Columnist from MLD

Gazing at the Gazing Working Class: Verfremdung [1]in Charlie Chaplin’s “A Woman of Paris” (1923)

Dr. Esin Korkut Savul


The film “A Woman of Paris” (1923) by Charlie Chaplin displays some characteristics of the genre “Tragedy”, which is largely described by Aristotle in Poetics. The film’s affinity with the genre is limited with some norms associated with tragedy, and it is not possible to argue that the film creates a totally tragic effect. In addition to being tragic to a certain extent, this film also depicts the features of a certain kind of drama theorized by Bertolt Brecht as “Epic Theatre”. In this sense, the film ostensibly involves a cathartic effect peculiar to tragedies in a syntagmatic reading by conforming to a plot pattern consisting of the rise and fall of a tragic hero and a heroine. When read paradigmatically, it also creates an effect of vervremdung. Verfremdung is the estrangement of the audience due to certain strategies that the performers make use of. The film, in the form of verfremdung, depicts individual sequences characterized by wide angle camera shots showing a scene of working class characters performing in the minor plots of the film. These sequences consist of minor stories functioning as interruptions to the main story line, and in that sense they are also the primary medium of verfremdung in the film.

The film is built upon the story of Marie St. Claire (Edna Purviance) and her lover Jean (Carl Miller) who decide to leave their village for Paris. Due to the death of Jean’s father, Jean cannot join her for the journey, and Marie boards the train on her own. After reaching Paris, Marie gets acquainted with the wealthy Pierre Revel (Adolphe Menjou) and becomes his mistress. She starts to live in a luxuriant apartment provided for her by Pierre. One day, she runs into her ex-lover Jean, who is trying to make a living as an artist in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Jean makes a portrait of Marie and visits her apartment quite often. They start a love affair once again and Marie decides to leave Pierre and marry her ex-lover Jean. After overhearing a conversation between Jean and his mother, in which she hears Jean assuring her mother that his marriage with Marie will not take place, Marie is very much offended with what she hears and returns to Pierre. One day, Jean gets a gun and goes to the restaurant where Marie and Pierre are having dinner. Jean sends Marie the message that he wants to see her for the last time. Pierre finds the message and bullies Jean, and after being humiliated by Pierre, Jean kills himself in the restaurant.

The film displays certain characteristics peculiar to tragedy, one of which is defined by Aristotle as the performance’s capacity to create a feeling of pity and fear. This feeling is an outcome of tragic action configured according to the stages of a tragic plot. Tragic plot involves a change in the character’s condition- defined by Halliwell as a metabasis- central to tragic action. This change of condition is generally identified with a collapse associated with human vulnerability that the tragic hero or heroine is suffering from. This downfall should also be realistic enough to enable the audience’s identification with the plight of the tragic hero, which means that the audience should also be made aware of the possibility that the same disaster can happen to him/her (Halliwell, 1998).  The film features tragic elements in the plight of characters. The female protagonist Marie is made to suffer with the suicide of her previous lover, Jean, who is trying to make a living under poor conditions after the death of his father.  There is clearly a rise in her economic status when Marie becomes the mistress of one of the well –known womanizers of Paris, Pierre. Similarly, Jean Millet experiences a downfall and commits suicide after all his apparent suffering as an artist and a lover. When the main plot line is considered, it is possible to argue that the film displays scenes arousing pity for the plight of the main characters such as Marie and Jean Millet. In that sense, the film conforms to one of the basic principles of a tragedy which is a transformation in the fortunes of characters, and this tragic effect, according to Halliwell, “is the pattern of action itself, not the morality of those involved in it.” In other words, rather than the representation of characters’ suffering, the film lays emphasis on the changing pattern of action, which is characterized by a change in characters’ conditions. Such a vulnerability associated with human beings is underlined in tragedies, and the film explicitly highlights such a change of fortune in one of the captions it uses. It says, “fortune is fickle” (Chaplin, 1923).

In his interpretation of Aristotle’s Politics, Halliwell explains katharis as an emotional purgation experienced by the audience of tragedy, which is highly connected to the effect of realism created by the mimetic representation of events. According to Halliwell, such mimetism can create an emotional response and an identification with the characters. In other words, the more realistically represented are the events and the more mimetic it is, the more attachment will occur between the characters of the tragedy and the audience (Halliwell, 1998). Although the effect of katharsis would be the least thing to be associated with Chaplin’s cinema, this film at first glance, seems to be creating a false sense of mimetism in the concatenation of events according to the time of the day. Each scene is marked with “morning”,” night” or afternoon. However, this false sense of mimetism is constantly disrupted with the scenes whose setting is not the time of the day, but the spatial setting such as “Marie’s apartment” or “Pierre’s office”, where we are ironically shown Pierre lying on a sofa at his leisure making plans of his future marriage career (Fig. 1).

Although this film seems to be displaying certain features of a tragedy such as the mimetic ordering of events and the plight of the tragic hero, it is hard to assume that the film is tragic. In contrast, instead of creating a sense of tragic katharsis, the film leads to verfremdung, a kind of detachment from the performance, with some strategies employed primarily in Bertolt Brecht’s Epic Theatre.  Walter Benjamin, in his study on Brecht’s theatre, describes epic theatre as “gestural”.  Gestural refers to frame-like fragments of enclosed moment in a performance. In other words, instead of moments connected to each other in a mimetic or causal fashion, gestural negates such causality in the ordering of events and offers moments or segments framed individually. These moments or framed narratives in a theatrical performance or in a film have a meaning in itself without being connected to the scene before or after it. This alters the definition of plot in the classical sense. Benjamin describes this fragmental nature of gestures as follows:

Without anticipating the difficult study, yet to be made, of the function of the text in epic theatre, we can at least say that often its main function is not to illustrate or advance the action but, on the contrary, to interrupt it . . . It is the retarding quality of these interruptions and the episodic quality of this framing of action which allows gestural theatre to become epic theatre (Benjamin, 4, 1998).

That is, as opposed to the tragedy described by Aristotle, epic theatre does not aim to portray the real, and in order to avoid such a mimetic effect and interaction with the audience, it disrupts the flow of events through fragments interfering with the main story line.  This is achieved through songs inserted in-between the scenes or the abrupt arrival of a stranger in the middle of a family row. In Chaplin’s film, on the other hand, the fragmented structure of the epic theatre is displayed in several forms. The film presents minor plots and alternating settings in which working class characters are displayed. For instance, Pierre and Mary go out for dinner and the camera shoots the kitchen at the restaurant. The head waiter who is shown trying to convince Pierre to have a stale, stinking bird for dinner in the previous scene, makes the comment at the kitchen after the disappearance of Pierre: “Those perfumed handkerchiefs (referring to Pierre) stink my kitchen out” (Chaplin, 1923). The kitchen scene as a fragment interrupts the main story of Pierre and Marie and has a distracting influence on the audience positing a direct contrast between what goes on in the foreground, the waiter trying to convince Pierre, and the background, the waiter complaining about “the leisure class” (Fig. 2).

The contrasting nature of this fragment is further emphasized with the captions in the film. The camera focuses on the head waiter opening a wine bottle and cooking truffle for Pierre and Marie and at that moment in the film, the caption appears: “Champagne Truffle: a delicacy for pigs and gentlemen” (Chaplin, 1923). These captions function as the intruders and create a sense of verfremdung by laying emphasis on the fictional quality of the film rather than creating a sense of reality. The audience is imbued with an awareness that what they are watching is not a fragment of reality but a fictional product, and this was a way to produce political art. Walter Benjamin, in his study on Brechtian epic theatre explains that he finds epic theatre a more suitable technique for cinema, although it was initially constructed with theatrical performance in mind. Since in epic theatre pieces are more important than the whole, the montage used in cinema helps to construct the fragmentation needed for carrying a political message and making the audience question rather than being carried over by the plot.

Another device of verfremdung in the film is wide angle camera shots where the audience is given a glimpse of working class characters gazing at the main characters obviously with contempt. These scenes introduce new minor plots interfering the main plot, and in that sense they do not only act as fragments leading to the alienation of the audience but also as gestures which make the film episodic. The audience, without the knowledge of the main plot – in our case the meeting of old lovers under new circumstances and the unexpected suicide of one of them- can still grasp these minor plots whose major characters are working class.  One of these gestural scenes is presented after a short dispute between Marie St. Claire and her rich lover Pierre. Marie gets angry with her lover and throws the pearls on her neck out of the window, but when she sees that they are snatched by a tramp walking on the road, she goes down the steps quickly and runs after the tramp and gets her pearl necklace from him and gives him some coins in return. After this scene, the camera focuses on the gazing tramp who is astonished to see that the fortune she found on the road is seized by a woman in return of some coins (Fig. 3).

The scene also shows that, no matter how much despised she is by her rich lover, Marie cannot give up pearls.

Another scene where the major role is given to the working class is the setting in which Marie is given a massage by one of her servants. While having the massage Marie, who is herself the mistress of a man to be married soon, and one of her friends are gossiping on the infidelity of another. While Marie’s friend is talking, she is smoking and using Pierre’s saxophone as an ashtray, and the camera focuses on the massaging girl who obviously listens to what her mistress and her friend are talking about, and her look reflects contempt and astonishment; a situation which puts her on the foreground in the film and associates her concerns with that of the audience rather than Marie and her friend. She is obviously overhearing it with a look of disapproval (Fig. 4).

In addition to fragmented and gestural scenes as the primary devices of verfremdung, the film offers two levels of reading. One of them is mimetic and orders the events within a causality following a natural timeline, and the other one offers an implicit connection between certain symbols in the film.  For instance, two scenes that can be associated in their thematic concerns are presented in settings which include female statues. Through the middle of the film, Pierre can be seen making phone calls before a female figurine in his house (Fig. 5).

The scene reveals a close up focusing on the figurine when Pierre’s talk with Marie on the phone is over. He speaks to Marie and invites her for a dinner outside. The female figurine implies that his affair with Marie is of little importance for Pierre.  He is toying with the idea of flirting with Marie in spite of his approaching marriage. Another scene through the end of the film can be considered to be a parallel one, yet in the opposite sense.  Jean, Marie’s ex-lover, walks around a female statue and kills himself with a gun after being brutally treated by Pierre (Fig. 6).

This catastrophic scene with the dead body of Marie’s ex-lover before the female statue exhibits a contrast with the previous scene in which Pierre is shown talking to Marie on the phone before a small female figurine. The contrast between these two scenes includes some implications on the film’s general discourse on the working class and the idea of belonging to Paris, as the title “A Woman of Paris” indicates. The film implies that it is possible for a woman to be a part of the glamour of Paris as long as she becomes a statue without a will on her own.   Instead of merely telling a love story with some tragic elements in it, the film gives an implicit political message by underlining the difference of attitude between the leisure class and the working class. In this sense, Marie, who actually belonged to working class before coming to Paris and becoming the mistress of wealthy Pierre, is completely estranged after the suicide of her ex-lover. She leaves Pierre and starts to live in a cottage with Jean’s mother and a group of orphaned children in a village. In this respect, the film’s title “A woman of Paris” comes to mean that the “of” indicating a sense of belonging is transformed into an ironic comment implying Marie’s detachment from Paris. At the end of the movie, she gives up all the luxury offered to her by Pierre and Paris. We see her on a horse cart together with a child (Fig. 7).

The film “A Woman of Paris” is one of the earliest examples of Chaplin’s cinema and in that sense it does not exhibit the explicit socialist concerns and criticisms of his later films such as “Modern Times” (1936) and “The Great Dictator” (1940). However, in spite of the tragic elements of the plot and the tragic features of the characters, this film presents a working class gaze which could be detrimental to a possible audience illusion.

[1] Verfremdung is an effect theorized by Brecht  and can be translated as “alienation” or “estrangement” referring to the attitude of the audience who is, instead of identifiying with the characters or the plot being staged, put in a detached position to be able to criticize and question the theatrical performance. This effect can be created through several devices during a performance. Verfremdung , as a theatrical strategy and effect, is often posited against Aristotle ‘s katharsis, which is a kind of purgation the audience experiences by getting identified with the characters and the play. Brecht does not approve of such identification and defines the role of theatrical performance as distancing the audience so as to make them critical.


A Woman of Paris. Dir. Charlie Chaplin. Perf. Edna Purveyance, and Carl Miller.

Charles Chaplin Productions Regent, 1923.Web.02. 04. 2018.

Benjamin, Walter. Understanding Brecht. London: Verso, 1998. Print.

Halliwell, Stephen. Aristotle’s Poetics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998.


What do students want to read about in EAP classes?: A survey of student topic preferences

Dr. Hale Kızılcık


In EAP courses, reading texts constitute a significant part of the course since they are used not only to practice academic reading skills but also to serve as a springboard for writing and speaking tasks. When choosing the texts, the principal criteria is their academic orientation, and texts that are not highly discipline specific and that are likely to contribute to the readers’ intellectual and cultural background are preferred. Choosing texts appealing to students’ academic curiosity and thus motivating is also considered important. However, as the saying goes, there’s no accounting for taste, and it is a challenge to identify what is interesting for a reader. As a part of the syllabus renewal project, ENG 101-102 Committee decided to ask ODTU students what they would like to read in English courses. Their survey was analysed by the Research and Development Committee. The findings together with implications for syllabus design are presented in this report.

The survey

In order to find out what kind of texts ODTU students would like to read in English courses, a mini-survey was conducted. There was one question in the survey and it was: “ENG 101/102 derslerinde hangi konularda makaleler okumak istersiniz?” No demographical information was requested from the students who participated in the study. The survey link was emailed to all the students who were taking ENG 102 in 2017-2018 Spring semester, which amounted to approximately 3, 200 students. The survey was open for a week between March 1 and March 7, 2018.  After cleaning the invalid responses (blank responses or identical multiple entries by the same student), the number of the students participated in the study were 582.


Miles and Huberman’s (1994) qualitative data analysis methodology was adopted when analysing the data. First, the student responses were identified as individual codes. At this initial stage, the researcher avoided grouping similar codes as a single code in order avoid any error due to researcher interpretation. Once the coding was completed, similar codes were clustered into themes (identified in capital letters in Figure 1). For referential adequacy, the original codes (codes before clustering) were kept accessible in the report.  The use of software (MAXQDA Plus 2018) aided the analysis by enabling the researcher to add further groups at any stage in the process and to move codes to different groups when needed. It also allowed to assign multiple codes for a single response. Longer responses that provided further insights regarding students’ perceptions were coded in-vivo and presented as direct quotations in the report (such direct quotations were included only under the 101-102 ve GENEL KONU YORUMLARI theme). Since the majority of the responses were in Turkish, the themes were written in Turkish, and because the audience of the report is bilingual, Turkish responses were not translated in order to preserve the voice of the students.

The data was coded by a single researcher. In order to achieve intra-rater reliability, she coded the complete data set independently at two different intervals. The codes and themes were open to peer-debriefing for any inconsistencies and for alternative coding suggestions.

Data analysis

582 responses were processed, and the total number of codes was 1, 077. Figure 1 shows the frequencies of the themes and provides an overall picture of student preferences.

Figure 1: Frequencies of the themes

As seen in the figure, the most popular five topics were the ones that are about SANAT (art) (163), SCIENCE (science) (148), TARIH (history) (78), PSIKOLOJI (psychology) (74), and TEKNOLOJİ technology (73). BILIM TARIHI (history of science) (17) can be considered both under science and history. Similarly, MUHENDISLIK (engineering) can be grouped with technology. It should also be noted that TEMEL BILIM (basic sciences) theme was created by compiling less frequently emerging responses (mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology) under an umbrella theme, and if a broader category like STEM was created, they could have been clustered together with SCIENCE. Similarly, more frequently emerging fields like psychology and history were coded independently from the SOCIAL SCIENCES (social sciences) theme. Also, other themes identified in the data such as SOSYAL AGIRLIKLI DIGER KONULAR (other socially-oriented topics) are mainly associated with the SOSYAL BILIMLER (social sciences) theme. The reason why these codes were not merged was that the topics listed under the SOSYAL AGIRLIKLI DIGER KONULAR (other socially-oriented topics) were sometimes broad topics that also have a science and technology dimension. Finally, responses like “we should not read” were coded as ILGISIZ YORUM (irrelevant comments)

In this report, salient themes and codes that emerged in the data will be presented and briefly explained.  Less frequent themes/ codes will be provided in the appendix.



Figure 2 shows the codes under the SANAT (art) theme. As seen in the figure, there were 62 instances where the students wrote only “sanat” or “art”.  In other cases, the students specified what branch of art was particularly appealing to them. The diversity of the responses within a single theme that can be seen here was a general feature of the complete data set. Another important thing that needs to be clarified concerns the films/ movies code. Although it was not possible to clearly identify whether responses that stated films/ movies should be considered as a part of the SANAT or POPULAR CULTURE (popular culture) theme, the final decision was to include them under the SANAT theme. Overall, by emerging in 28% of the responses, art was the most popular theme. However, sweeping generalizations should be avoided since a student who expressed his/her interest in cinema may not be keen on art history or literature.

Figure 2: The codes under the SANAT theme


As seen in Figure 3, 67 of the responses were “bilim” or “science”, and it was assumed that students referred to natural sciences, and science and technology when they used these terms. Certain codes such as kanser, hastalıklar (cancer and diseases) and genetics (genetik) which could have been grouped with other themes were included under the BILIM theme. Space (23) combined with universe (4) were distinguished as highly favourable topics.

Figure 3: The codes under the BILIM theme


Figure 4 shows the codes under the TARIH (history) theme, and figure 5 displays the codes under the BILIM TARIHI (history of science) theme. Forty-eight students stated that they would like to read about history without further specification. With the inclusion of specifically indicated preferences, there were 78 instances of history as a favourable topic. In addition, 17 students wrote that they would like to read about history of science. Figure 4: The codes under the TARIH theme

Figure 5: The codes under the BILIM TARIHI theme


With 74 codes, psychology was another popular topic. Fifty students indicated psychology as a field of interest without further explanation. As seen in figure 6, students were interested in various aspects of psychology.

Figure 6: The codes under the PSIKOLOJI theme


In total, there were 74 responses coded under the theme TEKNOLOJI (technology) and seven themes were coded under the theme MUHENDISLIK (engineering) (See Figure 1). Figure 7 displays various aspects of technology students expressed an interest in.

Figure 7: The codes under the TEKNOLOJI ve MUHENDISLIK themes


SOSYAL AGIRLIKLI DIGER KONULAR (other socially-oriented topics) theme refers to a range of topics that has a social dimension. For example, a topic like criminals may be studied from the perspective of biology, psychology, psychiatry and sociology.  Although it is possible to expand this theme by including some of the other themes, in order not to lose the diversity in the responses, a granular approach was adopted. Figure 8 shows the codes under this theme.

Figure 8: The codes under the SOSYAL AGIRLIKLI DIGER KONULAR theme


There were 25 instances where the students stated that they would like to read about current topics. Seven students stated their wish to read texts that would help them develop their cultural background and learn new things:

Genel kültürü, genel altyapıyı arttırıcı sanat ve bilim konularına olabilir.”

“İginç işler yapmış sanatçılar  ya da bilim insanlarının hayatları olabilir. Film ya da kitap olabilir.Yani daha cok yeni ögrenebileceğimiz hem kültürel açıdan katkı sağlayan hem de ilginç gelen konular ustune… Bir icat ya da mimari bir eser üstüne gibi.”

“Genel kültür bazında bilim ve tarihle ilgili anlaşılabilir makaleler. Penisilin’in icadının tarihteki önemi. Gümüş suyunun tarihte antibiyotik olarak kullanılmasi. Kot taşlamada silis tozu ve silikozis hastalığı gibi:))”

“Günumüze yakın, genel kültürümüzü artırabilecek konular. Elon Musk – SpaceX, Steve Jobs vb.”

“Bize kültürel olarak bir şeyler katıp eğlendirecek makaleler hem ilgi çeker hem de istekle okunur. Kalite ve konu makalenin uzunluğundan önemlidir.”

“Sosyal bilinç oluşturacak konu içeren makaleler.”

“Yani daha cok yeni ögrenebilecegimiz”

There were some criticism of the thematic approach and texts used in ENG 101 and 102 courses:

“It actually doesn’t matter as long as the topics of the articles are not the same. That is, I don’t want to read about “chance” [sic] or “”power”” all the time.”

“İnsan ilişkileri, insan psikolojisi olabilir. Atatürk ya da duygularımız gibi şeyler artik ilgi çekmedigi gibi, ögrencileri dersten itmekte bence.”

“Teknik veya tarihi makalelerden ziyade yeni ve ilginç şeyler öğrenebilecegimiz makaleler tercihim. Sadece okumuş olmak icin okuyoruz. Örnek vermek gerekirse köpeklerde beden dili gibi bir konu eğlenceli ve faydalı olacaktır. Mesela şu an 102 kitabındaki M. Kemal ATATURK makalesine gerek yoktu bence. Milli değerimiz ve bilmemiz gereken tarihi bir kişi ancak ilkokuldan beri gördüğümüz bir konu.”

“Metalaştırılmış ve hali hazırda bildiğimiz, bize yeni bir şeyi ögretmedigi gibi vaktimizi de boşa gecirmemize neden olan Atatürk makaleleri haricinde.”

“Doga, dilbilim, antropoloji (power ve liderlikle ilgili olmayan, bireyciliği sürekli olarak dayatmayan ve kişisel gelişim olmayan konular lütfen)”

“Bize bir seyler katacak herhangi bir konuda olabilir. Daha önce çok fazla insanin üzerine düşünmedigi hemen akla gelmeyecek konular insanlari düşünmeye daha cok iter. Yoksa liderlik gibi bir konu bir insanin niçin ilgisini çeksin ki cok anlamsız. Bu şekilde basit konular seçerek kimseyi düşünmeye itemezsiniz. ”

“Özellikle 102 nin power konseptinin cok sıkıcı olduğunu düşünüyorum.”

Some of the students made comments about the fields:

“NO ENGINEERING TEXTS :)” [capitals in the original]

“Ögrencilerin kendi bilimleriyle alakalı makale okuması hem kendi bilimiyle alakalı fikir sahibi olmasına hem de makale nasıl yazılır anlamasına yol açar. Bu yüzden herkes kendi bilimiyle alakaı makale okumalı.”

“Tarih, ekonomi ve psikoji içerikli makaleler. Lütfen biyoloji, DNA, genetik ile alakalı daha fazla okuma yapmayalım.”

“Politik olmayan herhangi bir konu daha iyi olabilir.”

“Özellikle girişimcilik, işletme gibi konular OLMAMALI onun yerine daha çok doğa bilimleri ve sosyal bilimlere yer verilebilir”

Further comments about the topics and texts are given below:

“Cloud Computing, Quantum Computers (suggestion: the readings can also come from a book chapter, which will be easier to read than journal articles)

Herkesin kendinden birseyler bulabileceği yaşantıya değinen herhangi bir konu ideal olacaktır.

“Daha ilgi çekici veya yaşanmış ilginç olaylardan oluşan makaleler olabilir. Bazen hiç bilmediğimiz konularda makale okudugumuzda benim adıma fazla birşey katmamakla birlikte makaleyle ilgilenemiyorum :)”

“Non-Western centered articles”


One obvious conclusion to be drawn from the analysis is the diversity in the responses. Students’ reading preferences are not only highly diverse but at times they are contradictory. In the light of this diversity even in the highly popular topics, certain principles to guide syllabus and materials developments are suggested.

  1. More room in the syllabus for more popular topics such as arts, science, history, technology and psychology can be made. Relevant departments can be consulted to identify texts that are suitable for EAP students. For example, psychology department may suggest texts that would suit general audience.
  2. There should be a balance between social-sciences and STEM. A strict thematic approach does not seem to be congruent with students’ preferences. Including a number of themes addressing different fields may be more motivating for students.
  3. It may be useful to dwell on history of science which merges history and science.
  4. Using a theme-matrix when choosing texts may be helpful to assess the potential diversity a text offers. Below there are some sample texts assessed using a theme matrix.

Theme Matrix Sample:

“El Dorado” Chemistry: Gold-Silver Ancient civilizations: Discovery of the New World Politics & economy:

Power, war, imperialism

Source: Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
“Coca-Cola and the Rise of America” Chemistry & health:

The original formula

The history of the drink Politics & economy

Ideology/ marketing

Source:  A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
Forensic psychology Forensics/ biology Criminal behavior/ cases Crime and society
Source: Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid


  1. A list of books that are suitable for finding such diversity within a single text may be put together. Indeed, ENG 101-102 has started working on such a list.


  1. In this study, it was not possible to identify whether students do prefer to read topics that are related to their departments or not. This may be addressed when the study is repeated in the future.
  2. What students actually mean when they say “bilim” is not clear, and it is assumed that they are not referring to social sciences when they write “bilim” or “science”.
  3. Code-theme relations are flexible; that is to say, codes can be classified under different themes. This flexibility should be considered when using the results of the analysis.


KULTUR (Culture)

Figure 9: The codes under the KULTUR theme

POLITIKA (Politics)

Figure 10: The codes under the POLITIKA theme

 POPULER KULTUR (Popular culture) and SPOR (sports)

Figure 11: The codes under the POPULER KULTUR and SPOR themes

 ONEMLI INSANLAR (Important people)

Figure 12: The codes under the ONEMLI INSANLAR theme

 SAGLIK (health), EKONOMI (economy), BILIM-KURGU (science-fiction) and DOGA (nature)

Figure 13: The codes under the SAGLIK, EKONOMI, BILIM-KURGU and themes

BUSINESS (iş), KISISEL GELISIM (self-development), MUHTELIF (miscellaneous)

Figure 14: The codes under the SAGLIK, EKONOMI, BILIM-KURGU and themes


Miles, MB. & Huberman, AM. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks,

CA: Sage Publications.


Reflections on Teacher and Learner Roles in Education:

Lessons from Fitness Training

Dr. Hale Kızılcık

Having worked as a teacher trainer, it is very difficult for me to put the trainer hat away when I am in a lesson of any kind. I cannot help evaluating the lesson and the teacher no matter what the context is. I guess this can be viewed as an occupational hazard. This paper is inspired by my reflections on the group lessons in a gym and the trainers’ practices in these lessons.  My observations and experience have refreshed my views about teacher and learner roles in learning.

I’ll first focus on what successful trainers do in group lessons, and then I’ll reflect on what they cannot do for the trainees. Here is a list of features I’ve observed to quality the successful fitness trainers.

  1. They create the impression that they are competent in their field. We are not provided with specific information regarding their diplomas and areas of expertise (though this information is available). Still, their expertise is evident in the way they execute their lessons. We know that we can trust their expertise, and we feel that we are in safe hands.
  2. They give clear instructions and model what to do. There are times when an exercise can get very complicated, which can be very discouraging. This is especially face-threatening when our gym-mates are more advanced than we are. When the instructions are given in a step-by-step manner and the teacher models the exercise, the chance that we will give it a try increases dramatically.
  3. They start with a warm-up and they close with a cool-down. In their lessons, we do not find ourselves in the middle of action, and there are no abrupt endings. We are prepared for the lesson, and there is always a sense of closure.
  4. They create routines. At the same time, they spice up the lessons by adding new exercises. In some fitness sessions, there is a choreography, which the trainees gradually learn. There is a harmony in the way the lesson flows. On the other hand, there are variations to make sure that different muscle groups are targeted throughout the training.
  5. They give feedback: My favourite trainers walk around and check what we are doing. They correct us if we are making a mistake. This is especially important because doing an exercise incorrectly not only decreases its impact but can also cause injuries. The good trainers underline the fact that practice does not necessarily make perfect, and we need to get it right. Also, they remember to praise us on our accomplishments.
  6. They explain which muscles/ body parts are engaged in a particular exercise. These explanations are motivating for us because they give us a sense of purpose.
  7. They challenge us just at the right level. They tell us that “no pain, no gain” reminding that unless we push our limits at a reasonable rate, we cannot make any progress.
  8. They guide us about health and fitness:. They give us information about what else we need to do outside the class to get the best results including information about diet and sleeping.
  9. They arrange the studio. They come a bit early, remind people to respect others’ personal space, and make themselves available in case there are trainees who want to ask questions.

A comparison of these qualities I’ve compiled with the literature on effective teachers reveals that there are many overlaps.  In their research on the effective teacher, Zhang, Fike and DeJesus (2015) investigated university students’ perceptions of the ideal university teacher and found out certain features that stand out. They conducted the research with two groups of students studying Economics at two different universities in the US (458 students in total) and asked them to rank the 22 faculty qualities provided on a questionnaire in terms of their relative importance. Although the students in the two universities did not provide an identical ranking, there were significant parallels. Among the 22 faculty qualities, the same nine qualities made the first 10 in both groups. These nine qualities were knowledgeable, grades fairly, conveys knowledge, willing to help, confident, encourages students, sets attainable goals, dedicated to excellence in teaching and organized. As can be seen, with the exception of grading fairly, the list matches to a great extent with the effective trainer list.

Faculty’s perceptions of the effective teacher are also similar. Singh et al. (2013) studied the image of the ideal teacher as perceived by the faculty at a medical school in Malaysia. The faculty were given a questionnaire and asked to rank the qualities of effective teachers. There were 24 statements in the questionnaire, and 57 faculty participated in the research. Among the given qualities, (1) sound knowledge of the subject ranked highest. The following top 10 characteristics in descending order were (2) enthusiastic and having passion to teach, (3) good communication skills, (4) honest, moral and ethical, (5) willing to learn and open to change, (6) inspiring and motivational to students, (7) good presentation skills, (8) being unbiased, (9) well-organized/ good planning, and (10) offering constructive criticism to the students. Again, the parallels are obvious. Excluding the qualities four, five and eight, which are not highly relevant to the training context, the qualities that identify the effective teacher are more or less same.

Borich (2011) states that recent research on effective teaching focuses on the impact teachers have on their students rather than focusing solely on the teacher. In this line of research, researchers study classroom interaction to identify key teacher behaviours that lead to student success. Various studies on this topic have pointed out five key behaviours that are directly linked to effective teaching: lesson clarity, instructional variety, teacher task orientation (“providing the students with the greatest opportunity to learn and practice”), engagement in the learning process (creating the conditions to help students focus on task) and student success rate. (p. 12). These five essential behaviours are also congruent with the list I provided above.

Going back to the fitness training comparison, I’ll turn the attention from the trainer to the trainee. As I stated earlier, there are things I consider to be beyond the trainers’ province.  My argument is that no matter how excellent a trainer is, the ultimate key to success is in the trainee’s hand.

  1. As trainees, we may always choose to skip lessons and without regular practice, progress is very difficult. During a session, we may choose to take it easy and do exercises in a half-hearted way. We may even stop doing the exercise when our trainer is looking the other way round.
  2. Trainers make suggestions such as those regarding how tight we should hold the fitness band, how much weight we should lift and how we should adjust our posture. However, at the end of the day, we are the ones who are in control our mind and body, and we may always choose to ignore the suggestions.
  3. In addition to attitudinal factors listed above, there is also the role of our biological disposition and present fitness level. In language learning, these may be compared to the concepts of aptitude and proficiency. Some people are naturally good at sports, some are not. Some exercises take a long time to master, and it is very likely that late starters will never catch up with the early starters in sports that require extensibility and elasticity. As trainees being aware of our limitations and setting achievable goals are essential to maintain our motivation.

In a nutshell, successful trainees are the ones who know what they want, and who do what is necessary to achieve what they want. They know their limitations, set realistic goals and show resilience to achieve their aims. What is more, they take pleasure in improving. Putting my teacher hat back, the case of a fitness trainee is not very different from the case of a language learner.

I believe that a shift from “teaching” to “learning” may be what we need in education since it seems that the role of the learner is somehow underestimated in the big picture both by the educators and learners themselves. Exploring this role and helping our students appreciate the central role they play in their own learning are probably two actions to take for better results.

I have no intention to underestimate the role of the teacher in education. We are the ones who have the knowledge and skills to create learning opportunities for our students. However, as the saying goes you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Thus, maybe before anything else, we should strive at guiding our students to realize and fulfill their responsibilities for success.  Maybe, they should be advised to keep primarily themselves accountable for their own learning and progress. At the end of the day, how much they are likely to benefit from whatever we provide for them is as much in their hands as ours.


Boris, G. (2011). Effective teaching methods: Research-based practice. (7th edition). Boston:

Pearson Education, Inc.

Singh, S., Pai, D. R., Sinha, N. K., Kaur, A., Htoo, H., Soe, K., & Barua, A. (2013). Qualities

of an effective teacher : what do medical teachers think ? BMC Medical Education, 13,128.

Zhang, S., Fike, D., & DeJesus, G. (2015). Qualities university students seek in a teacher.  Journal of Economics And Economic Education Research, 16(1), 42-54.


Dr. Gökçe Vanlı

Merhaba sevgili arkadaşlar,

MLD Bulletin’in bu sayısında sizleri bir süredir bahsetmiş olduğum, hepimizi çok ilgilendiren ama genel olarak sizlerin biraz dışında gerçekleşen 2018-2022 Stratejik Planımız, “Dış Değerlendirme” sürecimiz ve bunların gelecek dönemlere ilişkin yansımaları hakkında bilgilendirmek istiyorum. Yazıyı kullanacağım terimlerin çokluğundan dolayı Türkçe yazmamın daha açıklayıcı olacağını düşündüm.

Herşey 2016 yılı sonlarına doğru 2018-2022 yıllarını kapsayacak olan ODTÜ Stratejik Planı’nın hazırlık çalışmaları ile başladı. İlk olarak, üniversite yönetimimiz bir durum analizi çalışması başlattı. (ODTÜ Kurum İç Değerlendirme Raporu (KİDR) üniversite web sitemizde mevcuttur.)Bu bağlamda, 200 iç paydaş ve 50 dış paydaştan veri toplanarak 7-8 Ocak 2017 tarihlerinde bir arama konferansı gerçekleştirilmiştir. Daha sonra 150 kişinin katılımı ile 13 Şubat’ta bir farklılaşma stratejisi paneli yapılmış ve burada üniversitemizin misyon ve vizyonunu belirleme çalışmalarında bulunulmuştur. Oluşturulan Stratejik Planlama Alt Komisyonları (SPAK) 6 Mart’ta ortak bir koordinasyon toplantısı yapmış ve üniversite üst yönetimi 21 Nisan’da stratejik plan taslağını sunmuştur. Bu taslak, üniversitemizdeki bölüm, enstitü ve idari birimler tarafından 2 kez incelenmiş ve 30 Mayıs 2017 tarihli Senato’da kabul edilmiştir. Kalkınma Bakanlığı’na sunulan taslak önerilen revizyonların yapılmamasının ardından 19 Eylül 2017 tarihli Senato’da kabul edilmiştir. (ODTÜ 2018-2022 Stratejik Planı’na  üniversite web sitemizden ulaşmanız mümkündür.)

Bundan sonraki aşama birimlerin stratejik planlarının hazırlanması olmuştur. Bu amaçla YDYO yönetimimiz  üniversitemizin geçirdiği aynı süreci izleyerek önce bir durum analizinde bulunmuş, misyon, vizyon ve değerlerimizi gözden geçirerek 2018-2022 yıllarını kapsayacak amaç, hedef ve stratejileri belirleyerek performans göstergelerini belirlemiş ve hedef kartlarını yazmıştır.

Daha sonra YDYO yönetiminin hazırladığı plan çerçevesinde bu kez Modern Diller Bölümü olarak biz 2018-2022 yıllarını kapsayan Stratejik Planı’mızı yazmaya başladık. Aynı üniversitemizin geçirdiği uzun ve meşakatli süreci takip ettik. Öncelikle bu planı hazırlamak için bir komisyon oluşturduk. Komisyon üyelerimiz ben, Seher Balbay ve İlke Mankalyalı son üç ay içerisinde düzenli olarak her hafta buluşup bölümümüzün misyon ve vizyonunu belirleyip, hedef, amaç ve stratejilerimizi yazdık. Şu anda hedef kartlarının yazımı aşamasındayız ve tüm bu süreç Ocak ayı sonunda tamamlanacak ve sizlerle de paylaşılacaktır.

Tüm bunlar gerçekleşirken bir de YÖK Dış Değerlendirme süreci atlattık. 27-29 Kasım tarihleri arasında gerçekleşen değerlendirmede YÖK tarafından görevlendirilen 7 araştırmacı üniversitemize gelerek değerlendirmelerde bulundular. YDYO olarak biz de bu sürecin içerisinde yer aldık. Bu sürece hazırlanırken bölüm kalite güvence sistemimizi belirledik. Bu bağlamda yine stratejik plan komisyonu bölümümüzün işleyişini ve PDU da özellikle hizmetiçi eğitim ve profesyonel gelişim çalışmalarımızı detaylı olarak anlatan bir rapor hazırladı. Web sitemizde yenilikler yapıldı. YÖK dış değerlendirme komisyonunun 28 Kasım Salı günü yaptığı değerlendirme toplantılarına ayrı ayrı oturumlarda YDYO yönetimi, 9 YDYO öğretim elemanı (4 MDB ve 5 TİB) ve 8 YDYO öğrencisi katıldı. Bu toplantılarda araştırmacılar genel olarak işleyişimizle ilgili sorular sorup güçlü ve zayıf yanlarımızı belirleyip ihtiyaç analizinde bulundular. MDB’yü temsilen bizler de özellikle kadro sıkıntımızın YÖK’e bildirilmesi yönünde görüşümüzü bildirdik.

Peki bundan sonra ne olacak? Hazırlanan stratejik planı 2018-2019 akademik yılında uygulamaya koyabilmemiz için önümüzdeki 9 ayı çok iyi değerlendirip ders içeriklerimizi yenilemeli ve stratejilerimizi gerçekleştirmek adına girişimlerde bulunmalıyız. Araştırma üniversitesi olmamızdan dolayı YÖK Dış Değerlendirmesi artık her sene yapılacaktır. Bu yüzden planın uygulanıyor olması önem kazanmıştır.

Bölüm yönetimi olarak Eylül ayı başında sizlerin görüşlerinizi aldığımız küçük odak grup toplantıları yapmış ve öneri ve görüşlerinizi bir rapor halinde sizlerle paylaşmıştık. Bu arada yeni proficiency sınavının da içeriği belli oldu ve 13 Aralık 2017 günü ilk kez uygulandı. Bu süre zarfında biz de stratejik planımızı neredeyse tamamladık. Güz dönemi içerisinde de derslerimiz için piyasada bulunan bazı ders kitaplarını temin ederek içerik incelemesinde bulunduk. Şimdi artık planın uygulanması için önerilerimizi rektörlüğe sunma aşamasındayız. Önümüzdeki günlerde gerçekleşecek bir toplantıda yeni akademik yılı kapsayan değişiklik önerilerimizi rektörlük yetkililerine sunarak onaylarını almak istiyoruz. Çıkacak sonuçları yine sizlerle paylaşıp bahar döneminde yine yoğun bir çalışma süreci geçirerek 2018-2019 akademik yıla hazırlanmak amacındayız.

Gördüğünüz gibi gerek üniversitemiz gerekse de bölümümüz çok yoğun bir dönem geçirdi. Fakat özellikle bölümümüz için çok yeni ve bir o kadar da yoğun bir dönem bizleri bekliyor. Biz yapılacaklar konusunda çok heyecanlıyız. Çağımız öğrencilerinin değişen profillerini ve üniversitemizin hedeflerini de gözönünde bulundurarak üniversitemizin misyonu içerisinde olan “eleştirel düşünebilen, yenilikçi ve liderlik ruhuna sahip” mezunlar yetiştirmek adına bölümümüz adına üzerimize düşen görevi yapmaya çalışacağız. Bu konuda her zaman olduğu gibi yine yardım ve desteğinize ihtiyacımız var. MDB Ailesi olarak hepimizi yeniliklerle dolu bir yıl bekliyor.

Acısıyla tatlısıyla geçirdiğimiz 2017’nin sonuna yaklaşırken, 2018 yılının hepimize ve ülkemize sağlık ve mutluluklar getirmesini dilerim.


Maria Sonia Mejuto Gonzalez

I will never forget the passion of my Latin and Ancient Greek teacher in high school. Despite teaching the so-called ‘dead languages’, we as students could not feel them more alive when engaging into tasks as the translation of texts. Since that, many years have passed as a learner and teacher myself and, as most teachers, I have come to develop my own teaching philosophy, which can be summed up as: Teach how you would like to be taught and try to make students feel as you would like to feel in a language class. And this understanding of teaching has naturally led me to become interested in emotional intelligence and its relationship with language learning and teaching. Specifically, in emotional variables such as motivation, attittude, anxiety, self-confidence and empathy.
Through my teaching experience I realized  that one of the aspects which stresses more learners in their second language acquisition process is error correction, especially in oral activities, a field which has not been studied much in Turkey concerning the learning of Spanish as a foreign language. In order to get to know better the students’ perception towards error correction in oral production (speaking) activities, I conducted a study in recent years with METU students and which I presented in seminars on Spanish as a foreign language at Boğaziçi University and Ankara University. By means of a questionnaire and talks to students, I found out that most of them wanted to be corrected important errors and the ones which they repeated often, but not all errors. In addition, they emphasized that they would like oral correction to be kind and subtle. Some students even stated that they  wanted their written work to be corrected, but not their oral one. In order to meet the students’ ‘wishes’ I developed a different correction depending on whether an activity is a oral formal practice, which I may correct immediately and directly in a gentle way, using a favorable dynamic such as pair work, or an oral interaction or oral expression activity, in which I can take notes and comment errors afterwards to each student or, if they are too frequent amongst all the students, I may correct them, for example, with an error detection contest format (prize included!), taking advantage of game usage and its positive associations as well.

Another important emotional variable is, for most of us, motivation. For this purpose, I try to not only to use humor in the classroom whenever possible, but to, through language learning,  attempt to increase the students’ intercultural awareness, to make them think about what they consider their culture is and to feel proud of it. Also, I try to encourage that they learn about the cultures of the Spanish speaking countries in and outside the classroom and that they are able to introduce what they learned to others, as they did in the Spanish culture stand some years ago during the Spring Festival held in Metu. In addition, I try to foster talking about their cultures in Spanish. Furthermore, I consider very positive to increase students’ chances to be exposed to activities about Latin America and Spain. That is why we organized a couple of lectures on Andalusian Cultural Heritage and on Studying as a Erasmus Student in Spain given by visiting lecturer Juan Bosco in November 2016.

Last but not least, as a means of increasing METU’s visibility as a reference center for the Spanish language and culture instruction in Ankara and Turkey, and as a way of we the Spanish instructors in the department ourselves to keep updated with other instructors’ research, in the Spring of 2018 we will host for the second consecutive year the Spanish Instructors’ Meeting in Ankara, this time with a special focus on the usage of acting techniques in the teaching of Spanish a foreign language.

Wishing everybody a great semester!

Best regards,

Sonia Mejuto Gonzalez


Yeliz Akel & Dr. Gamze Karbi


ODTÜ-TANDEM Language Learning Program

11It was in June 2014 when we dreamed of bringing Tandem to ODTÜ, and we realized our dream only one semester later. Being a really good team and the effectiveness of the Tandem formula inevitably led us to set up and maintain ODTÜ Tandem Language Learning Program, under which over 100 students have done Tandem so far. We are so proud and happy to be the mothers, designers and facilitators of ODTÜ Tandem, and we hope it will grow further with support from our colleagues, language learners and administrative bodies so that more language learners benefit from it.

With this piece, we would like to share brief but comprehensive information about what Tandem Language Learning is about and how we run the program at ODTÜ.

Tandem, in fact, dates back to 1968, and it was first put into practice as part of a French-German youth exchange program. Later, this evolved into a face-to-face Tandem network in 1983, and into e-mail Tandem in 1992. And today, though mainly in Europe, Tandem is still used as an autonomous language learning tool in different forms: face-to-face, e-mail, Skype, App and as part of language courses.

Basically, Tandem language learning is based on a partnership between two people, each of whom is learning the other’s language at roughly the same level of proficiency in their respective target languages. This is a special learning environment because it does not have the hierarchical structure that the typical L2 learning settings have. During the meetings, each learner assumes the role of the “expert” (= native) and “novice” (= non-native) in turns as the conversation switches from one language to another. This structure provides learners with an opportunity to develop a friendly and comfortable relationship where the native speaker does not function as a teacher but as an empathizing peer who gives assistance and assurance to the other peer. In short, in Tandem language learning, learners work in pairs in order (1) to learn more about one another’s character and culture; (2) to help one another improve their language skills, and (3) to exchange additional knowledge – for example, about their professional life.

Tandem learning is reciprocal. This dictates that each partner should benefit equally from the exchange. It means that learning objectives, and the means of achieving them, are negotiated between partners, so that each feels that s/he is deriving full benefit from the partnership.  Moreover, Tandem learning underlines autonomous learning. Learners need to know how a language is learnt, how Tandem learning works, how they can best help each other in correcting mistakes and what they can expect from each other. In other words, learners need to organize their learning, manage their attitude to learning, and develop appropriate learning techniques and strategies.

ODTÜ Tandem Language Learning Program

ODTÜ welcomes hundreds of international students from various countries all around the year. Naturally, these students, whether they are here for one semester or four years, need to learn Turkish at varying levels. Similarly, we have Turkish students who learn foreign languages for various reasons. Even this simple fact leads to the fact that language learning can be made more effective and beneficial with activities and/or programs outside class.

Language learners, studying or working at ODTÜ, can apply to the program through our website: The facilitators of the program, in Tandem terms the Coaches, are us, and we run the program following the steps below:

(1) Processing applications and matching learners;

(2) Holding a Tandem Workshop – where autonomous learning, Tandem learning principles, program steps are shared with learners;

(3) Evaluating learners’ reflection sheets;

(4) Holding individual/pair meetings with learners to evaluate their goals in this program;

(5) Responding questions and/or requests for help from learners throughout the program;

(6) Evaluating Learning Diaries written by learners;

(7) Holding the second individual/pair meetings with learners to evaluate their Tandem experience and the program;

(8) Awarding successful learners with ODTÜ-Tandem Participation Certificates.

Here is some feedback from previous ODTÜ-Tandem participants. Their views describe the Tandem experience best:

Through interacting with a native speaker, I feel that I am becoming more fluent, in the sense that I speak the language in a less stumbling manner. For example, I can now properly use prepositional adverbs and I can express myself better in a variety of situations.
I think it is a great opportunity to learn a language because compared to a language course you concentrate on one person. And when you learn with a native speaker you learn the really useful things which help you out in everyday life.
It has benefited me in my daily life situations. That means for example how to ride a Dolmus or how to handle the Bazaar. Also I learned much about Turkey and how people live in it. All in all, it is not just Tandem, it is the connection between Tandem, flat mate, Turkish course and the normal daily situations which helps me to handle my daily Turkish live better and better.

We happily invite any dedicated language learner to join us because we like doing our best to find a Tandem partner on the campus for anyone willing to practice his/her target language and learn more both about the language and its culture.


Yeliz Akel & Dr. Gamze Karbi


Yaprak Güleç Öğütçü


“We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.”

Yes, I guess it is with this quote from Winnie the Pooh(!) I can best summarize my PDU years as a Teacher Trainer at MLD…

Ones who know me know that I was almost “born” into this department(!); but apart from that, after working at Başkent University for one year, I started working in MLD in the Spring Semester of 1998-1999 academic year-right before the Millennium!! From that point onwards, I started having a “never-ending” professional development journey… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to preach here about how important it was for me to go on developing myself as a teacher-well, which has to be the case with anyone in this profession anyway!!
But mine took a bit longer than the others-for example, my formal in-service training (in 3 different institutions) took a total of 4,5 years!!
I guess that is enough reason for one to hate the Training Unit and be as far away from it as s/he can!!!
Well, a bit ironic eh? :)))))

However, now, having had 20 years in the profession, I am grateful to have received such a looong(!) training as all of it served as sound experience… I can say that learning never ends when you are a teacher. In every classroom we enter, we learn new things… From every colleague we meet, we, again, learn new things… Being a teacher trainer was great in that  sense especially. Being a student once again, receiving trainings, getting certificates…, all of them contributed to the joy and pride of both being a teacher and establishing the “Professional Development Unit” in our department Here I have to thank my dearest trainer Deniz Kurtoglu Eken for being the godmother for the name and dearest Figen Iyidogan, our former chair, for having accepted it without a doubt and by giving us the initiative…

I guess I also have to thank all of the former teacher trainers in our department who helped maintain and improve the departmental culture that we have, which makes it a privilege to work here in MLD… However, I should especially thank  dearest Reyhan Atasever from whom I learned how to “survive” in the ocean of teacher training and to dearest Elif Sesen with whom I found the chance to shape the new PDU with loads of creativity and fun…

Now, considering this training adventure a “relay race”, I am leaving my place to another dearest trainer and colleague Burcin Hasanbasoglu who I believe will make our department and unit more “visible” and professional along with canim Elifcim to whom I should thank once again for having given me the chance to share these feelings of mine here on our precious blog: “We, Together”…

As my all-time favorite group The Beatles song goes:

“It was a Magical Mystery Tour”!!


Yaprak Güleç-Öğütçü


Dr. Begümşen Ergenekon


Using Films for Writing Reaction-Response Essay: A Class-room Action Research on Turkish ESP Learners

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to show how media films can function as authentic sources in teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) to first year students to write reaction-response essays.  The constructivist approach used in Modern Languages Department allows students to build new knowledge upon the foundation of the previous one. It assures them first to write for an authentic purpose, second for meaning and third to achieve goal oriented writing unconsciously.  So this class-room action study consisted of pre-, while- and post-writing stages. The sample consisted of 19 students with upper-intermediate-advanced English, studying at Middle East Technical University (METU). Results showed that watching acts coupled with listening are an effective, truly learner centered and meaningful way of gathering, using and transferring knowledge in “writing reaction and response essays”.  Watching Night Crawler[1] definitely engaged students intellectually and emotionally who wrote eagerly and creatively. And they also transferred this skill successfully in answering the reaction-response question in the final exam. So the author will demonstrate through a workshop how this task can be carried out in the ESP classroom to teach English as a second language.

Index Terms – Feature Films, React ion-Response Essay, ESP workshop, Teaching Technology.

For the full text version of the article, please click here..

*Dr. Begümşen Ergenekon is born in Ankara, Turkey. She is a graduate of METU (Sociology BA, 1976), of University of Bergen/Norway (Social Anthropology B.A., M.A. 1986) and has Ph. D. in the latter from Ankara University (2006).

She teaches Academic Speaking and Writing Skills at Modern Languages Department, School of Foreign Languages and instructs public weekend ELT Courses in METU since 1990. She is also a part-time lecturer in Cultural Evolution at Archaeometry Graduate Program there. She worked as an interpreter in Bergen Municipality and at Ankara British Council (1989-90). She was consultant in State Planning Organization (Ankara, 1986-88), Ministries of Local Government and Labor; Culture and Science (Oslo, 1981-82). She did anthropological and archaeological research till today. She delivered papers in International Excavations, Research and Archaeometry Symposiums in Turkey and published them (1999-2007).  She presented research papers at KELTA (Seoul 2012), CamTESOL (Phnom Penh, 2013), Nepal ELT (Katmandu 2014) and ThaiTESOL (Bangkok 2015).

Dr. Ergenekon is member of board of editors of Bambu and Patika Magazines and authors popularized research results and documentary stories. She also writes on current issues, on Dr. Ergenekon received several awards in Effective Teaching within the top 10 % of academics at METU.  

Gökçe Vanlı


Dear colleagues,

It is a pleasure for me to write in this month’s Bulletin Board. First of all, I would like to take this oppurtunity to thank you for your trust in my team and for your continuing support and commitment you showed over the “strange” summer we had. Fortunately, we were able to have a nice start for the year.  As this is the first issue of 2016-2017 Academic Year, I just would like to write about what awaits us in the upcoming two semesters.

I always find the beginning of each new year and new semester to be exciting and full of promise for the future. This year is no exception. The new semester is already shaping up to be a busy and productive  one. In this sense, the fall semester will offer great opportunities for us to engage with faculty, participate in new initiatives and activities and continue our academic journey at one of the most prestigious universities in Turkey and in the world. With the new changes in the courses that are offered in our department, I am sure that we will refine our goals and look at measures of success by using our expertise in our field. Our dream is to have a nice balance between objectivity by having standard exams and  and teacher autonomy by creating some freedom in the courses to be able to use our different backgrounds to personalize our teaching.

Teaching is a profession that requires constant adjustment to the needs of time because students’ needs change in line with the changes in the educational field, technology and the world in general. That’s why we, as teachers, should be able to keep up with these changes and have some finetuning in our teaching. Therefore, the upcoming year offers an exciting line up of activities for all of us. We’ll be hosting some experts in their fields to give some sessions where we will have a chance to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’d like to go.

Finally, I believe that teacher satisfaction is the key in any teaching environment. To this end, in order to optimize our professional engagement, we are planning to make a number of changes in our physical work environment. Hopefully, at the beginning of November, we’ll be able to move into our building where there will be a teachers’ lounge creating us some space to socialize, and be more motivated to help our students. We want this lounge to be a place for all our instructors to exchange ideas so there will be a small library as well to follow the new trends in the field with some journals and books both in English and in the other languages that we offer.

I am sure that we are all ready for an exciting and fruitful academic year. With your talent, energy and commitment, I am confident that it will be a spectacular year.

Hope you all the best.

MAY 2016

“Organ Bağışı ve Organ Nakli”

by Mümin Yılmaz


   Birçoğumuzun bugüne kadar sadece duyduğu ama üzerinde belki de hiç düşünmediği bir konuya değinmek istiyorum: Organ bağışı ve nakilleri.

Ülkemizde son yıllarda yapılan yüz nakilleriyle kitle iletişim araçlarında daha çok magazin boyutundaki haberleriyle gündeme geldi organ bağışı ve nakilleri. Oysa bu konu bu kadar hafife alınacak ve istismar edilecek bir konu değil.

Organ bağışının tanımını yaparak bu konuya başlamak istiyorum: Organ bağışı, bir insanın organlarının bir kısmının veya tamamının, henüz sağlıklı iken, ölümünün ardından başka insanlarda yararlanılmak üzere bağışlanmasıdır. Hayat kurtarmak için sağlıklı olan her organ bağışlanabilir. On sekiz yaşını doldurmuş ve doğru ile yanlışı ayırdedebilme yeteneğine sahip herkes organ bağışı yapabilir. Örneğin kalp, böbrek, akciğer, karaciğer, pankreas gibi organlar, kalp kapağı, göz kornea tabakası, kas ve kemik iliği gibi dokular bağışlanabilmektedir. Tüm bu bağışlar, çok ileri tıp teknikleri kullanılarak ülkemizdeki sayıları 100’ün üzerinde olan organ nakli merkezlerinde ihtiyaç sahibi hastalara nakledilebilmektedir. 2000 yılında, organ bağışı konusunda bir “Ulusal Koordinasyon Sistemi” oluşturularak, bakanlığın olanaklarıyla organ bekleyenler sistematik sıralamaya dahil edilmişlerdir. Organ bağışı; Sağlık Müdürlükleri’nde, hastanelerde, Emniyet Müdürlükleri’nde, organ nakli yapan merkezlerde, organ nakli ile ilgili vakıf, dernek vb. kuruluşlarda yapılabilir.

29.05.1979 tarih (sonraki yıllarda da güncellenen) ve 2238 sayılı “ Organ ve Doku Alınması, Saklanması ve Nakli Hakkında Kanun” uyarınca bu konunun tüm ayrıntıları belirtilmiştir. Buna göre canlı vericilerden ve kadavradan nakil yapılabilmektedir. Türkiye’de en fazla organ bekleyen ve her geçen yıl sayıları artan hastaların başında böbrek hastaları gelmektedir. Böbrek ve karaciğer nakillerinde canlı nakil sayısı önceki yıllara göre belirgin bir şekilde artmıştır, ancak kadavradan yapılan nakillerde ise organ bağışı yetersiz kalmaktadır. 22 binin üzerinde insanımız böbrek nakli, aynı şekilde 600’den fazla hasta da kalp nakli beklemektedir. Bu veriler durumun önemini göstermektedir. 2015 yılında toplam 7704 organ ve doku nakli gerçekleştirildi ve bunun 3204’ü böbrek naklidir. Çok sayıda organ nakli bekleyen insan olmasına karşın organ bağışı yetersiz kalmaktadır. Bu insanlar yeniden hayata tutunmak için bir umut bekliyor ve bizler de onları yeniden hayata bağlamak ve yakınlarına da destek olmak için organ bağışında bulunmalıyız. Unutmayalım ki; her insan bir gün organ nakline ihtiyaç duyabilir.

Üniversitemiz, bilimsel çalışmaları ve sosyal sorumluluk projeleriyle her zaman övünç duyduğumuz bir bilim yuvası, aynı şekilde Modern Diller Bölümü’müz de bizi gururlandıran bu tür örneklerle dolu. Bu bağlamda, MDB olarak 3 – 9 Kasım “Organ Bağışı Haftası” çerçevesinde ODTÜ gibi birçok alanda topluma öncülük etmiş bir kurumda sosyal sorumluluk örneği sergilenebilir. Bunun için organ bağışı ve nakilleri konusunda kamuoyunda farkındalık yaratarak, bireylerin toplumsal konulardaki bilgi, beceri, deneyim ve kaynaklarını yine topluma geri vererek hem duyarlı eğitimci hem de duyarlı yurttaş sorumluluğumuzu belli bir ölçüde de olsa yerine getirmiş olabiliriz. Kalbinize bir sorun… Hayat vermek ister mi? Organınızı bağışlayın.

APRIL 2016

“Flying High”
by Filiz Etiz

 Filiz Etiz
Time does fly. At this time, I find it hard to admit I have been teaching for over twenty-five years. I remember the time when I’d just been recruited by a private university at the dawn of my teaching career, and was paired up with a “native-speaker”, and I asked her how long she’d been teaching, and she, with an air of superiority, or so I thought, replied “one year”– WOW! I went. One whole year! That must be some experience! In retrospect, I smile to myself, knowing just how many ‘whole years’ I have experienced in teaching. And it is that very teaching that has gradually conquered me.

Love does conquer all.  My love for teaching is what keeps me going on. No matter how bad things get in this beautiful yet unfortunate countryof mine, it’s the bright young faces beaming with hope that fuel my passion and urge me not to let go of hope, of faith, of love, of teaching. And it is that very teaching that I like to liken to a ship setting sail on a long journey called English, with passengers eager to take turns in rowing when need be, enjoying the ups and downs of the sea, the harsh gales as well as the sweet breezes of the ocean, and the warmth of the sun upon their skin, inhaling the salty air and feeling with every moment just how pleasurable the entire experience is, knowing there is no end to the sea, coming to understand it is not the destination but the journey that matters.

Workplace does matter. Having worked at a number of schools, both private and public, all I can say is: MLD-ODTÜ rocks! The quality of staff, the readiness of our students to learn, the friendly atmosphere, the highly intellectual and academic environment that not only promotes a deep sense of belongingness but also fosters development and innovation are among the numerous factors that have bonded me strongly to this ever-growing and embracing family. Undoubtedly, it is a great honor and a special privilege to be among the distinguished members of an academic institution renowned worldwide for its excellence in research and education.

On the first anniversary of our MLD-Bulletin, I’d like to extend my deep appreciation and heartfelt thanks to dear Elif and Yaprak for putting in so much effort in the making of this wonderful website.

We, together, let’s keep flying high.pigeon

MARCH 2016

“Improving Students’ Extensive Reading Abilities”

by Vildan Şahin

vildan hoca

Hi everyone,

If you’re having a hard time getting your students to read, especially extensively, you may want to try out this task. This was an activity I conducted on my students as part of my RSA Dote project. At the time, I was teaching Eng 102 to a group of Admin students and I wanted to get my students to do a lot of extensive reading in order to improve their English and I was particularly curious about what problems they have while reading. The study was conducted on the basis of these problems and to build awareness of the students’ extensive reading abilities. Here’s a brief summary of the study.

Firstly, it is important to understand what efficient readers do while reading. I feel that understanding a reading text is like solving a maths problem. The mind has to perform a variety of tasks while reading. Apart from such skills as skimming, predicting and scanning, good readers should also acquire certain features such as pre-reading strategies like Surveying, Questioning, Reading, Recalling and Reviewing (SQ3R), in addition to being able to process larger units of text and understanding difficult texts at different rates. I gave my students a little bit of information about what efficient readers actually do while reading and in order to make them curious, I told them that we will do a task in order to find out whether they were doing the right things! To understand whether my students were competent in these skills, I conducted the study as follows:

Firstly, I determined the students personal interests with a mind-mapping activity. Sports was the most common so I decided to work on a text related to sports. Then as a whole class, we decided on some symbols related to reading. The reason for this was that students could have a feeling of ownership and remember the symbols as they did the reading task. These symbols were to be used by the students while they were reading to indicate what they were doing or feeling at a particular point during reading. Some of the symbols were as follows:

Δ         I stopped reading/I quit

— . —   I stopped to think

←        I read again / I went back

?          I looked up a word in the dictionary

=         I translated a word into my native language

→        I guessed what will come

!          I got excited

!!         I got bored

X         I found it difficult to read (from the print)

↔      I changed my position

*         I pointed my finger at the text

~         I read out aloud

(.)        I stopped reading and went to the end to see what will happen

—         I made marks on the text

What I then did was select a text on sports and prepare the reading sheet with wide margins on the left side of the sheet for students to take notes of their symbols. After doing the warm-up and pre-reading activities with the students, I gave each student a reading text and asked them to read the text individually and whenever they noticed they were doing any of the actions related to the symbols that we devised, I asked them to stop and write down the symbol of the corresponding action in the margins. They were also required to indicate how many times they did each action. Then I asked them to write a paragraph explaining how they felt about the text they had just read and about the activity in general.

In the next lesson, I got the students to do the same activity with a longer text. We went over the students’ work in the following lesson and I gave them individual feedback (as reading is an individual activity) and students were really amazed at the results. Finally, I wanted the students to get used to evaluating themselves even more as extensive readers. Therefore, I asked them to choose a text of their own interests and do the same thing outside class. It was surprising that some students repeatedly carried out the task many times with different texts of their own choices.

This study was quite useful in that it gave me and the students an idea of what they were encounteringwhile they were reading but were not aware of. They eventually began to reflect on their own reading habits, observe their own problems and start looking for ways to overcome them in order to improve their reading skills.

As a conclusion, this study helped me in two aspects. Firstly, by working with them and trying to understand them, I realized that I could help my students to help themselves improve their reading skills. Secondly, I discovered that my students actually needed guidance in extensive reading, which helped them self-reflect. So, if you’re looking for ways to get your students to do a lot of reading and you want to make it enjoyable and worthwhile, why not have a go at this task? I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself as much as your students do.



“İyi bir öğretmen nasıl olmalı?”

by Çelebi Akdaş


     Yaşamın her alanında kolaylıkla görülen, gözlemlenen hızlı değişim ve bunu aynı hızla tüketen toplumlar göz önüne alındığında, bu değişimlere ayak uydurabilme noktasında var olmaya çalışan klasik yapı ve yöntemlerin geçersizliği aşikar.  Bu geniş çerçeveyi eğitim-öğretim alanı ile sınırlar buradan da konuyu bu alanın yapı taşı olan öğretmenlere bağlarsak ne demek istediğimiz daha net olarak anlaşılacaktır. Sözü edilen değişimler teknoloji odaklı olsa, eğitim alanında bu teknolojilerden öğrencilere fayda sağlayacak en üst seviyede faydalanıldığını varsaysak ve hatta henüz var olmayan ütopik her türlü imkanın varlığını dahi düşünsek bir yol  göstericiye her zaman ihtiyaç olacaktır.

Öğretmene sadece yol gösterici demek yeterli midir? Tanımın sınırları var mıdır? Ya da, iyi bir öğretmen nasıl olmalıdır? Bu üç soruyu birleştirerek kendi düşünce ve bakış açımın bir özetini yapacak olursam sanırım şöyle başlayabilirim ;  “öğretmen, hayat boyu öğrenci olmaya gönüllü olan, evet, bundan kendi geçimini sağlayan ama öyle dahi olsa tıpkı bir nevi hobi gibi bu uğraşıdan keyif alabilendir.”  Günümüz gençlerinin bu günkü duruşu ve tabiki teknolojinin etkisi klasik öğretim yöntemlerinin bugün geçerliliğini kaybetmesine neden olmakta ve öğretmen bugün, her zamankinden fazla olarak kendisini geliştirip yenilemek, kendi dersine yenilikler katmak durumundadır.

Öğretmenin başarısı, öğrenciye ne kadar ne öğretebildiği ile değil öğrencinin dersine ne denli istekle katılabildiği ile ölçülebilir zira, derse ayakları geri geri gitmeyen ve istekle katılan öğrenci zaten söz konusu derste öğrenilmesi gerekeni hakkıyla öğrenmek üzere, ders öğretmenini tüm dikkati ile dinleyip, çalışmalarını zamanında yaparak gerekli başarıyı sağlayacaktır. O halde öğretmen ne yapmalı, nasıl olmalıdır ki öğrencinin ayakları geri geri gitmesin? Derse istek ve katılım artsın? Öğretmen aynı zamanda içinde hep bir parça gençlik coşkusu, dinamizmi bulunandır demenin yanlış olacağını sanmam. Öğrencinin yaş düzeyine inebilmelidir öğretmen, öğrencinin kendisinden korktuğu değil aksine onun için hem de her an ulaşılabilir olandır. Meraklar, sorular, sorunlar ertelenmedikçe öğrenme artar. Bu düşünüşle her zaman bu yaklaşımı benimsediğimi düşünüyorum ben de, zira öğrencilerim sözlükte bulamadıkları bir kelimenin anlamını sormak için bile mesaj atacak kadar rahat hissettiler kendilerini her zaman.

Veriler ne kadar net ve gözle görülür olursa olsun, bir öğretmen hiçbir zaman kendini başarılı ve yeterli diye tanımlamaz diye düşünüyorum, tanımladığı anda düşüşe geçer, onu bu şekilde tanımlayan öğrencilerinin kendisine geri dönüşleri ve onların elde ettikleri başarılardır. Öğretmen aynı zamanda mütevazi olandır.

Öğrenci, dersi iki şekilde sevebilir. Birincisi ders zaten kendi ilgisi dahilindedir, ikincisi ve asıl önemli olansa öğretmendir ona dersi sevdiren. Bu ikincisinin örneğini çok yaşadım. Öğretmen – öğrenci hiyerarşisinin çok gerekli olduğunu düşünmüyorum. Bu hiyerarşiyi çok da kurmak istemeyişim, keyifle ama aynı zamanda oldukça verimle işlenen dersler neticesinde zamanında beraber çalışmalarımızın kendilerini bu alana kazandırdığını dile getiren öğrencilerim olduğunu ve bu öğrencilerimle uzun soluklu dostluklar kurduğumu mutlulukla söyleyebilirim. Öğretmen arkadaş da olandır. İyi arkadaş !

Tüm bunları birleştirecek olursak, kolay iş  değildir öğretmenlik, keyif almadan yapılacak iş hiç değildir. Fedakarlıktır, sabırdır, gerektiğinde bıkmak usanmaksızın yapılan tekrarlardır. Yorucudur ama bu yorgunluğun manevi hazzını yaşamaktır aynı zamanda. Ve inanıyorum ki, pek az şey bir öğrencinin sizin isminizi senelerce, minnetle zikretmesinden daha değerli ve güzeldir. Öğretmen hayatlarda iz bırakan, unutulmaz olandır. Böyle olduğu sürece başarılı ve iyi öğretmendir.


Upon receiving the medal “The Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays” for having contributed to enhance the relationship
between the two countries through education and introducing Turkish literature to Japanese people, Michiko Wakui Sendil accepted to share with us her words below:




by Michiko Wakui Şendil

Last September I received a call from Japanese Embassy, saying that  I shall  be conferred an order of Rising  Sun,  Silver Rays  and that if I could come to Japan on the 13th of November when I am to  be invited to the  imperial palace to meet the Emperor and the Empress. I responded that I could not come on that date as the classes start by then.

Maybe I have to explain how I got interested in Turkish language.  One summer before I had university entrance exam, I read somewhere about a stone inscription found in the North Asia, Mongolia today   on which   unknown letters were inscribed.   I wanted to study about the unknown language. I learned that at the department of Linguistics you could deal with the unknown letters.  Until then people around me and even myself had no doubt about my going to Science field of University of Tokyo.  Later I majored in Linguistics at University of Tokyo.  By then, however, I had known the letters on the inscription were already deciphered by a Russian scholar and that the letters belonged to the ancient Turkic tribe of the 8th century called ‘Göktürk’.  Thus I found myself among   researchers studying Ancient Turkish language.  My professor told me that even if I would specialize in ancient Turkish, I should master modern Turkish first.   In the process of learning Turkish, I encountered with modern Turkish literature which charmed me so much.

While I was a student of Linguistics during the programs of BA and MA at the University of Tokyo, we had to concentrate upon linguistics in general starting from phoneme, morpheme and be well informed of the theory of those, such as Saussure, Bloomfield, Sapir , Meillét  etc. At the same time my professor who was the highest authority of Altaic languages in the field used to tell us that a linguist should be able to analyse his or her native language. Thus we were also trained in analysing Japanese language, abstracting the sentence patterns and defining the meanings of each form. Some of the senior researchers among his students eventually founded the basis of teaching of Japanese for foreigners.  Unfortunately there is a popular belief that foreign language is best taught by native speakers. I believe unless native speakers are well equipped with proper knowledge and special training, they have not much advantage.

When I went to the US accompanied with my husband, the School of Education of Lehigh University offered me a full scholarship for PHD program on Teaching English as a foreign language.  I acknowledged the offer and completed my studies and received PHD in TEFL.

In 2002, I heard that Orhan Pamuk complained that having his books translated into more than 20 languages, he could not have his work published in Japan due to the lack of good translator. I reread “My name is Red” and wanted to translate it into Japanese. Through our family friend, I contacted with him. After the exchange of some corresponces, he asked me to translate his books.


“Equality vs. Equity in Education: Implications

for Testing &Assessment”

by Dr. Hale Kızılcık

hale karikatur

Equality vs. Equity

The cartoon that has inspired this article is probably familiar to those of us who follow the social media. Here, I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the concepts of equality and equity in education and how the difference between these two concepts compels us to reconsider our assessment practices.

What is the difference between equality and equity? Macmillan Online Dictionary defines equality as “the state of being equal, especially in having the same rights, status, and opportunities”. As Wiseman puts it “equality is when you have the same of something and in education, it means providing the same education to every individual” (2015, Lecture 9). On the other hand, equity in education is a principle of fairness and justice (Abbot, 2014; Wiseman, 2015). Depending on the circumstances, striving for equality in education may not be just or fair. As illustrated in the cartoon, when we are dealing with individuals with different needs, providing all with exactly the same treatment may indeed turn out be unfair. In order to be fair, it may be necessary to vary educational practices including assessment considering the context and learners’ individual circumstances. Abbot (2014) explains how equality and equity are different but related:

Equity encompasses a wide variety of educational models, programs, and strategies that may be considered fair, but not necessarily equal. It has been said that “equity is the process; equality is the outcome,” given that equity—what is fair and just—may not, in the process of educating students, reflect strict equality—what is applied, allocated, or distributed equally.

Why is equity relevant in our context, Department of Modern Languages (MLD)? The main reason is that because inequity exists, and it needs to be addressed. There are different forms of inequity ranging from societal inequity to socioeconomic inequity. However, I will focus on two forms, which seem to have a great impact in our context. First and maybe the most obvious is the programmatic inequity; that is, before coming to the university, our students do not receive a standard language education in their previous educational background. In the program evaluation study carried out in 2014 and 2015, both ODTU Faculty members and graduates stated that there is a big gap between students who graduated from private high schools (colleges) and other schools in terms of their language proficiency. College graduates were reported to be much more advanced than the other students, especially in speaking, and sometimes this difference caused less proficient students to prefer to avoid speaking as much as they can. The education students receive in the Foundation Year was not perceived to make a significant contribution to bridge this gap. Second, our students are “multiple-choice students”. To enter a highly prestigious university like ODTU, they go through a very heavy intensive training, where they are encouraged to be fast and accurate in answering factual questions. However, this is usually at the expense of improving critical and creative thinking skills. The list of factors that lead to programmatic inequity can be extended by any of us who has been a student, parent or educator in this system. Programmatic inequity intensifies linguistic inequity. The one-year education our students receive in the Foundation School is rarely sufficient to help less proficient students to reach a language level that will help them deal with the English in their departments and also in our EAP courses. We should also note that at MLD, there is no streaming. That is, in the same class, we have students who passed the English Proficiency Exam (EPE) with 60 and 84.

In short, it is evident that inequity exists, but what does this mean for us? Let me start by explaining what it does not mean. It does not mean that we need to forget about standards in education. Standards are important for accountability. They determine the expected outcomes, and whether our program is successful in achieving them. Going back to the cartoon, there is a level learners should reach so that they can achieve their goals. They should be able to meet the language demands in their departments and their professions. Also, students should know where they are compared to the standards. They should have a clear picture of what their strengths and weaknesses are so that they can take action to improve. Then how can we address the problem? In the rest of this paper, I will discuss how we can address inequity in testing and assessment.  My suggestion is to integrate dynamic assessment (DA) into our assessment diet.

Dynamic Assessment

DA is rooted in Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory which views learning as a social activity. Learners perform better when they are supported by their teachers and more able peers, and since assessment is a part of the learning of the process, this support can be extended to assessment. Poehner states that “DA is neither an assessment instrument nor a method of assessing but a framework for conceptualizing teaching and assessment as an integrated activity of understanding learner abilities and their development” (as cited in Lantolf, & Poehner, 2010, p. 15). DA aims to bridge the gap between learning and assessment and advocates learning through assessment. As Tavkoli and Nezakat-Alhossaini (2014) explain in DA “the mediator [usually the teacher] jointly engages with learners in tasks, offering support, or mediation, as problems arise” (p. 212). They indicate that mediation may include activities such as inter alia, leading questions, hints, prompts, feedback, and examples, that all stress a dialogic way of language teaching (p. 212).

DA (Lantolf & Poehner, 2004) distinguishes between two kinds of DA approaches – ‘interventionist’ and ‘interactionist’:

The contrast between these two conceptualizations of DA can be understood with regard to the relative freedom mediators have to respond to learners’ difficulties and to pursue concerns as they emerge during the interaction. In interventionist approaches, tasks and materials are selected and analysed with the goal of predicting the kinds of problems learners are likely to encounter. Mediation is then scripted as hints, prompts, and leading questions that vary in their degree of explicitness. Mediation is arranged along a scale of most implicit to most explicit, and during DA the mediator follows the scale precisely, moving from hint to hint until the learner either responds correctly or until the final hint is reached and the solution is revealed and explained. Interactionist DA, on the other hand, places no restrictions on mediation but instead demands that the mediator do everything possible to help the learner stretch beyond his/her current independent performance, short of giving the answer, although even this might promote development if it occurs at a propitious point in the interaction.

While mediation is standardized in the interventionist DA, in the interactionist mediation, mediators are free to vary the amount and type of support according to the needs of the learners.

Implementing Interactionist DA

The following assessment tasks illustrate how interactionist DA can be implemented in our context when testing speaking. Before discussing each task separately, it is important to highlight a few principles that underline assessment for learning. In the first place, students should understand the standards; that is, they need to be familiar with the expected level of performance. To this end, we can start by providing students with opportunities to assess model performances. For example, in order to understand what a good performance in a discussion is, they can watch sample discussions and be asked to evaluate the participants’ performance using relevant criteria. Modelling should be accompanied by a reflection session where the students and teacher criticize the model performance. This can be viewed as a standard setting session. In this way, in further assessment, the students and the teacher will have a common language to discuss student performance and grades. In the following graded tasks, the students should be encouraged to reflect on their performance with the aim of helping them understand where they are in relation to the standards and of making manageable action plans.

Oral InterviewIn the speaking tests of high-stakes exams, it is impermissible for the interlocutor to intervene in any way. For example, in Cambridge main suite exams, there is a speaking exam frame to be strictly followed and all the backups are scripted in the frame. When there is a communication breakdown, the interlocutor uses these backups in the predetermined order. Any modification in the frame is considered to change the level of the exam and threaten its reliability. However, considering the MLD case discussed above, I suggest that adopting an interactionist DA and being more flexible better serve our curricular goals. Definitely, there is a need for an exam frame including back-ups; however, depending on the situation, the interlocutor should be permitted to go out of the frame. For example, I remember how one of my students was stuck during an oral interview because he could not remember the word, “hit”. He struggled for some time and finally mimed the word. In the mean time, I was looking at him and smiling since I was determined not to intervene. In retrospect, I think, maybe, I should have given him the word and saved him all the embarrassment. In this case, based on English Vocabulary Profile, hit (meaning: hit with hand and object) is a word at A2 level. His hesitation in remembering the word had already revealed some evidence about his proficiency level. This example should not be interpreted as students should be spoonfed in the exams. What is more, exams are also opportunities to assess their ability to use repair strategies. However, when the interlocutor judges that some mediation will aid performance and learning, they should be allowed to provide it.

Debates and discussions: In debates and discussions, we are already implementing some of the principles of dynamic assessment such as giving the students the texts and time to prepare for the test in advance. Allowing students do some research and preparation helps them become more knowledgeable about the topic, and this hopefully increases the intellectual level of the discussion. However, as some students pointed out in the interviews conducted during ENG 211 program evaluation study, there are students who memorize what they will say, recite it during the discussions, and remain silent for the rest of the discussion. My suggestion is for the teacher to intervene, especially when students have little prior debating experience. Asking questions that challenge their assumptions, inviting students to comment on what their friends have said, reminding them that there is a question which still has not been answered are some of the suggestions to be offered. It is also possible for the teacher to provide his/her own arguments when the students are stuck. In this way, we model discussion skills. In my classes, after observing students’ for a couple of weeks, I assign the role of a mediator to a strong student who leads the discussion in small groups, and take on the role of  a monitor.

 Role-plays: Another speaking task that allows plenty of room for the interactionist DA is the role-play. When assessing role-plays, I give the students their roles and ask them to act and record. This is done outside the class, and I grade the students by watching these recordings rather than asking them to perform live in class. There may be some scepticism about the reliability of this task. For instance, some students may rehearse 10 times before recording the role-play, some may improvise. Some students may memorize their roles. My answer to these criticisms is “so what”? Students are working in groups, determining their needs and are taking action. If a very weak student memorizes some useful chunks for a role-play, this indeed can contribute to automaticity in later production. If some students practise a lot before the recording, this probably means they need it. It is also very likely that they improve something in each version, and isn’t what learning is all about?


To conclude, I believe in every dimension of teaching, including assessment, we should remember the aim is to help our students learn and do better. Therefore, making room for dynamic assessment is a great opportunity for us to link teaching and assessment, and maybe, to achieve equity.


Equity (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from

equality. (2014). In Retrieved October  8, 2015, from

hit. (2014). In English Profile.Retrieved November  29, 2015, from     c=-1&c=-1&c=-1&c=-1&c=-1&c=-1&c=-1

Lantolf, J. P. & Poehner, M. E. (2010). Dynamic assessment in the classroom: Vygotskian praxis for the second language development. Language Teaching Research, 15(1),11-33.

ODTU MLD Research and Development Committee. (2014). 2014 ENG 211 Program Evaluation Report. Retrieved from   14%20ENG%20211%20PE%20Student%20Questionnaire%20Report%20for%20ML D%20webpage.pdf

ODTU MLD Research and Development Committee. (2014). 2013-14 MLD Program    Evaluation Report Faculty Interviews. Retrieved from                      14%20ENG%20211%20PE%20Instructor%20Questionnaire%20Report%20for%20      MLD%20webpage.pdf

ODTU MLD Research and Development Committee. (2014). 2014-15 Program Evaluation       Report Sector Interviews. Retrieved fro          15%20MLD%20Sector%20%28Graduates%20%26%20Employers%29%20Interview %20Report%20All%20Reviewed.pdf

Tavkoli, M., & Nezakat-Alhossaini, M. (2014). Implementation of corrective feedback in English as a foreign language classroom through dynamic assessment.Journal of Language and Linguistics Studies, 10(1), 211-232.

Wiseman, W. A. (2015). How the World Learns: Comparative Educational Systems.The Great Courses, Lehigh University.

 Equity image credit: Please note, this image was adapted from an image adapted by the City of Portland, Oregon, Office of Equity and Human Rights from the original graphic:

The cartoon This image was adapted by OEHR from the original graphic:


necla cikigil

“Laughter and Language Learning”

by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Necla Çıkıgil

Victor Borge (1909-2000), a Danish comedian, conductor, and  a pianist, “the Clown Prince of Denmark”, has stated that “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people”. Teachers can create such a short distance between themselves and  the students. You do not need a hammer to crack the ice between the students and the instructors. All you need to do is “crack a joke”.

This aspect of teaching, however, is not always the major concern of teaching. One has to remember that language is alive. It is a living phenomenon and language teaching involves the recognition of this aspect of the language. Laughter is another phenomenon that makes the human species different from other species and while human beings are communicating through the use of language, laughter is embedded in this communication. Scholars trying “to re-conceptualize language education” want to focus on“humour” to create an ease in language teaching (Bell and Pomerantz 31).

While instructors are busy to accomplish “accuracy” and “communicative effectiveness”, they ignore “humour” regarding it as a non-serious matter. Yet, there is the significant aspect of “humour” which can productively increase “learners’ metalinguistic awareness”. Nowadays, the general trend in reconsidering language teaching is seeing language as “a socio-cognitive system”. Also, being more aware of the dynamic state of language is gaining importance among language scholars (Hopper in Bell and Pomerantz 33). Thus, to maintain this dynamism, the instructor can employ “humour” in teaching a language.

One very interesting  aspect of” humour” is that it can come naturally and this emergence of “humour” can be manipulated productively. In a class-room situation, once the students get to know each other they generate their “in-group jokes” which can easily be utilized by the instructor.

At times, word-plays (puns) occur and this can be used to highlight the double-meanings of words and how in communication humorous incidents can occur due to the wrong interpretation of the word.

At times, when a humorous situation occurs thisincident can beused to observe the way a language is constructed and how users can change the construction (Bell andPomerantz 36).

Even “greetings” can be used to observe the construction of the language. Depending on the situation, two people greeting each other may use formal or informal language in greeting one another and if they change the greeting procedure,  a humorous situation may occur to allow the speakers to get the difference between formal and informal constructions.

Some other examples can be as follows:

Focusing on phonology:

An American in a British hospital asks the nurse:

“Did I come here to die?” The nurse answers: “No, it was yesterdie (yesterday).”

Focusing  on morphology:

John Kennedy’s famous blunder in Berlin: “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a kind of German doughnut) instead of “Ich bin Berliner” (I am a Berliner).

Focusing on lexicon:

A: Waiter, do you serve crabs here?   (Asks a customer)

B: We serve everybody. Just have a seat  at this table, sir. (Crab = a cranky person; Crab = a crustacean served as sea-food)

Focusing on syntax:

Student 1 : The dean announced that he is going to stop drinking on campus !

Student 2 : No kidding! Next thing you know, he’ll want us to stop drinking.

(Is the dean going to stop drinking himself or is he going to make others stop drinking?)

Focusing on syntax + lexicon:

Q : How do you make a horse fast?

A : Don’t give him anything to eat for a while.

( fast = speedy            fast= not to eat anything )

(Deneire in Askildson 50)

Various humorous examples can be incorporated into dialogues, oral interviews, role-plays to allow the students to see the different patterns of usage (Askildson 53).

If one can list the benefits of  “humour” in R.A. Berk’s words, humour

  1. decreases anxiety, tension, stress, and boredom
  2. improves attitudes toward the subject
  3. increases comprehension, cognitive retention, interest, and task performance
  4. increases motivation to learn and satisfaction with learning
  5. promotes creativity and divergent thinking

(Berk 8)

In a world when events develop in such a way that the dark clouds in the sky increase, focusing on “laughter” will brighten the day.

Let us not forget the benefits of “humour”.

To end with an anecdote:

The new employee stood before the paper shredder looking confused.

“Need  some help?”, a secretary asked.

“Yes”, he replied. “How does this thing work?”

“Simple”, she said taking the fat report from his hand and feeding it into the shredder pressed a button.

“Thanks, but where do the copies come out?”



“Effects of Humor in the Language Classroom: Humor as a Pedagocical Tool in Theory and Practice”, Arizona Working Papers in SLAT Student Association, 12 (2005), 45-61.

Bell, Nancy and Anne Pomerantz,

“Reconsidering Language Teaching through a Focus on Humor”,

Euro American Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 1 (November 2014), 31-47.

Berk, R.A.,

Professors are from Mars, Students are from Snickers: How to Write and Deliver Humor in the Classroom and in Professional Presentations, Sterling, Viriginia: Stylus Publishing, 2003.

Deneire, M.,

“Humor and Foreign Language Teaching”, Humor, 8, (1995), 285-298.f.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Necla Çıkıgil

12 October 2015



“Enişte English”

Jason Steinberg

Eniste English is a hybrid online software combining a 90-episode sitcom that follows the story of an American coming to Turkey to marry his wife, and a deep, rich, and comprehensive curriculum that scaffolds program users to be able to understand all of the events in the sitcom, and then use all of the language and pragmatic functions themselves in actual conversations with the program.

I created Eniste English with Meric Gulcu, Cigdem Mekik, and Bailey Webster. We decided from the outset that it can’t be cut from the same cloth as all of the other language learning softwares, which – despite lots of bells, whistles, and perhaps even cartoon characters – present language as a soulless assortment of grammatical rules to be learned, like a machine. Instead, we wanted to make something that was as close to the ideal language teacher as possible. And an ideal language teacher is a pedagogically well-trained, culturally sensitive, friendly, funny, knowledgeable, and engaging private tutor, who is always at your side. For this reason we decided we had to make a sitcom, we had to make a narrative, something incredibly compelling, that would lure students into the story and the characters and keep them coming back. We’re not sure that it will. We will see when it comes out and is used. But that is the hope.

JUNE 2015


“How to deal with a fixed mindset student”

 ‘What I am sharing with you today had inspired my learning and my believes and in a way has shaped my teacher ‘attitude’ towards teaching.

Alessandra Nicolosi

 This article is about growth mindset and fixed mindset.

This terminology comes from ‘Carol Dweck’, a psychologist from Stanford University  who in 2007 published an important article about a study she ran, with 373 middle school students.

She asked the students if intelligence is something very basic, that cannot really change. They were divided into two groups according to their answers. The fixed intelligence group (fixed mindset) answered that intelligence is stable. And the flexible intelligence group (growth mindset) said intelligence can actually change.

From this very basic distinction Carol Dweck went along with her studies and claimed  that people with a fixed mindset believe that they cannot develop their skills, their talent and their intelligence. There are skills that they posses, and they will always be there.  And, there are skills that are unreachable. They, too, will remain where they are. There is nothing they can do to change that, there is no way of improving their skills. They believe that intelligence and ability are fixed and defined. A sort of ‘God Given Gift’. For example, if they have a ‘self-theory’ about their poor ability at math they would rather give up for fear of looking stupid or not clever enough, instead of trying to learn. Fixed mind people are ashamed of mistakes; in fact, they  are more worried about looking smart than about learning. Failure is seen as a ‘personal and distinctive’ shortcoming. They avoid challenges because if they fail they are scared to destroy their self-image.

On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe that they can improve and become better in any field with effort and practice. They seek feedback and help from others.They enjoy challenges and they see failure as an opportunity to improve. They realize that failure is not about them as a person but about their current and missing ability. Eventually they are eager to learn and  improve. They work hard and face challenges and even if they fail or make a mistake they are able to rearrange and try again.

Now, according to Carol Dweck the good news is that it is possible to change and to become a growth mindset person.

Among all the pieces of advice she gives what has fascinated me most is the theory of the malleable brain. This theory has helped me a lot to setback some fears I had and it has lived with me since I found out about it.

The theory argues that our brain is a muscle and can be trained as any other muscles in our body. The training means of course practice and effort. By practice over and over we are able to build solid bridges among our neurons so that the skills learned become easy to recall because our brain has made that route millions of times already.

After this short general introduction let’s have a look at one of my class. In this class my students display many attitudes which I may not be aware of. They may show a mixture of growth mindset and fixed mindset from time to time .

There is ‘Mary’! Now let’s have a closer look at Mary.

Today is just another day in my Italian language class, and as usual, Mary sits at the back and sometimes I see her lost in thought. From today on I am determined to help her.

We are working on a paper and she is leaning over her paper with great effort. I get closer to her, and I sit next to her. She looks at me and tells me ‘Ok I give up, I cannot do it. I have to admit to myself: I’m not good at this’. I look at her eyes and tell her ‘ NOT YET but you will’, with practice and effort’. She looks at me and smiles, then, she nods and keeps working.

Since I do know Mary, and I am a bit like her, I also know that when she is not able to do something she does not seek help. And she does not want feedback. But instead, she tries to hide it and push it away, she does not want people seeing her work, and she hides it. She might get defensive any time thinking that she has been targeted. I have been thinking about this, and I fear that she may entirely reject my help and withdraw into herself completely.

As the days pass by I try to get closer to her. My aim is to show to her that everybody fails and make mistakes. On Monday as one of my students asked me something, I told him that I did not know the answer. On Tuesday I made clear that I made a mistake. Then I told my class that for me to recognize and accept mistakes is part of my personal growing process as a teacher. I also started speaking openly about what I do when I make a mistake or when I do not succeed in a task. Finally on Friday we made a list of suggestions on how to deal with a setback. Their answers were excellent. Just what I would say to them. Here are some of their suggestions.

To deal with a setback you might:

  • try again
  • try a different approach
  • ask for help
  • do not get demotivated and stop
  • believe in yourself

We also discussed these interesting topics: Are you supposed to know everything? Are you supposed to master everything the first time you try it?

And of course the answer was: ‘No! We are learning’.

Eventually I showed them a video about the potentiality of our brain. The video shows how it is possible to update and reinforce our neuron links by learning and practicing.

(In case you want to have a look:

Now from that moment on I knew I manage to impress Mary. But the most important thing was that she knew it too.

So my last step was a good and sound critical feedback. I was sure that a direct critical feedback (not a negative feedback) would not be welcomed so I opted for a video feedback and a face to face discussion after that.

Feedback is a key concept; we all know that a critical feedback might disengage the student but we also know how important is to give it. In fact, it is the most valuable resource we have. The  learning occurs mostly when teachers give a solid critical feedback. After all, students cannot know what mistake they are making if they are not be told.

For all these mentioned reasons I did not want to deprive Mary of an opportunity to learn. So I sent my video. I made an explanatory introduction that sounded something like this: ‘I’m giving you this critical feedback, because I believe you can reach a higher standard. I’ve seen your work, and I’m confident that you can get there.’

Mary came to school the day after and she looked radiant, she told me that for the first time in her life she had listened without getting upset to a critical feedback, she also told me that she would try harder.

I am not sure if Mary will change for ever.

I am not sure she will learn Italian fluently .

But I am sure she has earned a lesson she will not forget easily!

MAY 2015


Ayşem Karadağ Ötkur

Being a member of the Department of Modern Languages for over 20 years now, I remember the days when we were typewriting our stuff and using stencils to create handouts for our classes. I remember the days when we were stapling our exam booklets in the ‘conveyer belt’ system, though it was us the MLD teachers who were simply conveying ourselves around the table in a row, taking one sheet at each stop and stapling them in the end!The first stapling machine in the department was revolutionary. It was just as if TV broadcasting in color started.I am sure quite a few of you will remember how paper memos were readily and happily replaced by e-memos in our department. As to the introduction of other technological developments to the department, it is hard to remember what happened when, as many of them came into our life just like that, pretty parallel to the rapid developments in technology in the world, particularly in information and communication technologies. Now, at a time when so much communication takes place in cyberspace through emailing, texting, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, You Tube, blogs, and many other online means, our teacher trainers, Yaprak and Elif, made a very nice move by initiating the blog ‘We …Together!’, giving a gentle push to the use of new forms of interactions among MLD members. So, I would like to thank them again for presenting yet another novelty to our department and for giving me the opportunity to write in our ‘baby’blog.

Spring is in the air at this time of the year, so is it in the air of ELT. I am sure most of you are excited for the coming ELT events like summer conferences and programs in and outside the country, and the METU-ELT convention that is to take place on May 25-26, 2015. Waiting to hear about exciting ELT topics,I would like to recommend reading an interesting report entitled “English as a Medium of Instruction-A Growing Global Phenomenon” written by Julie Dearden, who is a senior research and development fellow in English as medium of instruction from Oxford University, the Department of Education.

This report is on a much discussed issue these days, the EMI phenomenon, commonly defined as “using the language of English as the medium of instruction in academic subjects in countries where English is not the first language”. It illuminates what is happening to EMI in a total of 55 countries, and why words issue and phenomenoncoexist with EMI.Actually, EMI seems to be in a fluctuating state on the globe with different countries adopting, adapting, abolishing, reducing, or reversing it.

The report summarizes almost all of the obvious reasons why English is chosenas the medium of instruction. Although the motives reported apply to most countries that participated in the study, they are explicitly stated in the political agenda of some: For example, English makes it possible to gain a place among academic and business communities and to compete with them in these fields (e.g. Pakistan). EMI brings better relations with other countries allowing for sharing of ideas (e.g. China). Parental pressuresometimes comes into play. Theycompel the governments to implement EMI (e.g. Nigeria). EMI attracts international students paying high fees to universities (e.g. Cyprus). EMI helps countries and universities to get ranked well in top-universities lists (e.g. Spain). It adds to the prestige of higher education institutions (e.g. Saudi Arabia). It serves to promote the culture of a country itself to the rest of the world (e.g. Sri Lanka). The list goes on like this, including many other advantages brought by EMI such as its being a personal challenge for students and professionalchallenge for teachers, as they also make extra effort to cope with the EMI environment to pursue their career and become international, and helping the stakeholders to benefit from student and staff mobility opportunities.

Why then is EMI in a state of flux? Inthe report “English as a Medium of Instruction-a Growing Global Phenomenon”, Deardenprovides a comprehensive coverage of some concerns associated with EMI, at least as reported by the 55 participant countries.

First of all, opinions about whether EMI is a good thing are polarized.Some countries are getting increasingly concerned about the negative effects of EMI on the first language, culture, and identity (e.g. Argentina, Bangladesh). Others doubt the genuineness of education when it is not provided and received in L1. They fear that only partial learning of the subject matter takes place (e.g. Italy). Still others express concerns about the possible inequality caused by EMI institutions, or as some call it the ‘prestige’ institutions (e.g. Hungary). Also stated as a source of concern about EMI is whether it is implemented in a standard way within an institution, as not all teachers may be doing it, let alone across institutions (e. g. Kazakhstan, Qatar). Quite a few concerns relate to the language of English: the optimum level of English proficiency for EMI is not clear; if this is, say, CEFR level B2, a one-year preparatory education in English which exists in many EMI institutions is not sufficient in bringing generally A2 entry-level students to B2.  The level of English language competence expected of instructors of academic subjects, or the extent to which they possess it, is not clear, either.EMI instructors complain about their changing roles as they sometimes unwillingly teach English or ‘fix’ students’ English. Some universities may be creating an illusory image of EMI teaching and learning that takes place in their institutions.There are few, if any pedagogical guidelines or trainings offered to subject matter teachers for effective provision of EMI teaching.

As can be clearly seen, higher education institutions around the world see as many concerns as they see advantages associated with EMI, so they tend to go back and forth along the continuum between doing and not doing EMI. As a result, EMI worldwide is subject to change.

So, what are the implications of all these for MLD?

As a renowneduniversityrooted in EMI practice for nearly 60 years, we should sit back and follow closely what EMI has been going through.Meanwhile, we should anticipate and take precautions for any problem that METU can experience as to EMI (The SFL Curriculum Renewal Project conducted by ARGED unit has revealed similar problems already.) We can focus on various aspects of EMI at METU as part of our research endeavors, which will have great practical significance for us and which brings me to my final remarks:

I would like to inform you that METU-School of Foreign Languages will act as a research participant in a joint project with EMI Oxford(The Centre for Research and Development in English Medium Instruction) next month. This study will mainly investigate students’ attitudes toward EMI by means of an online survey. You will later receive details on this survey. Your students’ response to this survey will be most welcome as it will surely feed into EMI related data and open up new opportunities for further joint projects with The University of Oxford!

So, stay “connected and together.” J

Source: Dearden, J. (2014).English as a medium of instruction: a growing global phenomenon.Retrieved from

APRIL 2015


Figen İyidoğan, Chair

Some months ago, Professional Development Unit offered to open a blog of our department and I accepted the offer with pleasure. Now, time has come and they have given me the pleasure to welcome YOU and the blog which will give us an opportunity to show how much we care for not only each other but also professional development. I am quite sure each one of us has unique experiences to share, so it is high time that we let them go..


One thought on “Columnist from MLD

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