Results tagged “exams”

Exam help on UsingEnglish.com

By Tdol on Nov 10, 2006 | | 2 Comments

We are adding a new section to the site that will be text-based, with texts and comprehension exercises. It is new, so it is still very small, but we will be adding to it on a regular basis. Please free to contact us to make suggestions or correct any mistakes.

Jamaican Language

By Tdol on Oct 18, 2006 | | 9 Comments

A few weeks ago, I contacted Leon Robinson from Kingston, Jamaica, who writes a blog called My thoughts...on stuff, and asked him if he would write something about Jamaican English as I have found his blog interesting and wanted to know his ideas about Jamaican English, which I hoped would add to the range of our view of English. We have contributors from many varieties of English, but little about the Caribbean. He agreed to do it and his thoughts can be read here.

Continue reading Jamaican Language.

Pirate Pirates

By Tdol on Oct 2, 2006 | | 0 Comments

We have a TV channel here that seems to specialise in playing DVDs on air; you can see the DVD screens with options before and after a film. The other day they had Pirates of the Caribbean 2 on, which I watched as I had heard so much about it. They show the English language version along with English subtitles, which I presume is to give as much help as possible to their viewers as there isn't a Khmer language subtitle option. However, the subtitles for this film were so full of errors and weird English that I can only hope it was a pirate DVD.

Continue reading Pirate Pirates.

Compulsory foreign languages

By Tdol on Sep 23, 2006 | | 1 Comments

Two years ago, the British government dropped compulsory foreign language lessons for GCSE students, an act of philistinism that should have never have gone through. In a globalised society and as a member of the EU, this decision defied logic, so it is good to hear that the current minister is prepared to reconsider it.

Can Google Concordance Language?

By Tdol on Apr 24, 2006 | | 2 Comments

In language discussions, results taken from search engines are often quoted as examples to show whether something is used as a form or to compare forms to see which is more common, etc. GoogleBlogoscoped has run 27,000 words from a dictionary through Google for popularity- the full results of the study can be downloaded here. The table below shows the top thirty words from the 2006 and 2003 surveys, together with the top thirty words from the British National Corpus (BNC).
The method used in the Google study does not count multiple occurrences in a single page, so the presence of a copyright message at the foot of a page will count for the same as all the times that the occurs, which accounts for the presence of copyright, contact, site, home, etc. However, the other entries suggest that the contents of the Google databases, and therefore any other reputable search engine, are likely to give a fairly accurate reflection for terms that are not related directly to the language of the layout of a webpage. As a rough and ready tool for checking, it seems that search engines can be used as basic concordancing tools.

Poll: Can Google concordance language?

War against bad punctuation

By Tdol on Mar 6, 2006 | | 1 Comments

There are plans in the UK to stop awarding GCSEs at grade C or above in English to students who cannot punctuate correctly. Naturally, some have criticised the idea for potentially preventing good students who make careless mistakes from passing.

Continue reading War against bad punctuation.

Smoke and mirrors

By Tdol on Feb 8, 2006 | | 2 Comments

ESL training courses on the internet are a problem. While there are presumably courses that are worth the money, most seem a waste of time and money. Apart from the obvious defect of not having any observed classroom teaching, many are quite simply rip-offs and there is a problem with recognition, as many have set up their own recognising bodies.

Continue reading Smoke and mirrors.

Authentic English

By Tdol on Jan 13, 2006 | | 0 Comments

In an interview on ELTNews on a recent visit to Japan, Professor Henry Widdowson says that the most obvious example of a conceptually flawed theory in ESL teaching is "the current precept that English teachers must only use real or authentic English in their teaching ­ that is to say the English that naturally occurs in the contexts of native speaker use. This directive comes from corpus linguistics and as such has no necessary pedagogic validity whatever."

Continue reading Authentic English.

Plain English

By Tdol on Dec 13, 2005 | | 0 Comments

The Plain English Campaign, who want public communication to use plain English, have announced their winners for this year and also made their selection for their 'Foot in Mouth' and 'Golden Bull' awards, for the most baffling quote by a public figure and the worst example of gobbledygook respectively.

Rhodri Morgan, the Welsh First Minister, won the 'Foot in Mouth' category for the second time for the following:

The only thing which isn't up for grabs is no change and I think it's fair to say it's all to play for, except for no change.

Continue reading Plain English.

English as an International Language

By Tdol on Sep 12, 2005 | | 4 Comments

English as an International Language (EIL) is being debated quite a lot at the moment. The idea sounds fine to me in many ways- most interactions in English nowadays are between non-native speakers, so we should focus on international communication rather than solely attempting to teach learners to strive towards native speaker competence. The idea of familiarising students with the Englishes used by people from other nations and cultures makes sense as that is what most will have to do when they use their English in their lives.

Exalead- the search engine that thinks it's a concordancer

By Tdol on Jun 4, 2005 | | 0 Comments

The search engine Exalead offers some very interesting and powerful features for language searches. It's in a beta version at the moment, but the advanced search page offers a number of interesting possibilities.

Only used in the singular tense

By Tdol on May 15, 2005 | | 0 Comments

I came across a rather bizarre explanation of uncountable nouns on an ESL website specialising in grammatical explanations:

In English, Uncountable nouns only used in the singular tense.

I looked at a few other pages and saw a number of basic grammatical errors. In a page about word order with adjectives and verbs, the following sentences were used:
My mother lost her keys.
The boys play ball all the time.

The words in italics are the ones the site had highlighted (accessed on the 15th May 2005) as the adjectives in the sentences.

ESL Rice Missionaries

By Tdol on Feb 21, 2005 | | 3 Comments

I recently came across the MissionFinder.org website and saw adverts to 'Use ESL to help plant churches among unreached Muslim peoples.' I found this rice missionary approach a little troubling; I see no reason to see a culture and religion as rich as Islam as 'unreached' and worry about the idea of abusing ESL in this way. Missionaries masquerading, as ESL teachers are nothing new; Mormons, generally honest about their intentions, and evangelical Christians, among others, poured into post-war Japan offering English lessons, while trying to make converts, and South Korea was also targeted. Little headway was made in Japan, but South Korea has a huge evangelical Christian population. Now they are heading for 'unreached' Muslim countries as well as refugees in the USA and other western countries.

Continue reading ESL Rice Missionaries.

Learning a language the old-fashioned way

By Tdol on Jan 26, 2005 | | 3 Comments

I am taking lessons in Khmer. Twice a week I go for my classes in a classroom that is literally in the shadow of the Toul Sleng genocide museum, also known as S-21, the school turned into a notorious prison where thousands were tortured before being executed in Choeung Ek, the Killing Fields of the Democratic Kampuchea regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

Zebras are a nuisance

By Tdol on Dec 21, 2004 | | 0 Comments

I was thumbing through a battered English language textbook a friend had used in High School in Japan in the 1980s and found the following sentence used as an example of how to use 'as well as':

When riding (in italics) in a motorcar, I, as well as the driver, am liable to find zebras a nuisance.

Continue reading Zebras are a nuisance.

Don't get by; get on

By Tdol on Oct 4, 2004 | | 0 Comments

The Department for Education and Skills' materials for the ESOL Adult Core Curriculum are a depressing example of how not to do something. I have been given the materials for Levels 1 & 2. My Level 1 students last year were able to take the UCLES Cambridge First Certificate exam. This year where I am currently working, the exam is to be replaced by the Level 1 exam from Edexcel.

Continue reading Don't get by; get on.

There will be not portfolio requirement.

By Tdol on Sep 10, 2004 | | 0 Comments

I was looking at the Edexcel website to see some information about their ESOL exams, as it seems that the UCLES exams have fallen out of favour with government, which will not be popular with students as UCLES are the gold standard for many. Edexcel have been in the news on many occasion for mistakes in exams and other administrative errors, so the title of this entry, which comes from the description of ESOL (Skills for Life) Entry level, doesn't inspire much confidence. The Writing Test for Level 2 is confusing- question 2c comes before 2b and doesn't have any handwritten text to correct, though it instructs studentsto find five mistakes in the missing text. There is something deliciously ironic in asking students to proof read the missing text in a question in the wrong order.

Learn a Language in One Day

By Tdol on Sep 1, 2004 | | 8 Comments

I clicked on a Google advert on our site that offered the chance to 'Learn German in 1 Day'. While the claim is ridiculous, I was curious about the method that lay behind it. It is 'a revolutionary memory technique developed by world-renowned learning expert, Dr. Michael Gruneberg', though Google could only find a few hundred mentions of him. Like all miracle learning methods, it gives us a scientific gloss, here claiming to be 88% more effective in one study.

The basic technique is to use 'mnemonic image' to remember vocabulary items. An example given on the website is the Russian word for a cow- karova - and the suggestion is to imagine a car running over a cow.

Continue reading Learn a Language in One Day.

Corporate English- London Underground

By Tdol on Jul 17, 2004 | | 10 Comments

Because it breaks down with such regularity, London Underground has equipped its staff with a number of excuses. Recently I was on a train that stopped short of its destination and we were told that 'because of the late running of this train, it will now terminate here'. While I can see that, from a timetable perspective, a late train might be blocking things, from a passenger's perspective, it is doubly infuriating to have to wait for a train and then be told that you can't get to your destination. Transport in London is of such a low standard that it really does have to be experienced to be believed. However, yesterday, they told me that the train I was on would have to wait a few minutes because there was a delay behind us. Despite trying, I could not work out any sense behind this explanation.

Meretricious

By Tdol on Mar 6, 2004 | | 1 Comments

On the radio today, someone used the word meretricious with the intended meaning of 'deserving' or 'worthy'. The Concise Oxford Dictionary says that it means 'showily but falsely attractive' or 'of or befitting a prostitute'. I wonder what the speaker would think if he actually knew this.

Continue reading Meretricious.
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