Archive for February, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Survey: Grammar Faux Pas or Language Change?

By Richard Firsten
Retired ESOL Teacher, Teacher-Trainer, Columnist, Author

I’ve written a couple of pieces for “Teacher Talk” dealing with my observations on how more and more educated English speakers seem to be using the language these days. For the most part, I avoided judging what I listed; I just wanted to point things out and have you think seriously about whether or not the discrete points I focused on should be taught or at least mentioned to students at the appropriate level and time.

What I’d like to do now is offer a little survey to find out what you guys think about 15 items I’m going to list. Please read over each of the following sentences that are reproduced verbatim from what I observed educated English speakers saying on numerous occasions. Then decide whether each sentence sounds acceptable to you or unacceptable. (I know you’ll be honest!☺) Of course you can add any thoughts you have about each sentence or a particular part of each sentence. Your thoughts will be most welcome!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Champagne Changed my Teaching

By Tamara Jones
EAL Instructor, British School of Brussels

Two Tours in Champagne

Although neither my husband nor I are Champagne experts, we do like a glass of bubbly from time to time. So, over a recent long weekend, my husband and I drove to the Champagne region of France. Our first stop was at the famous Tattinger Champagne house in Reims. There, we took a tour of the caves lead by an English-speaking guide. We learned where the grapes for Champagne are grown, how the bottles are turned periodically, and how they get the bubbles into the bottle.

After our tasting, we left the city of Reims and began to drive along the touristic Champagne route described in our guidebook. It is a beautiful drive, peppered by plenty of smaller Champagne houses along the way. After passing a few of them, we decided to stop at the Bernard Chauvet et Fils Champagne house. Our experience was completely different at this Champagne house. The tour was shorter, the tasting was free, and the proprietor spoke no English whatsoever. The tour and demonstration was entirely in French.

Now, as you might know if you are a regular reader of this blog, I have sporadically been studying French. However, my vocabulary is certainly not technical enough that I would have been able to understand what the proprietor of the smaller Champagne house was saying had I not seen a similar demonstration at the Tattinger house earlier that day.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Food isn’t Just for Eating

By Richard Firsten
Retired ESOL Teacher, Teacher-Trainer, Columnist, Author

If you’re like I was in the classroom, you’re always looking for fun ways to teach something about English that your students need to recognize, understand, and internalize if they’re to master the language one of these fine days. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching elementary school kids or adults; everybody wants to have fun while learning, just as we teachers want to have fun while teaching.

So let’s take a look at one of the most daunting items of English, the prepositions. “Oh, no! Not those!” you say with a shudder. “Anything but prepositions!” Yes, I know how confusing they can be and how exacting they can be.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there are indeed fun ways to introduce, demonstrate, and successfully teach English prepositions. The way I used to enjoy the most was teaching those little bugaboos with hands-on activities, one of which was preparing food. Sounds weird, eh? Well, not so weird. For the following lesson, the prepositions that I’m going to target are at, down, in, into, off, on top of, over, to, under, and up.

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