Friday, January 29, 2010

Free eBook: For Want of A Better Word by Steven Pinker

Dear All,

Below is the write up and link to download the free ebook which is in the PDF format. This book is a brilliant and fun read about the eccentricities of the English Language--it's also great as a teaching resource and knowledge book about English words. It's a only 4+MB download and has a mere 33 pages.


Rodney Tan


For Want of a Better Word
publication date: Sep 12, 2009

'A visual, verbal and intellectual delight.' - Steven Pinker. English is a wonderful language. It’s also notoriously difficult to learn. How do you make sense of a language in which you can think green, see red, feel blue and go grey all at the same time? Where farmers produce produce and chaps wear chaps? With warm wit and a remarkable visual style, For want of a better word celebrates the quirks and eccentricities of the world’s most popular language and proves that while it may be difficult to learn, you can find an expert almost anywhere. Even on this website. Using fantastic language and great graphics it explores the reasons why English is such a hard language for someone to become highly proficient in. Read it for fun or use it as a great English teaching resource and do please send it to your friends and encourage them to get involved too. For Want of a Better Word is a call to action created for Languages Out There by Jaime Diskin and Jae Morrison. They are two advertising creatives based in the UK and love the way we teach and encourage language learners to interact with fluent and native speakers to help them practice their speaking and listening skills. We hope to get the book published in hard copy soon but for now you will have to enjoy this free digital version. To become part of the Out There movement and start helping people everywhere to speak English more proficiently for a lot less money (and make a few good friends at the same time) and see how you can become part of a new way to teach and learn the English language.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dear All,

Just got this poem from the comments section of a brilliant TED Talk.

The point made was that news from the media is normally one-sided and is negative because "bad news sells". But what about the other side of the news?

Anyway enjoy this poem that made me think and smile because I agree with its observation.

Rodney Tan
Joy today

Looked at the papers the other day
Wondered what joy they had to say
They spoke of a mother of the child neglected
But not of those that are protective

Told of hoodies running around
But never a child"s beautiful sound
Raged of M P"s and expenses
Missing out some work for many

I read of war so cold and bloody
Though not a word of somewhere sunny
It looked at sportsmen that had failed
Losing sight of all those hailed

Heard of projects over spending
Little talk of how it's helping
Headlines full of Muslim bombers
No one talked of Allah's flowers

On and on the stories went
Nothing more than words of vent
Still tomorrow's another day
Wonder what joy they'll have to say

David Brown 2009

Free ELT ebooks

Dear All,

In this section there is a range of books and teacher resource packs that are of interest to teachers for download. The files are in Portable Document Format (pdf).

Below is the written description of the books. The books themselves are rather old and dated but they still contain information and ideas that may still be relevant to us today.


English as an International Language
This concise volume from 1978 is pre-‘World Englishes’ and before the acceptance of Kachru’s model of the inner, outer and expanding circles of English language use. Nevertheless, it is clear that the book’s authors were fully engaged with the diversity of English language use and the practical needs of learners. Mark Lester and others debate what might constitute International English and its value globally, while Peter Strevens and John Norrish challenge attitudes to local forms of English, arguing for their integration into ELT.


Developments in the Training of Teachers of English
This volume dates from 1979 and is a gem for anyone interested in the early days of university level ELT qualifications, especially in the UK. Norman Whitney’s is the first chapter, in which he asked, with empathy, how ‘foreign applicants’ could be helped to choose the most appropriate course for them. There follow chapters on the development of courses at Edinburgh, Lancaster, Bangor, Manchester and London. Ann Hayes offered a portrait of the British Council’s own Teaching Institute in London at the time. Finally, Maria Sticchi Damiani urged teachers to foster a sense of community and sponstaneity in the classroom.


National Syllabuses
Dating from 1980, this book was written in response to a major study by the International Evaluation Association of achievement by education syllabuses worldwide in six key school subjects, including English. Among the contributors, Alex Inkeles criticises the IEA study for its ‘insufficient analysis’, but commends the exercise for its challenges to popular assumptions about educational achievement and the role of teachers. Douglas Pickett and the other authors drew on the IEA data to make recommendations, including allowing the mother tongue in the ELT classroom.


Humanistic Approaches: an empirical view
This is a delightful read, which attempts to provide an introduction to latest thinking in 1982 on a wide range of humanistic topics. These included defining humanistic values in ELT; community language learning; computer simulations; ‘suggestopedy’; and the Silent Way. The chapters are accessible, with references to the authors’ own teaching experiences. There are occasional humorous or waspish comments, all of which increase the enjoyment for the reader. The volume ends with profiles of the authors.


Language Teaching Projects for the Third World
This Document, from 1983, offers a selection of project case studies and commentaries from various African contexts. Most of the projects were British Council-run. The authors reflect the preoccupations of expatriate project workers of the day, and the lack of African contributors strikes the modern reader immediately. Nevertheless, this is a valuable resource for those interested in the history of English for development and the role of donor agencies.


Language Issues and Education Policies - Exploring Canada’s multilingual resources
Very different to the other ELT documents, this volume focuses on the work of a single institution: the Modern Language Centre at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). The book, published in 1984, introduces the Canadian context and the work of the Centre, and then provides articles on a range of research. Issues featured include minority language students; immersion education; learning strategies; and observation.


English as a Second Language in the United Kingdom
This is, of course, as much a key topic in the UK as it was in 1985 when this book was originally published. The book aimed to cover ‘English teaching to British residents’ and addresses teaching children in the school sector; teaching adults in education and in the workplace; and teacher training, among others. One chapter asks ‘Can ESL teaching be racist?’


ESP for the University
This book, from 1986, provides a snapshot of developments in ESP teaching at university level during the 1970s and early 1980s. In his Preface, Christopher Brumfit challenged a recent claim that ESP had ‘legitimised English teaching’, suggesting rather that it had made English teaching ‘more purposeful’. The papers in this book include an extensive one on task-based learning, and all are focused on practical solutions.


Language Teacher Education: an Integrated Programme for ELT Teacher Training
Originally published in 1987, this book aimed to address teachers’ needs according to context. Following an overview of developments to date, the authors investigated various key issues from PRESET, INSET and advanced teacher education at the time. These included teacher language; working with the need for change while coping with constraints; and counselling versus teaching. Teaching models and sample materials are included.


Research in the Language Classroom
This book, from 1990, looked at the practical benefits for teachers of classroom research. It consists of papers from practitioners from countries in Europe, North America and Australasia, but with detailed reference to a wider variety of global teaching contexts. Topics range from ‘Investigating Learners’ Language’ to ‘Researching Teachers: Behaviour and Belief’.

Attachment Size

English as an International Language 1.65 MB
National Syllabuses 2.19 MB
Humanistic Approaches: an empirical view 2.39 MB
Language Teaching Projects for the Third World 3.25 MB
Developments in the Training of Teachers of English 1.78 MB
Language Issues and Education Policies - Exploring Canada’s multilingual resources 3.01 MB
English as a Second Language in the UK 3.85 MB
ESP for the University 3.86 MB
Language Teacher Education: an Integrated Programme for ELT Teacher Training 3.95 MB
Research in the Language Classroom 3.49 MB

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

WOU 2-day Literature Component Course for Form 1 & 4 in JB

Wawasan Open University (WOU) will hold two-day workshops for teachers on teaching the 2nd Cycle of Literary texts for KBSM English Language in Skudai, Johor.

27 Feb (F1 texts) and 28 Feb 2010 (F4 texts),
9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m at Southern College, Skudai, Johor.

Fees – RM250 (includes morning refreshments only)

Contact person: Mr. Mohan (03-92817323) or

HW Fowler--The King of English

Dear All,

Among the many famous personalities of the English language is Henry Watson Fowler who wrote authoritative books such as A Dictionary of Modern English Usage which had been reissued and edited a number of times. The latest one by Professor David Crystal.

The book is the bible for "the King's English"; now viewed as a snobbish,taking an absolutely 'accurate' English usage kind of viewpoint.

Enjoy the article below which is written in "Fowlerian English"!

Rodney Tan

December 13, 2009

H. W. Fowler, the King of English

“To see him fumbling with our rich and delicate language is to experience all the horror of seeing a Sèvres vase in the hands of a chimpanzee,” Eve¬lyn Waugh once said of a fellow writer. I sometimes feel like that chimp, and perhaps you do too. When it comes to handling the English language, we are all fumblers — with the possible exception of Waugh himself, who, as Gore Vidal once observed, wrote “prose so chaste that at times one longs for a violation of syntax to suggest that its creator is fallible, or at least part American.”

Some care about getting English right; others don’t. For those who do, there is a higher authority, a sacred book, that offers guidance through our grammatical vale of tears. Its full title is “A Dictionary of Modern English Usage,” but among its devotees it is known, reverentially, as “Fowler.”

One such devotee was Winston Churchill, who cared greatly about language, even in wartime. “Why must you write ‘intensive’ here?” Churchill demanded of his director of military intelligence while looking over plans for the invasion of Normandy. “ ‘Intense’ is the right word. You should read Fowler’s Modern English Usage on the use of the two words.”

Just who is this Fowler, this supreme arbiter of usage, this master of nuance and scruple, He Who Must Be Obeyed? His full name was Henry Watson Fowler, and he lived from 1858 to 1933. He was educated at the Rugby School and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he failed to take a top degree. For a while he taught classics at a school in Yorkshire (contemporaries there described him variously as “a first-rate swimmer” and “lacking humanity”), but his career as a schoolmaster ended prematurely because of religious doubts. He then tried to make a living as a freelance writer in London, without much luck.

In 1903, he took up a spartan existence with his younger brother, Frank, on the island of Guernsey. Working out of a pair of granite cottages, the Fowler brothers collaborated on a book of usage, which they called “The King’s English.” Despite their amateur status — “We were plunging into the sea of lexicography without having been first taught to swim,” Fowler later wrote — the book was a success. The brothers went on to edit The Concise Oxford Dictionary and were planning a more ambitious book on usage when World War I broke out. Although Henry was 57 at the time, he lied about his age and doggedly petitioned to be sent to the battle front, where he promptly fell ill and had to be sent home. His brother fared worse, dying of tuberculosis at the end of the war. It was left to Henry to complete the work that would make their surname a household word in Britain. “I think of it as it should have been, with its prolixities docked, its dullnesses enlivened, its fads eliminated, its truths multiplied,” he wrote in dedicating it to his brother’s memory. (Nicely put, that!)

The book was published in 1926, to immediate acclaim and brisk sales. Although language, as the truism goes, is an ever changing Heraclitean river, Fowler was not revised until 1965, when Sir Ernest Gowers gave it a light going-over, preserving both the spirit and the substance of the original. (The same cannot be said of the 1996 third edition, heavily reworked by R. W. Burchfield.) Now Oxford University Press has reissued the classic first edition of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage ($29.95), with an acute new introduction by the linguist David Crystal. It is a volume that everyone who aspires to a better command of English should possess and consult — sparingly.

Fowler was fastidious in both manners and morals, but he was no prig. He had a mordant wit and a keen sense of irony, which is part of what makes “A Dictionary of Modern English Usage” such a pleasure to dip into. Despite the title, it’s not really a dictionary. True, there are many entries on spelling and pronunciation (we are informed that the past tense of shampoo can be either “-poo’d” or “-pooed,” for example, and warned against the pronunciation of “enema,” then “in very general use,” as “in-EE-ma”). There are brief and masterly elucidations of fine distinctions in meaning, such as that between “cheerful” and “cheery” (“The cheerful feels & perhaps shows contentment, the cheery shows & probably feels it”).

The bulk of the book, however, consists of little essays. Some of them are heavy going. I have never been able to get through the eight columns of wisdom about the subjunctive, let alone the eleven columns on the troublesome hyphen; nor have I found the impenetrable entry on “nor” much help.

Most entries, though, are as light and whimsical as their (often mysterious) headings, like “Swapping Horses” or “Out of the Frying-Pan.” Under “Frying Pan” we are told, “The writer who produces an ungrammatical, an ugly, or even a noticeably awkward phrase, & lets us see that he has done it in trying to get rid of something else that he was afraid of, gives a worse impression of himself than if he had risked our catching him in his original misdemeanour; he is out of the frying-pan into the fire.” This is followed by the usual surfeit of examples drawn from the contemporary press — e.g., “The reception was held at the bride’s aunt.” (Here the unfortunate writer was evidently trying to avoid “bride’s aunt’s,” but the phrase “at the house of” eluded him.) Fowler reveled in such cock-ups, hoping “to nauseate” the reader “by accumulation of instances, as sweet-shop assistants are cured of larceny by cloying.”

If you are like me, you might be pleased rather than annoyed when others commit such glaring solecism since they afford a momentary feeling of superiority. A perusal of Fowler will show you how dangerous that is. I never misuse “aggravate,” “transpire,” “eke out,” “ilk” or “discomfit” (all of which should be looked up in Fowler just for his witty strictures). Yet I now humiliatingly discover that I’ve been a lifelong abuser of “meticulous.” Fowler calls it a “wicked word,” a pretentious and ignorant borrowing from French; properly, it means not “careful,” but “frightened” — indeed, teeth-chatteringly so — coming, as it does, from the Latin metus (fear). My slipshod use of “meticulous” has no doubt been silently deplored all these years by those who have read their Fowler more meticulously — er, punctiliously — than me (or I). That’s the trouble, as Crystal notes in his introduction, with being a stickler for usage: “You must always be watching your back.”

But Fowler was not one of those. For all his classicist rigor, he was a tolerant man who realized that “tilting against established perversions . . . is vanity in more than one sense.” His ideal was a democratic one, a natural, unaffected and humbug-free English summed up in the word “idiom.” And if idiom and grammar are in conflict, so much the worse for grammar. Thus he was cheerfully lax about “who & whom” and the placement of “only,” and he mocked the pains people go through to avoid ending their sentences with prepositions. When it came to the notorious split infinitive (e.g., “to boldly go where no man . . .”), he observed that those English speakers who neither know nor care about them “are to be envied” by the unhappy few who do.

Despite this abundance of common sense, one shouldn’t spend too much time in Fowler’s company. Better writers may be attracted to his volume, but more for random delight than for improvement. It’s wonderful to learn, under “True & False Etymology,” that “belfry” is not named for its bell and that “isle” has nothing to do with “island”: oh, the glorious quirks of English! But heightened self-consciousness about usage is the enemy of vigor. One sees this not infrequently in Fowler’s own prose, which can be crabbed and intricate to the point of unintelligibility. One sees it also in disciples of Fowler, who turn out pedanti¬cally correct little essays in his honor (which is why I myself have adopted a slovenly, even squalid manner here).

But if you do become yet another obsessive Fowlerian epicure, remember: the pleasures of usage snobbery are best enjoyed in private.

Jim Holt is the author of “Stop Me if You’ve Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes.” He is writing a book about the puzzle of existence.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

ESOL Cambridge Funded Professional Development Course Competition 2010

Dear All,

Below are the details of a competition for ETs who teach the English Language in schools. You only need to write a maximum of 150 words in an essay about professional development.

Do take part as you have nothing to lose! You may win an almost fully paid professional development course in Cambridge, England. But you have to hurry as closing date is on the 15 January 2010.

ROdney Tan
Competition deadline - 15 January 2010
06 January 2010

Win two weeks in Cambridge - deadline approaching!
English language teachers from around the globe are being asked why a professional development course in Cambridge would benefit them and their students, as part of a competition launched by Cambridge ESOL. The School Sector team at Cambridge ESOL is offering five top prizes of a residential language and methodology course for teachers for the best stories received.
Each prize includes: two weeks of tuition from Bell, en-suite accommodation at Cambridge University (Homerton College), morning and evening meals and travel costs up to a maximum of £200. There are also 100 runner-up prizes of Cambridge ESOL teaching materials for use in the classroom.
The competition is open to all non-native English language teachers working in compulsory education and entrants must have at least an intermediate level of English (CEFR Level B2) – such as the First Certificate in English (FCE).
To enter, teachers need to submit up to 150 words on why a teacher development course in Cambridge would benefit them and their students.
For an online entry form and full terms and conditions, please click here.

The closing date for entries is Friday 15 January 2010
Winners will be notified by Friday 29 January 2010
Courses run from Sunday 18 July to Saturday 31 July 2010.
Click here to learn more about the professional development courses for teachers at the Bell and to hear the 2009 winners talking about their time in Cambridge.

Friday 15 January is also the deadline for members of the European Union to apply for COMENIUS FUNDING, for courses running between April and August 2010. See further information (below) for more details.

1. For more information on courses running throughout July and August, visit the Bell Centres website at:

2. Comenius Funding For EU Nationals
Are you a European Union national?
Are you a language teacher, trainer, inspector or advisor?
If so, you are eligible to apply for funding to attend a teacher development course, including those offered by Bell Centres, as part of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme.
For more information about Comenius funding, visit the Bell Centres website or contact your local agency via the European Commission website. Funding is not guaranteed for all applicants.
For courses between April and August 2010, applications for Comenius funding must be received by Friday 15 January 2010.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

News: How do we say "2010"?

Dear All,

Have you had the problem on how to pronounce "2010" correctly?

Well, the authoritative article below clears the air for us.

Rodney Tan

2010: 'Twenty ten' vs. 'two thousand ten'
Nanette Asimov, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, January 1, 2010

How do you say "2010"?

Coming off of "two thousand nine," you'll probably say "two thousand ten." In fact, 4 out of 5 YouTube videos randomly reviewed by The Chronicle have people pronouncing it that way.

But you would be wrong, so wrong, according to the National Association of Good Grammar.

"NAGG has decided to step in and decree that (2010) should officially be pronounced 'twenty ten,' and all subsequent years should be pronounced as 'twenty eleven,' 'twenty twelve,' etc.," proclaims the association's news release.

The National Association of Good Grammar - essentially a guy named Tom Torriglia and some friends who also paid attention in English class - say people have been mispronouncing the year for 10 years.

"NAGG is here to put everybody back on the correct path," Torriglia said by phone from his home in San Francisco. "We lost the battle when we went from 1999 to 2000 - but now we're hoping to win the war."

The "20" should have been pronounced "twenty" all along, he said, pointing out that every year in the 20th century was pronounced "nineteen something."

" 'Twenty' follows 'nineteen.' 'Two thousand' does not follow 'nineteen.' It's logical."

Fighting for grammar
Companies pay Torriglia, who has written technical manuals for two decades, to be logical and clear in explaining the least clear concepts, like how to use their own computer software. He's also taught writing to aspiring technical writers and to junior college students.

Torriglia created NAGG in 1986 when he found himself calling publications about their grammatically incorrect ads.

"I would nag them," he said.

Torriglia, who is writing a book he calls "The Grammar Police Never Sleep," believes the time has come to nag again.

To punctuate the idea that "two thousand ten" is the wrong way to say it, Torriglia, 56, pointed out that no one would ever say, "I was born in one thousand nine hundred and fifty-three."

Yet that's how people keep saying "2010." In one YouTube video, a preteen promises to make more YouTube videos in "two thousand ten." Another has a guy on a yellow dirt bike saying he's "amped about the all-new 'two thousand ten' " model. A third features people trying to design novelty eyeglasses in the shape of "two thousand ten."

To Torriglia, it's relentless.

"I'm hearing it on TV commercials. I heard an announcer say it during 'Monday Night Football.' You cringe."

Torriglia cringes, anyway. But he's the kind of guy who cringes at the Safeway checkout line where the sign reads "10 items or less."

"It should be fewer."

He's right.

Maybe not
But what choice did anyone really have this past decade? Were they going to start off the new millennium with a "twenty oh oh" hiccup, while avoiding the melodious "two thousand"?

There's a reason Arthur C. Clarke didn't call his book "Twenty Oh One: A Space Odyssey."

It's been a difficult decade for Torriglia, phonologically speaking.

"It was never 'two thousand nine' for me," he sighed. "It was always 'twenty aught nine.' "

So the people hawking next year's car models, the newscasters on TV and anyone else with a reason to say "2010" aloud should embrace good grammar and say "twenty ten" right now, Torriglia said.

Not exactly, according to noted linguistics Professor George Lakoff of UC Berkeley.

"It's not wrong to say 'two thousand ten,' " Lakoff said. "And it's not like 'twenty ten' is the right way."

His explanation involves cognitive reference points, standards of speech and recognizing as anachronistic the notion that grammar can be right or wrong as people and cultures evolve.

Nevertheless, Lakoff predicted, " 'Twenty-ten' is gonna take over. It's shortest. It's easiest to understand."

On that point - if not on the syntax - the master linguist and the grammar police agree.

E-mail Nanette Asimov at

Views: India--Moving Beyond the Textbooks

Dear All,

In India, there is an effort to use local Indian writers and film/drama directors' writing in the classroom.

Below are the views of stakeholders and a few articulate Indian teens expressing their support and reasons for this move to supplement their English textbook.

Rodney Tan

Moving Beyond the Textbooks

Mumbai: Lessons learnt through visual medium will register permanently in their mind
The move to include Satyajit Ray and Amitav Ghosh to class XI elective English syllabus of CBSE is a good move. According to me, students should be made to read novels from primary school, because it not only helps them to instil reading habits, but also opens them to a new world of thoughts. At our school, we start reading exercises from class I. We also focus on showing movies and connect them to different subjects. For example, a film like Pay It Forward can be used to understand social study and literature.
Moreover, if a novel is set in England then we teach our students about currency conversion. Mixing different subjects makes it not only interesting but easy for the students. Instead of class XI, CBSE educators should introduce the change from lower classes since it will inculcate a passion for reading among students. It is scientifically proven that stories touch the emotional core of the brain.
This makes learning more powerful. Also, one might forget dates or names, but it is difficult to forget a story or a plot. All education institutes should focus on teaching the works of various authors and directors, since we live in a globalised world. Children need to know about different cultures and literature.
—Lina Ashar, educationist and chairperson-Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd

Pupils need to look beyond video games
Introducing novels and movies apart from the usual English syllabus is a wonderful idea. It will inculcate reading habits in children. Today, children are addicted to the world wide web and spend most of their time either surfing the internet or playing video games. Hence, we need to introduce some reforms so that students start reading books apart from their textbooks. Indian authors like Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh are world class writers.
And reading their books along with international writers will not only provide an insight into what wholesome writing is, but also give an insight into different genres of literature and diverse cultures. ICSE showcases plays by Shakespeare which help students in improving their language skills. Many students might take it as an extra burden and opt for easy options like internet or guides for different subjects, but in the long run it will prove healthy since it will improve their imaginative skills.
—Cyril D’souza, teacher, Campion school

Will create curiosity about fine arts
Today it’s essential that children have to be proficient in all areas. The way our curriculum has been made, it seems that children need to mug up the course. The initiative to go beyond the normal curriculum has some positive aspects. First the positive benefit is that it will create awareness among children about the legendary work of Indian writers and filmmakers. Earlier they were known to be legends in their lifetime but hardly anyone got to know about their creation and work. Secondly, in this way all schools will be forced to inculcate the reading habit and appreciation for films, which is quite exciting for children.
—LK Jain, parent

All education boards must follow this
The initiative of CBSE Board to include a renowned author like Amitav Ghosh and filmmaker Satyajit Ray is really commendable. In this way, our children will get to know the genius of Satyajit Ray and the movies he made. Writing stories in the past and in contemporary age has changed, with a writer like Amitav Ghosh. Since this won’t be an imposed study, the students will enjoy reading the book and watching films. Moreover students have more chances of scoring more marks with their own interest. But the benefit of this idea should be used by all the education boards across the country.
—Kavita Majithia, parent

Dramas and theatrical productions must be part of study
I’m an avid reader. I really relish reading novels
and story books. If such books are made part of the
syllabus, then I will be happy. We will not just read them, but get detailed analysis of the same from the teachers. Many authors and well known filmmakers have established a good reputation aboard, but youngsters, like me, today often miss out on their works. So I think this is a break from the usual academic
learning that we have been doing till date. Of late, our syllabus has moved beyond just rote learning. Apart from novels and movies, it will also be great to watch some plays and give a critical appreciation for the same.
—Tanvi Parulekar, 14, St Ignatius School

Educators must think out of the box to make learning more interesting
Contrary to popular belief, students are keen on reading works by Indian writers and watching classics. I don’t think academics is bookish any longer. There are subjects that involve more than textbook learning. Many changes have taken place during the past few years.
The initiative to introduce films and books for compulsory study, will make learning more interesting. It has the potential of reducing the pressure of purely academic subjects. I think practical knowledge is more important. It will also instil the habit of analysis and appreciation which is diminishing these days. The current education system is good, but such new ideas are welcome.
—Candice Samuel, 14, Carmel Convent School

Will revive interest in cultural heritage and generate creativity
Rigid academic curriculum forces us to study only our syllabus. This makes the course quite boring. Moreover, children source reference material from the internet, so there is hardly anytime to read the valuable contributions of writers and filmmakers. If students will be judged on the same, more students will opt for reading books and watching films of renowned Indian directors. It will introduce a temper of creativity among pupils, they will learn to appreciate more than what is printed in textbooks and guides. Moreover, few remember the classics made by Satyajit Ray due to the overdose of Bollywood movies. It will revive interest in our heritage.
—Noopur Sen, 16, RN Podar School


News: Ronald McDonald--English Teacher?

Dear All,

Using well-known fastfood mascots or characters in ELT or in education has always been controversial. More so if the worksheets or teaching promotes a particular brand of product which parents disapprove. Here's a news report from Sweden about this controversy.

Rodney Tan

Ronald McDonald, Teacher? Worksheets Upset Swedish Parents
by David Koeppel, Posted Dec 31st 2009 @ 4:30PM

To many, Ronald McDonald is seen as international
symbol of fun and good cheer.
But lately he’s not so popular among a
group of Swedish parents who don’t want
him or the McDonald’s corporation in their
children’s classrooms.
Reports in Swedish newspapers this
week are saying that several schools have
been using McDonald’s (for possibly as
long as four years) branded worksheets to
teach fifth grade students English. Apparently,
the worksheets contain passages that
read like thinly veiled “advertising copy”
according to one parent,. The passage includes
a brief history of the first
McDonald’s established in London.
The text also reportedly advises students
to substitute carrots for French fries to eat
with their burgers, and encourages them to
snack on Big Macs while watching football.
McDonald’s American corporate office
referred us to its Swedish counterpart, but
a request for comment wasn’t immediately
returned. In previous reports, a spokesman
for McDonald’s in Sweden denied that the
company was responsible for the worksheets.
The worksheets publisher also says
that the fast food giant had nothing to do
with the material and attributed its creation
to an unnamed teacher “who perhaps
likes going to McDonald’s.”
Some of the company’s critics find that
explanation not entirely credible. “I find it
hard to believe that McDonald’s Sweden
didn’t know,” says Judy Grant, the “value
the meal” campaign director for Corporate
Accountability International, a Bostonbased
advocacy group that has targeted the
fast-food industry. “Copyright infringement
seems an odd mistake for a publisher
to make,”
Responses online also met with skepticism
and anger.
“Teaching children about healthy eating
is one thing, putting an international food
brand into the curriculum that inflames so
much controversy regarding health issues
is another,” writes one reader of “The Local,”
an English language publication covering
Swedish news.
The worksheet publisher told a Swedish
newspaper that “it was thoughtless and a
mistake” to include the McDonald’s related
text, and that it would be removed.