider a couple of things before you decide to write a review. Firstly, you should review a book that you like. Secondly, you must always bear in mind that a review should help to sell the proposed book. So, what is the best way to do so?
A review is actually an analysis of a book enhanced by the reviewer’s opinion. Thus, pinpointing the best aspects of a book is a plus to make your review acceptable, and the book marketable. Some editors request all points of view, but you have to find out who they are. The majority need a straightforward favorable review, allowing some minor drawbacks displayed.
To sum up: Focus on the positive aspects of the book- after all, you’ve chosen this book because you think it’s great and would like to recommend it to others.