sexta-feira, 29 de julho de 2011

O Que Vale Mais: Aprender Mil Palavras ou Uma Frase?

Pode parecer " chover no molhado", mas quem tem aula comigo vive ouvindo a palavra " self-study" o tempo inteiro e se insisto nisso é que não há outra maneira de aprender inglês, se o processo não contar com você, meu caro learner!

Por essa razão, quando eu entrego a minha avaliação para um aluno, ele nunca ganha um 10. Se ele for mesmo esforçado e tiver ido bem, ele receberá um "A", mas esse A não é o mesmo A que recebemos em nossos exames convencionais, seguindo aquela tradicional sequência de B,C, D; not at all!!! Esse A representa " Active Producer", ou seja, esse aluno não é mais apenas um estudante dependente apenas dos ensinos de um professor, ele também estuda por conta própria e produz aprendizado.

Agora, se ele for mal na avaliação, provavelmente ficará surpreso quando receber um " P" na sua prova:

- Teacher, fui tão mal assim?- ele dirá- Já recebi vários Ds e até Es na vida, mas receber um P? É fim de carreira, né não?

Nada disso! Um aluno " P" é apenas mais um Passive Consumer, alguém que segue passivamente consumindo tudo o que lhe ensinam nas aulas, com a esperança que se obter muita informação, seu canarinho inglês vai poder fazer summer e ele acordará, um dia, como se por um encanto, falando inglês fluentemente. Ora, do que vale mil palavras, se o sujeito não conseguir montar nem uma frase?

Um Active Learner já aprendeu que basta aprender uma frase, para fazer outras mil sentenças. Ao estudar as estruturas de uma frase dentro da sala de aula e pesquisar, por conta própria, outros elementos que possam modificar essa frase, um Active Learner passa a aumentar gradativamente o controle do seu estudo, e com esse controle, surge a confiança de estar finalmente aprendendo; e com essa confiança, logo na sequência, surge o poder da comunicação ativa que somente quem estuda a língua para valer consegue obter, ou seja, a tão esperada fluência!

Professor Frank

quinta-feira, 28 de julho de 2011

If you can't master English, try Globish

By Mary Blume

It happens all the time: during an airport delay the man to the left, a Korean perhaps, starts talking to the man opposite, who might be Colombian, and soon they are chatting away in what seems to be English. But the native English speaker sitting between them cannot understand a word.

They don't know it, but the Korean and the Colombian are speaking Globish, the latest addition to the 6,800 languages that are said to be spoken across the world. Not that its inventor, Jean-Paul Nerrière, considers it a proper language.

"It is not a language, it is a tool," he says. "A language is the vehicle of a culture. Globish doesn't want to be that at all. It is a means of communication."

Nerrière doesn't see Globish in the same light as utopian efforts such as Kosmos, Volapuk, Novial or staunch Esperanto. Nor should it be confused with barbaric Algol (for Algorithmic language). It is a sort of English lite: a means of simplifying the language and giving it rules so it can be understood by all.

"The language spoken worldwide, by 88 percent of mankind, is not exactly English," Nerrière says. "I don't think people who think this gives them an edge are right because it's not useful if they cannot be understood by English speakers." His primer, Parlez Globish, is an attempt to codify worldspeak and since its publication by Eyrolles in Paris last year, he says, his Web site has had almost 36,000 hits.

A retired IBM marketing executive, Nerrière speaks excellent English but switches to Globish if he is not getting through. "I look at their faces. Lack of understanding is very easy to decipher."

The main principles of Globish are a vocabulary of only 1,500 words in English (the OED lists 615,000), gestures and repetition. Grammar will be dealt with in the next volume, "Découvrez le Globish," due next month.

The Web site also includes song lyrics because Nerrière reckons this is an excellent way to learn words, even if they are not on the Globish 1,500. "Strangers in the Night" is one choice, but what is the student to do when Sinatra goes "scoobie-doobie-do"?

"Doesn't matter," Nerrière replies buoyantly. "I saw 'A Chorus Line' three or four times on Broadway and I know all the songs by heart. I never understood the line 'If Troy Donahue can be a movie star you can be a movie star,' but I managed to reproduce it well enough in a way it could be understood."

The point, he says, is to reach the threshold of understanding. But neither threshold nor understanding is on the 1,500-word list. "In Globish it would be the target, the goal, the objective. I use three words to reach the point where you would be understood everywhere."

The list goes from "able" to "zero." Niece and nephew, for example, are not included, "but you can replace them with the children of my brother," Nerrière says. He feels he erred in putting in both beauty and beautiful and in including "much" and "many" but not "lot."

"Much is for ideas, many is for things you can count. A lot works for both cases, the others require a little more understanding."

The seeds for Globish came about in the 1980s when Nerrière was working for IBM in Paris with colleagues of about 40 nationalities. At a meeting where they were to be addressed by two Americans whose flight had been delayed, they started exchanging shoptalk in what Nerrière calls "une certaine forme d'anglais perverti." Then the Americans arrived and beyond their opening phrases, "Call me Jim," "Call me Bill," no one understood a word. And Jim and Bill, needless to say, did not understand perverted English.

One might say that, except for Jim and Bill of course, everyone was speaking Globish though they didn't know it. "They all, like me, spoke low-quality English, not really Globish. One might have a vocabulary of 2,000 words, another of 1,200 and not the same words. One of the things of interest in Globish is that with 1,500 words you can express everything. People all over the world will speak with the same limited vocabulary."

With many corporations imposing English as the lingua franca wherever their base, Nerrière sees a great future for Globish, which he has trademarked. Learning it by computer and practicing it by free-access telephone will make things even easier. And there is a new law in France that gives employees the right to 20 hours per year of instruction in a given subject.

"The idea is to increase their employability by teaching them skills unrelated to their present employment. For me, the odds of someone asking for a course in macramé are very small and the odds of asking for a course in Maltese are also small. Why not Globish? If it could be of use in this small grocery shop where I work maybe it will help me in the big hotel where I hope to be."

There is an other advantage, he argues. "At 20 hours a year you need 24 years to learn English with no result whatsoever since it would be spread too thin for the learner to remember what had been said two weeks earlier. With Globish you not only have free telephone access via the Internet but you could get cheap lessons in places like India where people speak good English and wages are low."

Nerrière reckons that with 182 hours plus learning "Strangers in the Night," the student should be able to communicate in Globish. It is not a pretty language - full of redundancies and lumpy constructions - but Nerrière repeats that it is nothing but a tool when proper English is not understood. "It is not the language of Hamlet, Faulkner or Virginia Woolf," he explains.

But the worst thing for the French about this international language is that it isn't French. Nerrière argues rather subtly that if people learned Globish, the French language would remain unsullied because franglais would die out.

"It would end this crazy French terror about English and francophonie. The French say you are killing the French language and I say, no, we are saving it from being killed by English."

There is one possible hiccup in this scheme. The fluent Globish speaker will not be understood by native English speakers. No problem: Nerrière already is preparing a Globish version in English in addition to the Italian and Spanish editions, which will be out shortly. So he is not only protecting French from invasion but he is getting Americans to become, so to speak, bilingual.

"Absolutely!" Nerrière says triumphantly. "This is the way to get Americans to learn another language."


quarta-feira, 27 de julho de 2011

Even British people can't speak English properly

Everyone knows that you can study the English language for years and still not understand a native speaker of English when you meet one. Everyone knows that native speakers say a lot of things that you can’t find in any dictionary. Well, here’s a secret for you: a lot of British people can’t understand each other either!

There are different regional accents across the UK, and a number of regions have several different dialects i.e. they have their own unique vocabulary and grammatical phrases. There were at least six different accents indigenous to London the last time I counted.

Worse than that, it is not just where a person is born in the UK that decides their accent. For example, a language and its accents often vary across class or level of education. Another example is how language can differ across age-groups in the UK. The words and pronunciations used by young people in the UK can be radically different compared to those used by adults.

Yoof culture

The word “yoof” is a slang spelling of “youth”. Some people consider “yoof” to be a negative term, since its pronunciation is easier and lazier than “youth”. Other people see the term as positive, because it describes how young people are creating their own language, concepts and identity. When parents find it difficult to understand their children, the children can say more things without the censorship of their parents. In this way, young people are starting to find freedom, independence and self-expression. They are creating a “yoof culture”.

It is not possible to come up with a complete list of words used by yoof. By the time the list was completed, it would be out of date. New words come and go like fashions. However, a few features of the yoof style of language are as follows:

Instead of saying something like ‘That’s good!’ or ‘I understand’, yoof will use a single adjective like ‘Safe!’, ‘Sorted!’, ‘Sound!’, ‘Cool!’ or ‘Wicked!’
Instead of ‘She then said no!’, yoof will say ‘She was like: no!’
Instead of ‘…if you understand what I’m saying’, yoof will say ‘kindathing’ or ‘sortathing’
Instead of ‘think’, ‘the’, ‘that’, ‘what’ and ‘because’, yoof will say ‘fink’, ‘da’, ‘dat’, ‘wot’ and ‘coz’
Instead of ‘She’s attractive!’, yoof will say ‘She’s fine!’ or ‘She’s fit!’
Instead of using different tag questions like ‘…isn’t it?’, ‘…can’t you?’ or ‘don’t they’, yoof will use ‘innit’ (e.g. ‘It’s hot, innit!’, ‘You can dance really well, innit!’ or ‘They always say that, innit!’)
Instead of using ‘very’ or ‘really’, yoof will use ‘well’ (e.g. ‘I’m well tired’ or ‘You well got it wrong!’)
Instead of ‘I don’t care!’, a yoof will say ‘Whatever!’.

New social and political language

Certain groups of society feel threatened by “yoof culture” or by the British working classes having more social freedom. As a result, a negative term now commonly used in the UK is “chav”. It is an insult and is meant to describe someone who is uneducated and anti-social (e.g. ‘He’s a chav!’). A young person who wears a jacket with a hood (after all, it rains a lot in the UK) is sometimes called a “hoodie”. It is a negative term and suggests that the young person is interested in committing crime.

Where does that leave us?

Learners of English often feel that the best test of their English is how well they can talk to a native speaker. Yet learners should not worry about communicating with native speakers so much. Research commissioned by the British Council shows that 94% of the English spoken in the world today is spoken between non-native speakers of the language. In fact, when we think about “International English”, there is no such thing as a native or non-native speaker. The UK no longer owns the English language.

terça-feira, 26 de julho de 2011

Indian English or English in India

chillibreeze writer — Dr.Roopa Nishi Viswanathan

Imagine you are an American corresponding with an Indian company. One day, you receive a mail that uses lines such as- “You will be intimated shortly” and ends with a polite note saying “We sincerely hope that you will do the needful at your earliest possible convenience”. Duh! Well, there is no need to panic. This is not some uneducated idiot talking to you. You are just getting a taste of colloquial English, a legacy left behind by the British who controlled India’s education system for decades. Not that the British write like that anymore, but this kind of English (It is not incorrect) often tints the writing of those educated under the old system.

Does that mean that all the weird English you sometimes come across during your communication with Indians is correct? My God! You never knew British English was so different. Now, wait. Indian English may be influenced by the British, but all the proponents of Indian English together cannot defend some grammatical errors typical to some Indian English. Some Indians group all the colloquial usages and the errors together, as “Indian English”. But this so-called “Indian English” is not considered correct by Indian government institutions, such as schools or courts, by eminent writers or by educated Indians who prize grammatically correct English. When you deal with an Indian company or outsource your writing jobs to good companies in India, you do not get Indian English. You get grammatically correct, standard English.

I am against the term “Indian English”. Makes it sound as if all Indians speak incorrect English. Henceforth, in this article I will be replacing that derogatory term with “English in India”. Same thing? Never mind. Makes me feel better.

Let us look at the origins of this “language”. Indians speak countless languages and each of these languages has its own grammar. Accordingly, Indians from different parts of India, especially those who learnt another language before English, speak English as a translation of their own mother tongue using the same grammatical rules. See where that got some of them.

So what are some examples of the so-called Indianisms or incorrect Indian English (I mean English in India)? There are plenty.

Progressive tense in stative verbs
They might say: I am liking it very much.
Instead of: I like it very much.

Differences in noun number and determiners
They might say: She performs many charities.
Instead of: She gives away a lot in charity.

They might say: Let us discuss about this.
Instead of: Let us discuss this.

Incorrect Tag questions
They might say: They did it, no? / He is here, isn’t it?/ She closed the door, did she?
Instead of: They did it, didn’t they? / He is here, isn’t he?/ She closed the door, didn’t she?

Word order variations
They might say: My all closets are empty.
Instead of: My closets are all empty.

They might say: He does this always.
Instead of: He always does this.

Answers to question content
A question “Didn’t you take Rita to school?”
May be answered with: Yes, I didn’t.
Instead of: No, I didn’t.

Inappropriate usage

They might say: Tom was not there but.
Instead of: But Tom was not there.

They might say: I only told her to do that.
Instead of: I told her to do that.

Use of “of”
They might say: She had so much of work to do that…..
Instead of: She had so much work to do that……

Rhyming double-words
They might say: Let’s go out for some ice-cream-vice-cream.
They mean: Let us go out for some ice-cream (ice-cream and stuff).

Overuse of actually/obviously/generally/seriously etc
They might say: Seriously, she is a good person.
Instead of: She is a good person.

They might say: What is your good name?
Instead of: What is your name?

Region-specific errors
A person from the south
Might say: I simply forwarded the mail to my boss.
Instead of: I just forwarded the mail to my boss.

These are just some examples of what you might come across at times. Fine for a good laugh, but none of these are acceptable even in India.

The output of good writers of English in India match those of their counterparts from anywhere in the world. Indian writers have won accolades in the literary world, bagging such prestigious awards like the Booker prize. Bestsellers such as God of Small Things, A Suitable Boy, Satanic Verses, Train to Pakistan, An Equal Music, The Namesake and many others were penned by Indian writers. Elite and educated Indians do not speak or write the so-called Indian English. English in India may have a British hangover but by no means is it vastly different from American English or any other correct English for that matter. Of course, slang is different everywhere in the world. All speakers of English from different parts of the world have added their own flavor to the language and sometimes also speak and/or write erroneous English. For example, a Texan might say “Howdy partner?” but in his business communication use a regular “How are you?” instead! India is no exception. What counts is what is considered correct in books and documentation. And there, all English – whether Indian, American, Australian or British - merge as one single entity. Grammatically correct English is always correct English.

So, if you are thinking about outsourcing your work to India or dealing with reputed Indian companies or hiring an Indian writer, you do not have to be scared of a compromise with “Indian English”. In the world of quality writing, it does not exist.


segunda-feira, 25 de julho de 2011

5 Speaking Rules you need to know!

1. Don't study grammar
This rule might sound strange to many ESL students, but it is one of the most important rules. If you want to pass examinations, then study grammar. However, if you want to become fluent in English, then you should try to learn English without studying the grammar.

Studying grammar will only slow you down and confuse you. You will think about the rules when creating sentences instead of naturally saying a sentence like a native. Remember that only a small fraction of English speakers know more than 20% of all the grammar rules. Many ESL students know more grammar than native speakers. I can confidently say this with experience. I am a native English speaker, majored in English Literature, and have been teaching English for more than 10 years. However, many of my students know more details about English grammar than I do. I can easily look up the definition and apply it, but I don't know it off the top of my head.

I often ask my native English friends some grammar questions, and only a few of them know the correct answer. However, they are fluent in English and can read, speak, listen, and communicate effectively.

Do you want to be able to recite the definition of a causative verb, or do you want to be able to speak English fluently?

2. Learn and study phrases
Many students learn vocabulary and try to put many words together to create a proper sentence. It amazes me how many words some of my students know, but they cannot create a proper sentence. The reason is because they didn't study phrases. When children learn a language, they learn both words and phrases together. Likewise, you need to study and learn phrases.

If you know 1000 words, you might not be able to say one correct sentence. But if you know 1 phrase, you can make hundreds of correct sentences. If you know 100 phrases, you will be surprised at how many correct sentences you will be able to say. Finally, when you know only a 1000 phrases, you will be almost a fluent English speaker.

The English Speaking Basics section is a great example of making numerous sentences with a single phrase. So don't spend hours and hours learning many different words. Use that time to study phrases instead and you will be closer to English fluency.

Don't translate

When you want to create an English sentence, do not translate the words from your Mother tongue. The order of words is probably completely different and you will be both slow and incorrect by doing this. Instead, learn phrases and sentences so you don't have to think about the words you are saying. It should be automatic.

Another problem with translating is that you will be trying to incorporate grammar rules that you have learned. Translating and thinking about the grammar to create English sentences is incorrect and should be avoided.

3. Reading and Listening is NOT enough. Practice Speaking what you hear!
Reading, listening, and speaking are the most important aspects of any language. The same is true for English. However, speaking is the only requirement to be fluent. It is normal for babies and children to learn speaking first, become fluent, then start reading, then writing. So the natural order is listening, speaking, reading, then writing.

First Problem
Isn't it strange that schools across the world teach reading first, then writing, then listening, and finally speaking? Although it is different, the main reason is because when you learn a second language, you need to read material to understand and learn it. So even though the natural order is listening, speaking, reading, then writing, the order for ESL students is reading, listening, speaking, then writing.

Second Problem
The reason many people can read and listen is because that's all they practice. But in order to speak English fluently, you need to practice speaking. Don't stop at the listening portion, and when you study, don't just listen. Speak out loud the material you are listening to and practice what you hear. Practice speaking out loud until your mouth and brain can do it without any effort. By doing so, you will be able to speak English fluently.

4. Submerge yourself
Being able to speak a language is not related to how smart you are. Anyone can learn how to speak any language. This is a proven fact by everyone in the world. Everyone can speak at least one language. Whether you are intelligent, or lacking some brain power, you are able to speak one language.

This was achieved by being around that language at all times. In your country, you hear and speak your language constantly. You will notice that many people who are good English speakers are the ones who studied in an English speaking school. They can speak English not because they went to an English speaking school, but because they had an environment where they can be around English speaking people constantly.

There are also some people who study abroad and learn very little. That is because they went to an English speaking school, but found friends from their own country and didn't practice English.

You don't have to go anywhere to become a fluent English speaker. You only need to surround yourself with English. You can do this by making rules with your existing friends that you will only speak English. You can also carry around an iPod and constantly listen to English sentences. As you can see, you can achieve results by changing what your surroundings are. Submerge yourself in English and you will learn several times faster.

5. Study correct material
A common phrase that is incorrect is, "Practice makes perfect." This is far from the truth. Practice only makes what you are practicing permanent. If you practice the incorrect sentence, you will have perfected saying the sentence incorrectly. Therefore, it is important that you study material that is commonly used by most people.

Another problem I see is that many students study the news. However, the language they speak is more formal and the content they use is more political and not used in regular life. It is important to understand what they are saying, but this is more of an advanced lesson that should be studied after learning the fundamental basics of English.

Studying English with a friend who is not a native English speaker is both good and bad. You should be aware of the pro's and con's of speaking with a non native speaking friend. Practicing with a non native person will give you practice. You can also motivate each other and point out basic mistakes. But you might pick up bad habits from one another if you are not sure about what are correct and incorrect sentences. So use these practice times as a time period to practice the correct material you studied. Not to learn how to say a sentence.

In short, study English material that you can trust, that is commonly used, and that is correct.


sexta-feira, 22 de julho de 2011

Grammar Pet Peeves

by Craig

I read an article the other day in The Huffington Post called "Grammar Pet Peeves: Who, Whom, None Is or Are", by author Robert Lane Green who also wrote "You Are What You Speak". It really struck me because many of the things he wrote about grammar "rules" match my thoughts on the topic.

Language does not follow rules. Rules do not control language. Rules were only created to try to explain language. You can read some of my thoughts on grammar rules in "Grammar or Content", "Fluency vs Accuracy", "Breaking the Chains" and "What is the Purpose of Language". Rules can guide us and help us understand language, but they should not be the primary focus for most language learners.

In Mr. Green's words:

"Many people think of language as a set of rules; break them, and you're Wrong. But that's not how language works. There are different degrees of wrongness, and there's not a bright line between the degrees--and many things that people think are wrong aren't."

I encourage you to read the article yourself, but there are a couple things the author mentioned about tricky, obsolete and disputed rules that I'd like to repeat here, as well as "non-rules" and regional & formality differences.

One rule Mr. Green called "tricky" that I would call "obsolete" is the use of "whom" (object pronoun) vs "who" (subject pronoun). In actual, everyday language, "whom" is disappearing, as most native American English speakers use "who" for both objects and subjects.

He also mentioned "disputed" rules, and as an example he gave the dispute over "None of us is leaving" vs "None of us are leaving". I mentioned another commonly disputed grammar point in "There is -or- There are". Internet forums and language blogs are full of debates by language professionals over this rule or that, proving that it is not always as clear as some would like you to believe.

Then there are the "non-rules", which Mr. Green describes as someone's grammatical pet peeves that somehow made their way into grammar books and teaching, but they are not real rules. These can include things like starting sentences with conjunctions or ending sentences with prepositions.

Speaking of ending sentences with prepositions, it reminds me of a funny story from one of my favorite TV series, Designing Women:

Charlene to rich lady: Where y'all from?

Rich lady: I don't speak to people who end their sentences with a preposition.

Charlene: Oh. Where y'all from, BITCH?

Finally, he talks about formality and regional differences. We generally use different language in formal and informal situations. For example writing generally calls for more formal language and speaking is generally more informal. Additionally, native English speaking people from different countries or even different regions within the same country speak differently. It is not exactly accurate or appropriate to lable one as "correct" and the other as "incorrect".

Don't worry, though. There are some grammar rules that are fairly solid, for example "She is here" is absolutely correct, whereas "She are here" is absolutely incorrect.

Mr. Green closes his article with this paragraph, with which I totally agree:

It's not easy keeping track of so many kinds of right or wrong. It'd be so much easier simply to memorize one set of rules and let that be that. But it's much more rewarding to develop a feel for the different things we mean when we say "correct," and much more interesting too.

So to all of us language learners, I will close by repeating what I've often said. You will go much further in your language learning if you focus more on ideas and communication and less on rules and regulations.


Please share your feedback on this or any other post and visit my main web site at:

quinta-feira, 21 de julho de 2011

Am I an English Teacher?

by Craig

When I think of what a teacher does, especially a teacher in Taiwan, I imagine a person standing in front of a large group of students lecturing about a topic and writing things on a board. The students listen, take notes and do homework, hopefully learning something in the process. Maybe this is overgeneralizing, because every teacher and every class is different, but at least in Taiwan, I believe this describes the typical classroom and the role of a typical teacher.

That is not me at all, and I don't believe this arrangement works very well for language learning. I don't stand in front of a class, lecturing grammar rules, vocabulary words or idiom lists while students fall asleep... I mean listen carefully and presumably absorb English. This is not how to learn language and just not my style.

So what does that make me? Am I still an English teacher if I don't stand in front of a class and "teach"? If not "English teacher", then, what word best describes my job and what I do?

Language learning is an active process. You have to really want it and do something about it. A person can't learn a language just by passively listening to a teacher lecture grammar rules and word lists. Learning a language requires action: input (listening & reading), processing the input (figure out what it means) and then output (speaking & writing).

The most helpful role I can play in this process, therefore, is to guide and assist the learner in their efforts. I direct learners to material at a level they can mostly understand, or figure out with a little effort, help them to understand and process it, and then provide opportunities to use it, correcting errors when appropriate.

The best word I can think of that describes this role is "facilitator". From



1. to make easier or less difficult; help forward (an action, a process, etc.)

2. to assist the progress of (a person)

This is exactly my role; helping people to make progress.

I am a facilitator! If you are trying to learn English, understand that it takes some effort and need someone to guide you along the way, then I can help.

Please share your feedback on this or any other post and visit my main web site at:

quarta-feira, 20 de julho de 2011

Grammar Pet Peeves: Who, Whom, None Is Or Are?

By Robert Lane Greene

Many people think of language as a set of rules; break them, and you're Wrong. But that's not how language works. There are different degrees of wrongness, and there's not a bright line between the degrees--and many things that people think are wrong aren't. I'm the office language-nerd at work, and also have tried to explain why so much scorn about how other people speak or write is misinformed or misguided in a book. I didn't get a chance to do this in the book, but herewith, I offer a taxonomy of language mistakes and non-mistakes, as a way of helping people think about what's right and wrong:

Rules everyone knows: These are the language rules that even a three-year-old knows: "Steve is here," not "Steve am here." These are the bedrock of the language, and there are so many thousands of them that most people don't think of them as rules in their own language because they're not what most people think of as "rules": the difficult ones that are drilled into you in school.

Standard but tricky: Many people are tripped up, for example, by "whom." "Whom" is still part of standard English, though it is so misused, even by people who are trying, that it may not survive forever. Rules in this category are also routinely ignored in speech.

Obsolescent rules: Sticklers insist on many usages that are now too late to save. I like the old philosophical-logical phrase "to beg the question," which means to try to sneak the conclusion of your argument into one of your assumptions. But the usage "to raise the question" is so much more common that I've nearly given this one up.

Disputed rules: Many sticklers insist, for example, on "None of us is leaving," but common speech often has this as "None of us are leaving." But the great English rulebook writer H.W. Fowler, among others, weighed in in favor of "none are" in his 1926 "Dictionary of Modern English Usage." Some questions are simply not settled, and you should check your pockets after talking with anyone who insists that they are.

Non-rules: A long list of peeves on the part of single individuals that somehow made it into grammar books and teaching materials. Most famously, great writers have split infinitives and ended sentences with prepositions for centuries, yet somehow bans on both usages became "rules" that have been taught to millions of speakers in English, in contravention of their own good sense for their native language. The linguist Arnold Zwicky has called the most persistent of these "zombie rules": like the two above, they've been shown as bogus in many good usage books, yet still survive thanks to many a provincial schoolmarm.

Formality differences: Speech and writing can have two different sets of rules, though many people are uncomfortable with this idea. If you knock on a door and your wife asks "Who is it?," if you're in the small category of people who say "It is I" you could use a refresher on the concept of "register": formality has its place, but so does informality, and usages like "It's me" has been part of living English forever.

Regional differences: Brits not only have different words from Americans (lift, motorway) but some subtle bits of grammar: "You should see that movie." "I will do," says the British-English speaker, using one more word than Americans do. To label regional differences "wrong" is one of the worst kinds of provincialism.

Dialect differences: This is tricker, but linguists have known forever that Black, Southern, Scots, Irish and many other kinds of English differ from the standard not randomly (because their speakers are lazy) but systematically. They are rule-bound varieties of language just like the standard is, with the main difference that they're not written down as often and have historically lacked prestige. That doesn't make them wrong; it does make them inappropriate for settings that call for standard English. But book-standard English is wrong for many other circumstances, a fact too often forgotten.

House style: "August ninth" or "August 9th?" "E-mail" or "email?" I have read the rant of a copy-editor who is convinced that there is a simple black-and-white answer to the question of "douche bag" versus "douchebag." But this is ridiculous: all these questions and many others are matters of house style, not correctness per se. It's good to keep one house style for a single publication, but for God's sake don't lose sleep over these as a matter of correctness.

Personal taste: I've heard that the New York Times bans "should" from editorials, since saying it relieves the writer of explaining why something should happen; the verb does it all. Bloomberg's business-wire service bans "but" from all copy (except direct quotations). This isn't grammar but style.

It's not easy keeping track of so many kinds of right or wrong. It'd be so much easier simply to memorize one set of rules and let that be that. But it's much more rewarding to develop a feel for the different things we mean when we say "correct," and much more interesting too.


terça-feira, 19 de julho de 2011

Loving The English Language, Or Loving To Complain About It?

By Robert Lane Greene

Everyone has a language peeve. Mine is "literally," a great word with no close synonym. When used as a mere intensifier or to mean simply "It felt as though..." it has almost no kick at all. And when misused, it can be spectacular: what Lindsey Graham recently said of an American program to turn weapons-grade plutonium into reactor fuel for peaceful energy. Truly this is a good thing, but Graham probably shouldn't have said that "the United States is literally taking nuclear swords and turning them into plowshares." My first thought was that it was pretty sweet that DARPA had finally invented nuclear swords. My second was, "But who wants a nuclear plowshare? Would you eat vegetables out of a field plowed with one?"

So I'd like to keep "literally" meaning "not figuratively," and every time I see it used to mean "figuratively" I sigh a little sigh. You certainly have your peeves too. Maybe it's "Between you and I." Maybe it's "Jenny and myself are going to have to think that over." There are enough to fill many books, and indeed they have filled many books--some of them bestsellers. All of us who love language hate to see it used incompetently.

But I got the idea for my recent book by noticing that there seemed to be more than defending the language going on when people talked about this or that usage. Take Black English: linguists have long known that it's a regular dialect of English with its own consistent internal rules, like Scots or Southern White English. But while most people know that it's unacceptable to make fun of someone's skin color, they feel free to make fun of their language. Zach Galifinakis has a joke about using lots of Axe body spray, though since he lives in a black neighborhood, he calls it "Ask". It's a pretty good joke, and he defuses it by saying "If you didn't get that, you're not a racist." But many people really think that "aks" in Black English is mouth-breathing stupidity, rather than merely dialectal. It has a long history in English, even appearing in Chaucer: "I axe, why the fyfte man Was nought housbond to the Samaritan?"

In other words, there's nothing wrong with treasuring good English. But people confuse "grammatical" and "good." "Correct" English is often plodding or incompetent. Meanwhile, many people who aren't one hundred-percent fluent in standard English are nonetheless brilliant, charismatic and persuasive--I should know, as my father, who could charm a fish out of water, was an earthy, profane southerner, and not exactly Henry Higgins when it came to "proper" English.

Too many people take the step beyond caring for their language to enjoying laying scorn on others who use it differently. This is several different problems at the same time. One is, as mentioned, the bigotry against dialectal English, apparently the last form of prejudice acceptable even in polite, liberal company. It's important for African-Americans (as for all Americans) to master standard English, but part of that bargain should be accepting that their language, like my dad's Southern White English, deserves a place too, and one without scorn.

The second way in which people go wrong with language peeving is simply picking the wrong peeves. There are many "rules" that are "known" to copy editors and sticklers everywhere that simply aren't so. Famously, the ban on splitting infinitives and another on ending sentences in prepositions have both been known to be bogus by quality grammar-book writers for at least a century. But these "rules" seem unkillable. So do many other more rarified ones, which seem to live on so that copy-editors can one-up each other: Use "each other" for two people but "one another" for three or more. Use "that" for restrictive clauses like "the house that Jack built", but "which" for non-restrictive ones like "the house, which Jack built,..." But these and so many others are not "rules": they began life as one grammar-book writer's fetish and made their way into print to plague us with an endless game of grammar-gotcha.

So by all means, treasure language. But don't let your love for good English mean disdain for people who don't use it exactly as you do. Part of a healthy love for language is an understanding of the many different forms it takes. Dialects are healthy parts of real communities. Changes to a language are natural, not simply degrading. Even if my friend "literally" doesn't survive, quality English will.


segunda-feira, 18 de julho de 2011

Best teaching method



The choice made by teachers and tutors as to which English-teaching methodology is best depends on a number of factors.

These factors include the language needs of the learners, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, the availability of resources and teaching tools, course objectives, and programme duration.

The teacher’s teaching skills and personality should also be taken into account.

The personal language needs of individual learners are of paramount importance in planning any English course.

When teaching English as an additional or second language, two aspects come to the fore — pronunciation and grammar.

However, if a learner is to develop superior English language talents, a comprehensive teaching approach is required that focuses on all the macro skills.

These include both receptive skills (reading, listening and viewing) and productive skills (speaking, writing and interpreting).

Learners for whom English is an additional language (EAL) have to contend with issues that primary English speakers don’t, such as English sounds that do not exist in their native language, words and concepts for which there are no native language equivalents, and even religious inhibitions.

EAL teachers must be “culturally conscious” to the point of researching ethnic diversity and differences.

For example, a simple factor like age can determine the “sophistication” of the teaching methodology adopted, especially when members of a teaching group vary greatly in age and maturity.

Likewise, gender can influence which teaching resources are applied in the learning process, and can also affect the seating arrangement of a teaching environment.

The availability of technology and tools will determine whether some e-learning programs can be used. The absence of computers, audio systems, CD-DVD players and equipment such as LCD projectors, can hinder accelerated learning.

Moreover, self-paced learning programmes can be inhibited and the use of self-learning and language-discovery techniques can be greatly restricted.

Here are some general points for teachers and learners of EAL to consider:

·Learners need as much exposure to the language as possible.

Mastering English requires using it in a myriad of appropriate communicative circumstances – on a daily basis, and not just a few hours a week in a classroom.

·Learners need regular, directed input from teachers and tutors.

Self-discovery is a “feel good” concept for many modern linguists.

However, experience has shown that the learning process is accelerated when learners are taught about the language and are guided and directed by competent, professional teachers.

·Teaching goals need to centre on learners understanding the attributes of English.

Teachers need to impart skills that repair, reinforce and raise learners’ communicative talents in any situation — not just knowing how to say and write words.

·Learners need to be able to accelerate the self-learning process.

This is done by acquiring the art of “skills transfer”, whereby the knowledge they gain about one word (how it is spoken and spelt), is transferred to other related words, for example: convention > inventor > preventative.

·Real-life, simulated, situational language experiences — applying to rent an apartment, for example — certainly enhance personal conversational confidence.

However, they are not enough alone to achieve English competency.

·Learners need to be prepared to be constantly self-correcting, and self-critical of their own language proficiency. They need to also be willing to accept constructive comment from others whose opinions they respect.

·Self-discovery has a part to play in the learning of a second language, but appropriate input will always significantly maximise the learning outcome.

·The acquisition of both quality vocabulary and grammar skills is a prerequisite to being a superior English speaker and writer.

The enhancement and refinement of vocabulary and grammar talents requires a problem –solution approach, as well as practice, practice and practice!

·Learners should be encouraged to experiment with the new language for themselves by using new, different and superior words when speaking or writing on a daily basis.

Using the thesaurus is a great way to discover new words.

Learners need to see early results from their initial learning efforts and quickly come to believe they can do it.

·Anxiety, stress and competition within a teaching setting need to be minimised for effective language learning.

·Learners need to enjoy learning and “own” the new language they are acquiring.

When the objective is to quickly and effectively develop, repair, reinforce and refine individual English language skills, this column contends that The 4S Approach To Literacy And Language is the most effective methodology available to the modern English teacher today.

However, regardless of the method chosen by the teacher, the most important consideration should be the ultimate benefits for the learner.

n Keith Wright is the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language (4S) — a modern, innovative and proven method of accelerating the learning of English.

He is also the Director of International Language Academy (ILA).

The 4S methodology and the associated Accelerated English Program (AEP) mentioned in this fortnightly column are now being used internationally to enhance the English language proficiency of people from a diverse range of cultures and with different competency levels.


sexta-feira, 15 de julho de 2011

Brick by Brick

- Professor! Vou desistir do curso! - diz o estudante - Eu nunca vou aprender inglês. Não tem jeito!

- ... - respondo!

- Teacher, eu não consigo me comunicar, lembrar dos vocabulários, entender os filmes sem legendas- ele continua- Não consigo mesmo aprender!

- ... - continuo em silêncio.

- Pro, e se eu viajar para fora? E se tivermos mais cinco aulas por semana? Por favor, me ajuda!!! Buááá!!! Teach, por favor me dá uma luz!!!

Assim que eles acabam de chorar e voltam a respirar normalmente, com a voz calma e firme, digo:

- Já acabou? - eles fazem o gesto de " sim" com a cabeça - Podemos voltar ao estudo?

"Learning English is like building a house; brick by brick, you need to have patience, dedication and learn how to deal with the frustrations."

Lidar com as frustrações naturais de um processo complexo de aprendizagem é um dos grandes desafios dos estudantes de inglês. Pois, são essas frustrações que os levam a desistir de continuar estudando e os levam a boicotar o processo.
Essas frustrações são consequências óbvias das falsas expectativas e da ação de marketing das escolas de inglês que prometem " fluência" em 8 semanas. Ou seja, depois de tanta lavagem cerebral dos métodos espalhafatosos e técnicas mirabolantes, os estudantes não conseguem compreender que não podemos construir uma casa, começando pelo teto. E tão preocupados eles ficam com o teto da casa, que se esquecem de preparar uma boa estrutura para erguê-la.

Construir o alicerce de uma casa é tão importante e requer muita concentração e esforço, pois será a base que sustentará tudo o que vier depois. Sendo assim, aprender como as frases são montadas, e ter paciência para perceber que, obviamente, no inicio não conseguimos nos comunicar é o mesmo que entender que é preciso sedimentar o terreno e colocar os primeiros tijolos, antes de mudar para dentro de uma casa que ainda nem tem parede.
Saber reconhecer o que já foi alcançado ( the garden) te ajudará muito mais do que soltar os cachorros ( let the dogs out) e chorar de frustração pelo que você ainda não consegue fazer.

" Instead of " letting the dogs out", you need to look after your flowers, it means, look at all the progress you have done ( your garden) "

Uma vez que conseguimos construir a base (the structure), as paredes ( the grammar), e colocar um teto ( the vocabulary); precisamos, a partir daí, cuidar dos encanamentos (the self-correction), dos fios elétricos ( the self-study), e da pintura (the pronunciation and spelling) para podermos receber os primeiros visitantes, ou seja, começar a nos comunicar com os outros.

"Don't be afraid of speaking your mind with the visitors ( other people, clients, etc). Make the most of the opportunity and practice it."

É nesse momento, que começa o medo de se comunicar, de falar errado e de aproveitar as oportunidades para praticar, e é esse medo de errar que leva, naturalmente, a segunda grande frustração:

- Professor, eu não consigo entender tudo! - reclama o aluno- Eles dizem muitas palavras que eu não consigo entender! O que há de errado comigo?
- Você consegue entender 100% em português?- digo!
- Não!
- Por que você acha que seria diferente em inglês? Comunicação é um treino constante: continue!
- E se eu falar algo errado em inglês?
- Você fala sempre certo em português?
- Não! Eu erro de vez em quando. Todo mundo erra!
- E isso te impede de se comunicar?

" After your house is built, it is very common for you to have problems with the pipes and the power: your pipe get blocked or maybe the electric plugs don't work properly. Instead of wasting all your energy by " letting the dogs out" again, do something about it and repair it. The same about your English, from time to time, our communication might get blocked by the pressure of the moment or because of an odd accent, but instead of letting your dogs out..."

Sim, aprender outro idioma é mais do que estudar gramática e fazer as lições do livro. Passar de níveis em uma escola de inglês não é garantia de comunicação, e esse é o grande problema que vejo em todos os alunos, não importa se eles estão começando agora ou se já estão estudando há décadas. Dai, a importância de ser bem instruído em seus estudos e ter confiança em quem te ensina a se comunicar.

"To be able to communicate is only possible if we trust on our teachers and on ourselves."

Portanto, cuide bem do que você já consegue fazer; tenha orgulho do que você já consegue entender; e estabeleça objetivos reais para o seu inglês. E se a frustração bater na sua porta, respire fundo e a deixe passar... Só entra na sua casa, quem você deixa entrar!

quinta-feira, 14 de julho de 2011

English language: Cockney rhyming slang

(C) Keith Park

I have written quite a few hubs in the past about various aspects of the English language such as Yorkshire dialect, UK slang and UK slang the sequel. A comment on one of these from Hubber Billy decided me on this hub.

Cockney rhyming slang is traditionally spoken by those Londoners within the sound of Bow Bells, or so I believe. I live far away from London in Yorkshire and although I have visited this capital city know little about cockney rhyming slang. However, in common with most other British people I do know a few cockney slang phrases. So let's see what I can dig up on this subject.

Cockney rhyming slang carried over to currency and, for example, a Pony is 25

No prizes for guessing the rhyming slang here.

Some of the most common cockney rhyming slang phrases that seem to be almost universally known are:

Up the apples and pears: STAIRS
Mince pies: EYES
Pony and trap: CRAP. Pardon the language please.
Would you Adam and Eve it: Would you BELIEVE IT.
Your boat race: FACE
Tea leaf: THIEF
The trouble and strife: THE WIFE
Luvverly jubbely: ALL'S WELL
Syrup of figs: WIG
Farmer Giles: PILES or hemorrhoids.
If you are brown bread: You are DEAD
Battle cruiser: BOOZER, which is another name for a pub.
Now I have written those few samples I guess they may not be universally known. However, at least a few should be known around the UK. With comedy shows such as Only Fools and Horses examples of Cockney rhyming slang, real and fake, are often heard. A classic from the is series was a Ruby Murray which meant a CURRY.

So where did all this strange talk come from, I hear you ask?

With no definite history written it generally seems to be thought that cockney rhyming slang was the talk on the streets in years gone by. In fact it appears that it was the slang of thieves and rogues. In other words cockney rhyming slang was a type of secret language. Messages could be passed to the intended recipient without fear of being overheard. If someone did overhear they had no idea what the conversation was about.

Very clever really, and certainly crafty.

This cockney language was particularly useful when it was invented in the 19th century for use in front of police officers or coppers, as they were often called. Instead of saying a word out loud a word that rhymed with was used instead. With time parts of the phrase were dropped which caused more confusion to non cockneys. However for cockneys it helped confidentiality. An example of this is Daisy Roots which means Boots. These days cockneys would tend to say Daisies for Boots.

Confused? Well hopefully not too much so. Here are some more phrases which you may find entertaining. I have tried to stay clear of expletives or words that some may find offensive but I cannot guarantee this.

Jam jar: CAR
Cream crackered: KNACKERED
Dicky bird: WORD
Dog and bone: PHONE
Currant bun: SUN
Donkey's ears: YEARS
Bacon and eggs: LEGS
Whistle and flute: SUIT
Weasel and float: STOAT
Lemon squeezy: EASY
Loaf of bread: HEAD
Rabbit and pork: TALK
Jimmy Riddle: PIDDLE which is another word for urinate.
Bread and honey: MONEY
Barnett fair: HAIR
Army and navy: GRAVY
Artful Dodger: LODGER
Butcher's hook: LOOK
Richard the third: TURD
Of course the lists above are by no means exhaustive.

In order to cope with modern day life new cockney phrases are being created all the time. Even the old phrases are adapted at times. It is quite common for a couple of Cockney rhyming slang words or phrases to be strung together. Take for example:

Get yer Bacons up the Apples and Stairs: Get your legs upstairs. In reality this could mean go or come upstairs.
Me jam jar's cream crackered: Me car is knackered. In reality this would be my car has broke down.
Finally Cockney rhyming slang was used for describing various notes and coins of the realm. English currency was not called such mundane names as a five pound note and the like. Instead they were:

Archer = £2000
Bag of Sand = £1000
Grand = £1000
Monkey = £500
Ton = £100
Carpet = £30
Pony = £25
Macaroni = £25
Apple Core = £20
Score = £20

Speckled Hen = £10
Uncle Ben = £10
Nigel Ben = £10
Paul McKenna = £10
Ayrton (Senna) = Tenner = £10
Lady (Godiva) = Fiver = £5
Taxi Driver = Fiver = £5
Nicker or Quid = £1
Ten Bob Bit = 50p piece
Oxford = 5 shillings
Lord of the Manor = Tanner (sixpence)
Tanner = sixpence

Some of the coins are no longer valid. Decimalisation changed the face of British currency forever. However most of the note denominations still exists.

These days the term cockney is often used about anyone living in London, which is strictly speaking not true. If you visit our capital city though try not to bandy about cockney rhyming slang unless you are confident of the company you are keeping.


quarta-feira, 13 de julho de 2011

How to improve your english skills

Fluency vs Accuracy
by Craig

Fluency is basically the ability to communicate (understand and be understood), whereas accuracy is whether or not you make mistakes. Which one you feel is most important depends on your purpose. If you are traveling in a foreign country or trying to do business with a foreigner, fluency is probably more important. If you are taking a test or writing an essay or important business e-mail, then accuracy becomes very important. For most English learners, though, fluency is generally more useful than accuracy.

As I'd written before in the post "What is the Purpose of Language?", schools in Taiwan teach English grammar rules day-after-day, generally in Chinese, so students have little chance to actually pratice listening to and speaking English even though they have English class 5 days a week. Grammar rules are taught like mathematical formulas, which students are expected to memorize. Students have no chance to communicate in English and therefore their fluency is very low. What good is learning a language if not to communicate?

A few years ago, the mom of one of my high school students asked me to tutor her son, his sister and their cousin at their home once a week. The goal, as I understood it, was to improve their speaking ability, therefore I took them activities we could use for speaking practice. I didn't plan to teach them grammar much since they had been taught grammar in their schools for years and years, and really needed more opportunities to speak. The mom, who was herself an English teacher, challenged me once about why I didn't correct their mistakes more often. I explained that part of their reluctance to speak was because they were afraid of looking foolish or being punished for making mistakes. They could benefit more from speaking practice even if they made a few mistakes. Being a very traditional Taiwanese teacher, she seemed shocked at my answer and I could tell she strongly disagreed with my approach. Sorry, but that is why your kids can't speak English.

The reason I thought about this story is because one of my business students recently asked for advice on how to improve his English. He said that his English test scores in school were very bad. I told him not to worry because I know many people who get very good test scores in English but can hardly speak a word (accurate but not fluent), while others I know got very low test scores but can communicate very effectively (fluent but not accurate). Surely in most situations, communicating (fluency) is more important than a test score (accuracy).

So my answer to his question was to get more fluency practice, not study more rules. Listen and read as much material as possible that is at, or slightly above, his level then use it as much as possible.

Input (reading & listening) you can understand, or at least figure out, should be the foundation of your language learning. I wrote a little about this subject in my post "Grammar or Content". If you can not understand what you hear on the radio, TV or at the movies, there are many free web sites that provide listening practice such as Voice of America and ESLPod. Reading practice is easy, with many magazines, text books and websites with articles at any level.

Getting practice using what you've learned might be more difficult, but not impossible. You could enroll in a conversation class, hire a private tutor or arrange a language exchange with someone who is trying to learn your language. You could also join a church, social club or sports club where there are foreigners with whom you could chat.

The bottom line is that your language ability will improve faster and you will be able to communicate better this way than by studying grammar rules. Don't worry so much about making mistakes, just talk!!


terça-feira, 12 de julho de 2011

Tune Your Ear

by Craig

Listening comprehension can be challenging when you learn a foreign language. I wrote about it preveiously here, but I want to revisit the topic.

One of my students recently expressed his frustration about not being able to understand the English he hears on the TV, the radio or on the podcast sites I'd recommended to him. I told him to keep at it, because even if he can't understand what he hears, he's getting used to English sounds. I call this "tuning your ear".

When I was in university, I'd studied French for a year before going on a summer study program to France. I was also frustrated in the beginning because I couldn't understand what was being said around me. After a couple weeks of being surrounded by French, though, I started to recognize more words. Even if I didn't always understand what the word meant, I could recognize it, and even imagine how it was spelled. Later, either by learning it in class, from looking it up in a dictionary or even just figuring it out from context, I could more easily attach the meaning to the sound.

A similar thing happened to me when I first moved to Taiwan. Josh was showing me around the neighborhood and telling me all the street names, but because I was TOTALLY unfamiliar with the sounds of Mandarin, I had no idea what he was saying. He got really angry at me when he realized I was no longer listening, but I told him he might as well have been speaking Martian. After being in Taiwan for a while, though, I started becoming more familiar with Mandarin sounds and then more easily connected the word to the sound I was hearing.

Both of these experiences remind me of the old Charlie Brown cartoons. When the kids in Charlie Brown cartoons speak (Charlie Brown and his friends), you can understand them. They speak English. When an adult speaks, however, all you hear is "wah wah wah wah wah". When I first went to France, or when I first came to Taiwan, all I heard was "wah wah wah wah" (in different accents). You can listen to this clip from a Charlie Brown cartoon to see what I mean:

So when you are learning a new language, you should "tune your ear" to the sounds by getting as much listening practice as you can, even if you don't understand the words very well. As your ear becomes accustomed to the sounds of that language, you will gradually start to recognize more words. Once you are able to recognize the words, you will more easily be able to attach their meaning to them.


segunda-feira, 11 de julho de 2011

Improve English Listening Comprehension

by Craig

The key to learning a language is getting input that you can understand, or at least easily figure out. It's how we learn our native language and how we learn foreign languages. We start small, with very easy, simple input and gradually increase the difficulty. Language teachers guide learners through this process by matching material to the learner's ability to maximize their language development.

One source of language input is reading. By reading material at or slightly above your language ability is the best way to build your vocabulary and learn sentence patterns: see them in action. Another important source of language input is listening. By listening to English, students can hear proper pronunciation and tune their ear to English sounds. Listening can also help build vocabulary and learn grammar. Both reading and listening are important ways to get language input, essential for learning. I've written about ways to get English reading material in previous posts, so now I would like to focus on how to get some listening practice.

For English learners who don't have the opportunity to live in an English speaking country, getting listening practice can be difficult. In large cities like Taipei, there are more native English speakers than in rural areas, but you may not have many chances to speak with them. In Taiwan we have ICRT on the radio, but for many English learners the speaking is too fast and too difficult. On TV, we have CNN International and a few movie channels, but these also may be too difficult for many learners to understand. So where can people get listening practice at a level that is right for them?


You can find many sites on the Internet that provide free English lessons, including MP3's for listening practice. On my main web site, there is a Useful Sites link with information on some excellent sources for free online English practice and I will add more, so visit often.

One of my favorite sites is There are over 600 2-person dialogs on a wide variety of subjects. The dialogs include useful expressions and idioms commonly used in day-to-day conversations, many of which you won't find in text books. The site includes the MP3 and a transcript of the basic dialog for free! They also offer the option of paying for a more complete study guide, but the free material is very good.

Another site that I often recommend for listening practice is Voice of America Special English. You can read and listen to stories on current events, business, culture, arts, entertainment, US history, health, education and more. What makes VOA Special English useful for English learners is that they speak very slowly and clearly, much more so than the news broadcasts on the radio or TV.

Getting English input you can understand, or figure out with a little effort, is essential for learning. Even if you are taking English classes or have an English tutor, reading and listening must be a part of your regular routine...


quinta-feira, 7 de julho de 2011

Baby Talk

William: Hello! Hi! My name's William. I'm six years old and this is my best friend, Wang Fei.

Wang Fei: Oh… hello everybody.

William: (Yawn) I feel sleepy! It’s almost time for beddy-byes!

Wang Fei: Er… William, why are you speaking so strangely?

William: I'm pretending that I’m six years old.

Wang Fei: Six years old! No wonder you sound more intelligent than normal.

William: Ha ha, very funny. Well, the reason I'm talking like a six-year-old is that last Sunday, 15 May, was International Day of the Family. So I thought it might be nice to look at some language which is used by children and with children.

Wang Fei: So is the language used with children special in some way?

William: Yeah, I think in English, like in any language, you wouldn’t use difficult words when you are talking to young children. And probably, like in any language, there are some special words that we tend to use only with children.

Wang Fei: Special words… such as?

William: Such as the phrase that I used a moment ago, beddy-byes.

Wang Fei: Beddy-byes. What's this?

William: Well, if I say, 'beddy-byes', that means, 'time for bed'. Let’s listen to this clip of a father talking to his little boy. As you listen, see if you can hear some other examples of baby talk.


Father: Come on Alex, beddy-byes! Beddy-byes! Have you got your teddy? Put on your jim-jams. Put on your jim-jams - that’s it! On they go. Jump into bed, then. Sleepy time!

Shall I sing you a song? “Twinkle, Twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.” Night-night!

Wang Fei: In that clip, I heard the man say 'jim-jams'.

William: Yes, he said 'put on your jim-jams'. Jim-jams is a baby phrase for pyjamas – the clothes that we wear to sleep in. He also made sure that his little boy had his teddy, his soft cuddly toy.

Wang Fei: And then at the end, he didn’t say goodnight to him.

William: No, he said 'nighty-night'. Now, there was a lot of language in that clip, so let’s hear it again.


Father: Come on Alex, beddy-byes! Beddy-byes! Have you got your teddy? Put on your jim-jams. Put on your jim-jams - that’s it! On they go. Jump into bed, then. Sleepy time!

Shall I sing you a song? “Twinkle, Twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.” Night-night!

William: (as a six-year-old) Wang Fei, do you want to see my teddy?

Wang Fei: Er… not really.

William: Here he is! He’s called Badger.

Wang Fei: A badger?! Oh, wow, he looks so old and… tired. Why? Where are his eyes?

William: Well, he's been cuddled a lot. And, Wang Fei, do you want to see my jim-jams?

Wang Fei: No, I think we should end today's programme here, because I can tell that William is getting ready for beddy-byes.

William: Look, Wang Fei, they’re blue and they've got racing cars on!

Wang Fei: I don’t want to see! I don’t want to see! Goodbye!

To listen the original sound of this program go :