Results tagged “britain”
As I no longer live in the UK and only go back a couple of times a year, I may miss some of the changes occurring in British English that aren't easily seen on the web, so I keep in contact with all sorts of sources who try to keep me up to date.
They are definitely firing on all cylinders at the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) conference this year. A motion was put forward yesterday that
deplores the very real problem of cyber bullying in schools and demands the closure of sites encouraging such behaviour
Interactive whiteboards, heralded as a breakthrough in teaching, have come under fire as possible risks to eyesight. While the claims that TV and computer screens would ruin people's eyesight have largely not been shown to be the case, it is possible that there is a risk here.
Sandy MacManus of the popular TEFLTrade blog recently wrote to IATEFL, the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, asking them what they were doing to protect ESL teachers in the UK.
Bill Rammell, the minister for lifelong learning, further and higher education, argues that the withdrawal of funding for asylum seekers over the age of 19 is fair because almost 80% of claims are settled in eight weeks. He says that most reasonable people would support this, especially as over half the claims are unsuccessful.
Apart from collective nouns like police and cattle that always take a plural verb, there are different approaches taken in different countries where English is spoken. In American English, the general tendency is to use the singular. Indeed, some American speakers regard the plural as incorrect. In British English, the plural is much more widespread, though when the collective noun is seen as a single thing and not a collection of individuals, then the singular is preferred, so British speakers might say that a company is being sold, but may use the plural when thinking about the company's operations. The BBC states its policy is to use the plural when talking about a team, etc. In Australian English, the singular is becoming more common than the plural, but both are used.
There is a lot of debate at the moment on whether the Trinity College London TEFL (TESOL) Certificate courses offered by Windsor TEFL are accredited.
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.
In a BBC online article about the need to promote non-European languages in British schools, Dr Anderson of Goldsmiths College is quoted as follows:
It's a question of status - the message has been that these languages are less important. We need to get to a point where we don't think in terms of foreign languages and community languages, where there isn't this sense of a hierarchy of languages, where all forms of language learning are valued.
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.
The new test for those wishing to become British citizens has been introduced. You buy a £9.99 book and take a £34 computer-based test, which seems a little steep for something with just 24 questions. However,you can take it as many times as necessary, so centres will be falling over themselves to accept your cash. The BBC has some unofficial questions based on their reading of the book. I managed a sterling 50% (you need 75% to pass). One of the ones I got right was a guess. I wasn't sure what I should do to be British- basically, whether I should obey the laws, participate in a culture or be a part of a European democracy. I guessed the first, assuming that's what the politicians behind this would want me to say and, sadly, was right.
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.
The British Potato Council has a campaign to remove the expression couch potato from the Oxford English dictionary on the grounds that does a healthy and nutritious vegetable a disservice. They are also ignoring the fact that the term 'vegetable' is used for a person in a coma. 'Banana' comes in for real disresepect as it means 'mad' and also is used in banana republic. If they want one vegetable to have a positive image, shouldn't they extend their 'campaign' to all fruit and vegetables in the name of consistency?
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.
Unable to sleep, I spent some time reading through British teachers' blogs last night and was reminded of just what dire straits some areas of education in the UK are in. Two in particular stood out, for different reasons. One, a blog dedicated to exposing the worse side of the ESL profession in the UK, gave details of the worst job it had seen advertised this year, while the other documented the travails of a highly dedicated teacher who has finally resigned and decided to quit the profession.
The term 'meritocracy', like 'nuclear family', is commonly used in a posititve way. However, both were originally meant in a negative sense. 'Nuclear family' was supposed to contrast negatively with the idea of the extended family, yet is nowadays used by many as a negative contrast with the lone parent family.
There has been endless talk about the dumbing down of education, but little about how far up the educational ladder this decline has got, with most of the scorn saved for courses like Media Studies and arguments about why training courses have been awarded degree status.
In today's Independent, a British broadsheet newsapaper, Adrian Hamilton wrote the following sentences:
But I do know that if I were Tony Blair, I'd take these intimations of mortality as the occasion to get out of the job. Indeed I'm willing to bet that by Easter he may well have done so.
In the forum, there is a discussion about singular and plural, and asks whether 'two thirds of the cake' should be followed by a singular or a plural verb. The logic seems unarguable:
Part of the cake has been eaten.
Some of the cake has been eaten.
Most of the cake has been eaten.
Two thirds of the cake has been eaten.
One tool I use a lot for language learning and teaching is Google. It is a quick way of checking many things and is one of the most useful tools available, although it is not designed as a language tool, so its results should be treated with care. You could use any search engine, but Google is the one I use.