Saturday, October 30, 2010

News: Chinglish

Dear All,

This is a news report about English in a particular city in China.



P.S Please click on the picture to get a full screen view.

Source: The New Straits Times

News: The Untouchables of India Intends to Open Temple Dedicated to the Goddess of the English Language

Hi All,

This is an interesting piece of news. Besides, this article discusses the changing usage of English delinates ones class and culture.

Quote: English is an empowering language.

Rodney Tan
It ain't what you say. . .

As the Untouchables of India plan to open a temple to honour the English language, Christopher Howse looks at how its shifting usage defines class and culture. By Christopher Howse

Published: 8:23AM BST 29 Oct 2010

My Fair Lady

Today, Henry Higgins, the practical phonetician, would be booked up months ahead

Photo: Corbis

What is the most annoying thing you hear people say? "I was sat", or "between you and I", or "for free" or "Can I get a coffee?" or controversy stressed on the wrong syllable, or perhaps simply the name of the letter aitch pronounced haitch?

It does seem odd that other people cannot speak their own language properly and so career (or careen as foolish folk say) like wildebeest into the crocodile-infested shallows of the latest wrong turning of the English language. This is of more than amateur interest.

Untouchables in India, as we reported yesterday, are to open a temple to the Goddess English. It will contain an idol of Lord Macaulay. This has put the cat among the pigeons, for Macaulay, when he went to India in 1834, took no interest in Indian literature or antiquities except as evidence of the superiority of all things European.

His "Minute on Indian Education" urged the colonial administration to establish "a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect" to be made fit for "conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population".

No wonder many Indian nationalists revile the name of Thomas Babington Macaulay. Yet the argument put forward by his nephew George Trevelyan in The Competition Wallah (1864) is the same as that of one of the leaders of today's Untouchables, Chandra Bhan Prasad: "We believe English is an empowering language."

Transfer the argument to Britain, and what do you get? A cast of academics, sociologists and educationists on one side who declare that one child's pronunciation is as valid as the teacher's, that spelling doesn't count and that English classes are valuably spent in composing rap lyrics. These politically correct forces are equivalent to Indian nationalists who wouldn't dream of calling the Indian Mutiny anything but the First War of Independence.

On the other side are teachers, employers and media columnists who agree with the Untouchables (whom we must call Dalits today). They know that a child in Bradford or Southwark will never get a good job unless he spells the words in a letter of application correctly, can string two sentences together in an interview without lapsing into: "It was, like, massive." (By he, they mean "he or she", to the rage of those for whom so-called inclusive language is to be as inviolable as the virtue of a Victorian maiden.)

Which side of the argument, then, is supported by these typical hip-hop lyrics from the song Take Me Back by the popular Tinchy Stryder? "Look I know you got played and that, /And it's only right you ain't feeling let alone rating that, / But babe it's a fact you on with the latest map / I had to live by that I spend night in your bredrin's flat."

Mr Stryder's real name is Kwasi Danquah, for he was born in Ghana. His English forms part of that global tongue being celebrated in a big exhibition called Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices at the British Library. A two-and-a-half hour event at the end of November linked to the exhibition is called "Voices of rap and hip hop". The evening includes "a discussion of how words impact at street level". It is already sold out.

But of course, Tinchy Stryder's lyrical language is not Ghanaian English. He was educated at St Bonaventure's Catholic Comprehensive School in Forest Gate, once in Essex, now in the London Borough of Newham. His lyrics are not in the English of Essex (which centuries ago influenced so strongly the language of the court, and hence that of the upper classes).

No, Tinchy Stryder's argot is carefully acquired from a mixture of West Indian dialects and the black gangsta slang of the United States.

Enjoy it or loathe it, hip-hop lingo is a cultural construct. In this it is identical with the sporting slang embraced by the fast set at Oxford in the 1840s, as retailed in the best-selling Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1853). "There's a squelcher in the bread-basket that'll stop your dancing, my kivey," exclaims their pugilistic hero during a Town and Gown punch-up.

Of course, the language of Tinchy Stryder is as much to do with class as that of Verdant Green's fashionable sportsmen. The funniest sketch in The Armstrong & Miller Show on television depicts in black and white two wartime RAF pilots conversing in clipped tones, but with the vocabulary of street bredren: "Hurricane pilots are, like, you know – their mums go down the chippie in their slippers. Isn'it?" Class has changed.

"See this creature with her kerbstone English," says Henry Higgins of Eliza in Pygmalion, "– the English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days." Today, Higgins, the practical phonetician, would be booked up months ahead, bringing down the patrician accents of the Ed Stourtons of this world a social notch or two, to make them acceptable to déclassé employers.

As for politicians, their idiolects are now as awash with glottal stops as high tide in Canvey Island. Ed Balls was educated at Oxford and Harvard, but there's no' a lo' of evidence in his pronunciation. The Conservatives are as bad in their profligate manipulation of the upper trachaea to produce this substitute for orthodox consonants. Henry Higgins himself could hardly detect traces of George Osborne's roots in the Irish Ascendancy or his studious hours in the schoolrooms of St Paul's and the lecture rooms of Magdalen, if Magdalen has lecture rooms. Mr Osborne might look like the dastardly baronet of Victorian melodrama, but he talks like a Brentwood boy from the HR department.

It's funny that politicians feel they have to do this in order to get on. Tony Blair is much to blame for the trend, gliding as he did in his actor's way into what he imagined was the speech pattern of the audience before him. But if politicos are so linguistically responsive to the imagined sensibilities of class, how is it that they talk such awful bilge by way of administrators' jargon? It's worse than management-speak. They are forever rolling out flagship proposals and rafts of measures, or delivering targets on renewables, going forward.

That is a disease of the mind far more alarming than dropping your Ts or over-aspirating your aitches. That is not to say pronunciation doesn't matter. I have on the shelf beside me Broadcast English, first published in 1928 as the fruit of a BBC committee that included Robert Bridges (the poet laureate), George Bernard Shaw and Professor Daniel Jones (the phonetician who inspired Shaw's Henry Higgins). In 51 pages it lists some "recommendations to announcers regarding certain words of doubtful pronunciation".

Among them are the still troublesome kilometre, which they correctly recommended to be stressed (with the stress-mark before the stressed syllable): 'kilometre. It is hard to think that fabric, florist, thug, legend and fragile were "words of doubtful pronunciation", but there they are. Would we now agree, though, with the pronunciations represented by 'pomgrannat, 'vaitamin, swayve (for suave), shee (for ski), kwaaf (for quaff), 'flaksid (for flaccid), 'gibberish with a hard G, 'cundit (for conduit), arti'san or 'teenet (for tenet)?

I have never met anyone who pronounces ski as shee. If someone did, interlocutors might be puzzled. On the other hand, most people pronounce flaccid as flassid, and they ought not to. These things are important.

That is why some listeners to Today yesterday morning detected a certain trahison des clercs in the moderate opinions of Professor John Wells, the successor of Daniel Jones (alias Henry Higgins) at University College, London. He wouldn't say kil'ometre himself, he admitted, but that was because he was getting on a bit. (He is 71.) He knew better than to say mischievious, but he breathed no word of criticism of those who did.

Professor Wells also knows enough to realise that if all the world says ski or kil'ometre, there is nothing that can be done about it. That will not stop us all playing the game of spotting our least favourite pronunciations and perhaps subjecting the perpetrators to excoriating (or coruscating as people say by mistake) criticism.

For my taste, the Mrs Grundies of the Queen's English Society, for example, protest too much. But language is there to be played with, and a game is not worth playing without rules.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Humour: Paraprosdokian Sentences

Paraprosdokian Sentences

Paraprosdokian (noun)= Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation.

Ø I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

Ø Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Ø I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

Ø Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

Ø Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Ø If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

Ø War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

Ø Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Ø The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Ø Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

Ø To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

Ø How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Ø Some people are like Slinkies ... not really good for anything, but you can't help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.

Ø Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

Ø I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted pay checks.

Ø A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don't need it.

Ø Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "If an mergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR".

Ø I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Ø I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with "Guess" on I said "Implants?"

Ø Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Ø Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?

Ø Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Ø A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Ø You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

Ø The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

Ø Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

Ø A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.

Ø Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.

Ø Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

Ø I discovered I scream the same way whether I'm about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.

Ø Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

Ø There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

Ø I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

Ø I always take life with a grain of salt, plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.

Ø When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

Ø You're never too old to learn something stupid.

Ø Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Ø A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

Ø If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?

Ø Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

SPM 1119/2 Past Years Novel Questions (2002-2009)

Here are the Novel questions of the SPM 1119/2 English Language Paper from 2002-2009 for your reference.

For a more detailed analysis and answering tips, please go to:

Hope you will find them useful for analysis of what may probably be tested for 2010.

Any intelligent guesses?

Rodney Tan
SPM 1119 Past Years Novel Questions

2002 - Write a detail account of an event in the novel you have chosen which teaches

you an important moral lesson. In your account, you must make clear what

the moral lesson is.

2003 - (a) Which character do you sympathize with in the novel you have studied?

(b) Explain why you sympathize with this character.

Support your answer with evidences from the novel.

2004 - Choose an event in the novel you have studied which you find to be most

memorable. Give reasons for your choice and with reference from the text, discuss

the event.

2005 - “Love is important in a family”.

How is this shown in the novel you have read?

Support your answer with close reference to the text.

2006 - The writer describes the main character as a very determined person. Using the

details from the novel that you have studied write about:

• Some instances that show the character’s determination

• How the determination affects his/her family.

2007 - “It is important to have a person you look up to in your life”.

From the novel that you have read, write about one character that you look up to.

Give reasons why you choose him/her

2008 - Using the detail from the novel that you studied

• Describe what happened at the end of the novel

• Explain why you find the ending either happy or sad

Support your answer with close reference to the text.

2009 - Using the details from the novel that you have studied,

write about a difficult decision made by one of the characters.

With close reference to the text, do you think this was the right decision?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Scholarship : Cambridge ESOL Scholarship to Attend the IATEFL 2011 Conference in Brighton, UK

Dear All,

Here's some fully-funded scholarships to attend the 45th IATEFL 2011 Annual Conference in Brighton, UK (15-19 April 2011).

You don't have to be a member of IATEFL. You just need to write a short essay of between 400 and 500 words for a chance to attend this conference free of charge.

There are also other scholarships at the website but you need to be a member of the IATEFL SIG before you can apply for them. Most of these applications have past the date due.

All the best and do inform me if you happened to be successful in your application :

Rodney Tan

Dr Peter Hargreaves Scholarship (Cambridge ESOL)

This scholarship, funded by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, is in the memory of Dr Peter Hargreaves. The scholarship is open to any ELT professional or aspiring ELT professional and gives the opportunity to attend IATEFL Brighton 2011.

Dr Peter Hargreaves, who passed away in 2002, was Chief Executive of Cambridge ESOL and a long-term supporter of IATEFL, regularly attracting large audiences to his lively sessions at the Annual Conference. Peter was an authority in language testing and applied linguistics and made a significant contribution to the study of collocations, and worked tirelessly to encourage greater collaboration and sharing of expertise between researchers and practitioners in English language teaching.

The award consists of:

• registration for a pre-conference event of the winner's choice

• registration for the main conference

• a year's IATEFL membership

• a maximum of five nights' accommodation

• travel costs including, if necessary, an economy flight to the UK*

• £50.00 per day expenses

* This includes the cost of flights and airport transfers. Cambridge ESOL will not cover the costs of stopovers.

To qualify you must:

• work in the fields of English language teaching or language assessment

• or be a post-graduate student focusing on teaching/assessment issues

• never have attended an IATEFL annual conference

To be considered for the scholarship you should apply online and write:

• a short paper, of between 400 and 500 words, on how in your experience assessment has a positive impact on the development of speaking skills

And provide:

• a brief curriculum vitae (2 sides A4 maximum)

• and a passport size photograph (for inclusion in the conference programme if you win)

The submission deadline is Monday 25th October 2010 and the award will be announced at the beginning of December 2010.


Cambridge ESOL Best Practice in Teacher Training Scholarship

This scholarship provides an opportunity for a teacher trainer involved with the formal or informal training and development of teachers to attend IATEFL Brighton 2011.

This scholarship is funded by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations.

The award consists of:

• registration for a pre-conference event of the winner's choice

• registration for the main conference

• a year's IATEFL membership

• a maximum of five nights' accommodation

• travel costs including, if necessary, an economy flight to the UK*

• £50.00 per day expenses

* This includes the cost of flights and airport transfers. Cambridge ESOL will not cover the cost of stopovers.

To qualify you must:

• train or develop teachers, informally or formally

• never have attended an IATEFL annual conference

To be considered for the scholarship you should apply online including:

• You must write the following task of between 400 and 500 words

The forthcoming Cambridge ESOL TKT: Young Learners test will test teachers' knowledge and understanding of the key issues surrounding the tuition of children. Identify one key issue and say why it is important.

Give an outline of a training session you would run with a group of teachers preparing to work with young learners (varying from ages 6-12), which focuses on the key issue you have identified.

You should include:

• brief details of the teaching context

• a description of one of the training activities in detail


• provide a brief CV (2 sides of A4 maximum)

• provide a passport size photograph (for inclusion in the conference programme if you win)

The submission deadline is Monday 25th October 2010 and the award will be announced at the beginning of December 2010. Please note that the criteria for this scholarship have changed to the above - if you have already submitted an entry based on the previous criteria you will still be considered for this scholarship.


Cambridge ESOL Best Practice in Language Assessment Scholarship

This scholarship gives the opportunity for anyone with an interest in Language Assessment to attend the IATEFL annual conference in Brighton 2011.

The scholarship is funded by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations.

The award consists of:

• registration for the Testing Evaluation and Assessment Special Interest Group (TEA SIG) pre-conference event

• registration for the main conference

• a year's IATEFL membership

• a maximum of five nights' accommodation

• travel costs including, if necessary, an economy flight to the UK*

• £50.00 per day expenses

* This includes the cost of flights and airport transfers. Cambridge ESOL will not cover the costs of stopovers.

To qualify you must:

• work in the fields of English language teaching or language assessment

• or be a post-graduate student focussing on teaching/assessment issues

• never have attended an IATEFL annual conference

To be considered for the scholarship you should apply online and include:

• a completed task of between 400 and 500 words:

Cambridge ESOL aligns its examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Read Cambridge ESOL Research Notes 37:, write a paper, between 400 and 500 words, discussing the alignment of a Cambridge ESOL examination (of your choice) to the CEFR.


• provide a brief curriculum vitae (2 sides A4 maximum)

• and a passport size photograph (for inclusion in the conference programme if you win)

The submission deadline is Monday 25th October 2010 and the award will be announced at the beginning of December 2010. Please note that the criteria for this scholarship have changed to the above. If you have already submitted an entry based on the previous criteria you will still be considered for this scholarship.



Cambridge ESOL Best Practice in English for Academic Purposes Scholarship

This new scholarship gives the opportunity for any teacher involved with teaching English for Academic Purposes to attend the IATEFL annual conference Brighton 2011.

This scholarship is funded by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations.

The award consists of:

• registration for a pre-conference event of the winner's choice

• registration for the main conference

• a year's IATEFL membership

• a maximum of five nights' accommodation

• travel costs including, if necessary, an economy flight to the UK*

• £50.00 per day expenses

* This includes the cost of flights and airport transfers. Cambridge ESOL will not cover the cost of stopovers.

To qualify you must:

• teach English for academic purposes

• never have attended an IATEFL annual conference

To be considered for the scholarship you should apply online and should:

• write an essay of between 400 and 500 words describing ways you help students learn how to structure a piece of academic writing

• provide a brief CV (2 sides A4 maximum)

• provide a passport size photograph (for inclusion in the conference programme if you win).

The submission deadline is Monday 25th October 2010 and the award will be announced at the beginning of December 2010.



Cambridge ESOL Best Practice in State Education Scholarship

This scholarship gives the opportunity for any teacher involved in state education to attend the IATEFL annual conference in Brighton 2011.

The scholarship is funded by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations.

The award consists of:

• registration for a pre-conference event of the winner's choice

• registration for the main conference

• a year's IATEFL membership

• a maximum of five nights' accommodation

• travel costs including, if necessary, an economy flight to the UK*

• £50.00 per day expenses

* This includes the cost of flights and airport transfers. Cambridge ESOL will not cover the costs of stopovers.

To qualify you must:

• be involved, formally or informally, in state education

• or be interested in moving in to this area of work

• never have attended an IATEFL annual conference

To be considered for the scholarship you should apply online and:

• provide a brief curriculum vitae (2 sides A4 maximum)

• and a passport size photograph (for inclusion in the conference programme if you win)

• include a completed task of between 400 and 500 words -

The new Cambridge English: First for Schools examination, commonly known as First Certificate in English (FCE) for Schools, is now available and includes content and topics specifically targeted at the interests and experience of school-aged learners.

• you are teaching a large monolingual, mixed ability class. Write one activity and rationale for teaching to a Cambridge English: First for Schools Speaking Test task of your choice

The submission deadline is Monday 25th October 2010 and the award will be announced at the beginning of December 2010.



International House Global Reach Scholarship

For people resident and native of distant countries, who are practising teachers.

The aim of this scholarship, funded by International House, is to enable teachers living beyond the 'cheap flights' area of the world to attend the IATEFL annual conference in the UK.

The award consists of:

• conference registration

• £1000 towards long haul travel expenses

• a year's IATEFL membership

To qualify you must:

• be resident and native of distant countries

• be a practising teacher in primary or secondary education, state or private sector

• have not attended an IATEFL annual conference before

• agree to submit by June 2011 a report of your experiences and their usefulness for your local teaching context for possible publication in Internation House Journal

To be considered you should submit:

• an outline (between 400 and 500 words) of how you would share your learning experiences at conference with colleagues in your own country

• a brief CV (2 sides A4 maximum)

• a passport size photograph (for inclusion in the conference programme if you win)

The submission date is 1st September 2010. You will be informed about the award in mid-October.


Friday, October 15, 2010

News: Bad Behaviour Caused By Mixed Ability Classes

Hi All!

A recent research in the UK has brought out the issue that the mixed ability classes may be less than an ideal condition for a special needs student or slow learners to progress in the classroom.

In language lessons, they are unable to put words into sentences, taking in information & forming conclusions.

Part of the reason for bad behaviour is the bad role models that these disruptive students copied from. These role models include parents, agressive teachers/adults and from the street.

Rodney Tan
Bad behaviour 'caused by mixed ability classes'

Mixed ability classes may be fuelling bad behaviour in schools, MPs have been warned.

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor

Published: 4:10PM BST 13 Oct 2010

Tom Burkard, research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, said slower pupils became frustrated after being left behind by brighter classmates.

Addressing the Commons Education Select Committee, he warned that large numbers of children found lessons “totally and utterly meaningless” when they were pitched at the wrong level.

Quarter of teachers 'facing violence at school' Mr Burkard, a former special needs teacher, told how the majority of truants skipped school because they dreaded lessons “they didn’t like or a teacher they couldn’t stand”.

Psychologists also told MPs that indiscipline was being caused by aggressive behaviour among adults who acted as poor role models for young children.

The comments were made as part of a new select committee inquiry into standards of behaviour in state schools – and tactics employed to promote discipline in the classroom.

According to official figures, behaviour is still not good enough in more than a fifth of secondary schools in England. At least 700 state comprehensives are failing to keep order to a high standard, it was revealed.

Mr Burkard said mixed lessons – in which staff are forced to teach children with a range of academic abilities – were contributing to the problem.

Around half of all lessons in schools are in mixed ability groups, with children normally segregated only in a small number of academic subjects.

Mr Burkard said children at the lower end of the ability range or those diagnosed with special needs often had problems with "working memory" – the process of putting words into sentences, taking in information and forming conclusions.

“If you don’t have this ability and you are sat in a mixed ability class, which is relying to a large extent on your own investigations, you are going to find the whole procedure totally and utterly meaningless," he said.

“If you are lucky, the child will sit at the back of the class and do very little. If not, they are going to act up. This is one of the things we have to take into consideration.”

He said a drive – launched under Labour – to tailor education to individual children’s needs was “an absolute fantasy” because teachers did not have enough time.

However, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, rejected the claims.

The union leader - former head of English at a north London comprehensive - told how mixed ability classes worked well in her former school while behaviour in the bottom sets was "appalling".

In evidence to MPs, others educationalists said parents were undermining schools' attempts to instill discipline in the classroom.

Many children copied behaviour they saw at home or on the street, it was claimed.

David Moore, an education consultant and former senior Ofsted inspector, told the hearing: "If you go into any shopping area on a Saturday and you watch parents interacting with their youngsters you can see why the youngsters behave the way that they do, because they model the behaviour of the adults."

Kate Fallon, general secretary of the Association of Educational Psychologists, said “less automatic respect” for people in authority may be to blame.

“I suspect we would see behaviours not terribly away far from here that might be described as low-level disruption, people talking over one another, interrupting, not always showing respect for the other speaker,” she said.

“So I think we can't say it's just children's behaviour. We actually have to look at it in context of the behaviour we see around us, lots of emoting, road rage - it's all there and it's not children's fault those things occur.”


Thursday, October 14, 2010

News: Secret vault of words rejected by the Oxford English Dictionary uncovered

It's interesting to know that the Oxford Dictionary people have actually maintained a secret vault to store non-words that did not make it into the dictionary.

Here's the latest scoop about this secret vault owned by them and sample of words that were not included in the venerable Oxford Dictionary.

"Wurfing" means surfing the internet at work, while "polkadodge" describes the strange little dance two passing people do when they try to avoid each other but move in the same direction, and "nonversation" denotes a pointless chat.

Great fun for word lovers!

Rodney Tan
Secret vault of words rejected by the Oxford English Dictionary uncovered

Wurfing, polkadodge and nonversation are among the words stored in secret files after being rejected for inclusion by the Oxford English Dictionary, it has been disclosed. Published: 12:07PM BST 04 Aug 2010

Not all words make it into the dictionary Photo: JIXUE YANG

Millions of "non words" which failed to make the dictionary lie unused in a vault owned by the Oxford University Press.

"Wurfing" means surfing the internet at work, while "polkadodge" describes the strange little dance two passing people do when they try to avoid each other but move in the same direction, and "nonversation" denotes a pointless chat.

These words were recently submitted for use in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) but will remain dormant unless they enter common parlance in the future.

Graphic designer Luke Ngakane, 22, uncovered hundreds of 'non words' as part of a project for Kingston University, London.

He said: ''I was fascinated when I read that the Oxford University Press has a vault where all their failed words, which didn't make the dictionary, are kept.

''This storeroom contains millions of words and some of them date back hundreds of years.

''It's a very hush, hush vault and I really struggled to find out information about it because it is so secretive.

''But when I spoke to them they were happy to confirm its existence and although I didn't actually get to see the room they did send me some examples.

''I picked out the words that resonated with me and really seemed to fit the purpose they were intended for.

''I get really excited when I hear someone using one of them because if enough people pick them up then maybe they will make it into the dictionary after all.''

Mr Ngakane researched hundreds of 'non words' before choosing 39 to etch onto a metal press plate and print onto A4 paper for his graphic design degree.

His favourite selection from his "Dictionary of Non Words" project include "furgling", which is the act of fumbling in your pocket for keys or loose change.

Other notable words are "dringle", which is the watermark left by a glass of liquid, and "earworm", a catchy tune that frequently gets stuck in your head.

"Sprogging", is the act of running slower than a sprint but faster than a jog, while the silver foil coating on scratch cards is given the name "scrax".

All of these words have been submitted to the Oxford University Press for inclusion in the OED but were judged to be ''unsuitable''.

They now lie in a vault in Oxford alongside millions of other unused words which are written on 6in by 4in cards and stored alphabetically in 50 huge filing cabinets.

Some of these words date back to before 1918, when Lord of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien was editor of the OED, but newer 'non words' are digitised.

Fiona McPherson, senior editor of the OED's new words group, denied the words are ''rejects'' and said they have every chance of being printed in the future.

She said: ''They are words which we haven't yet put in. I don't like calling them reject words because we will revisit them at some point and they may well go in.

''They are not yet considered suitable for the dictionary because there's not enough evidence that people are using them.

''If a word does come to our attention we can come to this room and check if it's here. A lot of times people say these words but they are not written down or published.

''We read newspapers or novels and have readers who read through them looking for new examples of existing words or completely new ones.

''We also get people writing in telling us about new words, which is useful. The thing with the OED is anything that goes in never comes out.''


Accordionated – being able to drive and refold a road map at the same time

Asphinxiation – being sick to death of unanswerable puzzles or riddles

Blogish – a variety of English that uses a large number of initialisms, frequently used on blogs

Dringle – the watermark left on wood caused by a glass of liquid.

Dunandunate – the overuse of a word or phrase that has recently been added to your own vocabulary

Earworm – a catchy tune that frequently gets stuck in your head

Espacular – something especially spectacular

Freegan – someone who rejects consumerism, usually by eating discarded food

Fumb – your large toe

Furgle – to feel in a pocket or bag for a small object such as a coin or key

Glocalization – running a business according to both local and global considerations

Griefer – someone who spends their online time harassing others

Headset jockey – a telephone call centre worker

Lexpionage – the sleuthing of words and phrases

Locavor – a person who tries to eat only locally grown or produced food

Museum head – feeling mentally exhausted and no longer able to take in information; Usually following a trip to a museum

Nonversation – a worthless conversation, wherein nothing is explained or otherwise Elaborated upon

Nudenda – an unhidden agenda

Oninate – to overwhelm with post-dining breath

Optotoxical – a look that could kill, normally from a parent or spouse

Parrotise – a haven for exotic birds especially green ones

Peppier – a waiter whose sole job is to offer diners ground pepper, usually from a large pepper mill

Percuperate – to prepare for the possibility of being ill

Pharming – the practice of creating a dummy website for phishing data

Polkadodge – the dance that occurs when two people attempt to pass each other but move in the same direction

Pregreening – to creep forwards while waiting for a red light to change

Quackmire – the muddy edges of a duck pond

Scrax – the waxy coating that is scratched off an instant lottery ticket

Smushables – items that must be pack at the top of a bag to avoid being squashed

Spatulate – removing cake mixture from the side of a bowl with a spatula

Sprog – to go faster then a jog but slower then a sprint

Sprummer – when summer and spring time can't decide which is to come first, usually hot one day then cold the next

Stealth-geek – someone who hides their nerdy interests while maintaining a normal outward appearance

Vidiot – someone who is inept at the act of programming video recording equipment

Whinese – a term for the language spoken by children on lengthy trips

Wibble – the trembling of the lower lip just shy of actually crying

Wurfing – the act of surfing the Internet while at work

Wikism – a piece of information that claims to be true but is wildly inaccurate

Xenolexica – a grave confusion when faced with unusual words



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

News: Thailand Is Not Ready To Teach English as A Second Language (TESL)

It seems Thailand has announced that it will not make English as its second language as it is not prepared and lacks the facilities to teach English as a second language in its schools.

Rodney Tan

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thailand not ready to upgrade English

PHUKET: It's too soon to declare English as Thailand's second language for teaching in schools, says Tongthong Chandransu, secretary-general of the Office of the Education Council (OEC).

News reports late last week said the Education Ministry planned to declare on October 22 that English is officially the second language for teaching in Thai schools.

But Tongthong denied there would be declarations related to the issue on October 22.

"The education reform policy committee, chaired by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, has discussed improving or upgrading English language teaching in educational institutions. But the committee has not yet reached a conclusion on how to develop the teaching," Tongthong said.

He was not sure if there was confusion caused by the news reports on the issue.

He said the issue to be announced on October 22 would be about developing student quality by allocating 30% of their study time to activities outside classrooms.

"To initiate a nationwide English language teaching improvement scheme is a big issue. We need to prepare enough basic structure – like instructional tools, technology and qualified teachers – as well as arrange funds, which will take a long time."

He said the PM and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij have agreed in principle to upgrade the quality of English language instruction and would support the scheme.

"We need to clarify the term to be used when referring to the language teaching improvement scheme, to prevent confusion. I'm not sure if the committee will state that English will be taught as the second language for teaching in schools or not, but I can say that it is considering the language teaching improvement scheme.

"And, it will be able to give an answer on how it will move this project forward within the next one or two months," he said.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Education Minister Varakorn Samkoses said he agreed with the idea of declaring English the second language in schools, as Thailand will be part of the Asean community in 2015.

However, he said, most Thai people were not ready for communication in English despite the coming Asean community. So other sectors of society should prepare for the change as well, by seeking strategies to help improve their personnel, especially the government and private sectors.

"To move the education sector [forward], we should start with training our Thai teachers along with importing foreign teachers," Varakorn said.

"The Basic Education Commission's English Resource and Instruction Center should be the main agency responsible for the scheme. It should collaborate with universities to share their knowledge and train and certify teachers in each region.

"Schools should create an English learning environment by using sign boards in English around their premises; having students perform English-language stage dramas; teaching math and science in English; and having foreigners [coming in to] meet and talk to students," Varakorn said.

English is used as an official language in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore, but used as a second language only in Malaysia, according to Wikipedia.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Humour: Another Clip on English Accents

Hi All!

I've uploaded another clip from YouTube of another standup artist. It's about 10 mins long.

He's a Canadian Indian but I especially enjoy his encounter with a Chinese businessman (sounds like one from Hong Kong) and Jamacaian.

His name is Russell Peters and you must listen to his rendition of various English accents ranging from Chinese, Indian, Jamaican & Italian. He's really funny!

But please be forewarned that there's some adult subject matter and some f-words used.


Rodney Tan

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Views: System Needs Revamp

Dear ETs,
A constant plea of concerned voices about the state of our Malaysian education system has been ringing for a very long while.

The proof is all around us: we worship straight A achievers but yet many could not cope with higher education. Numerous others after receiving their degrees are unemployable!

Lucille Dass whom I have met at English teaching conferences is a typical voice who said that something drastic must be done. This active, retired educator voices out things that have been said over and over again.

For one, we need quality teachers who are passionate about teaching our young and have the necessary training to do so.

Anyway, read on to know more.

Rodney Tan
Sunday August 1, 2010

System needs revamp



SO MUCH has been said by so many. Educators — past and present — continue to fill these pages with substantial comments, concerns, opinions and suggestions, that repeatedly and singularly underscore a plea-mantra: review-revamp-reinvent-refresh for an improved education system.

Given the centrality of education to the making of a sober and robust nation, passionate educators feel concerned that the purpose of education has gone awry and should be brought on track, like ... yesterday.

Indeed, we should be courting a “systemic change and not a piecemeal” quick-fix-it reactionary approach any more.

There is much sense to be made of the education-related content continually contained in these pages. Content that is time-sensitive, relevant, real-world requirement material, and refreshing. The key to all this is an openness to UNDERSTAND what it means to “educate” a person.

A cross-check with our National Philosophy of Education will reveal how we have veered off course. En route to realising the national project towards developed status, the nature of our education system suggests that we have not been keen investors in the potential development of our most important resource – the human resource.

Character development is an integral part of education. To partially quote Charles Read, “Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” Whither our destiny in the light of recent happenings?

To create a nation of fully functioning people (as encapsulated in our National Philosophy of Education), we must begin with the end in mind.

In this context I admire the former Education Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Mohd Noordin for his forward thinking, his “bold imaginings” and his time-sensitive resolve “to depart from the beaten paths … ” (George Bernard Shaw).

While the destination might remain the same (or not), the journey counts. Ignore the journey and you ignore the progress. Life is a process-product, and we will reap what we sow. After painstakingly sowing exam-oriented teaching and learning, we are reaping routine teachers and rote learners.

We celebrate our unending list of A-bearers and then wonder why many cannot cope with the demands of higher learning, or cannot be gainfully employed upon graduation.

We boldly proclaim that our English language teachers are well trained, and then wonder why the standard of English continues to backslide.

We are not being honest. The system has been ailing. Allow me one personal take here. In the early 90s, while still in service, at a meeting on “quality in training” with a visiting official from the ministry’s teacher training division, a concerned colleague stood up to lament the (already) appalling level of language proficiency among the new recruits for the Teaching of English as a Second Language (TESL) course, only to have it unflinchingly dismissed with, “The ball is in your court. What are you going to do about it?” I inwardly retorted “That ‘ball’ landed in the wrong court and needs to be kicked out!”

Honestly, if after 11 years of learning English at school, students are still found to be severely wanting, how are they to measure up in a TESL course? Or, later as teachers? Probe, and you’ll open up a Pandora’s box.

After months of remedial work to help them cope with lectures, the futility of it finally dawned on me. Was I doing a service or a disservice in training them to become teachers of English?

Out of frustration I asked why they chose to major in English. I lurched at the response.

They didn’t; they were given English! Trainers have no choice but to accept the situation. Much as I loved training (and still do), unfortunately, I could not compromise.

You need quality raw material to work with in the first place because the results are far reaching, otherwise you are simply perpetuating the deterioration that has already set in.

We need competent and dedicated educators at all levels. At school level, these precious few feel maimed, even “inadequate” because of the system.

In my frequent training interactions with them I’ve come across many who enjoy the creative training experience, and see value in it, but feel restricted to employ the same in their own situation.

Recently, one teacher told me, “You don’t understand! We have to finish the syllabus for the exam; give them practice. No time for all these fun activities!”

I’m just quoting one teacher, but it is a shared mindset, cultivated over long years of rigid practice to produce exam-scorers.

Aghast, I ask, “No time to simply put your hands together for a ‘clappity-clap’ rhythm, or add a tambourine-beat, to your otherwise dreary pronunciation drill?”

The problems loom larger than exams.

There is limitless value in an overall and accurate understanding of “education” and matching it with action. Time to figure out: whither education … or, wither education?

Lucille Dass is a former lecturer, teacher and Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) trainer.


News: KBSM English Literature Component Form 5 Novels for 2011

KBSM English Literature Component -- Form 5 Novels for 2011

Latest News:
Just heard from a Johor Main Trainer that they have just received training from the Curiculum Development Centre for the cascade training in the latest Literature Component for Forms 2 & 5.
So be prepared to be sent for courses anytime soon.

-The Curse by Lee Su Ann
(will be used by Pahang,Terengganu, Johor,Sabah,Sarawak and Labuan schools)

-Step by Wicked Step by Ann Fine

(will be used by Selangor,Kuala Lumpur,Putrajaya, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca schools)

-Catch Us If You Can by Catherine McPhail

(will be used by Perlis,Kelantan,Kedah, Penang and Perak schools)

Thanks to NorFadzleen of Johor Bahru for the pics and info.

Rodney Tan

Humour: Funny English Accents

Hi All!

Below is a YouTube clip to brighten your day.

It's something silly about accents in English:



Rodney Tan

Views: Cutting n Pasting vs Education

Dear All,

The widespread action of plagiarism and "cuttting and pasting" materials from the Internet have the effect of discouraging people from thinking critically and originally.

Many of the students' assignments, folios and homework may have probably being cull directly from the Internet and other easily availabe resources.
Read the article below to know more abou this issue.

Rodney Tan
Cutting and Pasting: A Senior Thesis by (Insert Name)

A friend who teaches at a well-known eastern university told me recently that plagiarism was turning him into a cop. He begins the semester collecting evidence, in the form of an in-class essay that gives him a sense of how well students think and write. He looks back at the samples later when students turn in papers that feature their own, less-than-perfect prose alongside expertly written passages lifted verbatim from the Web.

“I have to assume that in every class, someone will do it,” he said. “It doesn’t stop them if you say, ‘This is plagiarism. I won’t accept it.’ I have to tell them that it is a failing offense and could lead me to file a complaint with the university, which could lead to them being put on probation or being asked to leave.”

Not everyone who gets caught knows enough about what they did to be remorseful. Recently, for example, a student who plagiarized a sizable chunk of a paper essentially told my friend to keep his shirt on, that what he’d done was no big deal. Beyond that, the student said, he would be ashamed to go home to the family with an F.

As my friend sees it: “This represents a shift away from the view of education as the process of intellectual engagement through which we learn to think critically and toward the view of education as mere training. In training, you are trying to find the right answer at any cost, not trying to improve your mind.”

Like many other professors, he no longer sees traditional term papers as a valid index of student competence. To get an accurate, Internet-free reading of how much students have learned, he gives them written assignments in class — where they can be watched.

These kinds of precautions are no longer unusual in the college world. As Trip Gabriel pointed out in The Times recently, more than half the colleges in the country have retained services that check student papers for material lifted from the Internet and elsewhere. Many schools now require incoming students to take online tutorials that explain what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Nationally, discussions about plagiarism tend to focus on questions of ethics. But as David Pritchard, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told me recently: “The big sleeping dog here is not the moral issue. The problem is that kids don’t learn if they don’t do the work.”

Prof. Pritchard and his colleagues illustrated the point in a study of cheating behavior by M.I.T. students who used an online system to complete homework. The students who were found to have copied the most answers from others started out with the same math and physics skills as their harder-working classmates. But by skipping the actual work in homework, they fell behind in understanding and became significantly more likely to fail.

The Pritchard axiom — that repetitive cheating undermines learning — has ominous implications for a world in which even junior high school students cut and paste from the Internet instead of producing their own writing.

If we look closely at plagiarism as practiced by youngsters, we can see that they have a different relationship to the printed word than did the generations before them. When many young people think of writing, they don’t think of fashioning original sentences into a sustained thought. They think of making something like a collage of found passages and ideas from the Internet.

They become like rap musicians who construct what they describe as new works by “sampling” (which is to say, cutting and pasting) beats and refrains from the works of others.

This habit of mind is already pervasive in the culture and will be difficult to roll back. But parents, teachers and policy makers need to understand that this is not just a matter of personal style or generational expression. It’s a question of whether we can preserve the methods through which education at its best teaches people to think critically and originally.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

News: Having Plenty of Books at Home Helps Children's Success

Hi All!

Here's a very interesting article from the NY Times about the power of books!

It also quotes research that was published recently about the comparative success of children from homes WITH books as opposed to homes WITHOUT books.

Rodney Tan

July 8, 2010

The Medium Is the Medium


Recently, book publishers got some good news. Researchers gave 852 disadvantaged students 12 books (of their own choosing) to take home at the end of the school year. They did this for three successive years.

Then the researchers, led by Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee, looked at those students’ test scores. They found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students. These students were less affected by the “summer slide” — the decline that especially afflicts lower-income students during the vacation months. In fact, just having those 12 books seemed to have as much positive effect as attending summer school.

This study, along with many others, illustrates the tremendous power of books. We already knew, from research in 27 countries, that kids who grow up in a home with 500 books stay in school longer and do better. This new study suggests that introducing books into homes that may not have them also produces significant educational gains.

Recently, Internet mavens got some bad news. Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy examined computer use among a half-million 5th through 8th graders in North Carolina. They found that the spread of home computers and high-speed Internet access was associated with significant declines in math and reading scores.

This study, following up on others, finds that broadband access is not necessarily good for kids and may be harmful to their academic performance. And this study used data from 2000 to 2005 before Twitter and Facebook took off.

These two studies feed into the debate that is now surrounding Nicholas Carr’s book, “The Shallows.” Carr argues that the Internet is leading to a short-attention-span culture. He cites a pile of research showing that the multidistraction, hyperlink world degrades people’s abilities to engage in deep thought or serious contemplation.

Carr’s argument has been challenged. His critics point to evidence that suggests that playing computer games and performing Internet searches actually improves a person’s ability to process information and focus attention. The Internet, they say, is a boon to schooling, not a threat.

But there was one interesting observation made by a philanthropist who gives books to disadvantaged kids. It’s not the physical presence of the books that produces the biggest impact, she suggested. It’s the change in the way the students see themselves as they build a home library. They see themselves as readers, as members of a different group.

The Internet-versus-books debate is conducted on the supposition that the medium is the message. But sometimes the medium is just the medium. What matters is the way people think about themselves while engaged in the two activities. A person who becomes a citizen of the literary world enters a hierarchical universe. There are classic works of literature at the top and beach reading at the bottom.

A person enters this world as a novice, and slowly studies the works of great writers and scholars. Readers immerse themselves in deep, alternative worlds and hope to gain some lasting wisdom. Respect is paid to the writers who transmit that wisdom.

A citizen of the Internet has a very different experience. The Internet smashes hierarchy and is not marked by deference. Maybe it would be different if it had been invented in Victorian England, but Internet culture is set in contemporary America. Internet culture is egalitarian. The young are more accomplished than the old. The new media is supposedly savvier than the old media. The dominant activity is free-wheeling, disrespectful, antiauthority disputation.

These different cultures foster different types of learning. The great essayist Joseph Epstein once distinguished between being well informed, being hip and being cultivated. The Internet helps you become well informed — knowledgeable about current events, the latest controversies and important trends. The Internet also helps you become hip — to learn about what’s going on, as Epstein writes, “in those lively waters outside the boring mainstream.”

But the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting import. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer’s world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher.

Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.

It’s better at distinguishing the important from the unimportant, and making the important more prestigious.

Perhaps that will change. Already, more “old-fashioned” outposts are opening up across the Web. It could be that the real debate will not be books versus the Internet but how to build an Internet counterculture that will better attract people to serious learning.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Views: Should Parents Do Their Children's Assignments?

Hi All,

This article looks at the parental side of the coin when teachers assign projects, English and otherwise.

We know teachers would assign projects and homework for their students. However, what normally happens is the parents end up doing the whole thing for their kids.

As a result, the kids do not learn anything accept to be proud of a work that is not done by them. Worse still, these parents done assignments become a competition between parents to see whose is the best (shades of "kiasu-ism").

Rodney Tan


Model behavior

How did school projects assigned to children to do at home turn into competitions among the parents?

By Limor Gal

"Once again we were assigned a project worthy of Martha Stewart, to build a model of a biblical-era settlement." Many of the postings to the parents' forums of a popular homework website are in the first person, whether plural or singular: "My son has to create a game for English class. How can I make a memory game?" Or, "I need help, we have to build something for science." Usually the postings refer to big projects, like constructing a model of a power station, the human digestive system or a public building. For some parents it's clear that some of the learning process must take place at home, with their participation. Others feel their children are often given assignments that are beyond their age level and require parental involvement.

Dana, a teacher from the center of the country, describes working with her 10-year-old son on one of his assignments. "The project demanded skills that hadn't been addressed in class at all," Dana says, "like searching for and summarizing information. The kids didn't have a clue. Who did the work? I, of course. But I used the opportunity to teach my son how to approach a project. It's not the first time. They also have to build all kinds of miniature models," Dana said.

"What if I don't feel like building a model?" wrote one mother in a forum for parents of elementary-school students. "I've had it with all these assignments. Why do they give the children assignments that in the end the parents have to do?" She's not alone. Many parents feel trapped: They don't want to do their children's work for them but end up pitching in because they assume - or know - that other children will bring in models built by their own parents.

"Sometimes my kids were assigned to create projects that I ended up doing," reports Riki Cohen. The Herzliya mother of a four-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy started a website called Lost Mothers. "It was completely out of my skill set, but I improvised," she recalls. "And the result was comparable with that of other, talented parents."

"I always get a pang when I see the projects brought by other children, that are obviously the result of much work," says Sarit Cohen Hakham of Givat Ada, the sports coordinator of Akim, which provides services to people with developmental disabilities. Her children are Gal (fifth grade ), Yael (first grade ) and Gilad (nursery school ).

"When I get home after a busy day, I want to shift into low gear. If the children are home I'd rather take them to the playground or a park than spend hours working on assignments and projects. The problem is that some parents take every assignment their children get and plunge in as if they themselves are the students and will be graded on it. The difference between the work of parents and that of children is always obvious. I think parents who do their children's homework for them don't realize it teaches the children to accept credit for something they didn't do. It's like giving a kid a gold medal even if he didn't compete and then teaching him to be proud of it," Cohen Hakham said.

"Stop the forced labor for parents immediately! Enough!" Yael, a mother of three from the Sharon region, wrote. "When my eldest daughter was in fifth grade she had to keep a reading journal, in English, for a high-school-level book. The parents had to work with the children or hire a private tutor," Yael relates. The situation reached a level of absurdity when some fifth-graders in her neighborhood asked their parents for money and hired a graphic artist to prepare a slide presentation they were assigned to create but didn't know how.

Poster girl

Some parents refuse to join the competition. "There is no value to work that I do for the children, and I am not willing to do it," says Nira, a secretary from the Haifa area with four children. In a parent-teacher meeting when one of her younger children was in fourth grade, Nira announced that in light of her experience with her older children she would not help their younger siblings to make models and the like. "I said I did my share of homework when I was in school and refused to do even one more project," Nira said.

Doesn't that bother her kids? "I help with proofreading. There have been times when I've suggested ideas to improve a project, but my son did the work and he got extra credit for it."

Tamar, a teacher who lives in the north, thinks that up to a point parents should be involved in their children's homework. "Sometimes kids turn in really bad papers, and I'm surprised," she says. "Why don't parents help, or at least proofread? It's hard to believe some of the things the children hand in: torn pages, things rubbed out, less than minimal punctuation. It's a disgrace. Parents don't have to do the assignment - but not to check what their child is handing in?"

Eran, a father of three from the south of the country who works in high-tech, agrees. "I don't see a problem," he says. "Children need help with all kinds of things, including schoolwork. That's part of my job as a parent."

Merav, a science teacher from the north, says that while she has her students build models that illustrate what is being taught in the classroom, she understands the problem surrounding such assignments. "I explain the stages of the project to the children and emphasize that they have to participate share in the process and not farm out the job to subcontractors. They also have to explain their models to the class. I make a point of praising the projects that children really make themselves, even if they are less impressive. Still, I know that if there is an exhibition and important people from the Education Ministry or the municipality come to see it, the projects done by the parents might be placed in front," Merav said.

There are parents for whom these projects spur a genuine desire to create something together with their children, but many seem motivated mainly by a desire to meet the standards set by other parents.

"We were told to make a poster for the kindergarten, for Independence Day," the writer and editor Yemima Evron writes frankly in her blog. "It's obvious that this is homework for the parents, not the children, but as soon as I turned my head away she put an orange line in the middle of the poster that had nothing to do with anything and stuck on a few flags and drew a few blue circles in illogical places. Now, I know it's her poster. Call me a narcissistic mom - that's all right, I know - but show me one brave parent - one! - who will show up with the poster his kid made, without any guidance on his part, and hang it on the wall. Isn't it terrible what I'm saying? But with all my regret, it's also very true. So I am unable to hold back, and I tell her so; not everything, only that she must wait for me and we'll do something together. And she, who is four and a half, understands exactly what I'm not saying. She gets insulted just as she should, doesn't get confused and looks up at me and says explicitly: 'But Mommy, if it was a poster that you were supposed to bring to your kindergarten, then you would do it, but it's the poster I am supposed to bring to my kindergarten, so I do it.' How simple. Then go explain to the teacher why our poster looks the way it does."

Role reversal

So where is the line between legitimate help and guidance on one hand and a situation in which the kid watches television while his parents meticulously paint the project that's due tomorrow? According to Tali Heiman, head of the Department of Education and Psychology at the Open University of Israel, while it's important for parents to be involved in their children's school activities, particularly in the lower grades, the parents' role is to assist and guide, not to become schoolchildren themselves. "A girl told me once," she recalls, "that it wasn't worth her while to spend a lot of time on model projects for school because there was a girl in her class who always won in this area. Her mother was an architect and did all the work for her. That is a problematic situation. I am against competition between parents over who will make the best Hanukkah menorah or the snappiest Noah's ark. The teacher has to make this clear to the children and to the parents, to say explicitly that assignments done by parents will not be part of the competition. You can't judge a project by adults and a project by children with the same criteria."

Parents can help with written assignments, too, Heiman says, but they have to stop short of doing the assignments for the child. "If the child does sloppy work or the work needs correction, the teacher should return it to the child with comments. The student is responsible for the content and design of the project. Naturally the teacher must explain and maybe hand out guidelines for writing the paper. Parents can guide the child and make comments in order to teach and improve things, but from a young age the student must learn to cope with assignments, to plan them in terms of content and design, to organize their time. In short, to take responsibility. A parent should not be the student, and the teacher has to make that clear to the parents," Heiman said.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Humour: Embarassing Misunderstanding


This newsclip from the STAR dated 8 May 2010 is a true account of embarassing experiences that a lady had while she was holidaying in Beijing, China.

The incidents showed that miscommunication still happens across cultures when English is spoken inaccurately or when a listener had misheard a sentence or a phrase.



Click on the news cutting to enlarge it life size

Monday, October 4, 2010

News: YouTube Launches Subtitles for English-language Videos

Dear All!

YouTube is starting an English language captioning service for its videos.

As an English teacher, this addition would really help our students read and listen to realistic oral voices.



YouTube launches subtitles for English-language videos

Google, the owner of the video streaming website, YouTube, is using its speech recognition software to generate captions for English-language videos on the site.

The auto-captioning function, launched last month, is aimed at hearing-impaired users but will also benefit language learners. YouTube warns the auto-captioning is far from perfect. Video clips from YouTube have become popular teaching aids.

20 pieces google logos Images

News: Good Teachers Do Matter

Hi Everyone!

I've attached a newspaper clipping from a local newspaper, The STAR which hightlighted a research that strengthens the belief that good teachers matter; whether they are teaching weak/average students or the brighter ones.

Conversely, bad teachers will destroy the students' interest and cause disruption in their studies.

Rodney Tan

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Motivation Poem: To Achieve Your Dreams Remember Your ABCs

Dear All,

Here's an inspiring poem listed according to the alphabets.

Hope this poem will inspire teachers and students alike to achieve their dreams.


Rodney Tan
To Achieve Your Dreams Remember Your ABCs

Copyright 1991 By Wanda Hope Carter

Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits

Believe in yourself

Consider things from every angle

Don’t give up and don’t give in

Enjoy life today, yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come.

Family and Friends are hidden treasures, seek them and enjoy their riches

Give more than you planned to

Hang on to your dreams

Ignore those who try to discourage you

Just do it

Keep trying no matter how hard it seems, it will get easier

Love yourself first and foremost

Make it happen

Never lie, cheat or steal, always strike a fair deal.

Open your eyes and see things as they really are

Practice makes perfect

Quitters never win and winners never quit

Read study and learn about everything important in life

Stop procrastinating

Take control of your own destiny

Understand yourself in order to understand others

Visualize it

Want it more than anything

Xccelerate your efforts

You are unique of all God’s creations nothing can replace you

Zero in on your target and go for it!

News: Germany Has Done Away With School Libraries

Dear All,

It seems incredible that an advanced country such as Germany has closed down all its school libraries for some time already.

One reason is the system and the way school libraries are funded. They are funded by their respective municipal councils and lack funds themselves to run a local public library.

Read the article below to know more.

In US the usage of libraries is up while in the UK, funding is being cut or slash.

Rodney Tan
New Impulses for School Libraries in Germany

The responsibility for school libraries in Germany is not in the same hands as schools and teaching are. The state is responsible for the schools and schooling, whereas libraries are a voluntary facility made available by the municipal councils. School libraries are seen as part of the public libraries and not as part of the schools. As the public libraries do not receive sufficient financial support, a satisfactory development of school libraries does not exist.

Ten years ago in the state of Hesse a group of teachers started to overcome this stagnation and (re-)discover the school library as an important place of education. They brought several projects to life, which stimulated the development of the school libraries in this state. These projects will be described in the following text.

The impulses come from an organization, the „Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft (LAG) Schulbibliotheken in Hessen e. V.“ ( the Association of School Libraries in Hesse), which consists especially of teachers, but also of librarians and parents of school children. The LAG’s concept can be found in two formulas:

1. „Libraries from below“. Schools in Hesse are limited in their autonomy. The library teachers as well as the supporting parents have learned to use the school conference, school budget and school management rules and regulations to help initiate libraries.

2. „The active school library“ which means a library, that is orientated to learning and the curriculum. It does not just offer books to borrow, it is integrated in as many subjects as possible and offers the teachers and the students the opportunity to use the books from the library in the lessons. This is difficult to encourage, because textbooks, which can easily be used for teaching, are available for every subject in the classrooms.

As mentioned before the municipal councils seldom take their responsibilities towards school libraries seriously and hardly ever provide trained librarians. Due to this fact approx. 500 school libraries (there are 2000 schools in Hesse) are managed almost solely by teachers and volunteers from the parents. This creates a close contact between the colleagues in the staff room and also the personal teaching experience helps to form the library to the needs of teaching.

Some occasional training courses for these teachers and volunteers take place within the government training scheme. To date approx. 300 people have taken part in the workshops. The topics were for example: Lessons in the Library, The Organization of Reading Parties, The Use of Internet, The Making of Videofilms to Support Reading, Visits to Swiss and Danish Schools.

The re-birth of school libraries is positively influenced by the poor results of the German pupils in the international comparison studies (TIMMS, OECD-Studies). The parents became unsure, because, up till then, the highly selective German school system was considered excellent. Even the economical newspapers are pre-occupied with the decreasing ability to read.

The new media will also be integrated into the „active school library“, whether by the production of personal videoclips, e.g. about books, or by the use of internet as a supplement information media to books.

The „active school library“ is not only a learning centre but also a cultural and communications centre at the school. The library is the place for overnight-read-a-thons, creative writing workshops or authors’ visits and can also be used in the breaks.

The LAG mainly produces ideas. It connects the school library with a lot of fields of schooling: the encouragement of reading in the primary and junior schools, reading training for pupils of senior schools, reading matter for foreign language lessons, co-operation in the all-day schooling offer and help with lunch-time supervision, books for the younger reader for German lessons and training in the use of media. It brings the school libraries to the attention of teachers, school management, education authorities and their advisors and heads of department. Countless discussions, letters and readers’ letters are necessary to achieve this. The library in German schools is not considered a well-loved habit. The generation of teachers and politicians between 30 and 50 years old did not have this facility during their schooling and, therefore, do not understand the point of issue so well, which results in a catch-22 situation.

The LAG carries out the biennial Hessian School Library Day with varying themes. Study groups for stimulating reading or for questions about organization and the use of libraries for learning purposes, school or book-shop info-stands, lectures and readings. Guests, who continually take part tour around the Hessian school libraries, as each time a different school acts as host. The highlight of the day is the presentation of a small award for the best ideas in the field of reading in schools, the „Hessian Bookcase“. For example one idea was a „reading carpet“, which would always be rolled out, when reading activities are planned and one winner was a music teacher, who wrote and sang rousing reading songs with his class.

The LAG managed to win over the ministry of education into buying an Austrian cataloguing software programme, which is used in approx. 400 schools. No other German state has such a facility available.

The first project, that the LAG organized was called „The Library in the Box“, which consisted of reference books on interesting teaching subjects stored in practical, attractive, wooden boxes. The project’s booklists (on disks) are also suggestions for a stock of books for small libraries. Such wooden boxes have a long tradition in Hesse. In the nineteen-twenties books from the town and city libraries were transported in such boxes to the shopkeepers in the surrounding villages, so that the villagers could borrow books at the same time as doing their shopping. The boxes can be borrowed and have already been used in over 500 classrooms and school libraries.

An information service for school libraries has been made available on the ministry of education’s server: HIDS. Among other things it contains a newsletter, a mailing list and reading tips.

An articulated lorry owned by the ministry of education, which is called the „Kulturmobil“ (culture vehicle) was also initiated by the LAG.

Although already existant for ten years, the „march through the institutions“ is still in its initial stages. The school libraries lack a supporting system. Thousands of hours of work by the volunteers are wasted, because everywhere the same work is being done - and the same mistakes are being made. The members of the LAG, 70 people and 130 schools, are proud to be able to give encouragement to interested parents, heads of school and teachers and to have achieved recognition outside the state of Hesse. We hope that the local and national authorities will realize how important our cause is in the 21st century.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Humour: Teaching of Maths & Science in English (the Malaysian Experience in Cartoons)

Dear All,

These cartoons were taken from a local Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia which poked fun at the attempts of teachers to speak English in their Maths and Science lessons or people who use Manglish in their everyday interactions

The toons would be fully understood by Malaysian teachers or those who could understand the Malay language or Malaysian English (Manglish).

Enjoy!   :-)

Rodney Tan

Source: Utusan Malaysia

Humour: English Is A Difficult Language To Learn

Hi Everyone!

Here's a true story from a news clip of an international encounter between two heads of state.

Rodney Tan

Guide: 10 Basic Google Search Concepts Plus 20 Basic Commands

Dear All,

The guide below is to help us learn how to use the Google search engine for research efficiently and effectively.

As the Internet is becoming the source of exploding knowedge, one needs to learn the correct way of searching for what we need quickly and accurately.

I find the list below very helpful in my search for information.


Rodney Tan

Ten Items All Should Know When Using Google Basic Search….Far From Basic!
by Michael Gorman

Aug 29, 2010


I really hope you enjoy and can use this article from my “The Googal In Google Series” This posting will focus on the art of searching using the basic Google search engine. I have tried to include the obvious and the not so obvious techniques. As you look through, I am almost certain you will learn something new.

Please share this article with other educators and students. Just understanding these ten concepts will assist anyone into being a more productive researcher. As always, please feel free to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans), I will do the same. Let’s begin our search. – Mike

The Basic Search – The Google Basic Search is usually the first place most people begin a search and it is also the last place they end. Many times students just type in some words and get lost in millions of results trying to find an answer. Impressed by the number of hits they get, many times they forget that the art of searching is getting fewer results with relevant answers.

I would like to share with you ten important concepts to think about in getting optimal searches from the Google basic search engine. Print this off and hand out to others. It really is the very basic in using Google.

Please note that the last item includes over twenty basic commands that will really help you and your students be more productive.

Ten Items All Should Know When Using Google Basic Search….
Far From Basic…The Googal In Google!

1. The word And is assumed… Example: red and white and blue is a search for red white blue

2. Compound Words, Phrases, and Names; use a String (in other words put the words in quotes “ “… Example: “GeorgeWashington”“FortWayne” “to be or not to be” “United States of America” “Star Wars”

3. Want to eliminate a word: use the Not Command which is a – (minus sign)… Example: Looking for the country Turkey, but not the bird… Turkey -bird

4. Capital Letters and articles of speech are ignored unless put in quotes… Example: United States of America is treated as united states america but “United States of America” is treated as United States of America

5. The root form of a word looks for all forms of the word… Example: walk = walks, walker, walking, walked

6. Use a tilde (~) to search with other word of similar meaning… Example ~happy searches for happy and synonyms of happy ~large planet(large could be: big, vast, giant, enormous

7. Putting a plus (+) in front of word to keep it exactly as is. This dismisses adding other options to root word… Example: +walk (only walk: does not inlude walker, walks, walking, walked)

8. Wild Card (*) allows for missing words in a phrase (not missing letters). Forget a word in a title or quote, try a wildcard… Example: “Obama voted on the * on the * bill” Note this is mixed with the string concept.

9. The word OR (in caps) allows two ideas to be reported together… Example: “Indianapolis Colts” 2010 OR 2009

10. Get to know the Google Command Lines. These are useful for quick references in a Basic Google Search. Give them a try and experience the power in narrowing down a search. The list of over twenty starts with some real power suggestions and ends with some everyday useful ideas.

INTITLE – To narrow search by finding web sites that have key word in title you may type the words intitle: followed by word you are searching for (Note no spaces) … Example: intitle:ipad … Return example

INTEXT – Same as above only it narrows search to only keywords found in text (Note no spaces)… Example intext:ipad … Return example

LINK – This command determines who is linking to a site. Great command to determine credibility and popularity of a site. To use the link command there are no spaces. Type word link: and follow with complete URL (Note if you remember to put no space after the colon you will get true account of active hyper-links, if you use a space you will get hyper-links and text mentions which will be a higher number)…Example… Return example

SITE – Found a great site, but you want to then just search in that site. Perhaps you just want to search government sites or you want to see the Race For The Moon in perspective from Russia. Type in site and with no space follow with web address, domain, or country code. After the address, domain, or country code put in a space and the key word. Perhaps you want iPad information only from apple… Site Example: ipad … Return example … Domain Example: site:gov earthquake … Return Example … County Example: site:ru “moon race“… Return Example

FILETYPE – Looking for a great power point, pdf, or word doc. Perhaps a spreadsheet would be helpful. You may need to look up some suffixes to use. Type in the word filetype: and with no spaces put the suffix (in my example I used xls for excel), put in space and follow with a search term. I have a list for suffixes linked here… Example: filetype:xls h1n1 … Return example

RELATED – Ever find a great site and you want to see if there is more like it. Just type in the word related: and follow with no space and then the web address. You will find an assortment of related pages… Example:… Return Example

INFO – Want more information about a site that you like. Interested in cached versions, links to the site, links from the site, other web pages that are simular to, and other places the web site is mentioned on the internet. A great tool for evaluating a web site. All you do is type in the word info: and then follow it with no space, and the web address of the site you wish to know more about…
Example: … Return Example

CALCULATOR – To use Google’s built-in calculator function, simply enter the calculation you’d like done into the search box. It even follows the order of operation… Example: 10+9*10 (It multiplies first the adds) … Return Example

SYNONYMS – As mentioned earlier, if you want to search for your search term and also for its synonyms, place the tilde sign (~) immediately in front of your search term (no space)… Example: ~city … Return example

DEFINITIONS – To see a definition for a word or phrase, type the word “define” then a space, then the word(s) you want defined. To see a list of different definitions from various online sources, you can type “define:” followed by a word or phrase. Note that the results will define the entire phrase…
Example: define: computer … Return example

SPELL – Google’s spell checking software automatically checks whether your submission uses the most common spelling of a given word. If Google thinks you’re likely to generate better results with an alternative spelling, it will ask “Did you mean: (more common spelling)?”. Click the suggested spelling to launch a Google search for that term. Example: pikture … Return example

MEASUREMENT – To use measurement converter put in the measurement you want to convert followed by word to, and then enter desired unit… Example: convert 5280 ft to mi … Return example.

WEATHER – To see the weather for many U.S. and worldwide cities, type “weather” followed by the city and state, U.S. zip code, or city and country… Example: weather “fort wayne” in or weather 46814 or weather “fort wayne” usa … Return Example

STOCKS – To see current market data for a given company or fund, type the ticker symbol into the search box. On the results page, you can click the link to see more data from Google Finance… Example: aapl … Return Example

TIME – To see the time in many cities around the world, type in “time” and the name of the city (Note also sunrise/sunset)… Example: time “fort wayne” … Return Example

SPORTS – To see scores and schedules for sports teams type the team name or league name into the search box. This is enabled for many leagues including the National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball… Example: national basketball association … Return Example

LOCAL – When looking for a store, restaurant, or other local business search for the category of business and the location and Google will return results right on that page, along with a map, reviews, and contact information. You may have to scroll down to find the local listings in the search returns… Example walmart… Return example

MOVIES – To find reviews and showtimes for movies playing near you, type “movies” or the name of a current film into the Google search box. If you’ve already saved your location on previous search, the top search result will display showtimes for nearby theaters for the movie you’ve chosen, if not enter new location… Example:movie: “diary of a wimpy kid” … Return example

DISEASE – To see information about a common disease or symptom, enter it into the search box and Google will return the beginning of an expert summary. Click through and read the entire article in Google Health… Example:measles… Return example

FLIGHTS – To see flight status for arriving and departing U.S. flights, type in the name of the airline (abrv work) and the flight number into the search box. You can also see delays at a specific airport by typing in the name of the city or three-letter airport code followed by the word “airport”…
Example: austin airport … Return example

PATENTS To get information on patents – enter the word “patent” followed by the patent number into the Google search box and hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button… Example: patent 1773980 … Return example

AREA CODE LOCATION – to see the geographical location for any U.S. telephone area code, just type the three-digit area code into the Google search box and hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button… Example 260… Return example

In the future I will provide information you may want to know more about when using the advanced search. Please share with others. You are always welcome to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans) and visit my 21centuryedtech Blog. Thanks for taking a moment to learn more about “The Googal in Google”! Have a great week. – Mike