Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some questions about teaching

These may sound like naive questions, but they are genuine:
  1. Is it important to teach in such a way that the content of what you teach is internally consistent? In other words, does it matter if one part of what you teach contradicts other parts? For example, does it matter that many English language teachers tell their students that linking verbs are stative verbs?
  2. Is it important to teach in such a way that the content of what you teach is consistent with available evidence?
  3. Is it important to teach in such a way that the content of what you teach is consistent with the truth, irrespective of the available evidence?
  4. Do the answers to these questions depend on what you teach?  In particular, would teaching an exceedingly complex system, such as a natural language, lead to different answers than teaching a less complex system, such as a programming language?
  5. Finally, why did you answer the way you did?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rearing heads

Ever noticed that when a head is reared, it's almost certain to be ugly? Ever wonder what other kinds of heads rear up? The COCA turns up the following:
prickly, wobbly, unpretty, troublesome, sultry, scaly, ready, pontificating, polychromatic, one-eyed, monstrous, invisible, interesting, impenetrable, evil, ever-changing, emaciated, contemptible, bearish, bearded, abusive, enormous
Some, like unpretty, are boring, but I quite like the image of something rearing its wobbly head.

Just in case you had wondered.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Trees and diagrams

I've had reason to draw some Reed-Kellogg diagrams lately. If you've never heard of these, you can learn straight from the original source, thanks to the magic of Google books. Click on the following to get more:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cambridge Journals Temporarily Free

Cambridge Journals are free for the next six weeks, no registration necessary. If you don't have access through an institution or subscription, this is a great time to catch up on some articles about language and linguistics. In particular, you might want to check out:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Clear as a preposition?

Consider clear in the following sentences. Is it most like an adjective, an adverb, or a preposition?
  • Soon we were clear of the town.
  • *Soon we became clear of the town. 
  • *Soon we were more clear of the town.
  • We stayed clear of the town.
  • Just clear of the town I find men at work in an excavation in the sand.
  • There was a house just clear of the town. 
  • A two hour walk would put them well clear of the town.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Roger Ebert confuses ESL materials for native speaker materials

In Roger Ebert's blog at the Chicago Sun-Times, he's completely trashed the Macmillan Readers version of The Great Gatsby (Retold by Margaret Tarner). He can't believe that this is for typical American high school students. In fact, it isn't. The book clearly says in the front matter that it's "for learners of English," but Ebert seems to have missed that part.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Studies about international English proficiency

This appeared a few months ago in the `Johnson' blog at The Economist, but I only stumbled across it recently. It seems that a company called EF Education First, which teaches English along with other subjects, has published a large-scale international study of English language proficiency around the world. `Johnson' sums up the study and findings well: