Frequently Asked Questions

The table of contents

I've tried to organize

  1. Usage: questions about using Dynamic-EFL on a day-to-day basis.
  2. Technical questions: how I made the site.
  3. Personal questions: the information I'm comfortable sharing with the internet.

Usage Questions

How do I make thematic worksheets?

You can add a group named "weather" and only add weather words. But that's not the idea.

The idea is to maintain a vocab list for each group that you teach and that this vocab list will grow over time. The system will continuously bring back vocabulary that was taught a while ago so that learners--ideally--learn more of it.

The definition/gapfill on one of my worksheets seems odd. What's up?

It's possible that you hit a Dresden-specific definition or gapfill that I haven't caught, yet. Or, that it was something that made sense for the group where I added the definition or gapfill. Please bring it to my attention, and I'll fix it for the next time you use it--and for everyone else.

I get an error adding a definition. What happened?

When you add a definition, it checks that the word you're defining is not in the definition itself. The really ugly error screen that sometimes comes is a result of the system thinking that the word is in there.

I should say that I tried to make a funny definition for "ick" once, and used the word "pickles." The system threw a fit, because 'ick' is in 'pickles.'

So, yeah, it's not perfect.

I tried to add a gapfill sentence and there was an error. What happened?

Like in the question above, the secret lies in thinking like a computer. If you add the word "fairy," the system will look for the word 'fairy' in your gapfill sentence. If your sentence is "Gertrude puts a little beer in front of her door for the fairies on summer evenings," then the system will throw a fit. Again, I know it's not perfect. (Also, I want to meet Gertrude.)

I tend to work around this problem by rephrasing my sentences, or by typing "Gertrude put beer in front of her door for the fairy" and accepting that it's not perfect.

Why not offer an ad-supported version?

Boo, ads! Also, that version would require me to make you click through as many pages as possible (to maximize the ads you're going to see) and that would mean making something I don't want to use.

I want to make something I'm proud of and use. I've been paying--with both actual money and my time--for this for years and continue to think it's worth it.

Technical Questions

What technologies did you use making this?

The website is building using Django / Python and I use reportlab to make the PDFs.

Do you have tips for people who want to learn coding?

I found the django girls tutorial super-helpful and frequently return to it. I also did an edX course in Python programming that is no longer offered, but I was genuinely impressed with the quality of their MOOC.

Personal Questions

Who are you?

My name is Toby and, for all my life, I've enjoyed poking at things and seeing how they work. My interests have always been to general for me to become a specialist in anything. I genuinely hope that this project can be something where, being interested in many things pays off.

Don't you like teaching English?

I do. I enjoy getting to know people and learning about their lives and jobs. I enjoy having a broad insight into how the world works. And, yes, I like social interactions where the social norms are clear and biased in my (the teacher's) favor.

What media defines you?

I don't have any fandom that defines me, but I have some books that I've re-read many times. The most pretentious of these is Catch 22, by Joseph Heller. The most embarrassing are the first three books of the Honor Bound series, by W.E.B. Griffen.

Tell me something you've never told anyone before.

You're right and I'm wrong. I've never understood people who think that's a question, or a thing that will lead to a good conversation.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

Either on the front lines of the zombie apocalypse or here in Dresden, trying to find a place where I fit.