NBA Finals predictions

31 05 2008

I got two of out three last time. Since it’s better to be right than consistent (Noam Chomsky), I say: Lakers in six (for just this once, I’m jumpin’ on the Bill Simmons bandwagon). Any wagers?

Picture by Binhbasket

In the name of construct validity

31 05 2008

In a previous academic life, I constructed and administered reading proficiency tests for primary school students in Flanders. Working with Item Response Theory experts on language assessment was quite the eye-opener: for instance, the work that goes into writing plausible distractors for multiple choice items is painstaking yet crucial if you take student assessment seriously.

On Friday, a number of colleagues organized a one-day conference on language teaching that brought together some 80 applied linguists, language instructors and assessment professionals. One of the poster presentations was a joint effort by the Business English team, comparing pretest and posttest student performance on the Dialang self-assessment test and the course final. The results suggest that 1) ESP training improves students’ writing skills and lexical range and 2) that the Dialang self-assessment test is a reliable predictor for student performance on the final Business English exam in terms of grammar, vocabulary and listening.

MBenga means DNP – coach’s decision

30 05 2008

While my favorite NBA player from the Congo had some serviceable runs in the first round series against the Nuggets, he’s been racking up one “DNP – coach’s decision” after another in the conference semis against the Jazz and the conference finals against the Spurs. At least he’s having fun.

José & Jef on air

30 05 2008

José James recently performed live on Jef Neve’s radio show. Jef’s absurd skill level on the piano and José’s vocal quality make for jaw-dropping listening. Check it.

Picture by flickr’s oemobamo

NT&T research seminar Andrea Rocci

29 05 2008

NT&T is starting up a research seminar series during which selected scholars present their views on one of our discussion topics. The first speaker to kick off this new initiative is Andrea Rocci from the University of Lugano. Andrea will give a talk on 13 June 2008 in Ghent. Drop me a line if you would like to attend. Here is Andrea’s abstract.

Three perspectives on the analysis of predictions in financial news: semantics, argumentation, and the genre system.

Financial news is as much about what could happen tomorrow than about what happened yesterday in the markets. From a pragmatic viewpoint financial news concerning public companies primarily addresses an audience of (potential) investors whose demand for information is largely oriented towards supporting their future investment decisions. Financial news support and influence these decision processes both directly and indirectly.

Acts of prediction in the form of economic forecasts and of other “forward looking statements” play a central role in this journalistic genre like in other genres of economic discourse. In this talk I will present the three pronged strategy of analysis of this pivotal speech act adopted in an ongoing research project. The strategy aims to bring together three research traditions that very rarely (if ever!) talk to each other: formal semantics, normative pragmatic models of argumentation, and genre studies focusing on the notion of “system of genres”. The talk will try to enucleate some of methodological implications of the approach with respect to the role of linguistic meanings and context in the practice of discourse analysis.

Numbers speak in tongues

28 05 2008

Computer assisted reporting is to most journalists what aplomb is to Amy Winehouse: unchartered territory. Like so many of my peers in qualitative research, I have a love-hate relationship with quantitative research, in no small part due to my number-crunching stage fright. I have taken a number of statistics courses but always loose myself in the mathematical complexity of the matter.

Enter Sprekende cijfers. Technieken voor computer assisted reporting (Talking numbers. Techniques for computer assisted reporting). In just 192 pages, Daniël Van Nijlen and Bartel Volckaert illustrate the why, the what and the how of working with data sets in a very accessible and lucid style. Packed with realistic examples and Excel how-tos, this book is a highly recommended read – if you speak Dutch, that is.

TriKa bling

27 05 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to present a prototype of the TriKa trophy, designed by my man, Peter Vermandere. The winner in the men’s and the women’s race will receive a limited edition copy of this trophy.

Wanted: junior athletes

27 05 2008

TriKa press conference

27 05 2008

Organized a press conference for our upcoming race on 26 July, 2008. Main sponsor Eternit NV offered their awesome showroom and a fine reception afterwards. How very professional. Thanks to everyone who showed up. Now, let’s see how much media coverage this baby generates.

The world’s most charming time trial

26 05 2008

After a hard training week (2 pool sessions, 1 open water swim, 4 runs, 2 bike sessions and 1 brick session), I competed in the 7 van Kettelo time trial on Sunday. It’s a tongue-in-cheek event that features a 7k time trial for bicycles and tricycles. And a all-you-can-eat bbq. Before the race. Here is a picture from last year’s race.

I had wooden legs from saturday’s brick session but after a few words of encouragement from my son (“are you gonna win, dad?”), I felt rejuvenated. 10’29” later, I crossed the finish line, maxing out at 194 bpm and 59.9km/h. With an average speed of 40.12km/h, I got 10th place overall. Big fun.