Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Great Caffè Nero debate

I have been out of touch for the last few days, and so missed the controversy mentioned in Dumbing Up (the latest in the very readable and enlightening series of blogposts by David Crystal). The media kerfuffle in question was exemplified there by a Mail† article (and note: that article isn't compulsory reading [I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy] The readers' comments to that article are if anything more depressing). The article is complaining about a [OCR] qualification - a combined A-level in English language and literature - aimed to expose teenagers to a broad range of styles and genres
The Mail continues, aghast:

The syllabus also features an interview with Dizzee Rascal on BBC2’s Newsnight, when Jeremy Paxman referred to the rapper as ‘Mr Rascal’.
OCR said candidates would be asked to comment on ‘mode, purpose and audience’.
I doubt if many Mail readers would be able to comment on mode. (Here's a clue: "Mr Rascal".)
<autobiographical_note date_range="1972-'74, 2004-'05" theme="The things they teach nowadays">
Forty-odd years ago I studied Linguistics. In May 2001974 I said goodbye to all that, for what I thought was the rest of my life (with occasional, and not always reliable, contributions to University Challenge).

When my nearly 20 years' career in IT came to a final halt (after more than ten years stuttering), I began training as a teacher – two fairly specific short courses in teaching modern languages and English for Speakers of Other Languages, flanking a year-long PGCE. During that. I did most of my teaching practice in a Further Education College. The College offered a range of qualifications, mostly vocational (I eventually got used to seeing 'Lecturer in Bricklaying' among the job ads), and offered evening classes as well. But by day they taught GCSEs (mostly retakes for students who had missed out on a Sixth Form) and A-Levels for students with no Sixth Form in their school (or who wanted to get away from the perceived horrors of skool). Some of the teachers used PGCE students as cannon-fodder, or rather GCSE retakes fodder. But before my particular dragon [oh yes, she was one of those teachers, for whom the word mentor would be a gross misnomer] sorted out her timetable I got to take a few AS classes.

And I was amazed by the sort of thing they studied (and I must take this opportunity to apologize to that class for my peroration on the 'I have a dream' speech: 'How long oh Lord, how long?) But for the iniquity of student fees, I'd  love to go back and do that course. And the OCR's new one sounds even better.
</autobiographical_note >

(Oh, and that 'Caffè Nero' reference in my subject line refers to a web-page review that is part of the proposed syllabus)


Nearly forgot that crossword clue:
Obvious pot to invert. (8)
Update 2014.06.06.13:40 – Fixed date of end of linguistics studies.

Oh, and it's overturn

 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs ov vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: over 41.050 views  and 5,700 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with nearly 2,100 views and nearly 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

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