Study English – Series 2, Episode 17: Naturopathic Medicine

{“en”:”Hello. I’m Margot Politis. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. Today on Study English, you’ll have the chance to practice your reading comprehension skills. These are important skills, not just for the IELTS reading test, but for general academic studies as well. Today, we’ll focus on the skills you need to answer the range of question types in the IELTS reading test. Let’s begin by taking a look at the text. So there’s our comprehension piece. It seems quite long. But let’s start at the beginning. Read the title. We know that the passage is about naturopathic medicine. Do you know anything about the subject? You know the word medicine, but maybe not naturopathic.

It’s OK if you don’t. You don’t need to understand every word. We can probably figure out the meaning by paying attention to the context the word is used in, or by looking closely at the parts of the word. We know that naturopathic is an adjective, because it qualifies medicine. Now, let’s break naturopathic down. The first part naturo- sounds like nature.

The ending is the suffix -ic. Do you know other words that end in -ic? How about photographic or historic? The suffix -ic means relating to or of. So we could guess that naturopathic means something like relating to nature. Then we can guess that the meaning of naturopathic medicine is something like medicine that heals in a natural way. Can you think of any words you know that might belong to this subject? How about: herbs plants health healing or disease Let’s look at the text again. After you’ve looked at the heading, look for some other clues as to what it is about.

Are there any illustrations or diagrams? What’s the layout like? All these things will help your understanding of the subject. What kind of text do you think this is? It doesn’t look like a newspaper article or an instruction manual. It’s not an advertisement or a timetable. It’s probably an article from a journal. We can tell by the style, the subject and the way it looks. Did you notice the asterisk near the end of the text? When an asterisk is used like this, extra information or explanation is given at the bottom of the page. What we’ve just done is to use the skills of previewing and predicting. We put together all the information we could about the text we are reading.

We looked for a title, a diagram or any other information set apart – like the asterisk at the end of the text. We also made some educated guesses about what is in the article, by predicting some common words we might expect to see. Previewing and predicting before you start reading can help you process information quickly, because you know what to expect. It can also help you to follow the author’s ideas better, because you’ve prepared yourself for the text before reading it. Let’s get back to the text. How is it organised? It’s divided into paragraphs. Here, we have 2 paragraphs: paragraph A and paragraph B. Usually, a reading passage would have an introductory paragraph, several body paragraphs and a conclusion. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence. The topic sentence will give the main idea or subject of a paragraph. The skill of skimming involves reading over a paragraph very quickly to get a general sense of what it is about.

When you skim a text, you just want to get a general idea of the content. You’re not trying to read every word. If you just read the first and last sentences, you can often get a good idea of the main subject of the paragraph. Let’s try with paragraph A. Naturopathic Medicine Since the earliest beginnings, every known culture has been treating disease with natural therapies. So what is the main subject of paragraph A? Well we read about: the early beginnings of cultures types of natural therapies and cultures and natural therapies Can you choose which one of these things tells us what the text is about most accurately? Number one talks about beginnings of cultures. The text is probably not about that. It’s a bit too broad to be the topic sentence. So you might think it’s number 2 – types of natural therapies. This choice is too narrow. The text is about more than just natural therapies.

It’s number 3 that covers the idea of the whole paragraph. It is about cultures and natural therapies. This is what the topic sentence is expressing. You will be tested on your understanding of main ideas, so it’s a good idea to practice matching headings to paragraphs. When you need to look for specific information, like a name, date or place, you can scan a text. When you scan, your eyes move across the page very quickly looking for specific information. You can then skip over less important words. Let’s try to scan over the text to find answers to some short answer questions. Here’s our question: The early books of which countries mention natural healing methods? We’re going to scan the text, looking for the key words. The first known medical books of China, India and Greece all mention formulas used in healing. So we can answer by writing: China, India and Greece Let’s try another short answer question. Who was the father of Western Medicine? Here are the key words. Let’s scan the text. Hippocrates is the father of Western Medicine.

You can also use these skills when you need to answer multiple-choice questions, label a diagram or complete a table. Let’s take a quick look back over the skills we’ve used today: We looked at using previewing skills to predict what the text was going to be about. We talked about looking at the title, diagrams and style of the layout for clues to what the text might be about. We practised predicting the topic and guessing vocabulary that might be in the text. Next, we practiced skimming to find the topic sentence of the paragraph. Finally, we talked about scanning for keywords. And that’s all for today, but you can try out these skills and more on the Study English website. I’ll see you next time. Bye bye.. “}

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Neuro Linguistic Programming in Brighton

Study English – Series 3, Episode 2: Writing Task Response

{“en”:”Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. I’m Margot Politis. Today we’ll look at the Writing Task in the essay section of both the general and academic IELTS tests. IELTS essay topics are of general interest and relate to current issues in society. You can expect to be asked about: The media, education, environment, health, communication, technology and society. Being familiar with issues in these general areas is important. Listening to English language media will help you develop a bank of ideas on topics like this. An issue in health could be about children eating too much and not exercising enough. You could be asked to discuss a statement such as: Children’s eating habits and lifestyles today are more likely to be harmful than beneficial. You should know the essay instructions. These tell you how much time you have and how much you need to write. You are instructed to spend about 40 minutes writing the essay, which has to be at least 250 words.

With practice you’ll know without counting what your 250 words look like. You will also be asked to give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your knowledge or experience. This is one of the instructions, so you need to follow it. Reasons are saying why you think something is true or not. You could write: An increasing number of children are becoming obese because they are eating too much junk food. Reasons are supported by examples, like this: For example, aggressive marketing of such foods towards children is one of the contributing factors. Relevant examples are examples like this that are clearly connected to the question. Now let’s look at an essay question, and how to analyse it before you write your answer. How well you do this will help with your task response, which is one of the criteria used to assess the essay. Let’s look at a question topic. Here’s a typical statement: The ageing populations of more developed countries are going to cause social and economic problems for society in the future, especially for the younger generation.

With this is something called the question task: To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? The essay question is always presented in this way as a statement followed by the question task. First, let’s look at the statement. Read it carefully. The ageing populations of more developed countries are going to cause social and economic problems for society in the future, especially for the younger generation. You should ask yourself ‘who or what must I write about?’ Here, you have to say something about ageing populations, developed countries, society in the future and the younger generation. Highlight these and any other key phrases, such as ’cause social and economic problems’. Think about what these phrases mean. Thinking of synonyms or words that mean something similar can help you do this. And you will need these synonyms later in your essay. Synonyms for ageing populations are: the elderly, retired people, the aged and pensioners.

They’re the people living longer or ageing. Developed countries – refers to modern industrial societies that have to financially support retired people. Synonyms are: western countries, first world countries and advanced economies. Social and economic problems are two kinds of problems. Social problems are problems that affect people, perhaps in areas such as health and education. Economic problems are problems to do with the economy of a country and its ability to pay for the services it provides. Society in the future means the country or nation or state in the future. And the younger generation are younger people or people who work. They’re the people who are not yet part of the ageing population. So you can rephrase or paraphrase the question like this: The younger generation will experience social and economic difficulties because people are living longer. The next thing to look at is the question task: To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? ‘To what extent’ means by how much. Here you’re being asked to give your opinion about the statement. You might agree with it or you might think it is wrong.

It’s a good idea to reword this type of question into a ‘yes/no’ question like this: Do you agree that the younger generation will experience social and economic difficulties because people are living longer? Yes or no? You could think, yes, I agree completely or perhaps yes, I agree with some of this, but disagree with other parts of it. But keep in mind that asking how much you agree or disagree tests your ability to look at 2 sides of an issue and present a balanced argument. Even if you say yes and agree completely, you still have to look at the other side of the argument and think about why someone would disagree. You would need to write two body paragraphs in an essay of this type, one saying what you agree with and one saying what you disagree with. In the conclusion of your essay you would state your position on the topic.

Let’s look at another question. Internet access should be under government control to avoid any potential harm to children. Who or what must you write about? The internet, government and children. Now highlight other key phrases – under government control, avoid any potential harm. Let’s think of synonyms. We know what the internet is, but what other words can we use? – the net, the web, online, cyberspace.

Under government control means controlled by the government. Other words for government are the state or the administration. Potential harm means bad things that might happen. Synonyms for potential are possible or likely. And other words for harm are: damage and hurt. So we could paraphrase this statement as: The state should control access to the web to avoid possible damage to children. The same question task we looked at earlier can be used: To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? You are being asked for your opinion. What you need to do here is say what you think.

The state should control access to the web to avoid possible damage to children. Yes or no? Now you should think about reasons for your point of view and why you don’t agree with the opposite view. So, to recap. The way you respond to the question and the instructions is part of what you are being marked on. The examiners call it task response. Make sure you follow the instructions and write the correct number of words.

That’s all for now. Don’t forget to visit our website at: australianetwork.com/studyenglish for more. I’ll see you next time on Study English.. “}

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Hypnotherapy in Brighton

Study English – Series 2, Episode 6: Lasers

{“en”:”Hello. I’m Margot Politis. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. Today we’re going to learn about lasers – what are they, and how they work. We’ll also practice structuring a description of how something works, and we’ll work on our vocabulary for describing colours. Let’s begin by listening to Imogen Jubb talk about the history and the science of lasers. Lasers are used in all sorts of settings like welding, cutting, surgery, communications, reading bar codes at the supermarket or reading the information stored on a CD or DVD. There are many types of lasers but they all have 3 main parts to them. They all have an energy source, such as a lamp, some sort of feedback mechanism, like this pair of mirrors, and also some medium, like the ruby crystal, which can amplify the light. Now the first laser was built in the 1960s. It was made from a ruby crystal, some lamps and 2 mirrors, one on either side of the crystal.

I’ve got a sort of model of it here. The lamp shines white light onto the crystal, which is represented by this tube. Pumping energy into the crystal actually gives off light at a particular frequency to produce a particular colour. Some of this light bounces backwards and forwards between the two mirrors, and passes through the crystal each time. Each time the light goes through the crystal, it gets amplified, stimulating the same energy release in other parts of the crystal. So after many times in between the two mirrors, and many reflections passing through the crystal, you end up with a very strong, narrow beam of light that is just one colour.

One of the mirrors is only partially reflective, so some light passes out as the laser beam. Before Imogen explains the laser to us, she starts with an ‘introduction’, or ‘orientation’. That way, we know what to focus on. If you’re describing a device or a tool, it’s a good idea to introduce it by naming it and describing what it’s used for. This is useful in spoken English, and it’s also a good way to begin if you are writing in formal English. Listen to how Imogen introduces the laser. Lasers are used in all sorts of settings like welding, cutting, surgery, communications, reading bar codes at the supermarket or reading the information stored on a CD or DVD. She talks about the function of the laser and lists a few of the things we use lasers for today. In formal writing, if you were to introduce a discussion of lasers, you could structure your opening paragraph in a few ways.

One idea would be to start like this: A laser is a device designed to intensify a beam of light. Or, you might choose to write: The diagram is of a laser designed to scan barcodes. But Imogen chooses to begin by telling us what lasers are used for. She begins: Lasers are used in all sorts of settings. In your introduction, you could give some background about the device. Once the device has been introduced, you can talk about it in more detail. Let’s listen to Imogen describe the parts of the laser. How many parts are there and what are they? There are many types of lasers but they all have 3 main parts to them.

They all have an energy source, such as a lamp, some sort of feedback mechanism, like this pair of mirrors, and also some medium, like the ruby crystal, which can amplify the light. She talks about three main parts. All lasers have: an energy source, a feedback mechanism, and a medium to amplify light. In formal writing, we could structure this information in a number of ways. We might say that: A laser consists of a number of parts. Or: All lasers are comprised of three parts. Both of these sentences are structured to include a subject, a verb, and an object. You would then follow with a list or another sentence detailing exactly what the three parts are, in order: These are the energy source, the feedback mechanism and, finally, a medium to amplify the light. Imogen then explains how each part of the device functions.

Let’s listen as she describes each part. The lamp shines white light onto the crystal, which is represented by this tube. Pumping energy into the crystal actually gives off light at a particular frequency to produce a particular colour. Some of this light bounces backwards and forwards between the two mirrors, and passes through the crystal each time. Each time the light goes through the crystal, it gets amplified, stimulating the same energy release in other parts of the crystal. So you can see how Imogen has built up a clear image of the device. In formal written English, you might finish off by explaining the ‘purpose’ of the device. You could say: The purpose of the laser is to generate an intense beam of light. Let’s hear how Imogen finishes her description. So after many times in between the two mirrors, and many reflections passing through the crystal, you end up with a very strong, narrow beam of light that is just one colour. She finishes by talking about what the purpose of the laser is, what it produces. She says: You end up with a very strong, narrow beam of light.

So let’s review how Imogen has structured her explanation. First, there was an ‘introduction’ to the object. Imogen told us that we were talking about the laser and then gave us some background. She then moved into the ‘body of the description’. She told us that it is made up of three parts, and listed those parts. In your writing, you might write three separate ‘body paragraphs’ – one for each of the parts. Then, you’d finish off with a ‘statement of purpose’ – what the object’s overall purpose is. Now let’s finish by listening to Imogen one more time, and then we’re going to talk about colours. The lamp shines white light onto the crystal, which is represented by this tube. Pumping energy into the crystal actually gives off light at a particular frequency to produce a particular colour. When energy passes through the crystal, it gives off a particular colour of light. Light contains all the colours of the ‘spectrum’, or the ‘rainbow’. These are: red orange yellow green blue indigo violet We talk about shades of colour in different ways – most commonly by using light and dark.

For example: light blue dark blue Or sometimes we refer to nature, for example: sky blue forest green fiery red We also use precious stones to describe colour. For example: sapphire blue emerald green ruby red And that brings us to the end of Study English today. But for more information on structuring descriptions go to our website. You will find notes, exercises and quizzes to help you. Just go to abcasiapacific.com/studyenglish. And I’ll se you next time for more IETLS preparation. Bye bye.. “}

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Hypnotherapy for anxiety

Study English – Series 3, Episode 26: Giving Advice

{“en”:”Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I’m Margot Politis. What should you do to stay healthy? This is a possible question in IELTS. How might you reply to such a question – what language choices do you have? The language function required is “giving advice”. Today we’ll look at language choices in English for giving advice. First, let’s listen to someone giving advice about health: Having good health is something we all want. There are several things we should do to keep fit and healthy – eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest. If we have a good diet, lead an active life and get enough sleep, then we should stay healthy. If we get sick, then we need to manage our recovery. There is prevention, and there is cure – but prevention is better than cure.

“Prevention is better than cure”. This is a common saying that means it’s better to avoid getting sick than trying to cure the sickness later. So what does our advisor recommend we do to prevent getting ill? There are several things we should do to keep fit and healthy – eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest. If we have a good diet, lead an active life and get enough sleep, then we should stay healthy. What sort of language does she use for giving advice? First she uses the modal verb ‘should’. Listen again: There are several things we should do to keep fit and healthy – eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest. The word ‘should’ is used in a number of ways. Here it indicates advisability – there are several things we should do to keep fit. Listen to another use of should with this meaning: You should try to walk a couple of kilometres every day.

The negative form “shouldn’t” is often used to give advice about what not to do. There are three things that you shouldn’t do. You shouldn’t smoke, you shouldn’t eat too much junk food and you shouldn’t drink too much alcohol. There is another modal verb that is used in the same way as should, but is a more formal choice, ought. It’s used by this man in an interview about immigration to Australia and its impact on the environment: It’s an open question whether people are applying more strain on the environment if they’re living in a flood plain in Bangladesh than if they’re living in Australia. Secondly, I think that if you’re worried about the environmental sustainability of the pattern of economic growth in Australia – and there are good reasons why you might be – then you ought to be looking at policies to reduce, say, carbon dioxide emissions, water usage, regardless of how many foreigners you let in or don’t let in.

“You ought to be looking at policies”. You could also say you should be looking at policies. Advice is suggesting choices, so you don’t use the word must. There is no choice when you say must – it’s an obligation or something you have to do. Sometimes you need to suggest choices in a way that doesn’t upset the person you are advising. Instead of saying ‘You shouldn’t smoke’, you can express it as a question: Shouldn’t you give up smoking? A more formal way of saying this uses the word oughtn’t: Oughtn’t you give up smoking? In the next clip, listen to another way of using should: If we have a good diet, lead an active life and get enough sleep then we should stay healthy. Here, should expresses the idea that this is likely to happen if the condition – having a good diet – is met. This is called a conditional.

The negative form, shouldn’t, is used in a similar way here: In any case, lead a healthy lifestyle and you shouldn’t get sick. It is a common language feature to use conditionals when giving advice, like this: If we get sick, then we need to manage our recovery. If we get sick, then we need to manage our recovery. But you don’t always have to use ‘then’ after the ‘if’ clause: If you feel unusually sick, you need to consult a doctor. And the ‘if’ clause doesn’t need to be at the beginning of the sentence: You need to consult a doctor if you feel unusually sick. There is another structure in English using ‘should’: Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. Here, should means ‘if’ – if you have any questions. It’s a polite invitation which you will often hear on planes. The cabin crew might say to passengers “Should you require any help” Now listen carefully to all the advice and concentrate on what tense is being used for the verbs: Having good health is something we all want. There are several things we should do to keep fit and healthy – eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest.

If we have a good diet, lead an active life and get enough sleep then we should stay healthy. If we get sick, then we need to manage our recovery. There is prevention, and there is cure – but prevention is better than cure. Make sure you have a balanced diet – don’t overeat and don’t eat the wrong foods. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables for fibre, and get a good mix of proteins from fish and some meat, and reduce your intake of fatty food, sugar and salt. Exercise every day. You should try to walk a couple of kilometres daily. Playing sport, or going to the gym is an easy way to exercise your body. Exercise helps to relieve stress. You also need to rest. Health experts say we need about 8 hours sleep a night, but some people need less than this. If you feel unusually sick you need to consult a doctor. Avoid close contact with others when you are feeling unwell. Stay at home for as long as the doctor advises you. In any case, lead a healthy lifestyle and you shouldn’t get sick. Did you notice that many of the verbs were the base form, such as avoid or stay.

Listen again: Avoid close contact with others when you are feeling unwell. Stay at home for as long as the doctor advises you. In any case, lead a healthy lifestyle and you shouldn’t get sick. This is called the imperative form and it’s used for giving advice, and also to give orders. For example a teacher may say to a noisy class: Stop talking! Or Be quiet! You also use the imperative when you need to warn someone of danger: Watch out! There’s one more use for the imperative and that’s in instructions.

In the essay section of the IELTS Test you will read: ‘Write at least 250 words.’ In recipes you often see the imperative, like this: Fry the prawns. Chop the leeks. Add the noodles. The negative form of the imperative has don’t in front of it, like this: Make sure you have a balanced diet – don’t overeat and don’t eat the wrong foods. You’ll hear this structure a lot in English. You might hear people, such as parents to their children, say: Don’t forget to telephone. Or Don’t get lost. Finally, you should know the difference between the words advice and advise. Listen to the way they are used by this woman talking about generation Y or gen Y: The baby boomers still like to have face-to-face meetings. They like to chat about certain things. A gen Y would be just as happy for you to send them a text message and advise them of a change of roster at work or they’re quite happy to get advice about a new event that’s occurring by text or SMS or even an email.

Advise – spelled with an ‘s’ – is the verb form. Send them a text and advise them of a change of roster. Advice – spelled with a ‘c’ and pronounced with a shorter ‘i’ sound – advice – is the noun. They’re happy to get advice. Listen again: and advise them of a change of roster at work or they’re quite happy to get advice about a new event that’s occurring by text or SMS or even an email.

That’s all for now. For advice on the IELTS Test, visit our Study English website. We strongly advise it. Good luck with your studies. Bye.. “}

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Neuro Linguistic Programming in Brighton

Study English – Series 3, Episode 23: Talking About Food

{“en”:”Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I’m Margot Politis. The topic of food and the customs around preparing food come up often in the IELTS Speaking Test. It is useful to look at this topic area and think about how to select language and organise a response if you’re asked to talk about food, cooking and diet. Let’s begin by listening to someone talk about the various meals she has during the day: I usually have breakfast every morning, and lunch in the early afternoon, a sandwich usually or some instant noodles, but the main meal of the day for me is normally dinner. Let’s go over the language of meals. She mentioned breakfast, the morning meal, lunch, the meal we have in the middle of the day and dinner, which is the evening meal. So what other words are there? In the United States and Britain another word for dinner is supper. In Australia the word supper isn’t used very often and usually refers to a light meal late at night.

In Australia the other word for dinner is tea. Tea can also refer to afternoon tea or high tea, a formal English meal of small sandwiches, scones and a cup of tea. A tea break or a coffee break is a short time during the working day when people have a break with a cup of tea or coffee. Food and drink consumed between meals during the day or night are called snacks. You might hear people talk about ‘brunch’, which is a mid morning meal that combines breakfast and lunch, a bit like the Chinese yum cha. Yumcha is quite familiar to westerners these days and it would be reasonable if asked what your favourite meal is to talk about it as the speaker does here: The family usually gets together on Sunday for a traditional Chinese banquet, or yum cha, either at home or in China town, but usually I eat on my own, or have lunch at work with a colleague. So what might you be asked about meals? You might be asked what you usually have to eat for breakfast or whether you eat breakfast at all. Another common question is ‘What is the main meal of the day?’ How does the speaker answer that? I usually have breakfast every morning, and lunch in the early afternoon, a sandwich usually or some instant noodles, but the main meal of the day for me is normally dinner.

Her answer is dinner, but, as would be expected, she expands her answer to talk about other meals too. It is important to distinguish between meal and staple. Staple means the basic food most commonly eaten. For most people in Asia this is rice as it is with our speaker: Rice is the main staple in my diet. Staples in other countries are potatoes, and wheat in its various forms such as bread, pasta or couscous. When preparing for the IELTS Test, it is important to brainstorm a variety of topics and issues – to begin to develop your own ideas, and build up possible responses.

You should: think of examples think of reasons think of useful vocabulary To start you could divide the topic of food into various aspects such as: meat, fish, vegetables and herbs and spices. Cooking styles: boiling, frying and steaming. Cuisines: Italian, Indian and Japanese. Cooking utensils: pots, pans and woks. Eating utensils: plate, bowl, knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks. There are many things to say and ask about these things.

With food types, you might want to say that you don’t eat meat and that you are a vegetarian. You may even avoid eggs, milk and fish as well, in which case you are a vegan. You could be asked why people choose to be a vegetarian or a vegan. A good reason to be vegetarian is that it is a healthy diet, something our speaker is aware of: I try and have a healthy, balanced diet – not much fried, fatty food, and a good mix of fruit and vegetables. You may be asked about what healthy food is or if junk food is bad for you and why. With utensils it’s possible that you may be asked to compare chopsticks with forks with a question like: Do you prefer to eat with chopsticks or a fork? Now let’s see if you can work out what question might have prompted our speaker’s reply. Listen to the clip, and think what question might have been asked.

Rice is the main staple in my diet. I try and have a healthy, balanced diet – not much fried, fatty food, and a good mix of fruit and vegetables. Perhaps she was asked: ‘Describe what you usually eat?’ That would require describing in the answer. Or ‘What do you usually eat?’, where you would have to identify what you eat. Which question is more likely? Listen again: Rice is the main staple in my diet. I try and have a healthy, balanced diet – not much fried, fatty food, and a good mix of fruit and vegetables. She’s identified or named the things she usually eats, so the most likely question would be: ‘What do you usually eat?’ Let’s try it again. What question? Think about the language function she uses: The family usually gets together on Sunday for a traditional Chinese banquet, or yumcha, either at home or in China town, but usually I eat on my own, or have lunch at work with a colleague.

What about: ‘Is it better to eat alone or with others?’ That needs you to give an opinion. She talks about eating alone, but doesn’t say that it’s better or worse than eating with others. So that’s not right. She explains who she eats with and when, so it’s more likely to be: ‘Who do you usually eat with?’ Does the answer fit? Let’s try it. The family usually gets together on Sunday for a traditional Chinese banquet, or yumcha, either at home or in China town, but usually I eat on my own, or have lunch at work with a colleague. Let’s try one more. What might the question be? I don’t cook much.

My mother is a good cook, and can create great meals just from a wok! We have many dishes including roast duck – my favourite. What about ‘Can you cook?’ She doesn’t really say if she can or can’t. She just says she doesn’t cook much. It’s probably: ‘Who does the cooking where you live?’ I don’t cook much. My mother is a good cook, and can create great meals just from a wok! We have many dishes including roast duck – my favourite.

These questions might be asked individually in Part 1 of the Speaking Test, or joined together in Part 2. Part 2 is the long turn, where you have to talk for one to two minutes in response to a prompt card like this: Talk about what you usually eat every day. You should say: what you eat who you eat with, and who does the cooking where you live Let’s listen to the response: I usually have breakfast every morning, and lunch in the early afternoon, a sandwich usually or some instant noodles, but the main meal of the day for me is normally dinner. That often consists of some meat, maybe grilled, some steamed vegetables and rice. Rice is the main staple in my diet. I try and have a healthy, balanced diet – not much fried, fatty food, and a good mix of fruit and vegetables.

The family usually gets together on Sunday for a traditional Chinese banquet, or yumcha, either at home or in China town, but usually I eat on my own, or have lunch at work with a colleague. I don’t cook much. My mother is a good cook, and can create great meals just from a wok! We have many dishes including roast duck – my favourite. That’s all for now. To find more information about the IELTS Speaking Test, visit our Study English website. Good luck with your studies.. “}

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Study English in Brighton

Speak English – Learn English Conversation! #9: Learn American English – Speak American English

{“en”:”Hello. Welcome. “Speak American English with Lyman Holton” My name is Lyman Holton. In this lesson you and me are going to have a conversation… as two people discussing directions to the library. Are you ready? Let’s begin. Repeat everything I say for Lyman and Kelly. Excuse me. Where’s the nearest library? Oh, my. I’m afraid the closest one is a couple miles from here. So, there is a library about two miles away? Yes. Are you going to drive there? Yes. Why do you ask? Because the bus, that will be here shortly, goes there. I see. Could you give me directions for driving? Sure. Ah, what is your name, if you don’t mind me asking? Oh, of course not. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. That’s all right. I just like to know who I’m talking to.

My name is Kelly. And, may ask what yours is as well? I’m Lyman. Now, to get to the library, drive that way to the fifth stoplight. Okay. I go to the fifth stoplight. Then what? Turn left and go about one mile, and you’ll see the library on the right. All right. Do you know the name of the street where I turn left? I’m not sure. I think it’s 2nd Avenue. Okay. Thanks for the information, Lyman. No problem, Kelly. I hope you don’t have any trouble finding it. Oh, I’m sure I’ll find it okay. Oh, yeah. I just remembered. The library is next to a shopping center.

Now, we’ve had our practice reading everything for both conversations. Now, what we’re going to do is begin our 1st conversation. Speak out loud as Kelly. You are Kelly. Just listen when Lyman speaks. I’m Lyman. Excuse me. Where’s the nearest library? Oh, my. I’m afraid the closest one is a couple miles from here. So, there is a library about two miles away? Yes. Are you going to drive there? Yes. Why do you ask? Because the bus, that will be here shortly, goes there. I see. Could you give me directions for driving? Sure. Ah, what is your name, if you don’t mind me asking? Oh, of course not. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. That’s all right. I just like to know who I’m talking to. My name is Kelly. And, may I ask what yours is as well? I’m Lyman. Now, to get to the library, drive that way to the fifth stoplight.

Okay. I go to the fifth stoplight. Then what? Turn left and go about one mile, and you’ll see the library on the right. All right. Do you know the name of the street where I turn left? I’m not sure. I think it’s 2nd Avenue. Okay. Thanks for the information, Lyman. No problem, Kelly. I hope you don’t have any trouble finding it. Oh, I’m sure I’ll find it okay. Oh, yeah. I just remembered. The library is next to a shopping center. Let’s begin our second conversation. Let’s switch dialogues. I am still Lyman. You are still Kelly. Excuse me. Where’s the nearest library? Oh, my. I’m afraid the closest one is a couple miles from here. So, there is a library about two miles away? Yes. Are you going to drive there? Yes.

Why do you ask? Because the bus, that will be here shortly, goes there. I see. Could you give me directions for driving? Sure. Ah, what is your name, if you don’t mind me asking? Oh, of course not. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. That’s all right. I just like to know who I’m talking to. My name is Lyman. And, may I ask what yours is as well? I’m Kelly. Now, to get to the library, drive that way to the fifth stoplight. Okay. I go to the fifth stoplight. Then what? Turn left and go about one mile, and you’ll see the library on the right. All right. Do you know the name of the street where I turn left? I’m not sure. I think it’s 2nd Avenue. Okay. Thanks for the information, Kelly. No problem, Lyman. I hope you don’t have any trouble finding it.

Oh, I’m sure I’ll find it okay. Oh, yeah. I just remembered. The library is next to a shopping center. And, that concludes our conversation for this lesson. I hope you enjoyed it… and if you have any questions please feel free to post them below. Goodbye for now.. “}

As found on Youtube

Study English in Brighton

Steven Pinker: Linguistics as a Window to Understanding the Brain

{“en”:”My name is Steve Pinker, and Iu2019m Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.  And today Iu2019m going to speak to you about language.  ufeffIu2019m actually not a linguist, but a cognitive scientist.  Iu2019m not so much interested as language as an object in its own right, but as a window to the human mind.ufeff Language is one of the fundamental topics in the human sciences.

 Itu2019s the trait that most conspicuously distinguishes humans from other species, itu2019s essential to human cooperation; we accomplish amazing things by sharing our knowledge or coordinating our actions by means of words.  It poses profound scientific mysteries such as, how did language evolve in this particular species?  How does the brain compute language? But also, language has many practical applications not surprisingly given how central it is to human life. ufeff Language comes so naturally to us that weu2019re apt to forget what a strange and miraculous gift it is.

 But think about what youu2019re doing for the next hour.   Youu2019re going to be listening patiently as a guy makes noise as he exhales.  Now, why would you do something like that?  Itu2019s not that I can claim that the sounds Iu2019m going to make are particularly mellifluous, but rather Iu2019ve coded information into the exact sequences of hisses and hums and squeaks and pops that Iu2019ll be making.  You have the ability to recover the information from that stream of noises allowing us to share ideas. Now, the ideas we are going to share are about this talent, language, but with a slightly different sequence of hisses and squeaks, I could cause you to be thinking thoughts about a vast array of topics, anything from the latest developments in your favorite reality show to theories of the origin of the universe.

 This is what I think of as the miracle of language, its vast expressive power, and itu2019s a phenomenon that still fills me with wonder, even after having studied language for 35 years.  And it is the prime phenomenon that the science of language aims to explain.  ufeff Not surprisingly, language is central to human life.  The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel reminds us that humans accomplish great things because they can exchange information about their knowledge and intentions via the medium of language.  Language, moreover, is not a peculiarity of one culture, but it has been found in every society ever studied by anthropologists.ufeff Thereu2019s some 6,000 languages spoken on Earth, all of them complex, and no one has ever discovered a human society that lacks complex language.  For this and other reasons, Charles Darwin wrote, u201cMan has an instinctive tendency to speak as we see in the babble of our young children while no child has an instinctive tendency to bake, brew or write.u201d ufeff Language is an intricate talent and itu2019s not surprising that the science of language should be a complex discipline.

ufeffIt includes the study of how language itself works including:  grammar, the assembly of words, phrases and sentences; phonology, the study of sound; semantics, the study of meaning; and pragmatics, the study of the use of language in conversation. ufeff ufeffScientists interested in language also study how it is processed in real time, a field called psycholinguistics; how is it acquired by children, the study of language acquisition.  And how it is computed in the brain, the discipline called neurolinguistics. ufeffu2028 Now, before we begin, itu2019s important to not to confuse language with three other things that are closely related to language.  One of them is written language.  Unlike spoken language, which is found in all human cultures throughout history, writing was invented a very small number of times in human history, about 5,000 years ago.

 ufeff And alphabetic writing where each mark on the page stands for a vowel or a consonant, appears to have been invented only once in all of human history by the Canaanites about 3,700 years ago.  And as Darwin pointed out, children have no instinctive tendency to write, but have to learn it through construction and schooling.ufeff A second thing not to confuse language with is proper grammar.

 Linguists distinguish between descriptive grammar – the rules, that characterize how people to speak – and prescriptive grammar – rules that characterize how people ought to speak if they are writing careful written prose.  ufeff A dirty secret from linguistics is that not only are these not the same kinds of rules, but many of the prescriptive rules of language make no sense whatsoever.  Take one of the most famous of these rules, the rule not to split infinitives.  ufeff According to this rule, Captain Kirk made a grievous grammatical error when he said that the mission of the Enterprise was u201cto boldly go where no man has gone before.u201d  He should have said, according to these editors, u201cto go boldly where no man has gone before,u201d which immediately clashes with the rhythm and structure of ordinary English.  In fact, this prescriptive rule was based on a clumsy analogy with Latin where you canu2019t splint an infinitive because itu2019s a single word, as in facary[ph] to do.

 Julius Caesar couldnu2019t have split an infinitive if he wanted to.  That rule was translated literally over into English where it really should not apply.  ufeff Another famous prescriptive rule is that, one should never use a so-called double negative.  Mick Jagger should not have sung, u201cI canu2019t get no satisfaction,u201d he really should have sung, u201cI canu2019t get any satisfaction.u201d  Now, this is often promoted as a rule of logical speaking, but u201ccanu2019tu201d and u201canyu201d is just as much of a double negative as u201ccanu2019tu201d and u201cno.u201d  The only reason that u201ccanu2019t get any satisfactionu201d is deemed correct and u201ccanu2019t get no satisfactionu201d is deemed ungrammatical is that the dialect of English spoken in the south of England in the 17th century used u201ccanu2019tu201d u201canyu201d rather than u201ccanu2019tu201d u201cno.u201d  ufeff If the capital of England had been in the north of the country instead of the south of the country, then u201ccanu2019t get no,u201d would have been correct and u201ccanu2019t get any,u201d would have been deemed incorrect.

ufeff Thereu2019s nothing special about a language that happens to be chosen as the standard for a given country.  In fact, if you compare the rules of languages and so-called dialects, each one is complex in different ways.  Take for example, African-American vernacular English, also called Black English or Ebonics.  There is a construction in African-American where you can say, u201cHe be workin,u201d which is not an error or bastardization or a corruption of Standard English, but in fact conveys a subtle distinction, one thatu2019s different than simply, u201cHe workin.u201d  u201cHe be workin,u201d means that he is employed; he has a job, u201cHe workin,u201d means that he happens to be working at the moment that you and I are speaking.  ufeff Now, this is a tense difference that can be made in African-American English that is not made in Standard English, one of many examples in which the dialects have their own set of rules that is just as sophisticated and complex as the one in the standard language.

 ufeff Now, a third thing, not to confuse language with is thought.  Many people report that they think in language, but commune of psychologists have shown that there are many kinds of thought that donu2019t actually take place in the form of sentences.  ufeff (1.) Babies (and other mammals) communicate without speech ufeffFor example, we know from ingenious experiments that non-linguistic creatures, such as babies before theyu2019ve learned to speak, or other kinds of animals, have sophisticated kinds of cognition, they register cause and effect and objects and the intentions of other people, all without the benefit of speech.  ufeff (2.) Types of thinking go on without language–visual thinkingufeff We also know that even in creatures that do have language, namely adults, a lot of thinking goes on in forms other than language, for example, visual imagery.  If you look at the top two three-dimensional figures in this display, and I would ask you, do they have the same shape or a different shape?  People donu2019t solve that problem by describing those strings of cubes in words, but rather by taking an image of one and mentally rotating it into the orientation of the other, a form of non-linguistic thinking.

 ufeff (3.) We use tacit knowledge to understand language and remember the gistufeff For that matter, even when you understand language, what you come away with is not in itself the actual language that you hear.  Another important finding in cognitive psychology is that long-term memory for verbal material records the gist or the meaning or the content of the words rather than the exact form of the words.  ufeff For example, I like to think that you retain some memory of what I have been saying for the last 10 minutes.

 But I suspect that if I were to ask you to reproduce any sentence that I have uttered, you would be incapable of doing so.  What sticks in memory is far more abstract than the actual sentences, something that we can call meaning or content or semantics.  ufeff In fact, when it even comes to   understanding a sentence, the actual words are the tip of a vast iceberg of a very rapid, unconscious, non-linguistic processing thatu2019s necessary even to make sense of the language itself.  And Iu2019ll illustrate this with a classic bit of poetry, the lines from the shampoo bottle.

 u201cWet hair, lather, rinse, repeat.u201d  ufeff Now, in understanding that very simple snatch of language, you have to know, for example, that when you repeat, you donu2019t wet your hair a second time because its already wet, and when you get to the end of it and you see u201crepeat,u201d you donu2019t keep repeating over and over in infinite loop, repeat here means, u201crepeat just once.u201d  Now this tacit knowledge of what the writers **** of language had in mind is necessary to understand language, but it, itself, is not language. ufeff (4.) If language is thinking, then where did it come from?ufeff Finally, if language were really thought, it would raise the question of where language would come from if it were incapable of thinking without language.  After all, the English language was not designed by some committee of Martians who came down to Earth and gave it to us.  Rather, language is a grassroots phenomenon.  Itu2019s the original wiki, which aggregates the contributions of hundreds of thousands of people who invent jargon and slang and new constructions, some of them get accumulated into the language as people seek out new ways of expressing their thoughts, and thatu2019s how we get a language in the first place.

 ufeff Now, this not to deny that language can affect thought and linguistics has long been interested in what has sometimes been called, the linguistic relativity hypothesis or the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (note correct spelling, named after the two linguists who first formulated it, namely that language can affect thought.  Thereu2019s a lot of controversy over the status of the linguistic relativity hypothesis, but no one believes that language is the same thing as thought and that all of our mental life consists of reciting sentences.

 ufeff Now that we have set aside what language is not, letu2019s turn to what language is beginning with the question of how language works. In a nutshell, you can divide language into three topics.  ufeff There are the words that are the basic components of sentences that are stored in a part of long-term memory that we can call the mental lexicon or the mental dictionary.  There are rules, the recipes or algorithms that we use to assemble bits of language into more complex stretches of language including syntax, the rules that allow us to assemble words into phrases and sentences; Morphology, the rules that allow us to assemble bits of words, like prefixes and suffixes into complex words; Phonology, the rules that allow us to combine vowels and consonants into the smallest words.

 And then all of this knowledge of language has to connect to the world through interfaces that allow us to understand language coming from others to produce language that others can understand us, the language interfaces.ufeff Letu2019s start with words.ufeff The basic principle of a word was identified by the Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure, more than 100 years ago when he called attention to the arbitrariness of the sign.  Take for example the word, u201cduck.u201d  The word, u201cducku201d doesnu2019t look like a duck or walk like a duck or quack like a duck, but I can use it to get you to think the thought of a duck because all of us at some point in our lives have memorized that brute force association between that sound and that meaning, which means that it has to be stored in memory in some format, in a very simplified form and an entry in the mental lexicon might look something like this.

 There is a symbol for the word itself, there is some kind of specification of its sound and thereu2019s some kind of specification of its meaning.  ufeff Now, one of the remarkable facts about the mental lexicon is how capacious it is.  Using dictionary sampling techniques where you say, take the top left-hand word on every 20th page of the dictionary, give it to people in a multiple choice test, correct for guessing, and multiply by the size of the dictionary, you can estimate that a typical high school graduate has a vocabulary of around 60,000 words, which works out to a rate of learning of about one new word every two hours starting from the age of one.  When you think that every one of these words is arbitrary as a telephone number of a date in history, youu2019re reminded about the remarkable capacity of human long-term memory to store the meanings and sounds of words.

 ufeff But of course, we donu2019t just blurt out individual words, we combine them into phrases and sentences.  And that brings up the second major component of language; namely, grammar.  ufeff Now the modern study of grammar is inseparable to the contributions of one linguist, the famous scholar, Noam Chomsky, who set the agenda for the field of linguistics for the last 60 years. ufeff To begin with, Chomsky noted that the main puzzle that we have to explain in understanding language is creativity or as linguists often call it productivity, the ability to produce and understand new sentences.  ufeff Except for a small number of clichu00e9d formulas, just about any sentence that you produce or understand is a brand new combination produced for the first time perhaps in your life, perhaps even in the history of the species.

 We have to explain how people are capable of doing it.  It shows that when we know a language, we havenu2019t just memorized a very long list of sentences, but rather have internalized a grammar or algorithm or recipe for combining elements into brand new assemblies.  For that reason, Chomsky has insisted that linguistics is really properly a branch of psychology and is a window into the human mind. ufeff A second insight is that languages have a syntax which canu2019t be identified with their meaning.  Now, the only quotation that I know of, of a linguist that has actually made it into Bartlettu2019s Familiar Quotations, is the following sentence from Chomsky, from 1956, u201cColorless, green ideas sleep furiously.u201d  Well, whatu2019s the point of that sentence?  The point is that it is very close to meaningless.

 On the other hand, any English speaker can instantly recognize that it conforms to the patterns of English syntax.  Compare, for example, u201cfuriously sleep ideas dream colorless,u201d which is also meaningless, but we perceive as a word salad.  ufeff A third insight is that syntax doesnu2019t consist of a string of word by word associations as in stimulus response theories in psychology where producing a word is a response which you then hear and it becomes a stimulus to producing the next word, and so on.  Again, the sentence, u201ccolorless green ideas sleep furiously,u201d can help make this point.  Because if you look at the word by word transition probabilities in that sentence, for example, colorless and then green; how often have you heard colorless and green in succession.  Probably zero times.  Green and ideas, those two words never occur together, ideas and sleep, sleep and furiously.  Every one of the transition probabilities is very close to zero, nonetheless, the sentence as a whole can be perceived as a well-formed English sentence.

 ufeff Language in general has long distance dependencies.  The word in one position in a sentence can dictate the choice of the word several positions downstream.  For example, if you begin a sentence with u201ceither,u201d somewhere down the line, there has to be an u201cor.u201d  If you have an u201cif,u201d generally, you expect somewhere down the line there to be a u201cthen.u201d  Thereu2019s a story about a child who says to his father, u201cDaddy, why did you bring that book that I donu2019t want to be read to out of, up for?u201d  Where you have a set of nested or embedded long distance dependencies.

 ufeff Indeed, one of the applications of linguistics to the study of good prose style is that sentences can be rendered difficult to understand if they have too many long distance dependencies because that could put a strain on the short-term memory of the reader or listener while trying to understand them.  ufeff Rather than a set of word by word associations, sentences are assembled in a hierarchical structure that looks like an upside down tree.  Let me give you an example of how that works in the case of English.  One of the basic rules of English is that a sentence consists of a noun phrase, the subject, followed by a verb phrase, the predicate.ufeff A second rule in turn expands the verb phrase.  A very phrase consists of a verb followed by a noun phrase, the object, followed by a sentence, the complement as, u201cI told him that it was sunny outside.u201d  ufeff ufeff Now, why do linguists insist that language must be composed out of  phrase structural rules?  ufeff (1.) Rules allow for open-ended creativity ufeffWell for one thing, that helps explain the main phenomenon that we want to explain, mainly the open-ended creativity of language.

 ufeff (2.) Rules allow for expression of unfamiliar meaningufeff It allows us to express unfamiliar meanings.  Thereu2019s a clichu00e9 in journalism for example, that when a dog bites a man, that isnu2019t news, but when a man bites a dog, that is news.  The beauty of grammar is that it allows us to convey news by assembling into familiar word in brand new combinations.  Also, because of the way phrase structure rules work, they produce a vast number of possible combinations. ufeff (3.) Rules allow for production of vast numbers of combinationsufeff Moreover, the number of different thoughts that we can express through the combinatorial power of grammar is not just humongous, but in a technical sense, itu2019s infinite.  Now of course, no one lives an infinite number of years, and therefore can shell off their ability to understand an infinite number of sentences, but you can make the point in the same way that a mathematician can say that someone who understands the rules of arithmetic knows that there are an infinite number of numbers, namely if anyone ever claimed to have found the longest one, you can always come up with one thatu2019s even bigger by adding a one to it.

 And you can do the same thing with language.  ufeff Let me illustrate it in the following way.  As a matter of fact, there has been a claim that there is a worldu2019s longest sentence.  ufeff Who would make such a claim?  Well, who else?  The Guinness Book of World Records.  You can look it up.  There is an entry for the Worldu2019s Longest Sentence.  It is 1,300 words long.  And it comes from a novel by William Faulkner.  Now I wonu2019t read all 1,300 words, but Iu2019ll just tell you how it begins.

 ufeff u201cThey both bore it as though in deliberate flatulent exaltationu2026u201d and it runs on from there. ufeff But Iu2019m here to tell you that in fact, this is not the worldu2019s longest sentence.  And Iu2019ve been tempted to obtain immortality in Guinness by submitting the following record breaker.  “Faulkner wrote, they both bore it as though in deliberate flatulent exaltation.u201d  But sadly, this would not be immortality after all but only the proverbial 15 minutes of fame because based on what you now know, you could submit a record breaker for the record breaker namely, “Guinness noted that Faulkner wrote” or “Pinker mentioned that Guinness noted that Faulkner wrote”, or “who cares that Pinker mentioned that Guinness noted that Faulkner wroteu2026”  ufeff Take for example, the following wonderfully ambiguous sentence that appeared in TV Guide.

 u201cOn tonightu2019s program, Conan will discuss sex with Dr. Ruth.u201d  ufeff Now this has a perfectly innocent meaning in which the verb, u201cdiscussu201d involves two things, namely the topic of discussion, u201csexu201d and the person with who itu2019s being discussed, in this case, with Dr. Ruth.  But is has a somewhat naughtier meaning if you rearrange the words into phrases according to a different structure in which case u201csex with Dr. Ruthu201d is the topic of conversation, and thatu2019s whatu2019s being discussed.  ufeff Now, phrase structure not only can account for our ability to produce so many sentences, but itu2019s also necessary for us to understand what they mean.  The geometry of branches in a phrase structure is essential to figuring out who did what to whom.ufeff Another important contribution of Chomsky to the science of language is the focus on language acquisition by children.

Now, children canu2019t memorize sentences because knowledge of language isnu2019t just one long list of memorized sentences, but somehow they must distill out or abstract out the rules that goes into assembling sentences based on what they hear coming out of their parentu2019s mouths when they were little.  And the talent of using rules to produce combinations is in evidence from the moment that kids begin to speak.  ufeff Children create sentences unheard from adultsufeff At the two-word stage, which you typically see in children who are 18 months or a bit older, kids are producing the smallest sentences that deserve to be counted as sentences, namely two words long.  But already itu2019s clear that they are putting them together using rules in their own mind.  To take an example, a child might say, u201cmore outside,u201d meaning, take them outside or let them stay outside.  Now, adults donu2019t say, u201cmore outside.u201d  So itu2019s not a phrase that the child simply memorized by rote, but it shows that already children are using these rules to put together new combinations.

 ufeff Another example, a child having jam washed from his fingers said to his mother ‘all gone sticky’.ufeff Again, not a phrase that you could ever have copied from a parent, but one that shows the child producing new combinations.  ufeff Past tense ruleufeff An easy way of showing that children assimilate rules of grammar unconsciously from the moment they begin to speak, is the use of the past tense rule. ufeff For example, children go through a long stage in which they make errors like, u201cWe holded the baby rabbitsu201d or u201cHe teared the paper and then he sticked it.u201d  Cases in which they over generalize the regular rule of forming the past tense, add u2018edu2019 to irregular verbs like u201chold,u201d u201csticku201d or u201ctear.u201d  And itu2019s easy to showu2026 itu2019s easy to get children to flaunt this ability to apply rules productively in a laboratory demonstration called the Wug Test.

 You bring a kid into a lab.  You show them a picture of a little bird and you say, u201cThis is a wug.u201d  And you show them another picture and you say, u201cWell, now there are two of them.u201d  There are two and children will fill in the gap by saying u201cwugs.u201d  Again, a form they could not have memorize because itu2019s invented for the experiment, but it shows that they have productive mastery of the regular plural rule in English.  ufeff And famously, Chomsky claimed that children solved the problem of language acquisition by having the general design of language already wired into them in the form of a universal grammar.  ufeff A spec sheet for what the rules of any language have to look like.  ufeff What is the evidence that children are born with a universal grammar?  Well, surprisingly, Chomsky didnu2019t propose this by actually studying kids in the lab or kids in the home, but through a more abstract argument called, u201cThe poverty of the input.u201d  Namely, if you look at what goes into the ears of a child and look at the talent they end up with as adults, there is a big chasm between them that can only be filled in by assuming that the child has a lot of knowledge of the way that language works already built in.

 ufeff Hereu2019s how the argument works.  One of the things that children have to learn when they learn English is how to form a question.  Now, children will get evidence from parentu2019s speech to how the question rule works, such as sentences like, u201cThe man is here,u201d ufeffand the corresponding question, u201cIs the man here?u201dufeff   Now, logically speaking, a child getting that kind of input could posit two different kinds of rules.

ufeffThereu2019s a simple word by word linear rule.  In this case, find the first u201cisu201d in the sentence and move it to the front.  u201cThe man is here,u201d u201cIs the man here?u201d Now thereu2019s a more complex rule that the child could posit called a structure dependent rule, one that looks at the geometry of the phrase structure tree.  In this case, the rule would be:  find the first u201cisu201d after the subject noun phrase and move that to the front of the sentence.  A diagram of what that rule would look like is as follows:  you look for the u201cisu201d that occurs after the subject noun phrase and thatu2019s what gets moved to the front of the sentence.  Now, whatu2019s the difference between the simple word-by-word rule and the more complex structured dependent rule?  Well, you can see the difference when it comes to performing the question from a slightly more complex sentence like, u201cThe man who is tall is in the room.u201d  ufeff But how is the child supposed to learn that?  How did all of us end up with the correct structured dependent of the rule rather than the far simpler word-by-word version of the rule? ufeff u201cWell,u201d Chomsky argues, u201cif you were actually to look at the kind of language that all of us hear, itu2019s actually quite rare to hear a sentence like, u201cIs the man who is tall in the room?  The kind of input that would logically inform you that the word-by-word rule is wrong and the structure dependent rule is right.

 Nonetheless, we all grow up into adults who unconsciously use the structure dependent rule rather than the word-by-word rule.  Moreover, children donu2019t make errors like, u201cis the man who tall is in the room,u201d as soon as they begin to form complex questions, they use the structure dependent rule.  And that,u201d Chomsky argues, u201cis evidence that structure dependent rules are part of the definition of universal grammar that children are born with.u201d  ufeff Now, though Chomsky has been fantastically influential in the science of language that does not mean that all language scientists agree with him.  And there have been a number of critiques of Chomsky over the years.  For one thing, the critics point out, Chomsky hasnu2019t really shown principles of universal grammar that are specific to language itself as opposed to general ways in which the human mind works across multiple domains, language and vision and control of motion and memory and so on.  We donu2019t really know that universal grammar is specific to language, according to this critique. ufeff Secondly, Chomsky and the linguists working with him have not examined all 6,000 of the worldu2019s languages and shown that the principles of universal grammar apply to all 6,000.

 Theyu2019ve posited it based on a small number of languages and the logic of the poverty of the input, but havenu2019t actually come through with the data that would be necessary to prove that universal grammar is really universal.  ufeff Finally, the critics argue, Chomsky has not shown that more general purpose learning models, such as neuro network models, are incapable of learning language together with all the other things that children learn, and therefore has not proven that there has to be specific knowledge how grammar works in order for the child to learn grammar.

  ufeff  Another component of language governs the sound pattern of language, the ways that the vowels and consonants can be assembled into the minimal units that go into words.  Phonology, as this branch of linguistics is called, consists of formation rules that capture what is a possible word in a language according to the way that it sounds.   To give you an example, the sequence, bluk, is not an English word, but you get a sense that it could be an English word that someone could coin a new formu2026 that someone could coin a new term of English that we pronounce u201cbluk.u201d  But when you hear the sound ****, you instantly know thatthat not only isnu2019t it an English word, but it really couldnu2019t be an English word.

 ****, by the way, comes from Yiddish and it means kind of to sigh or to moan.  Oi.  Thatu2019s to ****.  ufeff The reason that we recognize that itu2019s not English is because it has sounds like **** and sequences like ****, which arenu2019t part of the formation rules of English phonology.  But together with the rules that define the basic words of a language, there are also phonological rules that make adjustments to the sounds, depending on what the other words the word appears with.  Very few of us realize, for example, in English, that the past tense suffix u201cedu201d ufeffis actually pronounced in three different ways.  When we say, u201cHe walked,u201d ufeffwe pronounce the u201cedu201d like a u201cta,u201d walked.  When we say u201cjogged,u201d ufeffwe pronounce it as a u201cd,u201d jogged.

 And when we say u201cpatted,u201dufeff we stick in a vowel, pat-ted, showing that the same suffix, u201cedu201d can be readjusted in its pronunciation according to the rules of English phonology.  ufeff Now, when someone acquires English as a foreign language or acquires a foreign language in general, they carry over the rules of phonology of their first language and apply it to their second language.  We have a word for it; we call it an u201caccent.u201d  When a language user deliberately manipulates the rules of phonology, that is, when they donu2019t just speak in order to convey content, they pay attention as to what phonological structures are being used; we call it poetry and rhetoric.  ufeff So far, Iu2019ve been talking about knowledge of language, the rules that go into defining what are possible sequences of language.  But those sequences have to get into the brain during speech comprehension and they have to get out during speech production.

 And that takes us to the topic of language interfaces.  ufeff And letu2019s start with production.  ufeff This diagram here is literally a human cadaver that has been sawn in half.  An anatomist took a saw and [sound] allowing it to see in cross section the human vocal tract.  And that can illustrate how we get out knowledge of language out into the world as a sequence of sounds.  ufeff Now, each of us has at the top of our windpipe or trachea, a complex structure called the larynx or voice box; itu2019s behind your Adamu2019s Apple.  And the air coming out of your lungs have to go passed two cartilaginous flaps that vibrate and produce a rich, buzzy sound source, full of harmonics.

 Before that vibrating sound gets out to the world, it has to pass through a gauntlet or chambers of the vocal tract.  The throat behind the tongue, the cavity above the tongue, the cavity formed by the lips, and when you block off airflow through the mouth, it can come out through the nose.  ufeff Now, each one of those cavities has a shape that, thanks to the laws of physics, will amplify some of the harmonics in that buzzy sound source and suppress others.

 We can change the shape of those cavities when we move our tongue around.  When we move our tongue forward and backward, for example, as in u201ceh,u201d u201caa,u201d u201ceh,u201d u201caa,u201d we change the shape of the cavity behind the tongue, change the frequencies that are amplified or suppressed and the listener hears them as two different vowels.  ufeff Likewise, when we raise or lower the tongue, we change the shape of the resonant cavity above the tongue as in say, u201ceh,u201d u201cah,u201d u201ceh,u201d u201cah.u201d  Once again, the change in the mixture of harmonics is perceived as a change in the nature of the vowel.  ufeff When we stop the flow of air and then release it as in, u201ct,u201d u201cca,u201d u201cba.u201d  Then we hear a consonant rather than a vowel or even when we restrict the flow of air as in u201cf,u201d u201cssu201d producing a chaotic noisy sound.  Each one of those sounds that gets sculpted by different articulators is perceived by the brain as a qualitatively different vowel or consonant.

 ufeff Now, an interesting peculiarity of the human vocal track is that it obviously co-ops structures that evolved for different purposes for breathing and for swallowing and so on.  And itu2019s anu2026 And itu2019s an interesting fact first noted by Darwin that the larynx over the course of evolution has descended in the throat so that every particle of food going from the mouth through the esophagus to the stomach has to pass over the opening into the larynx with some probability of being inhaled leading to the danger of death by choking.

 And in fact, until the invention of the Heimlich Maneuver, several thousand people every year died of choking because of this maladaptive of the human vocal tract. ufeff Why did we evolve a mouth and throat that leaves us vulnerable to choking?  Well, a plausible hypothesis is that itu2019s a compromise that was made in the course of evolution to allow us to speak.  By giving range to a variety of possibilities for alternating the resonant cavities, for moving the tongue back and forth and up and down, we expanded the range of speech sounds we could make, improve the efficiency of language, but suffered the compromise of an increased risk of choking showing that language presumably had some survival advantage that compensated for the disadvantage in choking.

 ufeff What about the flow of information in the other direction, that is from the world into the brain, the process of speech comprehension?  ufeff Speech comprehension turns out to be an extraordinarily complex computational process, which we’re reminded of every time we interact with a voicemail menu on a telephone or you use a dictation on our computers.  For example, One writer, using the state-of-the-art speech-to-text systems dictated the following words into his computer.  He dictated u201cbook tour,u201d and it came out on the screen as u201cback to work.u201d  Another example, he said, u201cI truly couldnu2019t see,u201d and it came out on the screen as, u201ca cruelly good MC.u201d  Even more disconcertingly, he started a letter to his parents by saying, u201cDear mom and dad,u201d and what came out on the screen, u201cThe man is dead.u201d  ufeff ufeff Now, dictation systems have gotten better and better, but they still have a way to go before they can duplicate a human stenographer.  ufeff What is it about the problem of speech understanding that makes it so easy for a human, ufeffbut so hard for a computer? Well, there are two main contributors.

 One of them is the fact that each phony, each vowel or consonant actually comes out very differently, depending on what comes before and what comes after.  A phenomenon sometimes called co-articulation.  ufeff Let me give you an example.  The place called Cape Cod has two u201ccu201d sounds.  ufeff u2028Each of them symbolized by the letter u201cC,u201d the hard u201cC.u201d  Nonetheless, when you pay attention to the way you pronounce them, you notice that in fact, you pronounce them in very different parts of the mouth.  Try it.  Cape Cod, Cape Codu2026 u201cc,u201d u201ccu201d.  In one case, the u201ccu201d is produced way back in the mouth; the other itu2019s produced much farther forward.

 We donu2019t notice that we pronounce u201ccu201d in two different ways depending whether it comes before an u201cau201d or an u201cah,u201d but that difference forms a difference in the shape of the resonant cavity in our mouth which produces a very different wave form.  And unless a computer is specifically programmed to take that variability into account, it will perceive those two different u201ccu2019s,u201d as a different sound that objectively speaking, they really are:  u201cc-ehu201d u201cc-oau201d.  They really are different sounds, but our brain lumps them together.  ufeff The other reason that speech recognition is such a difficult problem is because of the absence of segmentation.  Now we have an illusion when we listen to speech that consists of a sequence to sounds corresponding to words.  But if you actually were to look at the wave form of a sentence on a oscilloscope, there would not be little silences between the words the way there are little bits of white space in printed words on a page, but rather a continuous ribbon in which the end of one word leads right to the beginning of the next.

 ufeff Itu2019s something that weu2019re aware ofu2026 Itu2019s something that weu2019re aware of when we listen to speech in a foreign language when we have no idea where one word ends and the other one begins.  In our own language, we detect the word boundaries simply because in our mental lexicon, we have stretches of sound that correspond to one word that tell us where it ends.

 But you canu2019t get that information from the wave form itself.  ufeff In fact, thereu2019s a whole genre of wordplay that takes advantage of the fact that word boundaries are not physically present in the speech wave.  Novelty songs like Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy diveyufeff u2028A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe? ufeffu2028u2028Now, it turns out that this is actually a grammatical sequence in words in Englishu2026 Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy, a kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldnu2019t you?ufeff When it is spoken or sung normally, the boundaries between words are obliterated and so the same sequence of sounds can be perceived either as nonsense or if you know what theyu2019re meant to convey, as sentences.  ufeff Another example familiar to most children, ufeffFuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.  Fuzzy Wuzzy wasnu2019t very fuzzy, was he?  And the famous dogroll, I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

ufeff We are generally unaware of how unambiguous language is.  In context, we effortlessly and unconsciously derive the intended meaning of a sentence, but a poor computer not equipped with all of our common sense and human abilities and just going by the words and the rules is often flabbergasted by all the different possibilities.  Take a sentence as simple as u201cMary had a little lamb,u201d ufeffyou might think that thatu2019s a perfectly simple unambiguous sentence.  But now imagine that it was continued with u201cwith mint sauce.u201d  You realize that u201chaveu201d is actually a highly ambiguous word.ufeff As a result, the computer translations can often deliver comically incorrect results.  ufeff According to legend, one of the first computer systems that was designed to translate from English to Russian and back again did the following given the sentence, u201cThe spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,u201d it translated it back as u201cThe vodka is agreeable, but the meat is rotten.u201d ufeff So why do people understand language so much better than computers?  What is the knowledge that we have that has been so hard to program into our machines?  Well, thereu2019s a third interface between language and the rest of the mind, and that is the subject matter of the branch of linguistics called Pragmatics, namely, how people understand language in context using their knowledge of the world and their expectation about how other speakers communicate.

 ufeff The most important principle of Pragmatics is called u201cthe cooperative principle,u201d namely; assume that your conversational partner is working with you to try to get a meaning across truthfully and clearly.  And our knowledge of Pragmatics, like our knowledge of syntax and phonology and so on, is deployed effortlessly, but involves many intricate computations.  For example, if I were to say, u201cIf you could pass the guacamole, that would be awesome.u201d  You understand that as a polite request meaning, give me the guacamole.  You donu2019t interpret it literally as a rumination about a hypothetical affair, you just assume that the person wanted something and was using that string of words to convey the request politely.  ufeff Often comedies will use the absence of pragmatics in robots as a source of humor.  As in the old u201cGet Smartu201d situation comedy, which had a robot named, Hymie, and a recurring joke in the series would be that Maxwell Smart would say to Hymie, u201cHymie, can you give me a hand?u201d  And then Hymie would go, {sound}, remove his hand and pass it over to Maxwell Smart not understanding that u201cgive me a hand,u201d in context means, help me rather than literally transfer the hand over to me.

 ufeff Or take the following example of Pragmatics in action.  Consider the following dialogue, Martha says, u201cIu2019m leaving you.u201d  John says, u201cWho is he?u201d  Now, understanding language requires finding the antecedents pronouns, in this case who the u201cheu201d refers to, and any competent English speaker knows exactly who the u201cheu201d is, presumably Johnu2019s romantic rival even though it was never stated explicitly in any part of the dialogue.

 This shows how we bring to bear on language understanding a vast store of knowledge about human behavior, human interactions, human relationships.  And we often have to use that background knowledge even to solve mechanical problems like, who does a pronoun like u201cheu201d refer to.  Itu2019s that knowledge thatu2019s extraordinarily difficult, to say the least to program into a computer.  ufeff Language is a miracle of the natural world because it allows us to exchange an unlimited number of ideas using a finite set of mental tools.  Those mental tools comprise a large lexicon of memorized words and a powerful mental grammar that can combine them.  Language thought of in this way should not be confused with writing, with the prescriptive rules of proper grammar or style or with thought itself.  ufeff Modern linguistics is guided by the questions, though not always the answers suggested by the linguist known as Noam Chomsky, namely how is the unlimited creativity of language possible?  What are the abstract mental structures that relate word to one another? How do children acquire them?  ufeff What is universal across languages?  And what does that say about the human mind?  ufeff The study of language has many practical applications including computers that understand and speak, the diagnosis and treatment of language disorders, the teaching of reading, writing, and foreign languages, the interpreting of the language of law, politics and literature.ufeff But for someone like me, language is eternally fascinating because it speaks to such fundamental questions of the human condition.

 ufeff[Language] is really at the center of a number of different concerns of thought, of social relationships, of human biology, of human evolution, that all speak to whatu2019s special about the human species. ufeff Language is the most distinctively human talent.  Language is a window into human nature, and most significantly,ufeff the vast expressive power of language is one of the wonders of the natural world.  Thank you.ufeff. “}

As found on Youtube

Study English in Brighton

Study English – Series 1, Episode 22: Finance Report

{“en”:”Hello. I’m Margot Politis. Welcome to another episode of Study English, IELTS preparation. Today we’re going to listen to a finance report. It’s filled with numbers and amounts, expressed in a variety of ways. It’s important to be able to understand and describe numerical data using decimals, fractions and currencies. Listen to the day’s finance report. The Australian dollar, today Tuesday the 11th of November, continues to rise against the US dollar, buying just over 70 cents, a 15 year high. Against other currencies, however, the trend is a little different, falling against the pound, closing at 0.425, a slight drop on yesterday, and euros.

The yen is also strengthening at 71.95, and considerably higher against the greenback at 1yen. The Dow Jones Index closed today at 9809.79, a fall of on yesterday’s trading. The Sydney Stock Market doubled its trading yesterday with BHP Billiton trading heavily. The latest retail figures showed that turnover grew by 3.2% in the June quarter, the fastest quarterly growth rate for five and a half years. At the same time, unemployment fell to its lowest level in twelve and a half years. OK, first we’re going to look at decimals, and how you express them. Listen carefully again. Against other currencies, however, the trend is a little different, falling against the pound, closing at 0.425, a slight drop on yesterday, and euros. The yen is also strengthening at 71.95, and considerably higher against the greenback at 1yen. The Dow Jones Index closed today at 9809.79, a fall of on yesterday’s trading. In English, decimals are written with a point, not a comma. So we write 4.25, 6.1. When you say the numbers after the decimal point, you say them all separately, as individual numbers. So we have: seventy one point nine five forty seven point one eight nine thousand eight hundred and nine point seven nine Notice that a zero is often spoken as ‘oh’.

Practice saying these numbers: three hundred and twenty six point oh one four point eight nine seven nine hundred and two point three oh eight Listen again: Against other currencies, however, the trend is a little different, falling against the pound, closing at 0.425, a slight drop on yesterday, and euros. The yen is also strengthening at 71.95, and considerably higher against the greenback at 1yen. The Dow Jones Index closed today at 9809.79, a fall of on yesterday’s trading. The Sydney Stock Market doubled its trading yesterday with BHP Billiton trading heavily. You can hear that when using numbers, there are often alternatives, and many choices you can make. So conversationally, we would usually say one hundred and eleven point oh three, but will also often hear one hundred and eleven point zero three.

Here, we could say: zero point four two five nought point four two five or even just point four two five Notice that in North America, people usually say zero, not nought or ‘oh’. OK, now the other way of expressing numbers less than one is using fractions. Listen to the fractions here. The latest retail figures showed that turnover grew by 3.2% in the June quarter, the fastest quarterly growth rate for five and a half years. At the same time, unemployment fell to its lowest level in twelve and a half years. She uses the most common fraction – a half. Listen to how we say common fractions: a half a third a quarter two thirds five eights three quarters Notice that once you understand the pattern, you can express any fraction you want. Try these: seven eighteenths 16 thirtieths 14 fortieths OK, now listen again to some of the report. Listen for different currencies: Against other currencies, however, the trend is a little different, falling against the pound, closing at 0.425, a slight drop on yesterday, and euros. The yen is also strengthening at 71.95, and considerably higher against the greenback at 1yen.

There were a number of different currencies mentioned in that clip: the pound; the euro; the yen; the greenback. Let’s have a look at them. Lots of countries use a dollar. In Australia, the Australian dollar is usually expressed with the dollar sign. But internationally, it’s written like this AUD. We read this the Australian dollar. In United States, they use the dollar as well. It’s the USD, the United States dollar. But often called the greenback, because it’s green. In Great Britain they use the pound. It is written GBP, but it’s often called the pound sterling. In the European Union, they use the euro dollar, written like this – EUR. In Japan, it’s the yen, written JPY. In China, it’s the yuan, written CNY, and the renminbi, RMB.

Notice that we write the currency before the number, but we say it after the number. So we read: two dollars. or four pounds fifteen. Notice also how we read longer numbers: three thousand, four hundred and seventy Japanese yen one hundred and ninety two Australian dollars Notice that when spoken naturally the one often becomes ‘a’ and the ‘and’ becomes squashed. We don’t say one hundred and ninety two but a hundred n ninety two. Try this one: a hundred and twenty seven thousand, three hundred and twenty two Hong Kong dollars OK, now let’s listen to the report again, and then we’ll look at another important use of numbers. The Australian dollar, today Tuesday the 11th of November, continues to rise against the US dollar, buying just over 70 cents, a 15 year high.

Notice that she says Tuesday the 11th of November. Saying simple things like the date can be confusing in English, as the way they’re said varies. In Australia, we say the 11th of November, or November the 11th. Notice that it’s written without the words ‘the’, or ‘of’. For the 13th of February 2005, Australians would write this: 13.05.2005. But in North America, they’d write it: 02.13.2005. You’ll need to learn these to make sure you don’t turn up somewhere on the wrong day! So remember that in Australia they write the date: day dot month dot year, but in North America, they write: month dot day dot year. And there is an international standard that says the format should be: year dot month dot day. With numbers, dates, times, there are all sorts of variations. Just make sure you understand the currency, the time and the date, or you could find yourself in all sorts of trouble! And I’ll see you soon for more Study English! Bye bye.. “}

As found on Youtube

Study English in Brighton

Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future | Joe Ruhl | TEDxLafayette

{“en”:”Translator: Tanya Cushman Reviewer: Queenie Lee I have one of the best jobs in the world because I get to work with people who are fun, funny, energetic, creative and insightful. And they happen to be 14 to 18 years of age. I really do think kids keep a person young, and I think that’s probably why, when I’m in the presence of adults, I sometimes don’t know how to act, so you’ll forgive me. So, inspiring the students of the future. What really works? 37 years of teaching experience have taught me that two things are needed: research-based teaching techniques and relationship. Relationship is huge, but we’ll talk more about that later. What I’d like to look at first are the techniques. I think probably most of us remember the teacher-centered classroom; this is probably what we are familiar with from our youth. You remember the teacher was up front in the center, the students were in nice neat rows, not allowed to talk to each other, and the teacher, the source of authority, downloaded information to the kids, who regurgitated it back up on a test designed to measure how much content they could remember.

Now, I have to admit, I love lecturing, but my students don’t always love it; it does not always inspire. So I was thinking, what really inspires? Years ago, I was doing lunch duty at school, standing in the lunchroom, being visible, watching kids go through the cafeteria line, and as I watched the kids going through the line, it occurred to me they love having choices. And so I said to myself, “Self, maybe that would work in the classroom. Let the kids have choices.” And so that’s what I did. I converted my classroom to a situation where student choice was a big part of the room along with four other Cs: Collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. Actually, over ten years ago, the National Education Association identified those last four Cs on the list as essential 21st century skills that kids should learn, and I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve added choice to the top of the list not as a skill for kids to learn, but rather as a characteristic of the classroom. By choice, I mean a situation where many learning activities are available to students, designed to meet the many diverse learning styles that they have.

And the kids love it as much as they love choices in the cafeteria. Now, I think we’re made for learning this way. Imagine our early hominid ancestors out looking for food. Don’t you know that finding and tracking that woolly mammoth required critical thinking and problem-solving? It definitely required collaboration, teamwork. I mean, you wouldn’t want to do this by yourself. No way. And collaboration required communication. And then I imagine those people sitting around the campfire at night, reliving the adventures of the day’s hunt.

They must have had smiles on their faces when they were retelling the story of the hunt. And I know they smiled when they put those cave paintings up on the wall because creativity is a uniquely human, pleasurable, satisfying activity. So I believe our brains are wired for the five Cs. And since they’re wired for the five Cs, that authentic learning will happen when kids are allowed to engage in the five Cs. And not just learning, but I think kids will enjoy a classroom setup like this and even be inspired in this way.

Now, this requires – A classroom setup based on the five Cs requires a shift from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered classroom. And this requires the teacher to remove him or herself from front and center, becoming more of a guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage. But this opens up opportunities to not merely teach, but to coach, to mentor, to nurture and inspire, and that’s why I love it so much. Now, time out. It’s important for me to mention these are not my original ideas; I stand on the shoulders of giants. Remember Plutarch? He said it a long time ago: “The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” And more recently, Albert Einstein: “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” All right.

You’re going to have to bear with me. I’m going to get real goose-bumpy for a minute. One of the absolute, most exciting moments of my life, my professional life was meeting Albert Einstein just a few years ago. (Laughter) Changed my life, bumping into him in that wax museum. (Laughter) What a moment it was. So I stand on the shoulders of giants, giants like Montessori and Piaget, and Dr. Sam Postlewait, who was doing a lot of these things in his biology classes at Purdue University, back in the 1960s. I’m a product of the Purdue Biology Department; that’s where I fell in love with biology. I stand on the shoulders of giants, like Tom Watts and Steve Randak, who were doing this back in the 1970s in their high school biology classes.

I stand on the shoulders of many giants called elementary school teachers and special ed teachers. So, I’m a product of all of those mentors. So, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity and student choice, what’s it look like? If I could just share with you briefly the experiences that I’ve tried with this: I’ve taken my ninth-grade biology classes and divided the school year up into two- to three-week units. At the beginning of each unit, the students are given a menu of all the smorgasbord activities that are available on the menu. Now, this has been challenging because I’ve had to write all of these activities so that no matter what combination of activities a student chooses to do, based on their learning styles, and no matter what order they choose to do them in, they’ll still achieve the required objectives for the unit.

It’s been fun; it’s been a challenge. But the kids love it. They love having the choice, and there are many times when they forget that I’m even in the room, and that’s okay. One of the things that is not required – There are two activities normally in every unit that are not required: One is the test at the end of the unit, and the other one is the computer tutorial. I’ve taken several summers and written these self-paced, interactive computer tutorials that the kids work through. They’re designed to take the place of the stuff I used to lecture on. Kids have told me in private, “Mr. Ruhl, we like the tutorials better than your lectures.” And that’s okay, that’s perfectly okay, because it’s all about them. And so if you came to visit my class on a typical day, you would see some kids working through the computer tutorials. You would very likely see some kids working on some website activities online. It’s possible you would see some kids in a corner of the room with headphones on watching a video related to the unit, writing out answers to questions that accompany the video.

I’m sure you would see students doing laboratory activities. You would probably notice some kids tending to their ongoing science fair projects, and I know for sure, you would probably find a group of kids off in another corner around an educational game designed to teach them about some biological concept related to the unit. And you would likely see some kids doing some hands-on, minds-on simulations, learning about some other biological phenomena. I know you would see some kids off in a corner filling out what are called “reflection sheets,” that are designed to get them to think about their learning, self-evaluate their efforts, take past knowledge and connect it to new knowledge. And there’s one other activity on the menu that a lot of kids really enjoy. It’s called “Arts and Entertainment.” It’s on the menu in every unit, and this is where the students take any concept they’ve learned in the unit and at home, develop some kind of a project presentation and then present it to the rest of the class on the last day of the unit.

Arts and Entertainment has to be nontraditional; it’s only limited by their imagination. So they can come in and perform a song, a skit, present a movie, present a model that they’ve built, poetry, any nontraditional way of demonstrating their knowledge of something they’ve learned in the unit. For example, these two young ladies in our biochemistry unit took it upon themselves to build a model of a chlorophyll molecule using gumdrops to represent the atoms. These two young ladies – they’re sisters – they happened to decide to demonstrate in a very creative way the fact that they each inherited half of their genes from mom and half of their genes from dad. (Laughter) Got to love them. This method of teaching, for me, I have found – 37 years experience – is not only effective, but it’s fun because it allows me to sit down with small groups of students while I’m team-teaching with that fleet of ten computers; it gives me the opportunity to sit down with a group of two, three or four or five kids and respond to questions that they initiate. It allows me the opportunity to listen to their thinking, and, teachers, when you do this, if you do this, the whole situation creates somewhat of a teacher paradox.

Because by removing yourself from front and center, you seem to become less important, but paradoxically, in reality you become more important because when working as a guide on the side, you’re freed up to use the most powerful teaching techniques I have ever run across in 37 years. They’re as old as the hills; it doesn’t matter what techniques are used, these two always work. I’m talking about two loves. First, the teacher’s love for the subject and passion for the subject. And secondly, the teacher’s genuine love for the kids. First, let’s talk about the passion. You know what I remember about third grade? I remember Jenny on the bus.

I’m not kidding. Third grade. No, the thing I remember most about the classroom in third grade is I remember our teacher every day after lunch would read to us for 10 to 15 minutes; she would read to us “Tom Sawyer.” What an adventure! We had black-and-white TV, we had cartoons on TV, but this was different. It was obvious to us that Miss Hershey loved reading, and she was passionate about reading to us. Tom Sawyer! What an adventure! At the end of the 10-minute reading period, I couldn’t wait until the next day to find out what would happen to Tom and his friends. I don’t know if Miss Hershey realized it or not, I should have written her a letter a long time ago. She inspired me to be a reader. But you see, she wasn’t saddled with state-mandated standards and state-mandated, high-stakes standardized testing, and so she was free to teach and inspire. I’ll never forget her.

She means the world to me. I should have written her a long time ago. Then for that other love. Teacher’s love for the kids. If there are any teachers in the audience, don’t get nervous. I’m not talking about warm, fuzzy, emotional love. I’m talking about genuine, decisional, put-the-other-person-first kind of love. It motivates; it inspires in a powerful way. I’m talking about the kind of love that – C.S. Lewis wrote about it in his book “The Four Loves.” He described it as “agape love,” the highest level of love known, a self-sacrificial kind of love, a love that’s passionately committed to the well-being of the other. This kind of love is not always emotional, but it is always decisional. So, teachers, great news. This means you can love your kids even when they’re not likable. Does that ever happen? Because this kind of love is not emotional, it’s decisional, and it motivates and inspires in a powerful way, and it’s as old as the hills.

So, teachers … an airtight lesson plan is important. A well-organized, consistent discipline plan is important. Effective use of technology is important. The standards are important, but, please, don’t let them stifle your creativity. All these things are important, but what the kids are going to remember most of all is you. Don’t forget that sixth C: Caring. That is the most effective, most powerful, most inspiring way of teaching: getting their attention, motivating them, inspiring them. What they’re going to remember most is that you looked them in the eye and asked them about their extra-curricular activities and their part-time jobs. What they’re going to remember most is that you just asked them in the hall how they were doing. What they’re going to remember most is you worked really hard in the first couple weeks of school to learn their names in the first couple days. What they’re going to remember most is that you went to their athletic events and their concerts.

What they’re going to remember most is that you led the class in loud, off-key choruses of “Happy Birthday.” What they’re going to remember most is that when they made the newspaper, you put their newspaper clippings up on the wall in the classroom, and you told them to autograph them, and you told them to do that so that some day when their autographs were worth lots of money, it would fund your retirement. (Laughter) What they’re going to remember is that you were transparent, and that you were real, and that you had the ability to laugh at yourself and laugh with them. So, what’s really important? How do we motivate? How do we inspire? Allow kids to involve themselves in the classroom in student-choice collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. But don’t forget that sixth C. It’s probably the most important one because the greatest of these is love. Thank you. (Applause). “}

As found on Youtube

Study English in Brighton

Study English – Series 1, Episode 5: Global Warming

{“en”:”Hello. I’m Margot Politis. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. Today we’re going to look at a topic you’ve probably heard a lot about – global warming and the environment. First we’re going to look at ways of brainstorming, taking notes and developing ideas. Watch while we play some vision that contains ideas about the causes and effects of global warming. While you watch, try to note down some of your ideas about what global warming is. OK so you saw some ideas, and perhaps took some notes, during that clip. What were some of the ideas you saw? What has caused global warming? We saw gases in the air, cars, factory waste, and people cutting trees down. So if you made those notes, you’d get an idea that these were the things causing global warming. Now let’s listen to someone talk about the causes. Heat-trapping gases are building up in the atmosphere.

Heat-trapping gases are building up in the atmosphere. What else? So what is global warming? It’s the result of billions of decisions. It’s caused by decisions made by individuals – like driving big cars rather than small cars. And it’s caused by decisions made by corporations and nations, like dumping waste into the atmosphere. Global warming is caused by about people using big cars, and people dumping waste into the atmosphere. OK, so you’ve looked at the vision, and listened to the speaker, and you’ve made notes about some of the causes of global warming. Now let’s look for some of the effects. So after watching that, you might be thinking that global warming is having an effect on weather patterns, and on nature. Listen to the speaker. Nature is already responding to global warming. There have been changes in global weather patterns. Trees are flowering earlier. Birds are laying eggs earlier. Butterflies are moving up hills. So there’s been weather changes, and changes to the ways trees, birds and butterflies behave. So we have a list of causes, and list of effects. You might have identified those things from a text you’ve read, or from listening to someone speak.

This is how you can take notes. Once you’ve got your notes, you need to be able to link those causes and effects in sentences. Let’s look at a couple of different ways. The first and most basic way is just making a sequence of statements. This can sometimes be a powerful way of making a connection between things. Listen. Heat-trapping gases are building up in the atmosphere. Trees are flowering earlier. Birds are laying eggs earlier, and butterflies are moving up hills. From the sequence of information, we realise that birds are laying their eggs earlier because gases are making the earth warmer. So a simple list of statements can show a cause and effect relationship. But there are other ways too. You can use the language of cause and effect. We can say: X causes Y. Driving cars causes air pollution. There are many other word choices as well. Driving cars leads to air pollution. Driving cars results in air pollution. Notice you can also turn the sentence around. Air pollution is caused by driving cars.

Air pollution is the result of driving cars. Air pollution is due to driving cars. Listen to an example here. There have been changes in global weather patterns. Trees are flowering earlier. Birds are laying eggs earlier. Butterflies are moving up hills. So what is global warming? It is the result of billions of individual decisions. He’s talking about global warming. Global warming is the result of billions of decisions. Global warming is due to billions of decisions. And remember we can turn the sentence around, and change the phrase: Billions of decisions cause global warming. Billions of decisions result in global warming. Billions of decisions lead to global warming. When you’re writing about causes and effects, make sure you use a variety of these kinds of phrases. There are many to choose from. You should make lists of cause and effect language, and the kinds of vocabulary you can use to describe cause and effect relationships.

Now listen to another clip. Trees are flowering earlier. Birds are laying eggs earlier. Butterflies are moving up hills. So what is global warming? It is the result of billions of individual decisions. When you’re writing up your notes using cause and effect language, you’ll need to be able to follow or track the subject of the text. Let’s look at that now. What is global warming? It is the result of billions of individual decisions. The word ‘it’ here is called a referent. We use referents to identify and track subjects through a conversation or a piece of writing.

If you repeat the subject too many times, your work will sound boring. Listen to this: The woman came into the room. The woman sat down. The woman drank her tea. Look at how we use referents: The woman came into the room. She sat down. She drank her tea. When you are reading, you’ll need to be able to understand referents, and follow the subject through the text. Other referents are: this, that, these, those. Here’s the clip again. Listen to the way the referents are used. What is global warming? It is the result of billions of individual decisions.

The word it here refers to global warming. What is global warming? Global warming is the result of billions of decisions. And here’s another referent: What is global warming? It is the result of billions of individual decisions. You can’t manage that at the scale of the individual. He says: You can’t manage that at the scale of the individual. He means: You can’t manage global warming at the scale of the individual. But notice how the subject changes here. What is global warming? It’s the result of billions of individual decisions.

You can’t manage that at the scale of the individual. Managing the atmosphere has to take place at a global level. That’s why it needs international agreements. Managing the atmosphere has to take place at a global level. The subject of this sentence is ‘managing the atmosphere’. That’s why it needs international agreement. So the ‘it’ here no longer refers to global warming. Now ‘it’ is referring to ‘managing the atmosphere’. That’s why managing the atmosphere needs international agreement. When reading and writing, you must be very careful to notice when subjects change, and to be clear about which subject is being referred to. This can be quite tricky sometime. Next time you see a paragraph, try to highlight all the referents like: it this that these those he she they Then try to work out what subject they are all referring back to.

It’s a great exercise, and it will help your reading, writing and speaking skills. And that’s all for today. Hope you keep enjoying your English studies and Study English! I’ll see you next time.. “}

As found on Youtube

Study English in Brighton