A way to make demonstrative determiners teachable | Oxford University Press

this, these, thatthose

If you’re not sure about this, these, that and those, the article highlights some interesting ways of looking at it in more detail. It’s useful for teachers and learners.

And then a colleague introduced me to the concept of summary nouns.

This/these + a summary noun

‘Abstract nouns with demonstrative determiners’, she informed me, ‘improve the flow of the text by summarizing old information and introducing it to a new clause or sentence.’ And then she gave me an example or two, such as the following:

An alternative to the guided interview is the focus group, in which respondents are asked to discuss their views collectively. This method, where participants engage with each other, has the advantage of lowering the risk of interviewer bias.

I must have been aware at some level of this feature of academic English, but I hadn’t actually had it explained to me as an entity in itself that was potentially teachable.

‘Oh, there are lots of things you can do with it in the classroom’, she added, such as:

– asking students to identify some of the many typical summary nouns (area, conclusion, development, example, idea, phenomenon, situation, trend etc.) and organizing them into sub-groups (claim, comment, remark etc.);

– gapping texts after the demonstrative determiner and eliciting the most appropriate summary noun;

– applying the feature to disconnected or ‘untidy’ texts;

– inviting students to bring in for discussion their own examples;

– looking at the occasions where a writer has paired that or those, or such instead of this or these with a summary noun.

And what I found in class was not only the sense among students that this was a feature they could take away for immediate use, but also, it seemed to me, a greater awareness of the function of demonstrative determiners in other contexts (on their own or with non-summary nouns), almost as if the ‘graspable’ nature of ‘this/these + a summary noun’ had acted as a kind of bridging device.

Source: A way to make demonstrative determiners teachable | Oxford University Press

Refusing to accept job ads for native speakers only: interview with Helen Strong – TEFL Equity Advocates

An interview with the head of the Munich English Language Teachers Association that makes a lot of sense. The native/non-native teacher argument is unnecessary.What matters is being a good enabler of English language acquisition.

The next step may be to communicate this with students who often state a request for British English in my lessons and compare it to Hochdeutsch. The idea that it is the standard or ´correct`version of English.

Source: Refusing to accept job ads for native speakers only: interview with Helen Strong – TEFL Equity Advocates

The Primary Differences Among Major International English Dialects | Grammarly Blog

Most English learners only think about American English and British English but that’s ignoring a huge amount of people who speak English as first language. Want to know more about the others?

There are several major dialects of English spoken internationally, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the primary differences among these dialects include:

British English: This dialect is spoken in the United Kingdom and is characterized by its pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. One of the most notable features of British English is its use of Received Pronunciation (RP), which is a non-regional accent that is considered standard in the UK. British English also has a large number of words and phrases that are not used in other dialects, such as “lorry” for truck and “chemist” for pharmacy.

Australian English: This dialect is spoken in Australia and is heavily influenced by British English, but also has its own unique features. Australian English is known for its distinctive vowel sounds, such as the “flat” or “short” a sound in words like “dance” and “bath.” Australian English also has its own slang and colloquial terms, such as “fair dinkum” (genuine) and “she’ll be right” (it’ll be fine).

Canadian English: This dialect is spoken in Canada and is influenced by both British and American English. Canadian English is known for its use of “Canadian raising,” which refers to the raising of the diphthong in words like “about” and “house.” Canadian English also has its own distinct vocabulary, such as “parkade” for parking garage and “serviette” for napkin.

New Zealand English: This dialect is spoken in New Zealand and is heavily influenced by British English but also has its own unique features. New Zealand English is known for its use of “New Zealand rising,” which refers to the raising of the diphthong in words like “bath” and “dance” in a similar way to Australian English. New Zealand English also has its own slang and colloquial terms, such as “sweet as” (cool) and “chur” (thanks)

These are the major international dialects of English, but there are also many other dialects spoken around the world, each with their own unique characteristics, such as:

Singapore English: This dialect is spoken in Singapore and is heavily influenced by British English, but also has its own unique features. Singapore English is known for its use of “Singlish,” which is a mixture of English and various Chinese dialects, Malay and Tamil words and phrases. Singapore English also has its own distinct vocabulary, such as “kiasu” meaning “fear of losing” and “lah” which is used as a filler or an emphasis.

Indian English: This dialect is spoken in India and is heavily influenced by British English, but also has its own unique features. Indian English is known for its use of “Indian English,” which refers to the English spoken in India that incorporates many Indian words and phrases. Indian English also has its own distinct vocabulary, such as “chappal” for sandal and “chai” for tea. Indian English also has different pronunciations, and intonations compared to other dialects.

Filipino English: This dialect is spoken in the Philippines and is heavily influenced by American English, but also has its own unique features. Filipino English is known for its use of “Taglish,” which is a mixture of Tagalog and English. Filipino English also has its own distinct vocabulary, such as “jeepney” for public transport and “tricycle” for a type of three-wheeled vehicle. Filipino English also has different pronunciations, and intonations compared to other dialects.

It’s important to note that these dialects can vary greatly within the countries themselves, and that the above examples are generalizations. English is a global language and it’s spoken differently in every corner of the world, and each dialect has its own unique features that reflect the culture, history and influences of the region.

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments

Source: The Primary Differences Among Major International English Dialects | Grammarly Blog

5 more reasons why native speakers need to learn to speak English internationally | ETp

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is more important than ever for native English speakers to think about the international implications of their communication. Here are several reasons why this is important.

  1. Increased global interconnectedness: With the rise of technology and the internet, it is easier than ever to communicate with people from all over the world. Native English speakers need to be aware of how their communication may be perceived by people from different cultures, and make an effort to be sensitive to cultural differences.
  2. English as a global language: English is widely spoken and understood around the world, making it an important language for international communication. Native English speakers have a responsibility to use the language accurately and appropriately in order to promote effective communication and avoid misunderstandings.
  3. Cultural sensitivity: English speakers need to be mindful of the cultural context in which they are communicating. They should be aware of the cultural norms and expectations of their audience and avoid using expressions or idioms that may be considered offensive.
  4. Business communication: In today’s global economy, it is common for businesses to operate in multiple countries and cultures. Native English speakers working in international settings need to be able to communicate effectively with colleagues and clients from different cultures and backgrounds.
  5. Avoiding stereotypes: Native English speakers should be aware of the stereotypes associated with their own culture, as well as the cultures of those they are communicating with. They should avoid perpetuating these stereotypes in their communication and instead strive to understand and appreciate cultural differences.
  6. Building cultural bridges: Effective communication can help to build cultural bridges and promote understanding and cooperation between different cultures. Native English speakers have a responsibility to use their language skills to promote mutual understanding and respect.
  7. Promoting linguistic diversity: The use of English as a global language can sometimes lead to the suppression of other languages and cultures. Native English speakers should be aware of this and make an effort to respect and promote linguistic diversity.
  8. Adapting communication styles: Native English speakers should be aware of the different communication styles used in different cultures, and be prepared to adapt their own communication style accordingly.
  9. Professional and academic contexts: In professional and academic contexts, the way the message is delivered is as important as the message itself. Native English speakers should be aware of the conventions and expectations of their audience and adapt their communication accordingly.
  10. Empathy and understanding: Ultimately, effective international communication requires empathy and understanding. Native English speakers should strive to understand the perspectives and experiences of those they are communicating with, and communicate in a way that is respectful and inclusive.

In conclusion, native English speakers need to think about the international implications of their communication in order to promote effective and respectful communication with people from different cultures. This requires an awareness of cultural differences, an understanding of the role of English as a global language, and a willingness to adapt communication styles and avoid stereotypes. By being mindful of these issues, native English speakers can help to build cultural bridges and promote understanding and cooperation between different cultures.

For further reading, check out below:

In her blogpost this week, Chia Suan Chong looks at more reasons why native English speakers need to think about the international implications of their communication.

Source: 5 more reasons why native speakers need to learn to speak English internationally | ETp

Present: Simple or Progressive?

Present Simple and Present Progressive (AKA Continuous) are two fundamentals of English Grammar. Tenses, or time forms, are the thing that causes the biggest groans in English classes (looking at you “Present Perfect”). Here I want to look at the above two in a bit more detail.

When learning a language, people often like to compare it to what they know from their mother tongue. It’s not such an effective learning method, but when the two match up, it can give a reassuring feeling. If you are a German speaker then you have an advantage over many other language speakers when it comes to learning English as there are thousands of these “cognates“, shared vocabulary.

Unfortunately when it comes to grammar it’s another story. For example, while German has Präsens, English has Present Simple and Present Progressive (sometimes called Present Continuous). If you were to translate “I go” it would be “ich gehe” but “I am going” would give the same result. But this doesn’t mean “I go” and “I am going” mean the same thing. So what is the difference?
It comes down to this: Is the action happening one time, either now or in the future or is it a more general action, something that’s repeated, or simply a fact? Let’s think of an example.

Present Simple:   I       teach      English            in Berlin

↑             ↑                 ↑                      ↑

(Subject) (Verb) (Object)       (Circumstance)

(Circumstance just means the time or place where the action happened.)

This is a general situation; I go there everyday Monday to Friday and I’m not talking about any particular day.

Present simple with be:        I        am               an English Teacher              in Berlin.

↑         ↑                                       ↑                                    ↑

(Subject)  (Be)                             (Object)                   (Circumstance)

Here we have no main verb so before the object the verb “be” must be included.

Singular Be Plural Be
1st person I Am 1st Person We Are
2nd Person You Are 2nd Person You Are
3rd Person He/She/It Is 3rd Person They Are

Present Progressive:                I                    am          teaching              at school tomorrow

↑                     ↑                     ↑                          ↑                          ↑

(Subject)             (Be)             (Verb + Ing)       (Object)        (Circumstance)

In this case, I’m talking about a specific occasion i.e. tomorrow. It doesn’t suggest that I do it regularly, it’s only interested in tomorrow. It’s a one time situation.


Present Simple for Future

In “If” sentences, we use the Present Simple to talk about the future. e.g. We’ll get wet if it rains;I’ll get a drink if I go to the kitchen. ‘Rain’ and ‘go’ are the verbs and the action is in the future but we still use the Present Simple.

Another way to use Present Simple for the future is when you talk about things like the cinema and train times, things which are planned. E.g. What time does the film start? It starts at 8pm.When does the train come? Hopefully soon!

Present Progressive for Future

When something is happening in the future and it is planned and decided that it is definitely going to happen then the Present Progressive is the right tense to use. Often people use “Will” but this should be for actions which are a bit more spontaneous.

You can also use it when the action is just about to happen. E.g. I’m going to bed. You can be sitting on the sofa and yawning when you say this, it’s still fine!

How to know it’s Present Simple

Do is an indicator that the sentence is Present Simple. Questions need auxiliary verbs in English for example “Do” and “Be”.

To make a question  in Present Simple we use “Do” before the subject. E.g.

Do you work at an English language school?

  • Yes, I do. (short answer)         Or       Yes, I work at an English school. (Long answer)
  • No, I don’t. (short answer)      Or     No, I don’t work at English school. (Long answer)

If using a Question word (Who, What, Where, etc.) then Do is still before the subject.

What do you do?    When do you work?         Why do you think that?

Another sign is “How often” either in the question e.g. How often do you do sport or in the answer e.g. I walk past the gym every day.

We can look for time periods like everyday, on Mondays, every summer. We can also look for adverbs like often, always, sometimes which don’t really go with progressive tenses.

There are words which mean you do something by saying something. e.g. I promise, I apologise, I insist, I agree, I propose, I suggest etc. These words are for a one time action which is happening now, so logically it should be Present Progressive. But as you’ve probably realised by now, logic doesn’t get you too far with English.

How to know it’s Present Progressive

The way I think about it is “Is the action in progress?” It’s started but it hasn’t finished. I’m sitting in this chair. But if it’s something that’s still going on, even if it’s not happening now that still counts. E.g. I’m reading a book about English grammar at the moment. You can have a break from reading but it’s still there and you’ll (probably) go back to it.

Time periods like now, at the moment, this year, this summer, etc. are good indicators that it’s not a simple tense and therefore could be progressive. Can you think of any others?

If you want to talk about changes happening now, there are some words which usually go with Present Progressive. E.g. start, begin, rise, grow, become, fall, etc.

If you are talking about a temporary situation, you should be using the Present Progressive. I often hear “I am living in Berlin” from people who have spent their whole life here. This is not correct. If it’s a temporary situation like “I’m living in Berlin while I learn German” then that’s fine.

If someone plays computer games as normal hobby, then you would use Present Simple. If they are overdoing it you can say “You are always playing computer games!” This tells us that it’s just too much.

So what do you think? Is there a mistake that you know you sometimes make? Do you think English Grammar is difficult to learn? If you are looking for an English teacher in Berlin let me know!

Routine

“Routine is liberating, it makes you feel in control.”

― Carol Shields, The Republic of Love

Language learning is not something that can be picked up and put down if you want to make progress. You have to be using whatever English knowledge you have regularly. Whether it is reading tweets and watching Youtube or reading short stories and listening to audiobooks, if you are exposing yourself to the language frequently, you will improve quicker.

Routine doesn’t have to be negative and it doesn’t have to be boring. If the act of doing “something” becomes routine, then you will find yourself learning more.

Mistakes

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. – John Powell

Learning a language needs more than staring at grammar tables and memorising lists of words in books. The most effective language learners are those who aren’t afraid to make mistakes.

In fact the fear of making mistakes often causes more communication problems than actual errors. Trust your gut feeling and leave your brain out of it!

Making mistakes is an inevitable part of the learning process. It is through our mistakes that we are able to identify areas in which we need to improve and gain a deeper understanding of the subject at hand.

One of the key values of mistakes in learning is that they provide feedback on our progress. When we make a mistake, we are given an opportunity to identify what went wrong and make the necessary adjustments to improve our performance. This process of trial and error allows us to gradually build upon our knowledge and skills, eventually leading to mastery of the subject.

Additionally, mistakes can also serve as a valuable source of motivation. When we encounter a challenge and make a mistake, it can be discouraging. However, this can also serve as a driving force to work harder and overcome the obstacle. This sense of determination and resilience is crucial in the learning process and can help us achieve our goals in the long run.

Moreover, making mistakes can also foster creativity and innovation. When we are not afraid to make mistakes, we are more willing to take risks and explore new ideas. This open-minded attitude can lead to breakthroughs and discoveries that would not have been possible otherwise.

It’s also important to note that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process and should be embraced, not feared. When we view mistakes as opportunities for growth rather than failures, we are more likely to approach learning with a positive attitude and a willingness to take on challenges.

In the classroom, it’s important for teachers to create a safe and supportive environment where students feel comfortable making mistakes. This can be done through constructive feedback and positive reinforcement, rather than punishment or criticism. By fostering a culture of growth and learning, students will be more likely to take risks and engage in active learning.

In conclusion, mistakes are a vital part of the learning process. They provide valuable feedback, serve as motivation, foster creativity, and should be embraced as opportunities for growth. By valuing mistakes and creating a supportive learning environment, we can empower ourselves and others to reach our full potential.