Richard Flynn (aka Tdol) is an English teacher and the Site Editor here at UsingEnglish.com. Here, he talks about English usage that catches his eye or ear, and looks at language issues that interest or puzzle him.
The World Cup is about to start and the football glossary posted in the forum a couple of years ago has now been updated, turned into a regular glossary format and put onto the main site. You can view it alphabetically or by category.
After we changed everyone's passwords a couple of weeks ago, people were asking some questions about passwords and personal data. Firstly, we don't hold much personal data- as people have usernames, we don't know real names. We do ask for the year and date of birth to comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). We ask for an active email account and send a link that has to be clicked on to complete the registration. This is to make it harder for automated registration by advertisers and spammers. We also ask where you're from, where you are based now and what your first language is. There are also optional fields where people can add biographical information and interests if they wish. Unless you use your real name as a username or connect via Facebook, the data is anonymous. If an acount is deleted, this information is deleted from our records.
I was having lunch a few months ago when I suddenly struggled to get to the end of what I was saying- my voice dipped and wouldn't come back. Within a week or so, I couldn't produce any noise and was forced into a soundless whisper. If I strained a bit, I could just about make a sound that could possibly be heard at very close range. My first medical consultation did nothing, and I had tickets to go abroad that meant going with just this silent croak.
A few years ago we used to host some pieces written by Martin Wolff and Niu Quiang about their experiments in trying to teach English in new ways in China, which have since evolved into the China Holistic English site (link broken).
There have been a number of articles about the growth of ESL teaching in the Philippines like this, but some of what they are stating don't strike me as right. The Philippines does have potential and in the drive to reduce costs, it is clearly a place to watch out for.
I have English Teacher X's obra prima to read next and have enjoyed the other ebooks - they include a lot of sensible and realistic advice - but I didn't enjoy Speaking Activities that Don't Suck as much.
The next of English Teacher X's ebooks that I have read is subtitled An expatriate guide to not getting robbed, scammed, jailed or killed. In pre-Skype days, I was living in a place in SE Asia where the internet was expensive and used to use an internet cafe across the road Most days I heard someone phoning home to ask their family to send them some money as they'd been robbed. The risks he's talking about are very real, and the first part of the book makes a lot of sense.
English Teacher X's Guide to Teaching Abroad is not a guide to classroom practice with some swearing, but a look at what he sees as the realities and expectations of an ESL teacher's lifestyle and working conditions abroad, with lots of swearing.
I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend - who has a Master's, the DELTA and a PhD in ESL- and mentioned something from EnglishTeacherX- you're paid to turn up, regardless of anything like a hangover. He said that the guy's professionalism put him in the shade. ETX has produced two of the golden rules of ESL, though To Travel Hopelessly shows that he learned one from another teacher. Other than turning up however bad you feel, he also says that you must have your fare out of a country. If you don't you can be exploited.
Our site reached its tenth birthday this year. Technology has changed a lot over that time, but the basics of forums have remained, and are still the best thing going for me on the site. When I was doing my MA, learner-driven was a buzzword, but forums are all that. And more besides. The simple act of communicating works.
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