Wednesday, January 01, 2014

OMG!! I've been tagged.

Image downloaded from Tea & Snippets
Happy holidays everyone!
I've been tagged, and I have been given a blog challenge, but what does that mean? Well to be "tagged" in a blog challenge is like being tagged in the school yard game called Tag. Tag is called 鬼ごっこ (Oni gokko) in Japan. I was tagged by a great teacher in Greece called Sophia Mavridi. Sophia challenged me to share 11 random facts about myself and answer 11 questions; then challenge 11 more bloggers by tagging them on my blog. 
So here is the task:
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger- in this case it would be me…
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has asked you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
So here we go:
1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger
As I said above, Sophia Mavridi is a Greek teacher of English that I met at Wired in or Out: The 1st International ELT Symposium at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey in December 2012.  She teaches in Athens and she is in the process of completing a Master's degree at the University of Manchester with a focus on educational technology. Sophia is very kind and generous. She has shared recipes for delicious Greek food with me. I would love to work on a project with her in the future.
2. Eleven random facts about myself
  1. My full name is Michael Denley Francis Stout. If you include my confirmation name, my name is Michael Denley Francis Edward Stout. I'm named after all my fathers. Michael is my father's confirmation name and my paternal grandfather's middle name. Denley is my maternal grandfather's middle name. It was his mother's surname. Francis is the name of the priest who was the celebrant at my parents' wedding ceremony, and he was also the priest that baptised me. Edward is my godfather, and my sponsor at my confirmation. My name has often been an inconvenience. For example, when I got married in Japan, the staff at the city office where I went to register my marriage got confused because I have two middle names. No one has middle names in Japan, and they are under the impression that everyone else has only one middle name. Well, despite the fact that I had all the forms already filled out it took over an hour to get officially married. 
  2. It is very ironic that I became a teacher. I never wanted to go to school, and I never enjoyed school. It wasn't until graduate school that I enjoyed being a student. I look at this as a gift. I have had classes filled with students like I was, and I understand them.
  3. I attended 4 primary schools. From the age of 5 till the age of 11, I lived in a town near Toronto that was evolving from a rural area to a suburban area. Every time a new school was built I was transferred, but none of my mates were transferred, so I got used to moving and short-term friendships. This is probably why I've never been homesick living in Japan, but if we had Facebook in those days, i probably would still have a lot of those friends today.
  4. I used to be a night owl, but now I'm an early riser. I have no clue why I've changed.
  5. I have struggled with my weight most of my life. I was "husky" as a child, but I took up smoking as a teenager and suddenly I was slim, very slim. When I turned 30 I started to gain weight again. I couldn't lose it until I came to Japan with very little money. In the first 4 months I lived in Japan I lost about 15 kilos, because I had no money to buy food. Once I started earning more money I started gaining weight again, and after I quit smoking I gained even more weight.
  6. I like swimming. When I was in Grade 6 I belonged to the swim team at my school. I practiced every day after school. Despite this I didn't lose any weight. I was very slow. I was last in every race I participated in, but I still enjoyed it very much.
  7. I do not have a drivers' licence, and I never have. Based on the number of saplings I've run over on golf courses it's probably a good thing I don't drive cars.
  8. I am addicted to reading. I must read. If I don't have a book or internet I'll read adverts on the train or even the stuff written on a cereal box. When I first came to Japan, I learned the Japanese syllabary called katakana by reading adverts and signs while I was standing outside having a smoke.
  9. I have had some bad luck in my life, but I've also had a lot of good luck. For example, when I got hired by a language school in Japan, I was posted to a school in Ageo, a city north of Tokyo. That school had 10 teachers. Four of those teachers are still teachers today, three of us got Masters degrees in TESOL. A lot of what I learned about teaching I learned on the job at that language school and some of the best teachers I've ever met were teachers I met there. Most of the stories you'll hear about language schools in Japan will be negative, but my experience was very positive indeed. Guess I'm just lucky.
  10. While I was teaching at the language school I mentioned above, my trainer, Craig Stevens asked me if I wanted to go to a presentation offered by the local chapter of the Japan Association for Language Teachers (JALT). After that I joined JALT, enrolled in the Temple University M.Ed (TESOL) programme, became a secondary school teacher and eventually a university professor, and I served JALT in many capacities including Director of Public Relations.
  11. I received my first degree from the University of Windsor. The person who tagged Sophia, Doug Peterson, is an instructor at the University of Windsor. Doug Peterson and I follow each other on Twitter too. It sure is a small world, and it's getting smaller every day.

3. Sophia's questions and my answers
  • What was the conference you enjoyed the most in 2013?  I attended only two conferences in 2013, both overseas. I attended TOSCON13, which was a really good experience for me because it was the first chance I had ever had to present in my home town Toronto. I also met up with some friends from Japan. The other conference I went to was World CALL 2013 in Glasgow. At World CALL, I got to meet some of the great teachers who belong to my Personal Learning Network (PLN). So, it's a tie. They were both fantastic. I can't choose.
  • Facebook or Twitter? Why? I'm getting sick of both of them to be honest. Too many reasons to list.
  • Do you know any nickname(s) your students have given you? I'm sure they have some nicknames for me, and I'm sure I don't want to hear them. I've never liked any of the nicknames people have given me.
  • Do you prefer reading on screen or on paper? Depends. I love reading web pages and such online, but I also like reading books. I love the smell of a new book.
  • What’s the best blogpost you have ever written?  No clue. You tell me, I don't know. I don't write blog posts with that in mind.
  • Are you a morning or a night person? See above
  • Name 3-5 digital tools/apps that you use with your classes on a regular basis. I love Quizlet, Voicethread, and English Central.
  • What was the most unusual food you have ever eaten? What was it like? Wow, hard to choose. I've eaten a lot of unusual food. Perhaps the most unusual food I've ever eaten was Shirako (白子), which is called cod milt in English. It was OK, but I haven't gone out of my way to eat it again. I'll try anything once.
  • Have you ever lived in another country other than the one you live now? Where was it? Well I'm living in Japan now. The only other country I've lived in is my home country, Canada.
  • Imagine you won a scholarship to attend an ideal conference anywhere in the world. Where would that be? This is a difficult question to answer but I guess I'd have to say an IATEFL conference in London. That would be so so very good for me, or TESOL in Toronto, which is going to happen in 2015. I REALLY want to go to that conference!
  • What’s your biggest pet peeve? A pet peeve is a small thing that really annoys you. I can't think of anything small that annoys me. Big things annoy me, like dishonesty and hypocrisy.
4. My turn to tag in alphabetical order – hopefully you haven’t been tagged already 

5. My questions
  • Why did you become a teacher?
  • Do you do teacher research? Why, why not?
  • How important is music to you?
  • Where is your favourite place in the world?
  • Do you eat to live, or live to eat?
  • What's your favourite word (in any language, but if it isn't English, please transcribe the word in roman letters and tell us the meaning in English)
  • Can you share an "あそうか!" (Eureka) moment with us?
  • Can you give us an example of a time you learned something from a student?
  • Where do you want to be in five years?
  • Can you paddle a canoe?
  • What are your favourite novels?
...and that's all.
Happy New Year everyone!!!


  1. I enjoyed reading more about my fellow Canuck, Mike! Thanks. I'm also happy to hear you have fond memories of TOSCON13. Hope you can make it to another one day. TESOL just isn't the same. ;)

    1. Thanks for your comment Tyson. I LOVED TOSCON13. It was so well organised. The workshop with Tom Farrell was fantastic. Actually I think I'm going to change my primary research interest from CALL to Reflective Practice. Luke and Lindsay were great too. I only wish that there was more time. Going from Tokyo to Toronto and back in one weekend is hard, and when I go home I have to see my Mum, and my brothers too. Nevertheless, I'd definitely go again and I'll recommend TOSCON in the future. Cheers mate!

  2. I've been tagged but it's ok, because I have to answer another person who tagged me. It's an audio response. It was great hanging with you in person in 2different continents. It is such a small world! Love the Doug Peterson connection.

  3. Hi Shelly, thanks for your comment. Sorry for the double tag. Please share the link so I can read your response to the first person who tagged you. It was great meeting you on two different continents too. Hope you come back to Japan some time soon!

    1. Hey Michael, great to read your post - Doug was the person who tagged me first and got us all started in this merry-go-round of revelations and self-indulgence (as Tyson says).

      Have a wonderful 2014 and hope to see you again at IATEFL - have never been to Canada and now you are really tempting me!!!!

      Καλή Χρονιά Μαικλ :-)

    2. Hi Marisa,
      Thanks for your comment. I won't be at IATEFL in 2014, and I am really hoping I can go to TESOL in Toronto in 2015. Why don't you meet me in Toronto. We can eat delicious Greek food on the Danforth, and listen to great music at great live houses on Queen. You'll love it! Καλή Χρονιά Μαρίζα!!