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Splash Spring 2019 is May 4-5, 2019!

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ESP Biography



DAVID EDWARDS, Language lover, computer wrangler, generally crazy




Major: Symbolic Systems

College/Employer: Stanford

Year of Graduation: 2012

Picture of David Edwards

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I'm a senior at Stanford majoring in Symbolic Systems. I'm a writer, a poet, a mad computer scientist, and a long-distance runner who loves a good cup of green tea.

Languages are my true love; I'm fluent in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Chinuk Wawa, and I can speak some Japanese and American Sign Language. I've even created a few languages of my own. I love learning new languages all the time, as well as teaching them to other people--and showing them that learning new languages can be really easy and fun!

On my own time, I'm the founder and administrator of an online writing workshop where a nation-wide team of writers helps high school and college students hone their writing skills.

In general, my interests are all over the map, and I love listening to people talk about their passions. This will be my seventh (and last!) time teaching at SPLASH, and I can't wait for another chance to hang out with so many cool kids!



Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

R2303: Playing Language: Game-based tricks for learning languages absurdly fast in Splash! Spring 2012 (Apr. 21 - 22, 2012)
When you hear the phrase “Learning a foreign language,” what images come to mind? Do you see students huddled over their desks, scribbling in workbooks? Maybe grammar quizzes and tables of vocab? What if, instead, you saw a group of friends hanging out, laughing, shouting, and gesturing wildly in some kind of crazy charades game, only to realize later that without ever cracking a textbook or learning a grammatical rule, they had accidentally started to speak in another language? What if getting fluent took a couple of months, not years? "Where Are Your Keys?", or WAYK, is a “language fluency game” designed for use in language revitalization movements. When an endangered language is going extinct and its community wants to save it, WAYK provides a way to learn the language at a break-neck pace without having to rely on textbooks or formally trained teachers. It is a distillation of learning techniques from many different fields, packaged into an active and addictive game that you can play with your friends. In this seminar, we will experiment with this notion of play-based language acquisition and see just how fast we can learn Mandarin Chinese without actually studying it. After the workshop, you will be able to use the game to learn any language you want easily and extremely fast, just by interacting with other speakers. What's more, you'll be able to use many of the "rules of the game" to accelerate your learning in all kinds of areas outside of foreign languages. For more information about this seminar, you can visit http://www.whereareyourkeys.org, or contact David at dedwards@stanford.edu See you there!


L2306: 3 Ideas That Can Revolutionize Your Life in Splash! Spring 2012 (Apr. 21 - 22, 2012)
Learn psychological tricks that will enhance your memory, creativity, and self-awareness. There are gems trapped inside of each of us that we have yet to unlock. Engage in a series of activities, both individual and collaborative, both analytical and empathetic, that will begin to equip you for a lifelong journey of active introspection.


R1859: Playing Language: How to learn any language extremely fast by playing a game in Splash! Fall 2011 (Oct. 29 - 30, 2011)
When you hear the phrase “Learning a foreign language,” what images come to mind? Do you see students huddled over their desks, scribbling in workbooks? Maybe grammar quizzes and tables of vocab? If you’ve used a system like Rosetta Stone, maybe you picture a person in headphones clicking through a computer program. What if, instead, you saw a group of friends hanging out, laughing, shouting, and gesturing wildly in some kind of crazy charades game, only to realize later that without ever cracking a textbook or learning a grammatical rule, they had accidentally started to speak in another language? What if getting fluent took a couple of months, not years? "Where Are Your Keys?", or WAYK, is a “language fluency game” designed for use in language revitalization movements. When an endangered language is going extinct and its community wants to save it, WAYK provides a way to learn the language at a break-neck pace without having to rely on textbooks or formally trained teachers. It is a distillation of learning techniques from many different fields, packaged into an active and addictive game that you can play with your friends. In this seminar, we will experiment with this notion of play-based language acquisition and see just how fast we can learn Mandarin Chinese without ever actually studying it. After the workshop, you will be able to use the game to learn any language you want easily and extremely fast, just by interacting with other speakers. What's more, you'll be able to use many of the "rules of the game" to accelerate your learning in all kinds of areas outside of foreign languages. For more information about this seminar, you can visit http://www.whereareyourkeys.org, or contact me at dedwards@stanford.edu See you there! ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: I have been learning the WAYK game since March of 2010 and have played it all over the place, from California to Oregon, to China and Mongolia. This past summer I worked at the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, using the game to help seven Native American high-schoolers save one of their endangered heritage languages. While I was there, my coworkers used the game to teach me Chinuk Wawa, another Native American language, in just two and a half months. It's been a crazy, wild ride discovering just how fast and easy language learning can be, and I can't wait to share what I've learned with you!


R1864: From Sindarin to Klingon to Na'vi and beyond: the Art of Invented Languages in Splash! Fall 2011 (Oct. 29 - 30, 2011)
Invented languages are appearing more and more in the entertainment industry—after the success of Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Avatar, directors are dealing with a growing expectation that fantasy and science fiction media will put as much effort into the fictional languages spoken in them as they do into other aspects of their setting. Inventing languages as a hobby and art form has been around for centuries, and people have many different reasons for creating their own. Some make languages to use in works of fiction, while others just want to make a language to better express their unique way of thinking, or communicate in secret with friends. But how does a person go about creating a complete, original language? This seminar will give you the tools you need to do it yourself. We will investigate a wide number of real-world languages in order to break out of the English “box” and discover just how infinite the possibilities of language really are. This seminar is both for any students who have tried or been intrigued by constructed languages in the past, and for anyone who simply loves studying how different people use different languages to express their thoughts. ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: I’ve been “conlanging” for about 12 years now, and recently I was considered to create the "Dothraki" language for the HBO series "A Game of Thrones." My forays into the conlanging world have fueled my love for linguistics, which I am avidly pursuing here at Stanford. In working with my own languages, I’ve found myself better equipped to learn other natural languages, and I hope that conlanging can do the same for you.


L1126: L686: From Sindarin to Klingon to Na'vi and beyond: the Art of Invented Languages in Splash! Fall 2010 (Nov. 13 - 14, 2010)
Invented languages are appearing more and more in the entertainment industry--after the success of Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Avatar, directors are dealing with a growing expectation that fantasy and science fiction media will put as much effort into the fictional languages spoken in them as they do into other aspects of their setting. Inventing languages as a hobby and art form has been around for centuries, and people have many different reasons for creating their own. Some make languages to use in works of fiction, while others just want to make a language to better express their unique way of thinking, or communicate in secret with friends. But how does a person go about creating a complete, original language? This seminar will give you the tools you need to do it yourself. We will investigate a wide number of real-world languages in order to break out of the English “box” and discover just how infinite the possibilities of language really are. For any students who have tried or been intrigued by constructed languages in the past to anyone who simply loves studying how different people express their thoughts, this is the seminar for you. ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: I’ve been “conlanging” for about 12 years now, and recently I was considered by a major TV network to create a language for an upcoming fantasy program. My forays into the conlanging world have fueled my love for linguistics, which I am avidly pursuing here at Stanford. In working with my own languages, I’ve found myself better equipped to learn other natural languages, and I hope that conlanging can do the same for you.


L1127: Where Are Your Keys: Playing Language in Splash! Fall 2010 (Nov. 13 - 14, 2010)
When you hear the phrase "Learning a foreign language," what images come to mind? Do you see students huddled over their desks, scribbling in workbooks? Maybe grammar quizzes and tables of vocab? If you've used a system like Rosetta Stone, maybe you picture a person in headphones clicking through a computer program. What if, instead, you saw a group of friends sitting in a circle, laughing, shouting, and gesturing wildly in some kind of crazy charades game, only to realize later that without ever cracking a textbook or learning a grammatical rule, they had accidentally started to speak in another language? Where Are Your Keys, or WAYK, is a "language fluency game" designed for use in language revitalization movements. When an endangered language is going extinct and its community wants to save it, WAYK provides a way to learn the language at a break-neck pace without having to rely on textbooks or formally trained teachers. It is a distillation of learning techniques from many different fields, packaged into an active and addictive game that you can play with your friends. In this seminar, we will experiment with this notion of play-based language acquisition and see just how fast we can learn Mandarin Chinese without ever actually studying it. After the workshop, you will be able to "language hunt" for yourself, learning any language quickly and effectively just by interacting with other speakers.


L686: From Sindarin to Klingon to Na'vi and beyond: the Art of Invented Languages in Splash! Spring 2010 (Apr. 17 - 18, 2010)
The recent blockbuster 'Avatar' generated a lot of publicity with Na'vi, the original language created for its race of aliens. The bar has been set high in the film-making world; thanks to Marc Okrand's Klingon and Tolkien's Elvish languages, audiences are slower to settle for babbled alien gibberish anymore. But how does a person go about creating a complete, original language? This seminar will give you the tools you need to do it yourself. We will investigate a wide number of real-world languages in order to break out of the English "box" and discover just how infinite the possibilities of language really are. For any students who have tried or been intrigued by constructed languages in the past to anyone who simply loves studying how different people express their thoughts, this is the seminar for you. ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: I've been "conlanging" for about 12 years now, and recently I was even considered by a major TV network to create a language for an upcoming fantasy program. My forays into the conlanging world have fueled my love for linguistics, which I am avidly pursuing here at Stanford. In working with my own languages, I've found myself better equipped to learn other natural languages, and I hope that conlanging can do the same for you.


L560: Fiction Writers' Critique Group in Splash! Fall 2009 (Oct. 10 - 11, 2009)
A critique group can be an excellent venue for writers seeking to hone their skills as storytellers. Receiving criticism from other writers and readers allows the author to gauge the effectiveness of her work and catch problems that may not have been otherwise apparent to her. In a small group setting, we will exchange and cooperatively critique each other's work in a positive community environment. Students should bring to group ten copies of a story or excerpt (fiction or creative non-fiction) no longer than three pages, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins and 12-pt Times New Roman font. Content should not exceed a PG-13 rating. If time allows afterward, we will have a short creative writing workshop.


L561: The Excellent Essay in Splash! Fall 2009 (Oct. 10 - 11, 2009)
Essays are everywhere. Between English classes, history classes, AP tests, SATs, and college applications, by the time you graduate high school, you will have written more than you can count--and that will be only the beginning. Being able to write a knock-your-socks-off essay is a skill that can give you a huge head-start in school--but what makes a good essay? In this short workshop, we will explore strategies for designing, writing, and refining top-of-the-line essays that are sure to affect and impress.


L562: The Excellent Essay (Upperclass Group) in Splash! Fall 2009 (Oct. 10 - 11, 2009)
Essays are everywhere. You've no doubt written your fair share of them already, but still more are looming on the horizon--and these aren't just any essays. AP essays, SAT essays, and college application essays have spooked many a student--but that needn't be the case. In this short workshop, we will explore strategies for designing, writing, and refining top-of-the-line essays that will give you an edge on the competition.


L563: Elves, Klingons, and Esperantists: The Art of Invented Languages in Splash! Fall 2009 (Oct. 10 - 11, 2009)
Conlanging--that is, creating constructed languages--is something of a peculiar hobby, and one likely to spark interesting discussions (and odd looks) around the dinner table. However, for people like J.R.R. Tolkien, it was so fascinating that it became a "secret vice." For many, conlanging provides a venue for exploration into the infinite possibilities of language. This lecture/workshop will walk through the basic first steps of creating an original constructed language, from designing a phonology to laying the groundwork for grammar and semantics. We will investigate many real-world languages and how they can inform the creation of artificial ones--we will try to break out of the English "box" and discover entirely new ways of expressing ideas. For any students who have tried or been intrigued by conlanging in the past to anyone who simply loves language and studying how different people express their thoughts, this is the seminar for you.


M347: Calculus Unmasked in Splash! Spring 2009 (Apr. 04 - 05, 2009)
The very word CALCULUS has inspired dread in the minds of students for ages. Join me in disarming this mathematical giant one fundamental concept at a time--we'll build the core concepts of calculus from the ground up. Instead of memorizing formulas and processes, we'll focus on developing an intuitive sense of what makes the major formulas and processes of calculus work in the first place. The course will cater to students with a good background in algebra; experience with trigonometry will not be required, but it will give you a leg up on some problems we'll be working. Whether you're taking a calc course and want to better understand the gears that make the math tick, or you're just looking to explore and see if calculus might be something you'd pursue, this course has your name on it. If you've already decided to take calculus in the fall, this course will give you a solid head start on understanding some of the concepts that have traditionally perplexed students. Ready to take one of high school math's more daunting topics by the horns? Dust off your matador cape, and prepare to see Calculus--Unmasked!


L349: The Sentence and the Scalpel: Writing for Effect in Splash! Spring 2009 (Apr. 04 - 05, 2009)
"Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them." --Nathaniel Hawthorne. How do some stories grab your attention by the throat, while others could treat insomnia? How can descriptions of the weather in one story bring tears to your eyes, while a tragic death scene in another brings only yawns? In this course we'll tackle a number of strategies for fiction and nonfiction writers to help turn that chapter--that paragraph--that sentence--that word--into a burning, blazing masterpiece. We'll analyze the advice and techniques of other writers in an effort to find out own insights and style, our own approaches to filling every phrase in our writing with as much power and punch as we can. And this isn't just for narrative writers! We'll look at tricks and tips for writing top-of-the-line effective essays, and even some poetry.


M174: Calculus Unmasked in Splash! Fall 2008 (Oct. 18, 2008)
CALCULUS! It's a big, booming word that has struck fear into the hearts of many a math student. In this seminar, we will dare to suggest that--just maybe--calc's fabled bark is worse than its practical bite. We'll tackle as much of the introductory basics as we can, taking care to dig into not only what the ideas are, but why those ideas work. If you're in a first-year calc course now and feeding befuddled, or if you just want to test the waters for pursuing calculus in the future, this course has your name all over it. You'll need a solid understanding of algebra, and some exposure to trigonometry would be helpful (but not necessary).


L175: Storytelling: Learning from the Greats in Splash! Fall 2008 (Oct. 18, 2008)
Have you ever been astounded by the fact that people are still reading The Odyssey several thousand years after it was written? Storytelling has come a long way over the (many many many) years, and mankind has accumulated a lot of wisdom about what makes a story awesome. This workshop is for young writers who want to look into the great stories of the past, analyze what made them great, and apply those techniques to their own writing. We'll discuss the mythic plot model, theme and development, Aristotelian structure and philosophy, character design, and more. Along the way, we might even discuss why stories can be so powerful, and why it is we write them. Having read tons of classic literature will NOT be required for this class. By way of materials, you might bring a synopsis and a short (short!) excerpt from a work-in-progress, if you have one.