Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

English World 2 Unit 5: Review Unit 5

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 2)

Pokemon PowerPoint: driveslidespub
Quizlet: drive, docs, pub

Study at home: J2A Unit 5 Vocabulary

Study at home: J2A Unit 5 Vocabulary

Study at home: J2A Unit 5 Vocabulary

Monday, June 26, 2017

So the folks at take on the weirdness of the Gremlins Movie:

6 Bizarre Implications Of The Gremlins Films - Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder

As for me, I listed Gremlins as one of my favorite films of all time over here.

A couple notes:
1) A lot of the bizarre tonal shifts in Gremlins that complains about are actually intentional--i.e. the filmmakers were intentionally trying to make a black comedy with Gremlins.

2) But... I didn't realize this as a kid.  I was too young to understand movie genre cliches and the subversion of those cliches.  I thought this was just how horror movies usually worked.  And I'm willing to bet it was the same for most of my generation.
It wasn't until I got older that I realized how intentionally bizarre Gremlins was.
It is partly that mix of childhood nostalgia mixed with the fascination for everything bizarre in this movie that puts Gremlins on my 10 ten favorite films of all time list.

English World 2 Unit 5 Class Composition p.65

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 2)

PowerPoint: drive, slides, pub
Running Dictation: drive, docs, pub

Yet another installment in "Hey, I know that guy!"  (Or in this case--those guys)

Nora Gleason Interviews Stewart Gatsi [FULL INTERVIEW ]

Both the interviewer and the interviewee are friends/co-workers of mine.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

English World 2 Unit 5 Listening p.64

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 2)

PowerPoint: Drive, slides, pub
Transcript: drive, docs, pub
Production: drive, docs, pub
Interesting Random Facts--The Kingdom of Kush in the Bible

So, this Extra History video here  mentioned the Kingdom of Kush, which got me thinking:

The Kingdom of Kush is one of those names that I remember from Bible class in my school days, but I suddenly realized that I know nothing about it.

Wikipedia article on the ancient Kingdom of Kush here.

Also according to Wikipedia, the Bible identifies the Kingdom of Kush with Cush, the oldest son of Ham, son of Noah.
Cush was the father of Nimrod, and, according to Wikipedia, the Bible gets a bit confused with the exact location of the land of Cush, and Cush is alternately identified in Scripture with the Kingdom of Kush, ancient Sudan, and/or the Arabian Peninsula.[1].

For a list of all the times the Cush is mentioned in the Bible, see here.
This made me laugh:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

English World 2 Unit 5 Reading p.62-63

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 2)

Pre-Reading Powerpoint: drive, slides, pub

TEFLology Podcast: TEFL Interviews 31: Jennifer Jenkins on Global Englishes

(TEFLology Podcast)

New episode of TEFLology HERE.

I mentioned in my original review that TEFLology has somehow managed to get access to some of the biggest names in the field for their interview series.

This is yet another huge name.

Jennifer Jenkins is one of the most controversial names in English language teaching.

To quote from her entry in Wikipedia:

When Jenkins' book Phonology Of English As An International Language was published in 2000 it was seen as potentially controversial[3] and stimulated debate about the prevailing emphasis on "correct" accents in teaching English as a foreign language, and Jenkins' idea of a "Lingua Franca Core". This is a core list of pronunciation features which ELF speakers need to master in order to be mutually intelligible.[5] Jenkins' idea that English is "an international language and as such no longer the preserve of its native speakers" has been seen as a challenge to teachers of English.[6]

I first heard about Jennifer Jenkins while doing my Masters in Applied Linguistics.  The professor assigned us one of Jenkins's articles.  I don't remember anything from the article now, but I remember a little bit of the discussion.
At first the professor stayed neutral and allowed the class to debate the issue, but when the class started to turn against Jenkins's ideas, the professor joined in with the condemnation.  The professor said that not enough research had been done to justify the selection of phonemes that Jennifer Jenkins had chosen for the Lingua Franca Core.

Jennifer Jenkins's name has also popped up in some of the books I've read on TESOL  and I've mentioned her name before in one of my book reviews.

Unfortunately, my memory has grown foggy, and I've forgotten exactly what Jennifer Jenkins was proposing in concrete terms--if indeed I ever knew in the first place.

Which phonemes was Jenkins proposing as part of the Lingua Franca Core?  Was she proposing it as a receptive model, or a productive model?  I don't remember.

Much of the interview consisted on Jennifer Jenkins just responding to her critics, which left me slightly confused as to what she exactly was proposing.

It might have been nice to first bring the listener up to speed on what exactly Jennifer Jenkins's theories are, and then listen to Jennifer Jenkins respond to her critics.

I understand that the interview subject herself probably doesn't have the time or patience to sit through a recap of her work, but maybe theTEFLologists could have recorded a separate episode of themselves talking about her theories, and then aired that as kind of a bonus episode that could also have served as an introduction to this interview.

If the TEFLologists will forgive the unsolicited advice, this is my suggestion for the next time they get access to another really big name.  Maybe after they record the interview, but before they release it, it would be cool to do an extra episode of themselves talking about the interview subject to get all the listeners up to speed.  They could release it as a separate episode, but it could also function as an introduction to the interview.

All that being said, I still enjoyed the interview with Jennifer Jenkins for what it was.  She was very articulate.   And I thought she was very perceptive on exactly why her theories have had such an emotional reaction.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cinemassacre reviews Planet of the Apes

I'm also a huge fan of this movie.  In fact, I put it in my list of my top 10 movies of all time (see here).
I agree with Cinemassacre that it's impossible these days to see this movie unspoiled.  I certainly knew what the ending was long before I ever saw the movie.

Interesting Random Facts--The Gibeonites

Via Wikipedia

After the destruction of Jericho and Ai, the people of Gibeon (Hivites) sent ambassadors to trick Joshua and the Israelites into making a treaty with them. According to the Bible, the Israelites were commanded to destroy all inhabitants of Canaan. The Gibeonites presented themselves as ambassadors from a distant, powerful land. Without consulting God (Joshua 9:14), Israel entered into a covenant or peace treaty with the Gibeonites. The Israelites soon found out that the Gibeonites were actually their neighbours, living within three days walk of them (Joshua 9:17) and Joshua then realised that he had been deceived; however, he kept the letter of his covenant with the Gibeonites to let them live in exchange for their servitude, deciding to have them assigned as woodcutters and water-carriers and condemning (cursing) them to work forever in these trades (Joshua 9:3-27). Theologian John Gill suggests that this curse was a particular example of the curse which Noah inflicted on all of Canaan:
Then he (Noah) said:
"Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren".[7]
In retaliation for allying with the Israelites, the city was later besieged by a coalition of five other Amorite kings led by Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, along with Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon. The Gibeonites appealed to Joshua, who led the subsequent victory over the Amorites amid miraculous circumstances, including deadly hailstones and the suspension of the movement of the sun and moon until the Amorites were completely defeated. (Joshua 10:1-15)
2 Samuel 21:2 indicates that Saul pursued the Gibeonites and sought to kill them off "in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah". (2 Samuel 21:5)
Much later, after the death of Absalom and king David's restoration to his throne, Israel was visited by a grievous famine, which was believed to be as a result of King Saul's treatment of the Gibeonites. (2 Samuel 21:1)
German teenagers shoot at Thai king with rubber pellets

I don't know what your upbringing was like, but boy oh boy, would I have been in trouble at home if I had shot rubber pellets at the King of Thailand as a teenager.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Cynical Historian Reviews:
All the Way | Based on a True Story

My own take is here.  If you read my review, I'm pretty much in agreement with everything he says.
The only place where we disagree is that he says this movie could be boring if you watch it all the way straight through.  I, on the other hand, was fascinated by it the whole time.

The lion is the stronger animal

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

This is another grammar question that comes not from a student but from a colleague.

The colleague was marking the student's homework.

The textbook had asked the question: "Which animal is stronger?"  (The question was accompanied by a picture of a lion and a sheep).

The intended correct answer was: "The lion is stronger."

But the student had written: "The lion is the stronger animal."

My colleague asked me what I thought.  "Yeah, it's correct," I said.  "I'd give him the point."

I would have been content to leave it at that, but my colleague wanted to pursue the matter further, and figure out exactly way the answer appeared to be grammatically correct, and yet still sounded slightly wrong to him.
So we batted around a couple of ideas.

My colleague suggested the sentence itself was non-native like.

I thought the sentence itself was absolutely fine, but perhaps sounded strange in this context.  After thinking about it for a bit, I suggested that possibly the problem was that the question was intended to elicit an adjective as the answer.  When the student responded with a noun phrase, it sounded slightly off to our ears because we were expecting an adjective phrase as the answer.

But I'll throw this one out to the Internet for a second opinion.  Did I explain this correctly?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A fool and his money are soon parted

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

Okay, yet another grammar question I created for myself.  Yet again this is from my proverbs lessons.

This one has to do with articles.

Perhaps if I was smart, I would just leave the articles alone, and not attempt to analyze the use of articles in all of the proverb lessons.  Because man-oh-man, does the use of articles get confusing in English.  (If I had started this Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer series 10 years ago, I bet I'd have a whole blog full of questions about articles by now.  I can't even count the number of times questions about articles have stumped me in class.)

However, Scott Thornbury does not shy away from analyzing articles in his Beyond the Sentence book, and since I was using that book as inspiration for my proverb lessons, I tried to follow his example and have the students analyze all the articles.

In "The pen is mightier than the sword" --Slideshow (slidespub), Worksheet (docspub)--I had my students analyze why the proverb used the definitive article.  i.e. why was it "the pen" and "the sword" instead of "a pen" and "a sword"  .  The answer I directed them to was that the proverb was referring to things in general.  It wasn't just that one particular pen was mightier than one particular sword.  It was that pens were mightier than swords in general.

So, then, if that's the explanation I gave for "The pen is mightier than the sword", what then to do about "A fool and his money".  Why isn't it "the fool and his money" ?

I thought this over for a while, and the answer I used for that lesson was that "the" would refer to all fools in general.  But that wouldn't work here, because not all fools have money.  Some fools have money, and some don't.  So we need to look at one particular case in which a fool happens to have money.  Thus "a fool".    And that's the answer I used for the lesson --Slideshow (slidespub), Worksheet (docspub),

But that was just what I came up with out of desperation.  I'm not 100% sure I'm analyzing it right.
History Buffs Reviews Tora! Tora! Tora!

My own review is here.

You'll notice I cover many of the same points that he does.  (I was also impressed at how meticulously the film was, impressed at the practical effects, expressed concern about how the movie lacks suspense.)

Also, the History Buff gives some background on the Pearl Harbor attack, which shows that the war was about oil.  See my post on The World at War, the section: It’s Always About the Oil

Also, History Buffs references the Nostalgia Critics review of Pearl Harbor, and I also agree this review is a classic.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

This is another question I created for myself.

Since I started doing the proverbs lessons, I've committed myself to pulling apart and dissecting all the grammar of common English proverbs.  (As inspired by Scott Thornbury's example in Beyond the Sentence).

But in committing myself to this project, I sometimes find myself ending up with proverbs I don't know how to analyze.

For example: "Out of sight, out of mind" ----Slideshow (slidespub), Worksheet (docspub),

"sight" and "mind" are simple enough.  (They're both nouns).  But how to classify "out" and "of" .  Is "of" a preposition modifying "out" ?
I've consulted some dictionaries that say "out of" is to be regarded as just one word, and it functions as a preposition.

So "out of sight" is a prepositional phrase then?  "Out of" is the preposition, and "sight" is the object of the preposition?  But then what is the prepositional phrase modifying?

I took a stab at reconstructing the full sentence, and my guess: "If something is out of sight, then it is also out of mind".  Is this correct?

The Life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer

(Book Review)

Why I Read this Book / My History With Gandhi

Like a lot of people, my primary knowledge of Gandhi was from the  1982 Richard Attenborough Gandhi (W).  It's a 3 hour movie that was shown to us at high school, in its entirety, not once but twice. One of my 10th grade social studies teachers showed it to us, and then one of my 12th grade social studies teachers also showed the whole thing to us.

In retrospect, watching this 3 hour movie twice does seem like a waste of valuable classroom time.  But that's in retrospect.  I didn't complain about it at the time.  (When my 12 grade social studies teacher started showing this movie, it never occurred to any of us to let him know we had already seen it in 10th grade).

And, actually, there's an argument to be made for movies as educational tools.  A good movie sticks in your memory in a way that a textbook or a lecture does not.  If my social studies teacher had lectured us about Gandhi, I probably wouldn't have remembered it.  But because the drama of the movie stuck in my mind, all these years later I remember  perfectlyabout Gandhi and Nehru and Jinnah and Amritsar and the partition of India, et cetera.

Since I've become an adult, I've also rented the movie several times over the years, and watched it again on my own.  (I included it in my top 10 movies of all time list).

In fact, for far too many years, virtually all of my knowledge of India came from Richard Attenborough's film.  But a thorough knowledge of that film has been enough to keep me up to speed in several conversations about Indian history.  (For example, when I spent a hiking trip chatting about Indian history with a Japanese professor of India back in 2005, I was able to keep up in that conversation solely because of my knowledge of the 1982 Ganhdi movie.)

I've been meaning to read a proper biography of Gandhi for ages now, and have put it off for far too long.
But then, while browsing the bookstores in Saigon, I saw this on the shelves and thought: "perfect!"

About this Book
Apparently this is the book that the 1982 movie was based on.  (According to both the publisher's blurb on the back cover, and according to Wikipedia).  I didn't realize this when I first picked up this book, but after so many years of watching the movie, I suppose it's fitting that I should read the book it's based on.
Just like the movie, the book starts out with a detailed description of Gandhi's assassination and funeral, and only then jumps back to look at his life.  (This must have been where the movie got that structure from.)
I also recognized some of the dialogue from the movie in this book.  (Again, this obviously must have been the source they were drawing from.)

This book was originally published way back in 1950, but it's still being sold in bookstores now.  (That's probably unusual for a biography.)

The author of the book, Louis Fisher, is someone I never heard of before, but apparently he led an interesting life himself--see his Wikipedia bio.

Louis Fisher had actually spent some time with Gandhi during Gandhi's life, and throughout the book he frequently makes references to his conversations with Gandhi.
The author fully inserts himself into the book in Chapter 23 of Part 2, which is entitled "My Week with Gandhi".
This is probably self-serving on Fisher's part, and occasionally it does come across like he's making too much of his acquaintance with Gandhi.  But on the plus side, it does also help to liven up the biography and add a personal touch to the narrative.
(Fisher also references conversations he had with Nehru and Jinnah in the book.)

The Review
Louis Fisher writes well (a journalist by trade) and this book is a pleasure to read.
In fact, I enjoyed it enough that I think it merits a place on the list of my Favorite Narrative History Books.
With a caveat--Fisher frequently breaks his narrative to editorialize about how great Gandhi is.  But if you can put up with a little of that, then the book on the whole is great story-telling.

The book covers the whole of Gandhi's life.  There are brief sections describing the wider history of India, but for the most part the focus is kept solely on Gandhi.  (For example, Subhas Chandra Bose (W) is barely mentioned in this biography, even though he was also very influential during these same years.)

Louis Fisher is a great admirer of Gandhi, and has very little critical to say about him.  I'm not expert enough to judge whether this is an omission or not.  It's possible that in real life Gandhi just left very little behind for the honest biographer to criticize.  (More on this in the sections below).

And that's really all I have to say about the book in general terms.
In specifics, I'll detail all my various thoughts down below.

Evaluation of Gandhi (as described by Louis Fischer)

The portrayal we get of Gandhi in Louis Fischer's book is of someone who was really too good for this world.
When you read a lot of history, you realize perhaps how rare men like Gandhi actually are.  History is full of selfish cruel people doing selfish cruel things.
Someone like Gandhi, who was so principled, and pure and honest, almost takes your breath away as you read it.

You wonder how he could possibly have been so good, and at the same time you lament that the rest of humanity can't live up to his example.

Gandhi is probably especially unique in the world of politics.
Gandhi didn't want to defeat his opponents.  He wanted to convert his opponents.  In his political campaigns, he never sought to take unfair advantage of his opponents, and he always trusted in the goodwill of his opponents.

But if an individual like Gandhi re-affirms your faith in humanity, unfortunately reading about the events that Gandhi lived through will shatter that same faith.
The religious hatred, riots, and massacres that took place during the partition of India and Pakistan are all recorded in this book, and they are difficult reading.  If Gandhi represents humanity at its best, the massacres that took place during the partition represent humanity at its worst.  It is shocking the evil that one human being is capable of perpetrating on another.
These massacres took place during the end of Gandhi's life, and it is depressing to think that Gandhi spent his whole life preaching non-violence in India, and then these horrible massacres happened anyway.

The Politics of Gandhi
During my student days, I attended some non-violence training seminars prior to mass protests.  (At the protests recounted here and here.)

One of the things I remember about these training sessions is the debate over exactly what "non-violence" means.
I had previously had a very technical definition of non-violence.  (Non-violence means not using any physical force).  But the workshop organizers encouraged us to think about whether being verbally abusive or hateful was congruent with a philosophy of non-violence.

I was reminded of this when reading about Gandhi's politics, and compared it to the politics of today.

Gandhi believed not only in technical non-violence, he believed in showing love and respect to your opponent.
For example, when Gandhi was invited to talks with the British Viceroy, many Indians objected to the idea of meeting with the enemy.  Gandhi responded:

"We may attack measures and systems," Gandhi replied.  "We may not, we must not attack men.  Imperfect ourselves, we must be tender towards others and be slow to impute motives..." (p.199)
It made me think about the political climate in the US today.
Although many protesters today are technically non-violent, we still fall into the trap of personally attacking men instead of attacking measures and systems.
And I (on my this blog and on my twitter account) have been as guilty of this as anyone.
But after reading this biography, I begin to wonder if we should follow Gandhi's example, and stop the personal attacks against Republicans and Trump.

A couple months ago, when reading about how Kim Davis was being sued by same-sex marriage advocates, I blogged about how kicking Kim Davis when she was down was incongruent with Gandhi's philosophy of loving and respecting your opponent.
That feeling of bonhomie lasted about a day or two, I think, and then I was back on Twitter saying awful things about Trump and the Republicans.

As inspired as I was by Gandhi, it's difficult to follow his example consistently.  To actually be like Gandhi would entail getting control of your emotions.  And few people manage to do this.

But I will try to be a better person in the future.

Gandhi and His Critics

I mentioned to a friend that I was reading Gandhi's biography, and he commented, "Oh really?  One hears so much negative stuff about Gandhi nowadays, I wonder what the biography says."

I thought this was interesting.  Surely the overwhelmingly amount of stuff you hear on Gandhi is positive, right?  The man is one of the greatest heroes of the modern world.

But maybe in this day and age, everyone's a contrarian.  And everyone loves reading click-baity articles about how this person you'd been told to admire admire really turned out to be awful.  (See, for example, The Real Mahatma Gandhi by everyone's favorite contrarian Christopher Hitchens.)

There have always been a number of critiques of Gandhi from the Right, but I've never been concerned with that.  They're not my tribe.   (But, if anyone wants to see an example of a critique of Gandhi from the Right, see Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr.: Was Gandhi for Real?)

It is the critiques of Gandhi from the Left that I'm more sensitive to.

To me, the two most serious criticisms from the Left are:
1) Gandhi was a member of the bourgeoisie, and only concerned with bourgeoisie interests.  (Chris Harman was of this opinion), and
2) Gandhi was a racist, and didn't believe blacks were equal to Indians.

Louis Fischer doesn't address either of these criticisms directly.  He appears to be completely unaware these are even issues.
However, since Fisher's time, Gandhi's comments on black people have been widely reported.  (See Washington Post Article Here).

And yet in Fischer's book, Gandhi devotes much of his time and energy fighting against racism.  Much of this is in the context of India (Gandhi spent much of his life trying to end discrimination against untouchables) but Fisher records that Gandhi was also concerned about black people in America and South Africa.

So how to make sense of the racist Gandhi with Fischer's clearly anti-racist Gandhi?
My best guess (and it's only a guess) is that Gandhi must have evolved over time.
Fischer clearly records that on other issues (pacifism, independence) Gandhi evolved.  So it's reasonable to think that the same thing might have happened with his racial views.  All of the damning quotes appear to have come from Gandhi's early period in South Africa, and so probably do not represent the older Gandhi.

Fischer records how Gandhi evolved on the question of intercaste marriages.

"From 1921 to 1946 Gandhi had gone full circle: from utter disapproval of intercaste marriages to approval of only intercaste marriages" (p.338)
And Fischer records that Gandhi was very concerned about the persecution of black people.  When Fischer visited Gandhi in 1946, he records that...

Again he talked at length about the persecution of coloured races in South Africa.  He inquired about the treatment of Negroes in the United States.  "A civilization," he said, "is to be judged by its treatment of minorities. " (p.427)
As far as the critique that Gandhi was only concerned with the bourgeoisie, this is also thoroughly rejected in Fischer's portrayal.  Fischer shows Gandhi as almost a proto-socialist (although Gandhi himself would have rejected that label).

Connections With Other Books I've Read
From the 1982 movie, I had known that Gandhi started his political life in South Africa.  But I hadn't realized exactly how much of his life.  Louis Fischer says Gandhi spent 20 years in South Africa!
As it happens, those same years (1893-1914) were the exact same years that The Scramble for Africa was happening, as covered in Thomas Pakenham's book.
Some of the same characters and events pop up in both books (e.g. The Boer War, Joseph Chamberlain).
In his book, Thomas Pakenham wrote a lot about the politics of South Africa, but I don't remember Gandhi's name ever popping up once.
I don't blame Thomas Pakenham for this.  (In covering 30 years, and the politics of 2 continents, he can't possibly mention everything.)
But... it is an interesting reminder of how limited in perspective any one history book is.  In reading Thomas Pakenham, you'd never know that during the exact same time as his narrative, one of the first modern large scale non-violent protest movements was being launched in South Africa.

Churchill's disdain for Gandhi and for the Indian independence movement was something that I previously encountered in The Decline and Fall of the British Empire by Piers Brendon.

The 1857 Mutiny, although it was before Gandhi's time, is referenced several times in this book as an example of what how bad things could have gotten in a worst case scenario.  Among other books I've read, the 1857 Mutiny was described in Flashman in the Great Game by George MacDonald Fraser.  (Although, typically, was covered irreverently by Fraser.)

The Amritsar Massacre (which Fischer covers on pages 184-188) was referenced explicitly by Orwell's characters in Burmese Days, and was apparently very much in Forster's mind in A Passage to India.

Gandhi engaged in a correspondence with Leo Tolstoy, which is described in this biography.
In the course of describing that correspondence, Louis Fischer inserts his own opinion that War and Peace is "probably the world's greatest novel" (p.96)
Gandhi is recorded as reading Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in a South African prison.
During his week with Gandhi, Louis Fischer records Gandhi as expressing an interest in Upton Sinclair.

Comparing the Book and the Movie
I mentioned above that this is apparently the book the movie was based on, and much of the movie's dialogue can be found in this book.

The movie is not entirely faithful to the book, and after reading the book, I've discovered just how much the movie switched around, glossed over, cut out, and even invented.

I don't blame the movie for any of that.  I understand that in order to transition from a biography to a Hollywood movie, certain narrative choices have to be made.

Nonetheless, as media consumers, it's good for us to be aware of what exactly Hollywood is doing to the historical record, so perhaps it's instructive to examine where the movie differs from actually history.

I can't possibly go through and red-line the whole movie, but I'll pick one part of the movie as an example of the kinds of adaptations that are being made.
I'll just examine parts of the South African campaign against registration (Youtube).

The movie is rolling a number of separate issues and campaigns into one.  In reality, the meeting at this hall was only to address the fingerprinting and registration issue.  The law invalidating Hindu and Muslim marriages would not come until later, and so could not have been addressed at this meeting.
A number of  the comments shouted out by the crowd do come verbatim from Fischer's biography, but they were comments made at preliminary committee meetings,and not at the big meeting.  During Gandhi's big speech at the hall, Fischer records no back-and-forth with the crowd.
The British Police Officers were apparently not at the meeting at all.

The following scene in the movie, of Gandhi burning registration cards and being beaten by British policeman (Youtube), is entirely fictitious.  None of this ever happened.

Gandhi was rounded up and jailed with a number of Indians who refused to register, but there was no dramatic scene of Gandhi burning registration cards.
Fischer records an incident on August 16, 1908, in which the Indian community did hold a demonstration and burn a number of registration cards, but  Gandhi was not there, and there was no confrontation with the policemen.

Throughout the entirety of Fischer's biography, there is no scene in which Gandhi is beaten by policemen as depicted in the movie above.  Gandhi was beaten by various mobs while in South Africa (once by the white settlers, and once by other Indians who were angry at him for compromising with the government), but Fischer never records Gandhi being assaulted by British police as in the movie.

Knowing that this scene is entirely fictitious, it makes me feel smugly superior to all the Youtube commentators who are writing how this scene proves how wonderful Gandhi was.  And yet, a few months ago, I would have been among them.
For what it's worth, the scene is in keeping with Gandhi's philosophy.  This is an example of the non-violent philosophy Gandhi preached.  But unfortunately history has left us with no real-life dramatic confrontation of Gandhi against violent South African policeman, so one had to be invented, I suppose.

Other Notes
* Everyone knows about the connection between Gandhi and the American Civil Rights Movement.  (Martin Luther King and others explicitly acknowledged Gandhi as one of their inspirations).  But I wonder if this biography in particular contributed to that connection.  After all, this book was published way back in 1950, so it's conceivable that it could have been read by people involved in the Civil Rights Movement.  And this book, with its detailing of Gandhi's campaigns and his victories, seems like a  perfect blue-print for anyone interested in non-violent protests.

Video Review
Youtube Video here and embedded below:

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky on India

Monday, June 19, 2017

"-er Nouns" for Relative clauses

(TESOL Worksheets--Relative Clauses, Vocabulary, Nouns)

Google: drive, docs, pub

I used these cards for 3 activities.

Activity 1: A standard "grab the card" game.  The cards are cut up and one set is given to each pair of students.  The cards are spread out on the ground, and the students sit opposite each other.  I describe each card using a relative who clause.  (e.g. This is someone who has to make music with their voice.)  The first student in the pair to grab the correct card gets to keep it.  At the end of the game, the person with the most cards is the winner.

Activity 2:  The class is divided into two teams.  Two people from each team come up to the front of the board.  One of the team members is given a card.   They have to describe it to their teammate, who has to write the correct word on the board.  The person describing has to use a relative clause, cannot say the word on the card, and can not say related words.  (e.g. If the word is "singer" they can't say "sing" ).
If their partner can write the correct word on the board, they get a point.
After each word, I do delayed correction on any grammar mistakes that were made in the relative clause.  Then the next pair of students come to the board.

Activity 3:  The students are put into groups of 3.  The "grab the card" game is repeated from activity one, except this time the students describe the card.  One student will describe the card, and the other two students will compete to grab the card first.  Then once all the cards have been grabbed, the roles change, and the students play again.

In my own classes, I used these cards to Supplement English World 5 unit 6.  That unit had both a page on relative clauses, and a page on nouns ending with "-er".  So this activity functioned as both a review of the "-er" noun vocabulary and the relative clause grammar.  And the selection of "-er" nouns reflect what was used in the English World 5 textbook.

However, I believe this activity can also stand on its own.






Sunday, June 18, 2017

English World 4 Unit 11 Vocabulary

(Supplementary Materials for Specific Textbooks--English World 4)

Google: slidespub

Supplemented with a quizlet Quiz: docs, pub

English World 4 Unit 11

English World 4 Unit 11

English World 4 Unit 11

Saturday, June 17, 2017

More Problems with the Past Perfect

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

This is a follow-up of sorts to the previous post.

Right about the same time I was experiencing problems with the past perfect in my own class (see previous post) a colleague approached me with his own questions about the past perfect.

His questions were based on an exercise from the textbook Life Intermediate lesson 3B Return to the Titanic p.36-37 .  The lesson contained grammar exercises on the past perfect, which included the following sentence:

This ship and several others _____________ (sink) in 1671 when they _____________ (hit) rocks.

The students were supposed to put the verbs in brackets in the correct tense.

My own native speaker intuition was telling me that the past simple would be the most natural in both cases, but that if one of them had to be in the past perfect, then it would be the second verb.

The answer key to these exercises (located in the back of the textbook and in the teacher's book) said that the correct answer was "had sunk" and "hit".

In other words, the sentence was supposed to read:

This ship and several others had sunk in 1671 when they hit rocks.  

I told my colleague that my best guess was that the publishers of the textbook had simply made a mistake.  Other than that, I didn't know how to explain the sentence.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Problems Teaching the Past Perfect

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

I recently had some frustrations teaching the past perfect in my class.

While I was in the midst of it, vague memories started coming back to me from years gone by, and I starting realizing that I had done this all before.

I've taught the past perfect before in Japan, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and, if memory serves, I think I've gone through the same steps each time.

Step 1)
The students don't understand how to use the past perfect, and start panicking.

Step 2)
I don't understand why the students are so confused.  "Look, guys, it's perfectly simple," I'll say.  "You have two verbs in the past that are in the same sentence.  They're both in the past, but one of them happened before the other.  The one that happened first gets put in the past perfect, while the one that happened second gets put in the past simple.  That's it.  That's all there is to it."

Step 3)
We go over some sentences that use the past perfect, and I try to show my students how simple it is.  I use this worksheet on comprehension of the Past Perfect that I made a few years ago, and it seems to do the job.

1.        He had been a newspaper reporter before he became a business man.
(First he was a newspaper reporter and then he became a business man).
2.       I felt a little better after I had taken the medicine.
(First  ________________, and then  _______________________.)

After completing this worksheet, the students usually understand the Past Perfect receptively.

Step 4)
But then the students start using the past perfect in their own production, and I realize that things are actually much more complicated than I originally thought.  The students are following the rules that I taught them, but they're using the past perfect in a lot of contexts where it is not obligatory, and in many cases where it sounds strange.

In a sentence reading: "I went to the supermarket, bought some books, and then I visited my best friend" , my students wanted to change it to "I had gone to the supermarket..."

"She had eaten her breakfast, and she went to school" one student said (when describing her partner's morning).
It sounded wrong to me, but why did it sound wrong?  Thinking on my feet, I explained, "When you join to independent sentences together with 'and' , you don't need the past perfect.  It's only when they are both in the same clause, or when one is in a subordinate clause."
But I just pulled that explanation out of my hat, and I'm not even 100% sure it was right.

But even in subordinate clauses, I got the sense that my students were over-using the past perfect.

A student wrote in her homework: "When the sun rises, I went to school and I felt happy, delight".  During all class-feedback, I tried to elicit from the students the mistakes, and get them to correct the sentence.  I was intending to elicit "When the sun rose, I went to school".  However they wanted to put it into the past perfect.  "When the sun had risen, I went to school."

At best, I thought the present perfect was unnecessary here.  I explained to my students that the past perfect wasn't strictly necessary in cases where the verbs were already in chronological order, and that in this case the use of the past perfect was optional, but not obligatory.

But in my head, I actually liked  better the version with the simple past ("When the sun rose, I went to school") for reasons I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Another example from a student's writing:

When we had gone there, we saw a lot of cows, goats, and many kinds of vegetables.

Again, my native speaker intuition tells me that "when we got there" was preferable than the past perfect.

Another example.
A student was writing about an embarrassing moment, and describing how she mistook someone on the street for an acquaintance, but then after she greeted him, he turned to look at her, and it was a complete stranger.  She wrote:
"But when that person had looked at me, I realized that I didn't know him."

And although I didn't have time to write down all the examples (and so have consequently lost them), there were a lot of these kind of sentences being produced in my class the day after I taught the past perfect--sentences using the past perfect that sounded wrong to me, but that followed the rules I had given my students.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Interesting Random Facts--Eartha Kitt Anti-War Controversy

Via Wikipedia
In 1968, during Lyndon B. Johnson's administration, Kitt encountered a substantial professional setback after she made anti-war statements during a White House luncheon.[13][14] Kitt was invited to the White House luncheon and was asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War.[citation needed] She replied: "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot."
During a question and answer session, Kitt stated:
"The children of America are not rebelling for no reason. They are not hippies for no reason at all. We don’t have what we have on Sunset Blvd. for no reason. They are rebelling against something. There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers. They feel they are going to raise sons — and I know what it's like, and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson — we raise children and send them to war."
Her remarks reportedly caused Mrs. Johnson to burst into tears and led to a derailment in Kitt's career.[15] Publicly ostracized in the United States, she devoted her energies to performances in Europe and Asia. It is said that Kitt's career in the United States was ended following her comments about the Vietnam War, after which she was branded "a sadistic nymphomaniac" by the CIA.[8]

When I was walking versus While I was walking

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

A student wrote in her essay "One time,when I was walking in the outside, I met a person."

We were going over this sentence in class.  I had in mind other errors (in the outside), but one student asked about "when".

"Shouldn't it be 'while I was walking' ?" she asked.

My native speaker intuition told me both "when" and "while" were acceptable here, but I couldn't explain why.

So I looked it up in Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.

Swan says (on p.67-68) that there are some differences between when and while.   For example, while can be used for simultaneous events, and when can not.

However, in some cases they are interchangeable.

As Swan says on page 67:

We can use all three words [as, when, while] to introduce a 'backgound' action or situation, which is/was going on when something else happens/ happened
I wonder, though... Even though we can use both when and while in this sentence, is there any change of nuance?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

They laughed at me very much versus Thank you very much

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

A student had written "My friends laughed at me very much"  in her essay.

During the class discussion time, I highlighted this sentence.

My native speaker intuition was telling me that "very much" was wrong, and that the correct form  should be "a lot".

When pressed for an explanation, I gave the explanation that textbooks usually give--"much" and "many" are used in questions and negative statements, whereas "a lot" is used in positive statements.

But then a student raised her hand.  "But teacher," she said.  "What about 'Thank you very much' ".

So I looked this up in Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.

Michael Swan writes on page 333:

Very much  can be used in affirmative clauses as an adverb, but not usually before a noun.  Compare:
 I very much like your new hairstyle (adverb)
Thank you very much (adverb)

So why then does very much sound wrong in the sentence "My friends laughed at me very much.

TEFLology Podcast: Episode 61: Job Interviews, Eilhard Lubinus, and Conference Review

(TEFLology Podcast)

The new episode of TEFLology is available HERE.

(Well, newish.   I'm a week late writing this up.)

I'll post my thoughts on the various topics below:

Conference Review
* I enjoy it when TEFLology does their various conference reviews.  I feel like it's a way I can keep in the loop of what is topical, despite not making it to any conferences myself.

* The part on colorblindness is interesting.  Especially because at my school, we're encouraged to use color in our PowerPoint presentations to highlight different  language.  (e.g. put all the auxiliaries in one color, and all the main verbs in another color).  I never thought about students with colorblindness.
But what to do about it?  Does this mean we shouldn't use color in our presentations?  It seems like a shame to give that up.
Perhaps the best answer is to use color, but also to be aware that some students might be colorblind, and highlight the information verbally as well as visually.

* Interesting discussion on self-access centers.  (One of my old co-workers from the Cambodian days was really big on self access centers.  I wonder what he would think of this.)

*The TEFLologists reference one of their previous episodes with Hayo Reinders

* Another interesting person to read on this subject is Freddie deBoer, who routinely writes about how virtually learning does not work.
See some of his recent posts on the subject: you learn by being taught and Study of the Week: Of Course Virtual K-12 Schools Don’t Work

Eilhard Lubinus
* This section mentioned The Game by Neil Strauss, a book that I've reviewed before on this blog. (Although to be perfectly honest, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I've read this book.  And it sounds like the TEFLologists are as well.)

Job Interviews
* Some interesting stuff here.
I've certainly had mixed results in my own job interviews.  (I suppose everyone has.)  Although in my own defense, I like to think I completely nailed this video job interview.

* At one point, a TEFLologists mentions interviewing for a major language school in Japan that subsequently went out of business.  I wonder if he's talking about one of my former employers (a certain major language school in Japan that went out of business).
Today in:  Oh, hey, my hometown is in the national news again!

Facebook alerted me to the fact that this incident is being picked up by the national media:
Michigan Woman Kicked Out of Mall for ‘Inappropriate’ Finding Nemo Tank Top and Shorts

Apparently, as far as I can tell from reading the local news, this event was also happening on the exact same day:
Marches against Sharia law, counterprotests planned in Michigan

Oh, the irony!

PS--the mall mentioned in question (Woodland Mall) I know well.  It was right down the street from Calvin College.  And I've mentioned it in past posts.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

When in Rome

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

Since I've started having my students analyze the grammar of English proverbs, I've occasionally found myself creating grammar questions that I couldn't quite answer myself.

One example is:
When in Rome, do as the Romans do --  Slideshow (slidespub), Worksheet (docspub),

I told my students that the full version of this sentence would be "When you are in Rome, you should do as the Romans do".  But that it was acceptable to leave some of the words out.

Unlike other languages, English is usually very strict about requiring every sentence to have a subject.  (Even when there is no subject, a dummy subject has to be created, such as "it" in "it is raining").
The exception to this is imperatives, so "do as the Romans do" is easy enough to explain.

But then, why is the subject missing in the "When in Rome" clause?

Sound Foundations by Adrian Underhill--Revisited

(Book Review)

I already read this book back in 2014.  (See my original review here).

But, like Beyond the Sentence and How Languages are Learned, I found myself re-reading it because of the professional development bookclub I'm leading at my work.

I asked what book people were interested in reading next, and people wanted to do a book on pronunciation.  So we decided to do this book, and I decided to re-read it.

As with the other books I've re-read, I'm not going to write another review of this book.  Instead I'm just going to re-post here all the posts I made to the book club Facebook page, and then call it good.

A few books back, some colleagues mentioned to me that it helped with their motivation to read the books if the Facebook page stayed active.  And so ever since then, I've tried to make it a point to post in the bookclub Facebook page at least once a day.
Some of these posts are better than others.  (In a few of the posts, I've resorted to small nitpicks in an attempt to find something to say.)  But for whatever it's worth, below are my posts.  (All proper names are replaced by XXXX).

Day 1

Some background on this book:
This book is a practical book about pronunciation activities, and as such it fits in very well with our agreed upon format of alternating between theoretical books and practical books.
As it happens, I've already read this book, but other people were interested in doing this book, and so I'm happy to re-read it.
I'll jot down my memories of this book below:
This book was recommended to me by my tutor when I was doing the Distance Delta Module 1 a few years ago. I was having trouble with the phonemic script, and my tutor said this was the book to read to sort that out.
And it is an incredibly useful book in that regard.
Unfortunately, I hate to say this, but it may be one of those books that's more useful than it is interesting. At least it was for me. But maybe other people are more interested in pronunciation than I am, so your mileage of this book may vary.
The book is divided into two parts. The first section helps the reader themselves understand the basics of pronunciation (a section entitled the Discovery Toolkit) and a second section gives advice for teaching pronunciation in the classroom (the Classroom Toolkit).
The first section I found very useful. The second section I really struggled with, although that was my fault and not the book’s fault.
The first section is a very clear, very straight forward, very easy to follow explanation of the phonemic chart, and how our mouth produces various sounds. I had studied all this before, but I’ve never read such a clear explanation before.
The book is filled with “Discovery Activities” which encourage you to make certain sounds while noticing with your fingers the shape that your lips and tongue are making. This is all okay if you’re reading this book alone in your room at night, but can cause some embarrassment if you’re mostly reading the book at work or in a coffee shop (as I was). But I did my best to discretely do most of the Discovery Activities.
The explanation of all the vowel sounds, and how they are formed in your mouth, is very helpful. I understood it perfectly while I was reading it, but unfortunately committing it to memory is another matter, and I confess that I've pretty much forgotten all of it now. However it is probably too much to ask from a book that it will help you memorize something as well as learn it. The hard work of memorization must be carried out on your own.
The second half of the book describes various classroom activities you can do to teach your students about pronunciation, connected speech, word stress, et cetera.
This second half of the book was difficult for me, because I don’t usually teach a lot of pronunciation in my classes, and feel that it is outside my comfort zone. Even after having read the first half of the book, I felt like I still lacked the confidence to teach the pronunciation exercises in the second half of the book.
Probably for that reason, because I was resistant to doing the exercises, I had a really hard time focusing on the book. My eyes frequently glazed over as I read the pages, and I continually was discovering that I had gotten to the bottom of the page without having absorbed any of the words my eyes had passed over, and so I had to make myself go back to the top of the page.
For this reason, the second half of the book took me much longer to finish than the first half. The first half of the book I read relatively quickly, but the second half I got stalled on for ages before I finally forced myself to sit down and finish the book.
But that was my problem—that’s not the fault of the book. In fact, I really should be doing much more work on pronunciation in my classes, and I really should be adopting most of the exercises in this book.
And I think if you read the book with an eye towards actually doing these exercises in class, it should make it more interesting. So that's what I'm going to try to do this time around. I'm actually going to try out these exercises as I read the book. That should make it more interesting.

Day 2
Okay, so here's a thought:
Before we even get into this book, it's maybe worth noting that the whole premise of this book is debatable.
...Or at least, the premise of the 2nd half of the book, when Adrian Underhill gives suggestions for classroom activities. (The first half of the book is just informative).
Someone who would debate the whole premise of the second half of this book is Krashen, who wrote in The Natural Approach:
“In a recent study, however, Purcell and Suter surveyed acquirers of English as a second language, and concluded that accuracy of pronunciation of English correlated with the acquirers’ first language (speakers of Arabic and Farsi had better accents than speakers of Japanese and Thai), the amount of interaction with English speakers, performance on a test of phonetic ability, and the degree of concern that speakers had about their accent. Surprisingly enough, the amount of formal training in ESL, even when the courses were specifically aimed at pronunciation, did not relate to pronunciation ability. Thus, it may be possible that direct classroom exercises are of limited use.
Pronunciation ability, or good accent, may be nearly completely dependent on what has been acquired, not on rules which have been learned. It is possible to learn conscious rules about pronunciation, but performers, especially in the beginning stages, usually have too many more important things to attend to in performance.
… Thus, in the Natural Approach we do not recommend any specific activities for pronunciation, especially in early stages” 
(The Natural Approach by Stephen Krashen and Tracy Terrell p. 89-90).

Here's something else to think about:
We know that human attention is limited, so in free production the learners have to make choices about what they can focus their conscious attention on. If they are attending to the message of what they want to say, and if they are attending to the grammar, do they have any spare attention left to consciously attend to pronunciation features?
If we decide that they don't (and in my anecdotal experience they don't) then this makes the whole second half of Adrian Underhill's book essentially useless.
So I guess a guiding question to focus on during the reading of the 2nd half of the book is: 1) are these activities practical? 2) Can learners consciously attend to these pronunciation features during free production?
Also, what is everyone's anecdotal experience with teaching pronunciation? Do you find that pronunciation activities actually improve learners' pronunciation?
My own anecdotal experience is that the learners with the best pronunciation are always the ones who get plenty of input. For example, whenever I say to a high-level student, "How did you get such a perfect American accent?" invariably the answer is always something like, "I just watch a lot of movies."
I've never encountered a student who got good pronunciation as a result of the kind of activities Adrian Underhill recommends.
But... that's just me, and perhaps my experience is limited by the fact that I've never really given these pronunciation activities a chance, or tried them out much in my own classes.

This is going to be my goal for my re-reading of this book. To actually try these activities out as I read them this time, and see if they make a difference.

Day 3
So as I wrote the other day, when I previously read this book I didn't really try out the pronunciation activities as much as I should have.
I did, however, get one idea from this book.
Adrian Underhill mentions several times the idea of using nursery rhymes and limericks to teach English rhythm and word stress.
Although I never tried out Underhill's suggested activities, I did get the idea that a lot of exposure to poetry might help the learners to subconsciously absorb these features, and maybe even pre-empt some of these pronunciation problems before they happened (particularly with young learners).
With that in mind, I started doing one poem every day with my teens classes back in Cambodia.
At the time I would just hand the poem out, we would read it together, and if I could find a recording on youtube, I would play that as well.
The poems I used are on Google Drive below.
A couple notes:
I shared this folder once before, back when we were discussing a previous book. Sorry for repeating myself. But this book is the book I got the idea from, so it seemed appropriate to bring it up again here.
There are about 30 poems in the Google drive folder (that was enough to get me through one term at my previous school). However probably only half of those poems really worked well with my teens classes.
(It proved difficult to find a new poem every day, and so admittedly some of the poems in this folder are better than others).
If anyone has any good poems to recommend to add to the folder, let me know.

Day 4
Something else of interest:
This is a youtube video of a workshop by Adrian Underhill in which he demonstrates how the sounds on the phonemic chart are all related to each other. It is a great supplement to the book.

Day 5
So, those vowels.
I don't know what's wrong with me, but I can not remember those vowel symbols. Even though this is my second time going through the book.
I think part of the problem is that I rarely teach pronunciation in my classes, and you have to teach something to remember it. So, with my new Pre-Intermediate D class, I've been trying to spend 10 minutes each class on pronunciation, and I've been using "Pronunciation Pairs" by Ann Baker and Sharon Goldstein.
Somewhat frustrating though, is that Pronunciation Pairs uses different symbols than Sound Foundations. For example, Pronunciation Pairs uses /iy/ where Sound Foundation uses /iː/. Pronunciation Pairs uses /ɛ / and Sound Foundations uses /e/.
I was talking to XXXXX  about this, and he suggested that the phonemic script Adrian Underhill is using is for English pronunciation only, whereas the one in the Pronunciation Pairs is the International Phonemic script.

This whole thing can be pretty confusing.

Day 6
Chapter 1
Adrian Underhill really does a good job of making you realize all the sounds and their relationship to each other. But you cannot read this book in any public place. Has anyone else been making a lot of sounds in their apartment while reading this book.
On another note, I searched the drive, and it doesn't appear we have access to the CD that accompanies this book. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong). But I suspect the CD doesn't really add much. It's probably just a recording of a native speaker doing what we native speakers know how to say anyway.

Day 7
Underhill writes "Lip movement is easier to detect visually, and for many people easier to sense internally than the movement of the tongue."
It's true, at least in my experience. But why do you suppose this is?
I mean, it's easy enough to understand why lips are easier to see visually. (They're right on the front of your face, after all). But why do you suppose it is easier to sense lip movements internally?
Or is this just one of life's unanswered mysteries?

Day 8
Adrian Underhill says:
"An aim of these activities is to make ourselves conscious of what we are doing habitually, so that we can intervene and change things at will. Then we will able to help our learners do the same. That is why I see this approach to pronunciation as being based on awareness, or consciousness, rather than on mechanicity (eg non-aware repetition), which seems to be the implicit basis of some approaches."
It's interesting that he states this so directly.
The advantage of mechanicity, however, is that it doesn't require conscious attention, because conscious attention is a limited resource that is often needed elsewhere during free production. So why is he against mechanicity? (To the best of my memory, he doesn't explain this elsewhere in the book. But then it was a few years ago that I read it.)
In order for Adrian Underhill's approach to be effective, you'd have to assume that increased awareness lead to good pronunciation, which lead to good habits, which leads to mechanicity. Right? I'm mean you couldn't expect the learner to be devoting all their conscious attention to where their lips and tongue are formed, right? Eventually you'd want this process to be automatic. But I'm not sure he ever outlines this specifically in the book. (Again, I could be remembering it wrong). And again, if the ultimate goal is mechanicity (and I'm assuming it is) then why not just go for that from the beginning?

XXXX commented:

I think you're right that mechanicity has to be the ultimate aim. However, I'm with him 100% on the notion that you can't (and mustn't) skip straight to mechanicity when teaching pronunciation and sound production. Conscious focus up front is essential for forming the correct mechanized habit.
I also think it increases the students' capacity to repeat the process with other new vocab from text under their own steam.
Day 9
I'd forgotten how interesting this book can be at points. Isn't it funny that we shortened vowels before fortis consonants, and shorten them before lentis consonants? And the discovery activities on pages 18 and 19 really helped to make this crystal clear as well.
I did, however, have one question. On page 19, Adrian Underhill writes:
"Fortis, meaning strong, describes consonants characteristically produced with a strong breath force. In English these are coincidentally unvoiced consonants. Lenis, meaning gentle, describes consonants characteristically produced with a weaker breath force. In English these are coincidentally the voiced consonants."
The word "coincidentally" caused me to do a double-take. I had thought that voiced consonants were produced with weaker breath force not coincidentally, but precisely because they were voiced--i.e. the vibrating vocal cords directly caused the air flow to be reduced. But am I remembering wrong? Is it just a coincidence that voiced consonants have less breath force?
...But, no, it can't be just a coincidence, can it? It can't be a just a coincidence that all the voiced consonants just happen to have less breath force, right? It wouldn't happen just by coincidence that all the voiced consonants have less breath force, and all the unvoiced consonants have more breath force. There must be some reason.

XXXX commented:


Day 10
Adrian Underhill says: "Remember that deaf people lip read proficiently in all languages."
That "all" is a bit strong, isn't it? Even tonal languages?
So I googled lip reading in tonal languages. And apparently it can be done. At least according to the folks at reddit

Day 11
There's some interesting stuff in this book. I remember being really surprised the last time I read it by learning that y and w are vowels by the phonetic definition, but still function as consonants.
I think this, and learning that there's no /h/, were the things that really blew my mind from the last time I read this book. But the no /h/ is still a few pages away

Day 12
Okay, so I spoke too soon in a previous post. Adrian Underhill does come back and explain why voiced consonants are lentis, and unvoiced are fortis. And it turns out it's not a coincidence. (Perhaps he was being ironic earlier?)
As Adrian Underhill says on page 30. "This is partly because voiced sounds take energy from the breath in order to drive the larynx, and partly because unvoiced sounds need to compensate for their lack of voice with force and clarity in their articulation."

Day 13
Not to beat a dead horse, but I thought about the distinction between conscious knowledge and mechanistic knowledge again when thinking about voiced and unvoiced consonants.
For native speakers, the decision to vibrate our vocal cords is always unconscious, right? I mean, we know what sound we want to say, but we don't consciously manipulate our vocal cords into vibrating, do we?
So, the question is, can learners be taught to consciously manipulate this?
In my classes, I've had mixed success.
I've had some students who had trouble with voiced/unvoiced pairs. (Like /s/ and /z/) And I found it was almost always unhelpful for me to explain to them that the difference was in the vocal cord.
I did, however, have some success with a student when I had her put her fingers on my throat, and feel the different vibrations with /s/ and /z/, and then I had her put her fingers on her own throat when she attempted to make the sounds. And I think it did improve her pronunciation a bit.
But on the other hand, that technique involved a bit more physical touching with a student than I'm normally comfortable with.
What has your guys experience been?

XXXX Commented:

I think it can be useful to talk about the difference between hissing and humming. This can require a translator for lower level students, of course.

Day 14
Okay, what about nasal consonants? Do we consciously control the opening and closing of our nasal cavity?

Day 15
So, is anyone else finding a lot of typos in this book?
I don't remember this from before. I think it may be some sort of issue with the specific PDF file we have.
One example: on page 37, our PDF uses the ? symbol for the glottal stop.
Actually, the correct symbol for the glottal stop is ʔ (Something that is admittedly a little bit reminiscent of a question mark, but still not the same mark.)

XXXX Commented:

From my rudimentary knowledge of e-book creation, the glottal stop error was likely caused by a mistake in Optical Character Recognition that was then missed by the copy editor.

It's been a noticeable nuisance over the last four or so years of reading ebooks to have such high-profile reads riddled with typos not befitting such a well regarded or important work. Just recently I read the official e-book of the world-famous Fatherland, and nearly ever instance of the world 'car' showed 'ear'. It's immersion breaking to say the least.
As a pirater of books I should hardly complain, but the typos-in-ebooks problem, I think, is a serious one. If someone could locate a physical copy of this book (or any) it would be interesting to see if the typos still showed up.

Day 16
It's interesting how stuff can sometimes get jumbled in the memory over time.
After I read this book last time, I thought I remembered that there was no such thing as /h/.
I occasionally even brought this bit of trivia out at dinner parties or drinking sessions.
I remember one night I said, "Did you know there's no such thing as /h/ ?"
And someone else said, "You can't go dropping something like that on us at this late hour."
Re-reading this book, however, I'm discovering that I'd mis-remembered. There is definitely an /h/ phoneme in the phonetic chart.
However, /h/ does not have any place of articulation. It's just extra air expelled proceeding the vowel sound.
I had misremembered this as the idea that there was no /h/ in articulatory terms.
Although... in a way... you could still make the case that there is no phoneme /h/. I mean, if it doesn't have a place of articulation, does it really exist?
Sometimes extra air gets expelled before vowels in certain words, but should that really get rewarded with its own letter?

XXXX Commented:

If a /h/ falls in the whhhhhoods...

Day 17
Ah, the /l/ sound. How this used to drive me crazy when I taught English in Japan!
I haven't noticed a problem with it in Vietnam though. Or am I just being unobservant.
One of the things I didn't realize when I first started teaching was that the /l/ sound in English was not one sound, but a couple different sounds (as Adrian Underhill explains on page 44) which is one of the reasons why it was so difficult to teach to Japanese people.

XXXX Commented:

 I've noticed that Vietnamese students say /n/ instead of /l/ (like beautifun)

XXXX Commented:

Yeah, it's very rare but I have heard instances like this. Only with final 'l', presumably because Vietnamese lacks it.

Day 18
I'd forgotten this from last time.
So /w/ is essentially just a /ʊ/, and /j/ is /ɪ/. Wow. Consider my mind blown once again.

Day 19
On Allophones
I was in a conversation the other day with XXXX about allophones, and I got a bit mixed up on it.
I was thinking that the plural "s" ending (which can be voiced or unvoiced) or the regular past tense "ed" ending (which can also be voiced or unvoiced) were examples of allophones.
Then I looked it up later to double check myself, and it turns out that when the plural "s" changes to /z/, or the past tense "ed" changes to /t/, these are actually examples of allomorphs, not all allophones.
Just based on the definition Adrian Underhill gives on page 50, it's not entirely clear what the difference is, however. But I think when one phoneme changes to another phoneme in predictable contexts (ie /s/ always becomes /z/ after a voiced consonant), that is an allomorph. But when it stays as the same phoneme, and just changes sound a little bit, it is an allophone.
Someone correct me if I'm getting this wrong.

XXXX Commented:

That's what I understand. An example of an allophone would be the /t/ sound in 'top' and 'stop', which is pronounced slightly differently but still represented by the same phoneme.

XXXX Commented:

Hey Joel, from what I understand, an Allophone relates to phonetics whereas an allomorph relates to morphemes. An allomorph would be the alternate pronunciation of the form of a morpheme. The allophone is the sound or sounds of each letter. So, when you think of words and the possible different pronunciations for their endings, it's morph, and for individual letters, its phone

Day 20
In the section on unstress in words, Adrian Underhill writes:
"The vowel in the [unstressed] syllable may sound less distinct. This loss of sharpness in unstressed vowels is called reduction, and all vowel sounds can undergo greater or less degrees of reduction. All monophthongs reduce towards the central /ə/ sound, though /iː/ often reduces to /ɪ/ and /uː/ often reduces to /ʊ/."
Maybe I'm overthinking things here, but at this stage he's still talking about individual words in isolation, right? So do the sounds really change then, or is this just the way the word is pronounced? Like instead of saying the sound reduces to /ə/ or /ʊ/, why not just say the sound is /ə/ or /ʊ/?

Day 21
Adrian Underhill writes:
"Intrusive /j/ sound follows a final /iː/ or a dipthong ending in /ɪ/, where the next word begins with a vowel sound. This is because /iː/ and /ɪ/ from the starting point for the semi-vowel /j/."
The words "starting point" seems to imply that /j/ has more than /iː/ and /ɪ/ , right? As in "this is the starting point, and then something else follows".
But on page 46, Adrian Underhill had defined a /j/ as a sound that "begins with /ɪ/ of very short duration, gliding rapidly to the following vowel."
So if /j/ is already a /ɪ/ of very short duration, then how is /ɪ/ also only the starting point for /j/? Unless Adrian Underhill is counting the "gliding rapidly to the following vowel." But isn't that glide just a transition? Why not just say that /ɪ/ glides onto the next vowel?

Day 22
Adrian Underhill contrasts stress timed languages with syllable timed languages.
He says:
"English, Dutch and German are examples of languages said to be stress timed. Spanish, Japanese and French are said to be syllable timed."
(BTW, interesting use of the passive here. Is he qualifying his statement?)
Vietnamese is not mentioned. But Vietnamese is definitely not stress timed, right? So is it syllable timed then? Or are there other options?

XXXX Commented:

Syllable timed. The only other option is mora-timed, like Japanese supposedly is. This classification seems fairly new though. I can't say when it was introduced, but I believe it isn't any older than 1999.
I think the syllable timing, combined with all the other intricacies of Vietnamese is part of what adds to the difficulty. It's hard to focus in on a sentence when it all seems to rattle on by without any word stress.
Side note:
I was speaking with a local, asking how Vietnamese people make up for the seeming lack of functionality by using intonation on lexical variety. She said you just speak the whole sentence louder show emotions and attitudes. Ugh.

Day 23
So... How's everyone finding this book.
Undoubtedly it's got a lot of useful information in it, but I'll be honest, I'm finding it hard to absorb the information because I'm finding it hard to avoid my eyes glazing over while I'm reading this book.
I thought maybe this was because it was my second time through this book, but then I looked at what I had written up after I first read the book back in 2014.
I had written:
I had a really hard time focusing on the book. My eyes frequently glazed over as I read the pages, and I continually was discovering that I had gotten to the bottom of the page without having absorbed any of the words my eyes had passed over, and so I had to make myself go back to the top of the page.
For this reason, the second half of the book took me much longer to finish than the first half. The first half of the book I read relatively quickly, but the second half I got stalled on for ages before I finally forced myself to sit down and finish the book.
It could be just me though. I've never really been that interested in pronunciation activities--I've always been more of a grammar nerd instead.
But I just thought I'd check to see if it was only me, or if other people were feeling the same fatigue with this book.

XXXX Commented:

It seems like a solid reference book more than a book to be taken end to end. I don't find it to be read easily.

Day 24
Adrian Underhill writes:
"You can use the chart for giving general class instructions and setting up activities that have nothing to do with pronunciation. This is an interesting way of using your authority without using your voice. It usually rivets attention."
Is he talking about spelling out whole sentences here on the phonemic chart? But that must take forever, right?
Also: he's clearly not talking about young learners here, right?

Day 25
In his section on Mode 3 (Learners use the chart to point to what the teacher has said), Adrian Underhill writes:
"You can change the activity by not looking at the chart yourself. You turn your back to the chart so that it is clear that you cannot see what symbols the learner is pointing out. Then the class has to decide whether the learner is pointing at the right symbol by saying yes or no. If they are unanimous then you accept their decision without looking. If they are not unanimous then the class need to say both your original sound, and the sound being pointed out, in order to savour the difference. By not watching the chart you shift responsibility for discrimination onto the class."
An interesting idea, but what is the assumption here?
Is the assumption that if the class is unanimous, then they must be right?
Or is the assumption that if the class is unanimous, then it doesn't matter whether they are wrong or right?
Also, do you think this activity would work in Vietnam? I get the impression that in Vietnam, the students want (particularly adults) feel cheated when the teacher doesn't give feedback.

Day 26
Intonation p.74-93
We've talked about problems with this PDF copy before, but I thought it was particularly a problem with the whole section on Intonation. It seemed like a lot of the Intonation marks didn't line up with what Adrian Underhill was saying in the text. Or was it just me?

XXXX Commented:
I saw maybe a couple others. Certainly doesn't help the already difficult task of approximating pitches, keys, and tones described only with words.

Day 27
Adrian Underhill writes:
"Vowels in most languages use the same mouth space and divide the space up to yield the number of different vowels required by that language. Few languages have as many discrete, significant vowel sounds as English, which means that most learners have to fit more vowels into the same mouth space."
Interesting. I had been thinking that English was actually on the low end of the spectrum--Especially having recently lived in Cambodia, which has 30 vowel sounds. (As John McWhorter explains in this video here )
This is one of the reasons I very quickly gave up on learning Cambodian when I lived there.
On the other hand, I think Japanese only has 5 vowels.
Anyone know about Vietnamese?

Day 28
Adrian Underhill writes:
"I find that the two sounds /iː/ and /uː/ provide a good starting point for introducing the chart and the monophthong section."
To give credit where credit is due, the man practices what he preaches. This is indeed exactly what he does in this video here:

Day 29
Anyone else ever study Japanese?
One of the things that surprised me when I first moved to Japan is that the Japanese don't really have an alphabet. They have a syllabary. Each character represents a syllable instead of a consonant.
So, for example, the Japanese have symbols for "ma", "mi", "mu", "me", and "mo", but no symbol for just "m" on its own.
This surprised me at first, but then I thought about it, and I wondered if perhaps the Japanese had it right, and we English speakers had it all wrong. Did "m" really exist on its own? Wasn't "m" always followed by a vowel? Whenever we make the "m" sound (for example, to model it for young children learning to read) we always put a vowel at the end.
I think this is what Adrian Underhill is saying on page 124:
"Unlike vowels, many consonants cannot be sounded on their own. As consonants are produced by obstructing the air flow in some way, it is the release of the block that produces the characteristic sound. And that release requires movement into another sound (remember con + sonant= 'with sound' or 'sounding with...')

XXXX Commented:

Studied it for about 3 days, just to make my trip a bit there slightly more immersive.
My first reaction to the hiragana was that it was a brilliantly simple idea. Indeed, a syllable by definition requires a vowel, so why pretend that consonants can stand on their own?
Well, here's one example to show they can: "Thomasu": what my name became when I was in Japan.
Yeah, so with that "ma", "mi", "mu" stuff it alters final consonants. This is where I would say letters like 'm' do exist on their own (jam, drum, broom).

I Replied:

Yeah, good point. Actually I clipped the above quote, but the full version of what Adrian Underhill said was that fricatives can stand on their own, but not plosives.

XXXX Commented:

Alphabets allow us to make written records of spoken language using fewer characters. It's all about efficiency.

Day 30
Adrian Underhill writes:
"Where a mother tongue consonant interferes, I would include it as an intentional part of the practice. You can do this by assigning a symbol--perhaps invented by the learner in question--to the mother tongue sound and writing that symbol in its own box beside the chart on the board. Include that sound/symbol in the exercises described above and use it to identify, recognize and discriminate."
I wonder, what mother tongue consonants interfere in Vietnam?

Day 31
On page 133, Adrian Underhill talks about two different kinds of mistakes, which he catagorizes as "slips" and "errors".
I think this echos the distinction Rod Ellis made (in the previous bookclub book), except Adrian Underhill seems to be inventing his own terminology.
Rod Ellis used "mistake" to refer to what Adrian Underhill calls a "slip". Adrian Underhill is using "mistake" as a blanket term for both slips and errors.
In general terms, I think the lack of consistent terminology is a problem with ESL literature in general. Or at least I've read other people who've complained about this.

XXXX Commented:

It is rather remarkable that neither of the two classifications makes any sense, since "mistake" is a synonym of "error". Errors can't be a subcategory of mistakes, and neither can unintentional mistakes be called errors—as the two words are, well, synonyms. I'm fine with "slip" (as it makes sense) and either "mistake" or "error" for intentional mistakes, but there also needs to be a third word—a term for all inaccuracies. How about, I don't know, "inaccuracies"?
The lack of consistent terminology is probably due to the lack of interest in the field of EFL from the academic world.

Day 32
Okay, so it looks like we're meeting this Tuesday (June 13) from 2-3pm. Everyone is welcome to attend regardless of whether you read the book or not. (In fact, if you didn't finish the whole book, you're probably in good company).
I've requested to book room 801, so assuming it's available, we can meet there. If plans change, I'll post here again.

Google Slideshow for Bookclub
I made this slideshow to help guide the discussion bookclub: slides, pub

Video Review

Video Review Here and embedded below:

Link of the Day
In Conversation with Noam Chomsky - A British Academy event 2017