Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Quiz: The Poem 'IF'

I have obtained a worksheet on the poem "IF" from the former DELC of Jasin for use in the classroom.

Hope you'll find it useful for class use.


The IF Quiz

1. How many repetitions of ‘you’ are there in this poem?

2. Who are YOU? - are you the ‘you’ in the poem? Why, or why not?

3. What gender is the person who is speaking in the poem?

4. Make a list of all the words which begin with a capital letter - why do they begin like this?

5. How far can you run in sixty seconds?! A clue: average human running speed = 15 miles per hour

The IF Quiz Answers

1. How many repetitions of ‘you’ are there in this poem?

(There are 20 repetitions of ‘you’)

2. Who are YOU? - are you the ‘you’ in the poem? Why, or why not?

(You may feel you are NOT the ‘you’ in the poem if you are female, because it says ‘you’ll be a Man, my son’ at the end - or you may feel you ARE the ‘you’ In the poem if you think the advice is good for you!)

3. What gender is the person who is speaking in the poem?

(We do not know! - The poet was male, and the picture is male - but in fact, it could be a woman speaking. We do know it is a father or mother, because the person says ‘my son’)

4. Make a list of all the words which begin with a capital letter - why do they begin like this?

(Triumph, Disaster, Will, Kings, Earth, Man - Triumph, Disaster, and Will

Are all personifications of abstract situations and feelings; Kings are important people in the world; there is only one Earth and it is also important. The whole poem is about Kipling’s view of what a man is - not just a human being, or only a male, but somebody who is strong, sensible, brave, and communicative.

5. How far can you run in sixty seconds?!

Maurice Greene’s top speed is 27 miles per hour; he won the 100 metres race in 9.79 seconds.

Average speed for human running = 15 miles per hour.

So – you can probably run ¼ mile in one minute! - find out what this is in kilometres!)

Photos: ETs (English Teachers) in Other Lands

All over the world there is a serious interest to learn and master the English language. Therefore, native speakers and English language teachers are recruited and sentto serve in such places which really lack even the most basic of educational facilities such as a proper school, furniture and electricity.
My conclusion after viewing such pictures is to appreciate what we have and to make full use of all the facilities that our government and the school authorities have provided.

Here's some revealing pictures of schools in less developed countries.

An African teacher teaching in the open.

Hopeful students in Kenya.

A classroom in Guinea Bissau.

A classroom of female students in Afghanistan.

A classroom in Kenya.

Students learning in Indonesia.

An Indonesian teacher in action.

A Kenyan teacher teaching his student.

A western teacher guiding an African teacher.

A student studying without a desk.

Teacher Wendy teaching in Kimmu, Kenya

A refugee camp in Africa.

Poem: Look Closer

This is my final collection of poems on growing old. I must admit that the poems has a negative tone and implication to them. But the earlier ones had a sense of humour. I think growing older is something that all of us have to go through and the thought of it brings feelings of depression, uncertainty, lack of self-worth and a decrease in the physical abilities that the young take for granted.

These poems will be a good starting point for our young students particularly teens and the older ones, to think about how to help, to symphatize and to respect the aged for what they have gone through and going through. As caring citizens of Malaysia, we need to develop and have the character to love and assist the senior citizens through the last days of their lives.

After I had read the poem below, I saw that I could be like the person described in the poem. It may not be fun growing old and therefore we need to be aware of the effects. For the young, the message is 'appreciate your youth' and do care for the aged. You will be old one day!

Look Closer
by Phyllis McCormack

What do you see? What do you see?

Are you thinking when you're looking at me,

A crabbit old woman, not very wise,

Uncertain of habit with faraway eyes;

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply

When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try."

Who seems not to notice the things that you do,

And forever is losing a stocking or shoe;

Who quite unresisting, lets you do as you will,

With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill;

Is that what you're thinking, is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still;

As I move at your bidding, as I eat at your will.

I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother,

Brothers and sisters who love one another;

A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,

Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.

A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,

Remembering the vows that I promised to keep;

At twenty-five now I have young of my own

Who need me to build a secure, happy home;

A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,

Bound to each other with ties that should last;

At forty, my young sons will soon all be gone,

But my man is beside me to see I don't mourn;

At fifty, once more babies play round my knee,

Again we know children, my loved one and me;

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,

I look at the future, I shudder with dread;

For my young are all busy with young of their own

And I think of the years and the love that I've known;

I'm an old woman now and nature is cruel,

'Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool;

The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,

There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,

And now and again my battered heart swells,

I remember the joys, I remember the pain,

I'm loving and living life over again;

I think of the years all too few, gone too fast

And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, open and see

Not a crabby old woman, look closer - SEE ME.

Poem: Warning

One more for the collection. My apologies for posting only poems on aging from the point of view of women. I've not been able to find any for the men.

by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
with a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on a pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And make up for sobriety of my youth.
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.

Poem: The Mirror

One more poem for the collection on aging and self-esteem.

The Mirror

I look in the mirror
And what do I see?
A strange looking person
That cannot be me.

For I am much younger
And not nearly so fat
As that face in the mirror
I am looking at.

Oh, where are the mirrors
That I used to know
Like the ones which were made
Thirty years ago?

Now all things have changed
And I'm sure you'll agree
Mirrors are not as good
As they used to be.

So never be concerned
If the wrinkles appear
For one thing I've learned
Which is very clear:

Should your complexion
Be less than perfection
It is really the mirror
That needs correction.

-Author Unknown

Poem: The Purple Hat

Another interesting poem on growing old from the eyes of a woman. Good resource for a discussion on aging.

An idea I had was for the student to describe or to compose a poem on how they see themselves as they grow up from a baby, to a child and to teenage years.



Age 3: She looks at herself and sees a Queen.

Age 8: She looks at herself and sees Cinderella.

Age 15: She looks at herself as the "Ugly Sister"-"Mom, I can't go to school looking like this!"

Age 20: She looks at herself and sees, "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly"-but decides she's going out anyway.

Age 30: She looks at herself and sees, "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly"-but decides she doesn't have time to fix it so she's going out anyway.

At 40: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly"-but says, "At least I'm clean," and goes out anyway.

Age 50: She looks at herself, sees "I am", and goes wherever she wants to go.

Age 60: She looks at herself and reminds herself of all the people who can't even see themselves in the mirror anymore. Goes out and conquers the world.

Age 70: She looks at herself and sees wisdom, laughter and ability, goes out and enjoys life.

Age 80: Doesn't bother to look. Just puts on a purple hat and goes out to have fun with the world.

Maybe we should all grab that purple hat earlier.

Article: How To Stay Young

My previous blog was about aging and words associated with turning into a certain age. For good measure, I've included an article on How To Stay Young. Its useful for a discussion on being young and staying young. The ending hits the nail on the head!

Enjoy and be young in our outlook!


1.. Throw out non-essential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay them.

2.. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3.. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4.. Enjoy the simple things.

5.. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6.. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7.. Surround yourself with what you love, Whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge

8.. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9.. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10.. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Poem: Views On Aging

A poem on aging can be used as an interesting discussion on growing older and the aged. The vocabulary used in describing turing into a certain age is particularly relevant and gives variety to the phrases used.

Anyway, do enjoy the poem as much as I had.

George Carlin's Views on Aging

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids?
If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions.

"How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.

You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. "How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16!

And then the greatest day of your life . . . you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . . . YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk. He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 . ... and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would! So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime.

And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; "I Was JUST 92." Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!"

May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!

Activity: List the Name of the Animals

This is a picture test activity that I've given my students to do. It can serve as a opening activity, a group competition or just a breather especially after doing a topic about wild animals or about the forest/nature.


List the names of all the animals that you can find in the picture. There are at least 20 animals.

Riddle: Count the Number of 'Fs'

A quick test of intelligence. Don't cheat! Because if you do, the test will be no fun.

There are no tricks to the test. Read this sentence:


Now count aloud the F's in that sentence. Important, count them ONLY ONCE: do not go back and count them again


One of average intelligence finds three of them. If you spotted four, you're above average. If you got five, you can turn your nose at most anybody. If you caught six, you are a genius. There is no catch. Many people forget the "OF"'s. The human brain tends to see them as V's and not F's.

Humour Activities

Humour Activities in ELT

2 Phrasal Verbs

Complete each joke with a verb. Try to do it without looking at the list of verbs at the bottom of the page. Each verb makes up a phrasal verb. Underline them all.

Doctor, Doctor, I can't sleep at night.
> Sleep on the edge of the bed and you'll soon . . . . . . off.

Why are ghosts bad at telling lies?
> Because you can always . . . . . . . . through them.
Why do birds in a nest always agree ?
> Because they don't want to . . . . . . out.
When is a deep-sea diver disappointed with his colleagues ?
> When they . . . . . . him down.
What training do you need to become a rubbish collector ?
> None, you . . . . . . it up as you go along.
Waiter, I asked you to bring my order quickly but why is the food on my plate all squashed ?
> Well sir, when you ordered your food, you did tell me to . . . . . . on it.
Why do taxi-drivers always go bankrupt?
>Because they . . . . . . . . . . . their customers away.
Wife : Did you . . . . . . the cat out, dear.
Sarcastic Husband: No. Was it on fire?
When are the traffic police strong?
When they . . . . . . up cars with one hand.










Humour: Smart Professor

Here's a story that I like. It tells of how a professor outsmarted his students.

The lesson? A teacher should be always smarter than his/her students!

Smart Professor

At Duke University, there were four sophomores taking Organic Chemistry. They were doing so well on all the quizzes, midterms and labs, etc., that each had an "A" so far for the semester. These four friends were so confident that the weekend before finals, they decided to go up to the University of Virginia and party with some friends there.

They had a great time, but after all the hearty partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to Duke until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final then, they decided to find their professor after the final and explain to him why they missed it. They explained that they had gone to UVA for the weekend with the plan to come back in time to study, but, unfortunately, they had a flat tire on the way back, didn't have a spare, and couldn't get help for a long time. As a result, they missed the final.

The professor thought it over and then agreed they could make up the final the following day. The guys were elated and relieved. They studied that night and went in the next day at the time the professor had told them. He placed them in separate rooms and handed each of them a test booklet, and told them to begin.

They looked at the first problem, worth five points. It was something simple about free radical formation. "Cool," they thought at the same time, each one in his separate room, "this is going to be easy."

Each finished the problem and then turned the page. On the second page was written: (For 95 points): Which tire?

Moral: Don’t mess around with your teacher. Don’t think we’re smarter than the teachers and professors.

Pronunciation: Fun Poem

This fun pronunciation list can be used with our students. Try it and explain that correct English pronunciation comes with practice and it's not always consistent.

Correct pronunciation can be obtain from www.dictionary.com Enjoy!

Fun poem about English pronunciation

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through.
Well don't! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps.
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard but sounds like bird.
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead,
For goodness sake don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth as in mother
Nor both as in bother, nor broth as in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear, for bear and pear.
And then there's dose and rose and lose--
Just look them up--and goose and choose
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword
And do and go, then thwart and cart,
Come, come! I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful Language? Why man alive!
I learned to talk it when I was five.
And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn't learned it at fifty-five.

Source: http://www.etni.org.il/farside/englishlanguage.htm


This rather long list that looks like a poem is actually being used in the NATO forces to help them learn the intricacies of the English pronunciation. It's used in the field of ESP (English for Special Purposes rather than Extra Sensory Preception) called English for Military Purposes.

Try pronouncing it and see what happens. If you're unsure of the pronounciation, go to www.dictionary.com and click on the sound icon after you've typed in the word.

I've also included the story of the origins of this fantastic pronunciation exercise:

In Verbatim, The Language Quarterly, for Autumn 1989, pages 8-10, there is a letter from a man in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Mr. Jacob de Jager says he was born in Holland in 1923 and received his education through senior high school in that country. As he studied English, he and others were required to learn by heart a poem called "The Chaos". He says the poem is by an English teacher named G. Nolst Trenité in the city of Haarlem. Trenité wrote articles under the pen name Charivarious and a little booklet entitled "Drop Your English Accent", in which the poem appeared.

English Pronunciation

Multinational personnel at North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters near Paris found English to be an easy language ... until they tried to pronounce it. To help them discard an array of accents, the verses below were devised. After trying them, a Frenchman said he'd prefer six months at hard labor to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.

Dearest creature in creation,
Studying English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
]Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
It will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Pray console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say - said, pay - paid, laid, but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sleeve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover~~~~~~~~;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

Author: G. Nolst Trenité

Humour: Euro English

This piece of writing below illustrates what can actually occur if we simplify the English language pronunciation to reflect its actual pronunciation. It looks German to me!

Euro English

The European Union Commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c". Sertainly, sivil servants will reseive this news with joy. Also, the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be Expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by "z" and "w" by " v".
During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

Ze drem vil finali kum tru.

Humour: English is A Crazy Language 2

Another list of the inconsistencies of the English language to brighten your day!

English - Strange Language

· If you take an Oriental person and spin him around several times, does he become disoriented?
· If people from Poland are called "Poles," why aren't people from Holland called "Holes?
· "When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?
· Why are a wise man and a wise guy opposites?
· Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?
· If horrific means to make horrible, does terrific mean to make terrible?
· Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?
· Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a race car not called a racist?
· If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?
· Why do women wear evening gowns to nightclubs? Shouldn't they be wearing night gowns?
· If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?
· When someone asks you, "A penny for your thoughts," and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?
· Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
· Why do croutons come in airtight packages? It's just stale bread to begin with.
· If you mixed vodka with orange juice and milk of magnesia, would you get a Philips Screwdriver?
· Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a "whack"?
· "I am" is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that "I do" is the longest sentence?
· If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?
· Do Roman paramedics refer to IV's as "4's"?
· Why is it that if someone tells you that there are 1 billion stars in the universe you will believe them, but if they tell you that a wall has wet paint you will have to touch it to be sure.

Humour: Rules for Writers

In this second part, I've included the rules of grammar. As you read the list, I'm sure you will smile (or shake your head) when you notice the inconsistencies of the English grammar, the puns and the spoken English.

Rules for Writers

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when substituting a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill all exclamation points!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
34. Avoid "buzz-words"; such integrated transitional scenarios complicate simplistic matters.
And finally...
35. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Humour: English is A Crazy Language 1

English maybe the main language of international communication and understanding but the difficulty to fully understand the rules and vocabulary is confusing and at times exasperating.

Here's a well-known article on the intricacies of the English language. Enjoy!

English is a Crazy Language

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England nor French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweet-breads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you can comb through the annals of history but not a single annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another.

Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent?

Have you ever seen a horsefull carriage or a strapfull gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all those people who ARE spring chickens or who would ACTUALLY hurt a fly?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.

Source: http://www.etni.org.il/farside/englishlanguage.htm

Inspirational: A Teacher's Story

One of the difficulties in becoming an effective and caring teacher is paying attention to the 'difficult learner', the 'reluctant learner', the student who is a discipline problem or the 'odd one'.

I've realised that I will be an effective or great teacher if I had been able to reach out to their hearts first rather than reaching their minds only. To be someone who makes a difference in their lives is something that I will definately treasure in my role as the moulder of hearts and minds of my students.

Teaching starts with the heart. As the saying goes, "the heart of teaching is teaching with a heart".

A Teacher's Story

Like most teacher, Mrs. Thompson looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard. He didn’t play well with other children, his clothes were messy and he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would take delight in making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers. In that school, teachers were required to review each child’s past records. Mrs. Thompson reviewed Teddy’s file last. She was in for a surprised.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around.

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open in it the middle of the other presents. Some of the students started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mother used to.”

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading and writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in his class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of “teacher’s pets”.

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note: he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer – the letter was signed, Theodre F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, in yet another letter that spring, Teddy said he’d met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what ? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear,

“Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said,

Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you.”

Monday, March 26, 2007

Humour: Other Bloopers

These are errors that will definately cause side splitting laughter. It's a continuation of the formal letter errors. Enjoy!


Other Bloopers:

Why you should hire me for the job of counselor/ sports instructor/ cooker/ bodyguard (yes, bodyguard) etc.:

My English is very well and I can speak fluently with public.

As a counselor in camps abord, I was practicing my English which it very good now.
I have a chemist with the children.

I love children in all of my hearts.

I know speaking English in highly level.

Ecksept for my wonderful personality ,charisma and the love for the United Nations of America, I've graduated with honor from the University of Mississippi (spelled 100% correctly) and the university of life .

I've seen it all from China, to India and the USA puts them all in her back pocket.

And my favorite so far:
First of all, I have a PhD in psychology from Harvard University, and might I say, I graduated top of the class.

Humour: Formal Letter with Errors

Below is a formal application letter for the post of a camp counsellor. The errors are taken from a number of these letters and compiled for your laughing pleasure. Enjoy!

We can use this letter to help our students understand grammar and word collocations better.


Dir John:

Hello! Hi! Hey!

I would like to apply myself to the job. / I would like to offer myself for the job / I would like to suggest myself to the job. / I would like to nominate myself for the office of counselor.

I am a suitable candidate. I am a 20 year old gay.

I'm interested in the sports instructor you are offering.

My age is 17 years old. In spite of my early age, I would like to be a counsel at your camp.

I consider myselfs feet for the job for some reasons:I am a birth cooker.

I know the basic of cooking. I always cook square meals for my family.

I have a special fond for children. Overmore, I will give a lot of prices for the kids.

I can keep a stiff upper lip and I am very reflexible.

And the most very important reason is that I can do the job on the best side.

I am a qualified candidate. Nevertheless, I know English.

No matter what I write you, you won't believe me.

I extremely hope that you will hire me.



Devilish Tongue Twisters

These are really difficult to pronounce tongue twisters for you and your students' enjoyment, particularly on a slow moving day.

I am not the pheasant plucker,
I'm the pheasant plucker's mate.
I am only plucking pheasants
Because the pheasant plucker's late.

I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit;
and on the slitted sheet I sit.

One smart fellow; he felt smart.
Two smart fellows; they felt smart.
Three smart fellows; they all felt smart.

I'm not the fig plucker,
Nor the fig pluckers' son,
But I'll pluck figs
Till the fig plucker comes.

Fire truck tyres

Mrs Puggy Wuggy has a square cut punt.
Not a punt cut square,
Just a square cut punt.
It's round in the stern and blunt in the front.
Mrs Puggy Wuggy has a square cut punt.

Six stick shifts stuck shut.

Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers.

Quotation by Teachers (About Parents)

The two quotations below are produced by teachers themselves. They have a sense of humour too! Enjoy!

Quotations From Teachers:

The only reason I always try to meet and know the parents better is because it helps me to forgive their children. ~Louis Johannot

If you promise not to believe everything your child says happens at school, I'll promise not to believe everything he says happens at home. ~Anonymous Teacher

Source: http://www.quotegarden.com/teachers.html

Quotation on Teachers 4

Here's another series of ten thoughts for our meditation during our quiet moments. A fringe benefit of being a school teacher is the long holidays that we enjoy. We deserve it because teaching can be a pretty stressful job. Quotation 43 can be adapted to fit our Malaysian school holidays which consist of a total of two and a half months of holidays. Enjoy!

Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number. ~Author Unknown

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn. ~John Cotton Dana

There are three good reasons to be a teacher - June, July, and August. ~Author Unknown

A teacher should have maximal authority, and minimal power. ~Thomas Szaz

To teach is to learn twice.
~Joseph Joubert, Pensées, 1842

The secret of teaching is to appear to have known all your life what you just learned this morning. ~Author Unknown

Don't try to fix the students, fix ourselves first. The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior. When our students fail, we, as teachers, too, have failed. ~Marva Collins

The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without his teacher. ~Elbert Hubbard

Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the "naturals," the ones who somehow know how to teach. ~Peter Drucker

Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task. ~Haim G. Ginott

Quotation on Teachers 3

This is the third instalment of another ten quotes. I'll like to contribute my own quotation : "Teaching is a heart affair". It has a similar vein of thought to quotation number 30. Anyway, enjoy the quotations below.

Teaching should be full of ideas instead of stuffed with facts. ~Author Unknown

Teaching is leaving a vestige of one self in the development of another. And surely the student is a bank where you can deposit your most precious treasures. ~Eugene P. Bertin

Teachers who inspire know that teaching is like cultivating a garden, and those who would have nothing to do with thorns must never attempt to gather flowers. ~Author Unknown

Teachers who inspire realize there will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones; it all depends on how we use them. ~Author Unknown

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition. ~Jacques Barzun

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. ~Carl Jung

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. ~Kahlil Gibran

The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people. ~K. Patricia Cross

When you teach your son, you teach your son's son. ~The Talmud

The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book. ~Author Unknown

Quotation on Teachers 2

This second instalment has another 10 striking quotations for your reflection. A number of these quotes indicate that the teacher's role is noble and sacrificial; for example, quotes 12 and 20. The students should outperform their teacher. It's a heavy task and responsibility to be a caring, excellent teacher.

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~Henry Brooks Adams

A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others. ~Author Unknown

The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence.
He inspires self-distrust.
He guides their eyes from himself to the spirit that quickens him.
He will have no disciple.
~Amos Bronson Alcott

A good teacher is a master of simplification and an enemy of simplism. ~Louis A. Berman

We expect teachers to handle teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and the failings of the family. Then we expect them to educate our children. ~John Sculley

Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more. ~Bob Talbert

The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.
~William Arthur Ward

The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself. ~Edward Bulwer-Lytton

A teacher's purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image. ~Author Unknown

What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches. ~Karl Menninger

Quotation on Teachers 1

Quotations are sayings or excerpts quoted from books, speeches etc. to make a point. I've collected a number of these quotes about teachers from this source (http://www.quotegarden.com/teachers.html) and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did. I particularly like quotations 1, 7 , 8, 9, 10. They strike me because they inspire me to be a great educator rather than to be just an ordinary teacher. They tell me that as a teacher, I can make a difference in my students' life. This will be my first instalment.

Quotations About Teachers

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.
~Lily Tomlin as "Edith Ann"

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called "truth." ~Dan Rather

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years. ~Jacques Barzun

Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~Author Unknown

If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job. ~Donald D. Quinn

Modern cynics and skeptics... see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing. ~John F. Kennedy

A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary. ~Thomas Carruthers

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater. ~Gail Godwin

A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron. ~Horace Mann

Most teachers have little control over school policy or curriculum or choice of texts or special placement of students, but most have a great deal of autonomy inside the classroom. To a degree shared by only a few other occupations, such as police work, public education rests precariously on the skill and virtue of the people at the bottom of the institutional pyramid. ~Tracy Kidder

First Blog

There's a first time for everything. After trying out and maintaining a mailing list, a blog is another feather to my cap. I will post any interesting news, articles, pictures, links, ideas, quotes and multimedia stuff for the benefit of my readers. My postings will on the topics of English Language teaching and learning plus educational and classroom management issues. Besides that, I intend to briefly offer my two cents worth on things that I've posted. I hope to receive any helpful comments or further contributions to my postings.

I particularly want to reach out to English teachers in Malaysia but as this is an internet accessible blog, I welcome worldwide readers as well.

Enjoy my blog!