TEFL newsletter – June

News

This month commemorates Juno, sister and consort of Jupiter, daughter of Saturn and Vulcan, mother of Mars and one of the most important of the Roman goddesses. She had many duties, but for most she was a protector of the Roman people and especially women, being the goddess of marriage, fertility and all aspects of pregnancy and childbirth.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

…”that that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

That’s June, Rose, Romeo and Juliet covered.

What I find disconcerting about the current fashion for naming children after present-day celebrities is an older generation of citizens called Kylie and Wayne! There again, who would call a new-born baby Sidney or Albert, Myrtle or Ivy?

I was christened Kenneth, but I am aka Ken and Kenny while the Margaret’s of this world often become Madge, Meg, Peggy, Marge, Margie or Maggie.

Named keyfobs are available which list the qualities of the more traditional names, but you are unlikely to be able to fasten your keys to a disc bearing the name and qualities of Darren or Stacey.

And then there’s the names of Sir Bob Geldorf’s offspring!

To appreciate the problem in the feline world I recommend TS Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” which will inform you that “a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES”.

ACRONYMS

Are also names but the products of initial letters, such as tufti, scuba, quango, laser and radar. These may look like foreign words but they respectively stand for

  • teaching under fives traffic intelligence
  • self-contained underwater breathing apparatus
  • quasi-autonomous non-governmental organization
  • light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation
  • radio detection and ranging

Pakistan, too, is an amalgamation of Punjab, Afghan Frontier, Kashmir, Baluchistan

SEX IN THE CLASSROOM

Actually, the issue is gender, but I wanted to catch your eye!!

Teachers and students can be both male and female, and so it is politically correct to recognize the possibility of both genders being appropriate without restricting the distinction with a “he” or “she”.

It is the convention to write “s/he”, but there is still the need to use his/her or should that be her/his, given that the letter “s” precedes the “he”.

A more acceptable alternative is to use the plural form with singular reference.

I accept that the above arrangement offends purists, but at least manhole covers have not been re-labelled peoplehole or personhole covers.

EX CATHEDRA

To encourage my advanced speaking and listening class to make educational use of the internet I regularly give them a week’s notice of an international news matching exercise.

The students work in pairs to match ten numbered items with ten lettered items, each list arranged alphabetically to produce ten pairs of words or phrases specific to a piece of current news.

As a follow-up exercise we will read a newspaper article or internet download on some of the items for information and discussion.

At the end of the lesson each student selects one of the news items and reports the following week on any developments, but do allow duplication to encourage free choice.

For example, today (25 May 2008) I might choose

1 Monaco a Lewis Hamilton
2 aftershock b 5.8
3 Belgrade c Sir Terry Wogan
4 cigarettes d vending machines

Re-arranged, the lists would read as below

1 aftershock a 5.8
2 Belgrade b Lewis Hamilton
3 cigarettes c Sir Terry Wogan
4 Monaco d vending machines

In my experience the exercise, once initiated, fast becomes an addictive variant on language development for advanced students.

Happy surfing!

Ken Milgate
Chief Examiner

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