My Book Print – One Tongue, Many Voices – Jan Svartvik and Geoffrey Leech


“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

 
Why I like the book and why I would recommend it:
1.      It is a gripping story of the development of English language.
2.      It is reader-friendly and immediately captures the reader’s attention.
3.      It broadens one’s academic horizons, even though it is not a dry academic text.
4.      It is supplemented by visuals, such as maps, illustrations and diagrams.
5.      It is memorable; it includes interesting usage points, anecdotes and metaphors.
6.      It is universal; it is particularly suitable for a non-native speaker of English but native speakers can learn a lot, especially from Parts I and II.
7.      It gives the reader a holisticpicture; it discusses the past, present and future of English.
8.      It promotes critical thinking: by discussing the past, it helps the reader to understand the present, and by discussing the past and the present it helps the reader to see the future.
9.      It does not favour one particular English; it acknowledges all Englishes, including pidgins, creoles and regional variations.
10.  By acknowledging all Englishes, it does not divide people; it unifies them.
11.  By acknowledging all Englishes, it tells us that there is no ‘correct’ way of doing things; diversity is what makes life interesting.
12.  It educates the reader: it tells us that by learning about the language we can learn about life and the human race in general.
13.  It explains that everything in life evolves so by claiming that there should be one correct form of usage in a language we actually deny life itself.
 
For reviews go to:
 
 
 

I like you and you like me – On Facebook’s most important tool

I remember my 16-year-old son posting his new profile photo and saying: “My goal is to get at least 20 likes”. Well, I told him that I liked his photo but it apparently didn’t count…
 
I’ve been using Facebook for some time now but I must admit I still don’t know how it works. I can upload an image, post a comment or change my profile photo, but I’m still somewhat puzzled by Facebook’s inherent complexity. What I’m most fascinated about at the moment is the like button. I can’t stop constantly analyzing what’s behind this tiny icon. Not because I want to invent a super theory on how to get more likes on Facebook; what intrigues me is the moment of decision to like something or ignore it, and all the emotions you can express with just one click.  

I always wonder whether other people feel the same way as I do (my husband reassures me that they don’t). For example, I’d like to look inside the human brain to scrutinize the complex and complicated process of deciding whether they’ll hit the like button or not. Although it’s just a matter of seconds, or even less, an amazing lot of brain processes must be going on inside the person’s head. Are they only interested in the post itself or do they have the person who posted it in mind? In other words, is it only about content or is it personal? And what about their own personality? Do they need some time to decide if they want to share this bit with others or do they just act spontaneously? Or are they too shy to expose their emotions at all?

The like button apparently has many functions and some of them are more superficial than others, but that’s ok: by liking something you can express that you’ve just smiled, laughed, or cried; you can express your surprise, shock or amazement. But I’ve also used it for other reasons; by liking someone’s post I just quickly want to say: “Hello, I’m here. We haven’t been in touch for ages but I know you are there.” Or I simply want to show that I like the person or appreciate what he or she does in general. I can also express that I agree with what the person claims and by agreeing I actually expose my own opinion. Finally, I’ve always kind of felt that by clicking the like option you make an imaginary full stop: I’ve read your post. Thanks. Full stop.  

The number of likes one receives certainly matters because Facebook is not just about interaction, relationships and communication; it’s also about competition. But the number of likes one gives away matters as well because someone who likes everything may be ‘valued’ less by others than someone who uses the tool carefully. On the other hand, I feel that liking on Facebook is like smiling at somebody or patting them on the back. And does it cost you anything to smile at someone? Can you waste smiles and supportive pats on the back? Well, the fact is that some people are always smiley and some don’t smile at all. We are human and everyone is different. So let’s go to Facebook and enjoy the diversity.  

PS: I hope you will like my post 🙂

 

What I love about social media – Part 2

This picture is available on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/
for educational puposes

I must elaborate on my previous post as I feel that it might have been misinterpreted, especially the last paragraph where I write about social media being superficial. I’m not saying that it’s not true because any kind of communication can be superficial. It depends on the people involved, not on the means of communication itself. We all have come across a John Doe on Twitter, for example, who started following Jane Doe just because he wanted to draw attention to himself, not because he was interested in what Jane Doe had to say. And when Jane eventually started following John, he disappeared without a trace. Well, that’s life.

Being a member of a community is different. Communities have always been based on the principle of reciprocity – responding to a positive action with another positive action. The sentence “Is it bad that they read your posts because they want you to read theirs?” sounds harsh; it either implies that somebody reads what I write just because they want to draw attention to themselves, or it indicates that I read what other people write because I want to draw attention to myself. One way or another, that’s not what I meant. What I meant is that it’s like having birthday parties; we get presents from the beloved members of our communities and next time, when it’s their birthday, we feel the urge to get them something nice too. And the other way around – we give and we subconsciously expect to get in return.

So how to conclude this? I’m happy when somebody cares – it’s a nice feeling because I’m human. I feel grateful and want to show my gratitude. I want to learn about that person as well. And I usually find out that the person has something valuable to offer. So it all starts with the principle of reciprocity and ends up with the principle of humanity.

What I love about social media

I remember the moment when I was about to hit the ‘share publicly’ button for the first time in my life. I felt butterflies in my stomach. I felt terrified. I thought: Now everybody’s going to see my post. What if I’ve made some mistakes in it? What it if someone finds it awkward and irritating? Well, I finally hit the button and waited. Nothing really huge happened but something did happen. I stepped out of my comfort zone.

What I love about social media is the fact that when there’s something on your mind you just say it and people have the choice to listen or ignore you. I also like the fact that social media make you think twice before you ‘utter’ the words because you never know who’s listening or reading, and it’s difficult to take your words back. I’m an impatient and a quick-tempered person so this is a good exercise for me. I’m also self-conscious and I care about what people think. But being too self-conscious is not good because it can sometimes prevent you from doing good things. Social media help me gradually become aware of the fact that I CAN achieve good things and share them with others.

I feel that participating in social media is like having your second identity and as this second identity grows more and more confident, the first identity starts to believe in itself as well. I know…it’s dangerous to become overconfident but mind you, people on Twitter or Facebook won’t let you boast or patronize because they have the choice to ignore you.
What I love about blogging is the fact that while you go public you stay partially anonymous; you can concentrate on what you are writing and you don’t have to focus on what you are wearing at the moment or what facial expressions you are making. Of course, if you want to take a step further you can record your voice and make a short video of you speaking, which is a BIG step for somebody who’s just stepped out of their comfort zone. I believe this takes a lot of courage; so my admiration for those who have already gone through that stage! 🙂
And one more point to conclude with; some say that social media are rather superficial. But is it really a bad thing that somebody reads your post just because they are trying to be nice to you? Is it really bad if they try to support you with a few positive comments because they know what it feels like to be a newcomer? Is it bad that they read your posts because they want you to read theirs? Yes, it is ….. provided that politeness, support and communication are bad things too….

 
 

Teaching idioms (lesson plan)

Every cloud has a silver lining.

In this post, I’d like to show you a way of presenting idiomatic language to your learners.

There are many ways to teach certain language features, some are more effective than others and not all of them work with all types of learners. But there’s one I believe works for everybody, particularly with idiomatic language. I believe that visualising idioms, i.e. connecting an idiom with an image, helps to bridge the gap between the literal and the figurative meaning. So when teaching idioms, I show my students the picture first and draw their attention to the most salient aspects, and then slowly get to the metaphor the image represents. Later on I analyze the idiom with learners, i. e. we focus on grammar, words it consists of, concentrate on pronunciation, connotations, the degree of formality, etc.

  

Lesson plan:

Hang somebody out to dry.

This is a lesson plan for more advanced students but you can always adjust the content.

Tell your students they are going to learn a new idiom. Remind your students of what an idiom is. Elicit and/or give them plenty of examples they are already familiar with and provide the definition: an idiom cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, and it’s a combination of words that have a figurative meaning, which is separate from its literal definition.

  1. Show your students the picture only (it’s best if you can project it on the screen).
  2. Get them to describe it in detail (in pairs or in groups).
  3. Elicit words connected with the image and put them on the board.
  4. Ask the SS if they can guess the idiom with the words they’ve got. Elicit answers. This stage can be fun, especially with more advanced students. They may come with sentences such as: I feel like a pair of shoes on a clothesline. 🙂
  5. Put the correct idiom Hang somebody out to dry on the board and discuss the literal meaning briefly.
  6. Ask the Ss if they can guess the figurative meaning: to punish somebody for what they did. To help the SS, give them example sentences, such as: Once I find out who’s vandalized my house, I swear I’ll hang them out to dry. Alternatively, you can ask questions such as: How would you feel hanging out on a clothesline? Would it be a reward or a punishment for you? Thus you’ll juxtapose the literal meaning with the figurative meaning. The funny part is always with somebody as opposed to something.
  7. Get your Ss to discuss some questions in pairs/groups. Try to personalize the questions.

    • Have you ever hung someone out to dry for something? What did you do?
    • Would you like to hang somebody out to dry? What for?  

  8. Encourage your Ss to ask their own questions and share them with the class.
  9. You may also want to discuss grammar, especially the irregular vs. regular form of the verb, the infinitive to-form, etc.
  10. Finally, ask the Ss to come up with a similar idiom in their native language. This part is very interesting and challenging.
  11. As a homework assignment (or in class), the students can answer the questions in writing.

You can take your own pictures but I’m creating a database of idioms on http://www.visual-idioms.com/ so feel free to use mine 🙂

Why do I teach? – A list of my negative character traits

A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.
 
I’ve recently come across an interesting post by Sylvia Guinan called Why Do Teachers Teach? I decided to ask myself the question too: Why do I teach?
  1. Because I’m selfish. I like to do things that satisfy me – and teaching satisfies me. And I have to learn to be able to teach, and learning new things satisfies me too.
  2. Because I’m lazy and I love spending two months doing nothing (just connecting with enthusiastic educators all over the world, sharing photos for future educational purposes, learning new things online)
  3. Because I’m childish. I love playing games and I like to pretend that I’m the winner.
  4. Because I’m impulsive – I have the power to incite and I believe the best lessons often result from impulse.
  5. Because I’m unpredictable. If a good idea springs to mind, I change my plan in the course of the lesson. I guess I couldn’t be a pilot.
  6. Because I’m impatient and I want the response and feedback NOW, right at the moment, from the kids (their laughter, smile, happy facial expression).
  7. Because I’m restless. I hate being in the doldrums for too long and teaching is so varied.
  8. Because I’m cunning and I know how to make my students love English and the lessons.
  9. Because I’m gullible and I believe all people are good.
  10. Because I’m obstinate and if I feel something might work with my students, I go for it.

 

    How much one can learn in two months’ time

    I feel that learning and sharing is what keeps me alive.
     
    I had never learned as much as I did during the two months of 2013 summer holidays. This sounds like a perfect opening sentence of my brand-new blog, and it’s true.
    In June 2013, when I joined Twitter, I didn’t even know what a tweet was. It took me hours to find a way through the maze. It took me days to realize that I don’t have to read every tweet and follow everybody. And then Nikki Fortova asked me if I was a member of #czelt on Facebook. So I joined my first ELT community. It was amazing; people I had never met before replied to my questions and liked my comments. Then I somehow found out about #eltpics – a wonderful project that took my breath away. I started sharing photos. And it felt great. I got addicted; I took my camera everywhere with me not to miss an interesting moment. My family went crazy. Then I found out that everybody was blogging and I thought: “Well, I could also have a blog!” So I started blogging. I turned my first blog into a learning & teaching resource. Then I decided I could have a related blog with practical tips for teachers. I started tweeting to promote my blogs. I got some views – mainly from my family and friends 🙂 – and it kept me adding material. It was on Twitter where I found out about this project called The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators. I watched an interview with Vicky Loras. She was interviewed by Shelly S. Terrell. They were both so lively and enthusiastic that I decided to join the Facebook group. And here I am waiting for all the new challenges …I can hardly believe that this all started only two months ago; it feels like ages.